Evan Price is a solo-project began in the early 2000's shifting between classical training, eclectic rock bands, and acoustic 4-track recordings. After a drastic move to an unfamiliar city, an unfruitful hiatus, and the abandonment of his guitar for 8 long years, Price returns to composing songs of heartfelt authorship uniquely his own, "I started to pick [my guitar] up but only because the guy I worked with said he played drums. And I was like, 'Hey, you want to play?' He said yes, so I started writing some songs." Price downplays his re-encounter with music to a casual conversation with a coworker, yet the songs he pens after a restive break speak of far more profound motives, an unremitting soul surging from the silence. The E.P. 'Feed the Good Wolf' was recorded by exchanging tracks & files with old friends who reside in different states. The entire album is immersive in melancholia with somber double-track singing lyrics spun from poetical inclinations towards the dismal as excruciatingly confessional and beautiful as Elliot Smith's and the unconventional balladry, chord progressions and all, a la Radiohead.
The man is an enigma, Price pens lyrics that are poised by both simplicity and the gravitas of the hyper-conscious troubadour. Every song signals self-dissecting introspection. Every word recollects pieces of many previous selves like an endless row of mirror upon mirror reflecting projections of memories of years past. Through songs, Price selflessly offers us a piece of himself as his fragile & tender voice brings us solace, some comfort in thoughtful isolation. In 'Something Has Changed' Price confesses to the difficulty of living with depression for fear of the stigma, 'Push down the thoughts/ that prey everyday/eat up my will/ hear what you want/ but get what is real.' It is this ability to convey so much emotion using simple words, the way the amplifiers and electric guitar transmit his music without effacing the intimacy. He has an ability to change our moods, into a slumber-like trance, by layering his melodic voice and harmonies. We interviewed the mysterious & reserved Evan Price by email to lessen the pressure of having him respond in person to our dense questions.
I N T E R V I E W:
Indiemuck: Who are you & what events have led you to the here and now?
Evan Price: I'm Evan Price born in Falls Church, VA. My parents brought me to Houston, TX, got divorced, remarried, and we stayed there with my Mom and Step-dad. My biological father moved away to California. I won a music scholarship through a clarinet audition in high school from The University of Texas Austin and Baylor University, went to Baylor, and quit after 1 year. I then went to community college before transferring to The University of Houston where I earned a music degree. I messed around for a few years performing in local bands, working crappy jobs, then decided to get my teaching certificate mainly because a friend of mine was teaching abroad, and I wanted to do that, too. I almost moved to China in 2013. I got my first job near San Antonio, then drifted to Laredo, which is where I’ve been for the last 8 years.
I heard you are a music instructor by day & this project is by night. When did you decide, "Alright, I wanna make music?”
I decided I wanted to make music for a living at a very young age. My dad gave me a 70's Ventura acoustic guitar when I was 12 or 13. I actually wanted to be a bass player, having been inspired by Mike Mills of REM. I thought he was really good, and he was also singing harmonies. When I first started learning guitar, I played it like a bass. I used one string at a time while plucking with my fingers. I still kinda play that way, but learned how to strum. Then a friend showed me a power chord. That’s when I started to learn how to play songs on the radio and stuff.
I was very active in the Houston indie rock scene before I moved here in 2010. I played in several bands during my college years. I also had a solo acoustic thing going on and recorded quite a few demos on a Tascam 4-track machine. When I moved away I kinda lost interest, or maybe you could call it depression. Who knows? I didn’t play my guitar for like 8 years or so. I tried picking it up, but for some reason didn’t have any inspiration.
