The Ian MacKaye Interview
What inspired the template for the band, The Evens? What made both of you decide to bring this project to life?
There was no pre-ordained template for the band. Amy and I just started playing music together because we were friends and The Evens grew out of our time in the basement. We weren’t planning on being a band, but things in life lined up in a way that made it possible. As I mentioned, we have been long-time close friends and had for many years talked about playing music together. It was during one of a series of breaks that Fugazi was taking to make time for people’s family situations, that we finally sat down and played. The experience was so right that we decided to just continue writing songs together. This was in 2001. Over a year later Fugazi decided to on an indefinite hiatus, so it was probably around that time that Amy and I decided to try doing something formal.
Is this band going to be a long-term project for the two of you, with lots more touring etc? i.e. is there a plan for more releases, or was this a one-off collaboration similar to that of Egg Hunt?
We think of The Evens as a band and want to play as much as we can. Our touring schedule is a bit truncated by responsibilities here at home, but we’ve managed to get a fair amount of touring in over the past couple of years, with more to come.
How long did it take to write the album? Was it the result of a long period of development and jamming on the tunes, or was it more of an on-the-spot documentation type deal?
When we started playing together we had an explosion of songs coming out of us. We probably came up with 30 or 40 potential tracks, but by the time we recorded we really only felt solid about a handful of those. The songwriting is going much slower at the moment, but I reckon it’s largely a result of how busy we are with other things in our lives. We’re hoping to get back into the studio over the winter.
Fugazi inspired countless imitators, and created a defining sound so much that it became a descriptive part of other bands image… as in to be ‘in the vein of Fugazi’. Now after the end of that band, was your desire to make your next project something as wholly different as you could in order to re-define yourself yet again?
The Evens are not a deliberate response to Fugazi, The Evans are the two of us. Certainly, I learned a lot playing with Fugazi and there were many things I learned during that time that I know that I want to avoid, so experience is definitely playing a role. Ultimately, The Evens play what The Evens play. This is the music that comes out of us. I don’t think of life as phases, I think of it as a flight of steps, each leading to the next. This is where I am today.
How has the band been received overall? Have you found people are into your sound and intentions? and have you at all encountered fans of your old bands expecting the wrong thing?
We are playing to considerably smaller crowds then Fugazi used to draw, but it seems to me that most people are enjoying the shows. There has been one or two that seemed disappointed, but we’re pretty careful about how The Evens are promoted and the kind of settings in which we would present our music. I hope that by now people would be expecting me to throw curve balls, and I appreciate very much their interest.
© This interview first appeared in the Zineophobia fanzine in 2005