Mojo Working - In the studio this month...
Title: The Lemonheads
Production: Bill Stevenson and Evan Dando
Songs: Baby's Home, Black Gown, Pittsburgh, Become The Enemy
"I wanted to make a rock record, a melodic rock record," says Evan Dando of his decision to reform The Lemonheads. "I wanted to do something louder and not so introspective. Also, I'm sick of selling solo T-shirts. "
The former alt-rock pin-up boy is chatting between sessions for the first Lemonheads record in over a decade. Originally formed as a hardcore punk band with high school buddy Ben Deily in mid-'80s Massachusetts, when The Lemonheads signed their major label contract in 1990, the revolving line-up was simply a vehicle for Dando's songs. Following 1996's poorly received Car Button Cloth, Dando put away the moniker and re-emerged as a solo artist for a 2001's Live At The Brattle Theater and 2003's mellow, moody studio effort Baby I'm Bored. Inspired by The Lemonheads' continued popularity in South America - "I read about this Lemonheads tribute concert they staged in Brazil," says Dando. "That really got me thinking" - he performed a handful of band shows in 2005 including a set in London playing 1992's classic LP It's A Shame About Ray in its entirety. Now, 20 years after the group first formed, he's completing work on a new Lemonheads disc. The self-titled 11 song album will be released by Vagrant/Universal, likely in late September.
The Lemonheads now feature producer/drummer Bill Stevenson and bassist Karl Alvarez, both members of legendary US pop-punks The Descendents. "When The Lemonheads started, The Descendents were one of our biggest influences," says Dando. Sessions have taken place over the past year at Stevenson's Fort Collins, Colorado studio, The Blasting Room. "We're doing a teeny bit of the Exile On Main St thing, playing for hours and hours and cutting together the best bits into a song," says Dando. "We started out in Jam, Buzzcocks territory and now we've got some psyched-out country on there as well. But all of it is squarely in the Lemonheads tradition."
The material, mostly written by Dando, ranges from the explosive Paul Weller-inspired Black Gown, to the melancholy crunch of Become The Enemy to the soaring, jangling Pittsburgh. Stylistically, the disc covers a wide spectrum, touching on elements of the band's early punk roots, their mid-period pop material, and the gauzy Americana that Dando has long favoured.
Finalising the mix and recording a batch of B-side covers, Dando hopes a world tour - with Stevenson and Alvarez - will follow the album's release in the autumn (the group has already booked a pair of London dates for September). Vagrant is also set to reissue The Lemonheads' Atlantic catalogue - most of which is out-of-print - as well as a best of/odds and sods set.
The buzz: "I'm very happy with it. I mean, I've only made two records in the last 10 years. So I wouldn't put this out if I didn't really like it." Evan Dando