The Lighter Side of Cynicism
Medford Rockers The Evening Shades Set to Release Debut Album, ‘Alright’
If you want to understand medford band The Evening Shades approach to rock music, here’s an anecdote: During our interview at Medford’s Four Daughters pub, I mentioned how during a similar bar-interview with Rolling Stone, Mastodon frontman Brent Hinds famously looked reporter Brian Hiatt dead in the eye and said, “Don’t put this shit in Rolling Stone. I’ll kill you.” Evening Shades frontman Mark Thales’ response was to counter mention of the mega-selling metal band with a boisterous bar-rousing chorus from a band he prefers: Savage Garden.
“Stop,” grimaces guitarist Sam Kovic, an avowed Iron Maiden fan. “You’re embarrassing everyone.”
“That better go in the story,” cackles Thales.
The short version is that the band is every bit as whimsical as its name suggests, a whimsy on full display in The Evening Shades long-overdue debut album, Alright, which the band will drop with an album release show at Howiee’s on Front in Medford on Fri., August 28. The disc has 12 tracks of straight and simple pop-rock halfway between the garagey feel of The Strokes and the pop sensibilities of, well, Savage Garden.
“The general feeling of the album, we’re trying to keep it positive and happy,” says keyboard and bass player Matt Tayvis. “There’s a lot of negativity in the world.”
Thales has a slightly darker take.
“The lyrics have a lot of sarcasm,’ says Thales. “I really like saying negative cynical things in a positive poppy way.”
Fans of ”90s pop-punk and its more mid-tempo incarnations that ruled the radio in the early oughts will find much to like on Alright.
“It’s not over the top. It’s not in your face,” says Thales. “It’s melodic and poppy, but also at time, a bit grungy, with a bit of punk to it.”
That balance of approachability and guts is evident on the album’s first single, “Game Show,” with overdriven guitar chords clipping along at a brisk pace, and Thales dishing out lyrics about life as a game show in a lounge singer’s smooth croon.
It can also be heard on its opener, “All About You,” whose chorus is a perfect blending of big guitar riffs and Thales hitting a catchy series of “oooohs,” near the top of his register.
That song was actually the one that got Kovic into the band. In the beginning, he was just doing the band a favor and helping them record in the back of his—no joke—sword and armor factory.
“I was walking around the house with the songs stuck in my head,” he says. “My girlfriend heard me singing, and said ‘what’s that song, “all about you?” I said ‘that’s The Evening Shades. And she sad you better join that band, because it’s not often I get songs stuck in my head.”
Though the band was already active when Kovic came along, his addition, along with new drummer Justen Nielsen, solidified the lineup and brought the band’s material into a new sharper focus.
That’s why when The Evening Shades recently experienced about the worst catastrophe imaginable for a band recording an album, they took it in stride.
“I was getting ready to start the mixing phase, and since it was the heat of the summer, I had hired an AC guy to come in and put an AC machine in the shop,” says Kovic. “The building I’m in was fairly old and the wiring is pretty interesting. Some wires got crossed and 440 was sent through the 110 outlets. Things blew.”
One of the things that blew was the hard drives containing the album, meaning that after eight months of work The Evening Shades had to start Alright over from scratch. But…
“In a way it was a blessing,” says Kovic.
The setback gave new Nielsen, still new to the band, time to polish his beats, and pushed the band to record in a manner better representative of their performance than the studio tricks that had dominated the first trip into the studio. That tactic captured a nuanced personality that wasn’t present the first time through.
“The album is more cohesive than it was,” says Kovic.
“It was an everything happens for a reason situation,” says Thales.
After Alright is released, The Evening Shades will be looking to book a west coast tour and push the album out to the blogosphere. And with no shortage of catchy choruses, the band is a strong contender for Southern Oregon’s next big thing.
They’re also eager not to rest too long on Alright’s laurels, with much of its followup already written.
“We have too many ideas,” says Thales. “We’re the kind of band, where this album has 12 songs, but we have 25 songs in the making.”
Thales says the next disc will be more dynamic, and emotional. But for now, the band is pretty stoked with with the sarcasm of Alright.
“It’s the lighter side of cynicism,” says Thales.
The Evening Shades, album release show with Gary Margason
9pm, Fri., August 28
Howiee’s on Front, 16 N. Front St., Medford