“I used to make a joke that recording in the studio felt like playing to people in their cars sometimes. We’ll see how it is in reality.”
It’s hard to name a better songwriter to come out of Boston over the past 35 years than the Lemonheads’ Evan Dando. He began with punk and steadily evolved his craft into an alternative rock force accented by hints of country and folk while echoing vintage guitar pop aesthetics.
Everyone knows the band from its 1992 hit cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” but originals such as “Hannah & Gabi,” “Tenderfoot,” “Rest Assured,” and “Alison’s Starting To Happen” are stellar examples of how Dando can write a song that sticks with you.
When it comes to Boston acts that have left a mark, the Lemonheads have legend status. So it’s especially exciting that on Aug 30, the Lemonheads will take the stage at the Yarmouth Drive-In on Cape Cod to play some hits as well as covers for an all-around rad time.
Dando and I spoke ahead of the show about living in Martha’s Vineyard during these crazy months, having fun with other songs by other artists, being happy to be playing a show, and planning a new album.
How has it been dealing with COVID-19 on Martha’s Vineyard? Did you feel isolated during the early months of the pandemic? Have you been avoiding the tourist crowds?
Over here I think it’s a good place to be for this time. I was scared at first when it started because when things like this happen, everyone gets it right away but so far, so good. Here you don’t really go out anyway. I don’t go to bars anymore, I just go hang out at the beach with friends, so it hasn’t really affected my life that much. A couple tours got cancelled, which really sucks, but it’s been a good place to be so far given the situation.
Last year, the Lemonheads put out Varshons II, which is the second covers album the band has put out along with being the band’s first album in 10 years. When it comes to choosing to do renditions of particular songs, how do you go about the process? Is it about the music that has influenced you the most as a songwriter or is it something different?
The first Varshons record was done with Gibby Hanes from the Butthole Surfers, and he picked the songs on that one. It’s probably a better record, but this one was just for fun. It’s mostly on a whim from when the time comes. We wanted to do another record like the one before because we weren’t quite finished with our next original one. We also wanted to tour, so we used Varshons II as a vehicle to tour on. I met my new drummer that way, this kid Lee Falco. It was just something to do and most of the songs on the album are old favorites of mine.
Putting your own spin on these songs …
Yeah, it was very fun.
Is the upcoming show at the Yarmouth Drive-In going to be your first time performing in front of people in cars?
Yeah, it’s funny because I used to make a joke that recording in the studio felt like playing to people in their cars sometimes. We’ll see how it is in reality, and it seems like a wild idea. Here we go, it’s a brave new world but we’re playing a gig and I can’t believe it. It feels good to be doing something, I’m happy.
Are you preparing yourself any differently for this type of show with it being a totally new setup? Or do you plan on approaching it like any other gig?
I really don’t have anything planned ahead of time, but that’s a good question; maybe I should think about that. As of now we’re probably going to run through the set a couple times, which we sometimes do; sometimes we don’t even do that. If we get a chance, we’re gonna bang out a rehearsal; we’re all pretty local and most of us live on the island here, so we get to jam all of the time. We’re gonna try to get Lee out here for a little vacation and go from there.
Looking ahead, what are your plans for the coming months? Have you been working on new music?
Definitely, I got a lot of ideas. I’ve had a weird block, but now I have a plan to finish the next Lemonheads album as soon as possible. I got a really good band together to do it with, so I’m looking forward to doing some recording in the fall sometime.
The Lemonheads at Yarmouth Drive-In. Sun, 8.30. yarmouthdrivein.com
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.