This past August (2017) I asked a friend of mine who plays drums if he wanted to start a band. He said yes, then flaked. While I was searching for a practice space and a drummer, Joel Izquierdo, a friend of mine said he would play bass, and we could practice at his house. It’s a recording studio converted from a garage. He has everything in there. He’s also a Beatles nut, so we hit it off musically right away. We eventually found a drummer (Felipe Gutierrez) through a Facebook ad I made. He was the only one who answered. He is also a great drummer, so that’s cool. I had written like 1 song so far, and Joel and I were practicing some of my old stuff from 2007-2008. After that I just started making demos, which sounded like punk songs. I really wanted to be loud and obnoxious, which is the opposite of how my old bands sounded. I’m not sure if I’m very good at that type of sound. Felipe disappeared for a few months, so I decided to just figure out how to get something going without having to rely on anyone. It’s really difficult get three people with busy lives together to practice. I figured going alone was much easier. So now I still play with Joel, and have been playing with hired drummers when needed. Sometimes I just play by myself, and could probably get away with that all the time. Some venues in Laredo just want a rock band, so if you want to play, then you gotta be a rock band. So, I've pretty much decided to be by myself mostly. On the "Feed The Good Wolf” E.P. other musicians play who are from elsewhere. Drums and percussion is performed by Takaski Takemura, who also plays for Von Grey, a band from Atlanta. I met him through a mutual friend I've known for a long time. He plays bass mostly on the record. He lives in Brooklyn, and wants to stay kind of anonymous, and chose "Mr. Winter" as his name. These two people are extremely talented, and very fun to work with. We haven't played together in person, only through file sharing. They've also contributed to the songwriting process. Basically they help me turn my basic acoustic/vocal arrangements into something different. We can collaborate without hurting each others' feelings, which is great for me, because I tend to piss people off easily. There's a mutual respect between all 3 of us, and we're all about creating something interesting.
You deliver your music with such immediacy & melancholia. What experiences and emotions inform the themes in your songs?
Music always comes first. I guess it can be emotionally driven. Some recurring emotions that most likely trigger writing are rejection, isolation, alienation, failure, anger. I've been learning about this stuff more recently. I can't really control what drives creativity. It can be very spontaneous. Sometimes songs flow out very quickly, and sometimes it takes longer. I never want to force anything. I like to record ideas even if they're just like two chords, or some kind of transition. Sometimes it's good to just keep the record button on, but it usually makes me feel too self-conscious. Most of the time songs or ideas happen when I'm not thinking about anything at all. The lyrics are usually written after a melody has been figured out along with chord changes or whatever. So they’re melody driven. Sometimes I write the lyrics out right before I record them. Sometimes I don’t really know what the songs mean to me until later, or they never mean anything in particular. Some have stronger meanings to me than others, I suppose. Or at least some are more thematic than others. I think It’s good if the listener is able to relate to the music somehow, and figure out what it means to them.
When we listen to your music, it's as if you are there beside the listener, singing in person, in the same room. How do you keep that intimacy in your songs?
It's interesting you say that. The answer is I don't know. It's good that you're getting that feeling. That means I might be doing something right, but it's probably by accident. Maybe the vocals are too loud? I'm not very good at mixing. I'm still learning. I’m not sure if I really have control over keeping intimacy in my songs or not. I guess people are going to perceive music in different ways, and I can't tell them how to listen to it, or how to feel when they hear it. I could write some material in the future that doesn’t feel intimate, who knows? I like the uncertainty of how writing can evolve. There's no way I want every record I make to sound the same.
Your lyrics are very simple yet very introspective & self-conscious. Is that how you describe your lyrics?
I think simple is a good word. Iggy Pop is famous for saying a song shouldn’t be more than 25 words or something. I’ve never counted the words in my songs, but now I’m interested. I’m also a fan of the cut-up technique, in which you take phrases from different journals or poems at random, or try to create a theme with them. I think it comes from French artists back in the 50's. They would cut out newspaper clippings and paste them together to form phrases. David Bowie did the same thing with his lyrics. I don’t know if he did it with all his songs, but he used the technique. It really takes the pressure off of trying to write good lyrics, or whatever you perceive as good. Sometimes I think things I write are total garbage, but some people like it. I don’t spend very much time writing lyrics. Sometimes I just sit and write things my wife is reading out loud. She studies like a million hours a day for school. She’s going for her Masters in Psychology. Some of the subjects she reads about are very intriguing. Even the fragments I gather up sound interesting. Then I kinda play with the words, and shuffle phrases around, and make jokes or puns. Sometimes it’s only funny to me. I’ve kept regular journals since middle school. I still have all of them. In the end it’s the melody of the song that drives the lyrics.
How are you able to share so much of your internal self with your audience?
I wasn’t aware I was doing that. It’s definitely easier for me to play songs in front of people than talk to them in person. I’m not very good at socializing, and I also think I wouldn't share so much internal self on purpose. That sounds a little scary to me. Maybe it’s easy because the songs might be perceived differently for each person. It would be nice if people could apply whatever they’re hearing to their own lives somehow. It doesn’t really matter what I’m feeling or what I think the songs are about. It matters if something is actually being shared. I think it’s really compelling when I see live music of any genre, and emotion is being communicated effectively through the performance. It’s the same with any art form.