Almost five years on from his last full-length record, this week sees Bob Evans (aka, Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell) returning with his sixth studio album, Tomorrowland.
Spawned during 2020, with initial recording completed one day before gigs were cancelled, and just two weeks before Victorians were placed into lockdown, one would think that Tomorrowland could be something of a wistful elegy to what could have been in 2020.
Instead, the result is one of the most euphoric additions to the Bob Evans discography, with the record also seeing something of a musical shift from predominantly acoustic compositions to a more rock sound. “I think this is the most electric guitar I’ve played on a Bob record,” he quips. “I pretty much had an electric guitar in my hand for every song.”
Expansive and powerful, it’s arguably one of Bob Evans’ most accomplished records, and arguably one that stands out as a high point of Kevin Mitchell’s prolific career. To celebrate the release of this monumental record, Bob Evans has given us a thorough insight into the record, discussing each and every song at length.
“Born Yesterday” was the song that sort of became the touchstone for the whole record. When I wrote it and demoed it everything just kind of worked and it kind of gave me a blueprint for all the songs on the record, to some extent. It’s a song about my youth, late teens and early twenties. Everything is on fire at that age, everything is intense and you are aware of the fact that you have your whole life ahead of you.
The saxophone was something that came up in the studio. We had left the solo section bare. When I demoed the song there was a guitar solo but I was waiting for something better to come along. In walked Carl Mackey. We just played him that section and let him wail a few times and that was it. It just elevates the song and perfectly catches the mood and sentiment, far better than I could have with a guitar.
I liked the idea of twisting around the idea of being “born yesterday”, something which is often used to disparage someone, like they are dumb and turn it in to a positive thing. There can be a beauty in being genuinely naive. Not ignorant. Just innocent.
It’s a straight up love song. I’m 43 years old and as an artist I have decided to lean in to middle age, rather than try and fight it. The thing about middle age that I’ve found is that you really start to accumulate some history. It’s a lot sometimes. My partner and I have been together now for longer than all the years before we met. I’m very grateful for that. With all of life’s highs and lows and unexpected curve balls, they are the one constant thing. No matter what happens or what questions I have the answer at the end of it all is always the same.
I actually came up with the idea for this song a long time ago, back when i was writing for my last album, Car Boot Sale. I just never finished it. I came back to it and sort of came at it in a different way. It’s a real Tom Petty inspired knees up, musically speaking.
The lyrics are kind of addressing a sort of serious conundrum, that sometimes when one advocates for the less fortunate they are accused of being a “bleeding heart”. I find that such a funny put down. To be accused of caring too much is something to be proud of. Wear your bleeding heart like a badge of honour. I wanted Stella Donnelly to sing on it and luckily for us she was in town while we were recording and agreed to come in and sing. We’d never even met before. I think she’s brilliant, like nobody else.
“I’ll Get Over You Somehow”
This was one of the last songs I wrote before going into the studio. I was trying to write a sort of Byrdsy, Scott Walker-esque kind of song. I really love all that stuff. Musically, I find it quite trippy. There was something about it, that almost made me feel like I could go into a trance. It really came alive in the studio, with the band all playing it live together.
This was only the band’s second take of the song! They were really cooking by this stage. I love the energy of this song. I wanted it to have a bit of an E Street band kind of energy, with the brass and backing singers. I discovered Cash Savage a few years ago and just loved their song “Better Than That”. They inspired the kind of on the beat rhythm singing style.
Also at the time of writing this song the me too movement was gaining real steam and it was really powerful I think because it forced all of us, especially men, to confront what part we may be playing in the prevailing culture that has allowed people, once again, pretty much men, to get away with rotten behaviour. We gotta do better and not making excuses for your dickhead friend is a good place to start.
“I Don’t Wanna Do Anything (Without You)”
So many times over the years when I’ve been travelling around, whether that be in Australia or further afield abroad, I’ve been on my own. With people but by myself. And so many times I’ve gotten to experience something really great and the first thought that always pops in to my head, every single time is how I wished my partner was with me to share in it. I guess what it boils down to is, we need to share things with people to give our lives real meaning and reward and I don’t mean via social media either. I mean face to face,
This was the very last song I demoed before we started the record. I was bingeing heavily on late ’80s and early 90’s guitar pop music. There is something about those few years, there is a real sweet spot for jangly guitar pop music between ’87 and ’93. It really did become my happy place. So I wrote a song called “Bad Mood”! Go figure. But what this song is really saying is that those bad moods don’t last.
My apocalypse song. We are driving full speed towards the edge of a cliff and yet still there is that voice in your ear trying to convince you that everything is just fine.
I was worried this song wouldn’t really fit on the record. It’s pretty different to all of the other songs. I just really liked it too much to leave it off basically. Sometimes being a parent of very small children is an infuriatingly, wonderfully, hard and beautiful thing.
“Fits & Starts”
This is like a bonus track. We only set out to record ten songs in the six days that we had the band all together in the studio. We realised by day five that we were going to finish early, unless we did another song. So I had to very quickly go back through all my original demo’s and choose another song. It was a bit of pressure but I’m really glad I chose this song. It’s ended up being one of my favourites on the record! The band didn’t even get a chance to listen to it properly and rehearse it; they just had to learn it on the spot.
It’s a testament to their talent that they were able to do such a smashing job so quickly but once again, it’s that energy that gives all the songs life. I was determined for this record to capture the sound of a band playing together in a room and I reckon this song does it as best as any of them.
“End of The Day”
What do we do, living with the existential threats that we face? Every generation has had some form of them. Ours currently is that we are harming our planet to such a degree that it will soon enough become uninhabitable unless we make radical changes. What do we do though, with the fear and the uncertainty that clouds our futures, as we stumble on in our day to day lives? We just keep going, keep making plans, keeping following our dreams, because we must.
Bob Evans’ Tomorrowland is out on Friday, April 16th via Dew Process.