It’s a rite of passage, isn’t it? Pack up your bags and head for British shores, pull pints in a pub or become one of the many fabled Kiwi baristas of London. Bid farewell to Aotearoa and see what the big bad world has in store for you. Leave loved ones behind, or bring them along for the ride. And if you’re doing it as a band many of the same rules apply. Some will be able to come along for the journey, others may stay back at home. So it was that The Eversons, originally of Wellington, most recently of Auckland, and currently of London went from four, to five, to six, to five – and back to the original four again.
Blair Everson (he of naming rights), Tim Shann, Mark Turner and Chris Young are where things all started out. Their connections to one another came from different directions – Mark and Chris had toured together while in different bands, Tim had carried sound duties at a few shows they’d played, and Chris had met Blair through that connector of young Kiwi musos, Smokefreerockquest.
At a few years younger than the rest of the guys in the band, Blair claims a sense of admiration for the rest of the gang from way back.
“I remember Tim mentioning that Chris and Mark were looking to start a new band. And I was like, ‘Holy shit, I need to get into this band, because it’s clearly going to be the best thing going on in Wellington’.”
Mark had put an EP-worth of songs together, and the next key step was having a band to play them. But as with any new creative venture, there were a few obstacles as Chris muses.
“When a new band gets together there’s often a period where you have a few preliminary jams, and sometimes you try some different things. We started and stopped for a bit, and we had a few different people that we tried out in various roles in the band.”
Ignoring a brief dalliance with a metal drummer, the line-up pretty soon cemented itself as being those key four – with Tim somewhat unwillingly taking on drum duties.
The Eversons have been playing together for over five years now, and they’ve gone through a fair amount of evolution in terms of their sound. Some of that can be chalked up to time and changing interests – but a more significant cause is the evolving band personnel.
The move to London isn’t the first that The Eversons have undertaken together. When they made their first collective move as a band, relocating from Wellington to Auckland, they brought on Alex Freer for drum duties. Nowadays Alex is kept busy with his role in Tiny Ruins, but he was instrumental (pun intended) in changing up the sound – as was Jacob Moore, formerly of The Checks.
“Alex is a hard-out jazz drummer, so that really pushed us to be even better. And then we got Jacob in the band, and that allowed us to do lots of stuff – it got a little wild – Phoenix Foundation style. When Alex left, Jacob shifted onto drums.”
“I feel like that’s a major part of our evolution,” Tim continues, “that we went from basically a recording project and then started playing live. The four of us were nerdy dudes in our early 20s, so our early live sets were quite polite and restrained. But when we started experimenting, and when we expanded the line up, we really kicked up the rock.”
Appropriately for their now London-based lifestyle, Tim describes their latest performances as being “almost punk”. The rest of the band are on board with the idea that the changing line ups behind the changing sound – even now that they’re back to the original four. When the idea of shifting over to the UK was first floated, Jacob was going to be going along for the ride, but plans changed and so too did the band’s line-up. Still, the legacy of the other members lives on.
“One of the things we joke about is that Alex and Jacob kind of gave Tim a masterclass in rock drums,” laughs Blair.
“Somehow I hadn’t played drums for like 2 or 3 years, and when I tried to play again, I was better than when I last left them – it was hilarious. I just channel my inner Jacob,” Tim agrees.
Now in London, the band are releasing a record called ‘Stuck In New Zealand’. The album was written and recorded back home, over a year ago – giving the chosen name a new kind of spin. It also meant that the record’s release got pushed back in part on the basis of logistics. “It would have been bloody expensive to take a whole bunch of vinyl through customs!”
Tim’s the brains behind the band’s self-production while quintessential Kiwi indie label Lil’ Chief Records carry out the distribution and marketing.
The title originates with a track that riffs on the idea of being trapped in paradise, as Mark elaborates.
“Living over here in the UK, it makes you even more aware of it – because you’ve got this place that’s this kind of paradise that you can always go back to if you don’t like it here anymore.”
While London opens up a great many doors, it’s also come with its own adjustments and challenges.
“In some ways, it’s like being a new band again. We’ve been together for five years, but here we are in the UK feeling like we’re an absolutely new band trying to pay all our dues again,” says Blair. “Here, it feels like it’s every band for themselves. We play shows and there isn’t really the sense of community. I’ve not even observed it among other bands, let along felt like we’ve been involved in it at all.”
They’re not afraid to poke fun at the local talent either. “Chris pointed out that drummers in the UK loves to pout. Everyone loves to pout.”
“You’ll notice,” Tim interrupts, “that when we’re live you have your back to me, and I’m pouting the whole time. I get very dry lips, but it’s worth it for the rock.”
They also note a trend towards style over substance – something that they reckon wouldn’t fly back home.
“There are these bands who look like they’re famous, and then they start playing and you’re like ‘no, you’re not’. In NZ, people get away with less posturing. And there’s lots of jacket-wearing on stage here too.”
Soldiering on they practise, they record, they play gigs. Tour opportunities are lined up in France and Germany with another Kiwi band, Moses.
“That’s why we moved over here, really – so we could tour around and stuff. So with a bit of luck, that’s what we’ll be doing.”
And sometimes the allure of the home crowd is assuaged by home comforts appearing in the post. When asked about any Wellington or Aotearoa things they miss, Tim immediately responds.
“Havana coffee. But my mum just sent me some. The only good coffee you get in London is made by New Zealanders.”
Maybe that’s the dual pronged approach of Kiwi culture taking over the world: coffee and kickass music. The Eversons are a damn good choice when it comes to leading that charge.
“All of us had experiences where we’d done various projects where the projects weren’t quite fully realised – or there had been various frustrations”, says Chris. “So we went into the band consciously thinking that we’re all on the same level, none of us are too precious. So we can have quite a direct approach to just make exactly what we want.
“And bizarrely, that kind of worked out.”
Both at home, and abroad, it would seem.