Interview by Holly Aker.
Looking back on it all, 2010 was a good year for Evolett. Even though the Montgomery, AL-based band lost their guitarist and drummer right around the same time, by the end of the year the band had replaced both, signed with the Austin label End Sounds and released their first full-length album, For Your Consideration. Now Evolett is ready to take the music world head-on and started 2011 with the band’s first co-headlining tour.
The female-fronted Evolett, which includes lead singer Haden Brightwell, guitarists Adam Jessamine and Russ Daly, bassist Jake Sloan and drummer AJ Blume, has a powerful alt-rock sound. With the addition Brightwell’s sweet yet commanding voice, For Your Consideration develops a sound all its own.
Before their show at Momo’s with Dallas rock band Page 9, we sat down with Evolett and talked about how the band met their new guitarist and drummer, what it was like filming the music video for “The Compromise” and what the band has planed for 2011.
Alabama is not really known for being an alternative rock hotbed in comparison to some other U.S. cities. When you started the band did you intend to create something different and unexpected for your location?
Haden Brightwell: Yeah, in Montgomery we did. I mean there’s rock bands around there. A lot of them are older. It’s a lot of cover bands, but there were no female fronted rock bands.
Being from Alabama, how did you end up signing with Austin-based label, End Sounds last year?
Brightwell: That was hooked up through our manager, Andy Jackson. He has a band that’s also with End Sounds, so that’s that deal. You know people through other people.
Jake Sloan: I play in that band as well.
Brightwell: Yeah, he plays in that band. It’s called Death in the Park.
How did you find your new drummer, AJ Blume?
Blume: Me and Adam used to be in a band.
Daly: It’s kind of a good story. His band was recording with Andy, our manager who has a studio in Montgomery, and they came down and played a few shows in the southeast.
Jessamine: We’re [Jessamine and Blume] from Philadelphia.
Daly: And I guess their band kind of was falling apart when they came down.
Brightwell: At the same time our members quit.
Daly: Our guitarist quit the day before I met him [Jessamine]. And he was like, “I want to be in that band.”
Jessamine: Yeah, I was like, “I want to be in you guys’ band so bad.” And right after we played he [Daly] was like, “You got to be in my band,” and then it just kind of happened. I came down and learned all the stuff. Then I was like, “You’ve got to get this kid [Blume] to play drums. He’s so good.” Then he came down, and the first practice everything was perfect, which was crazy.
Brightwell: It was all good timing.
Haden, you have an incredibly powerful voice, especially for someone your age. Where did you learn to sing?
Brightwell: I started singing in church when I was little, and then through junior high and high school I did show choir and girls’ chorus and musical theater. I picked it up through choir I guess.
Who are your vocal role models?
Brightwell: I’m on a big Deftones kick right now. So I mean I can’t really say it’s my role model. I don’t know. I listen to a lot of different music. I don’t really have one specific role model.
As your first co-headlining tour, this tour is a pretty big step for you. How do you feel about it?
Daly: It’s fun, getting some touring under our belt.
Brightwell: It’s fun, yeah. It’s going really good. Gotta start out somehow.
Jessamine: We’re having a great time.
What is the songwriting process like for you? Who primarily writes the lyrics and who primarily writes the music? Or is it all a group effort?
Sloan: The newer stuff we’ve worked on is a mesh of everybody thus far. It’s not like one person has all these great ideas. A lot of us collaborate together on certain things and introduce them to these guys because we don’t play drums. I mean, someone’s gotta play drums, right? So he’s gotta write his shit.
Brightwell: Yeah, everybody has an equal part in the writing.
Daly: Usually it starts off with a riff. Like, “Hey this sounds cool. Go with it”
Jessamine: Or like, “What can you do vocally?”
Sloan: Yeah, just write something around it.
What inspirations do you draw from while you’re writing a song?
Sloan: Life. The world. What’s going on around me.
Daly: Experiences. I don’t really have a specific band that influences me.
Jessamine: I love delay pedals and U2.
Daly: He looks like The Edge.
Brightwell: He’s like a little mini-Edge.
I can definitely see it.
Jessamine: That’s like my absolute favorite thing. The delay pedal, love it.
Daly: I just listen to music. I’m not the kind of guy who’s like, “I like this band. Let’s write exactly like that band,” but I like to draw influences from lots of different types of bands and combine them.
Sloan: You instantly pigeonhole yourself once you say, “Let’s write shit like this band.” So you can’t work yourself in that hole.
Brightwell: You can’t expect to be original if you’re mimicking what you like. You kind of have to figure out what your knack is.
Daly: If you write a song every time you hear a band, the CD is going to sound like completely 10 different genres.
Blume: I like huge drums. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Your music video for “The Compromise” is set to be released pretty soon. Can you give me a little preview of what to expect?
Brightwell: You can expect high energy, lots of lights, and lots of smoke.
Daly: But by smoke we mean fire extinguisher powder.
Brightwell: The fog machine that the guy brought, he plugs it in, he’s trying to get it warmed up. It won’t turn on. Brand new out of the box. Does not work. So we’re trying to figure out ways to make smoke. The guys are smoking cigarettes.
Jessamine: Chain-smoking and everything.
Daly: We even started a fire in the living room.
Brightwell: Then someone was like, “What about the fire extinguisher?”
Jessamine: Worst idea ever.
Brightwell: So they would blow the fire extinguisher and then go, “Alright, get in there.” Not even with time for it to settle. It was awful.
Jessamine: By the end of the shoot, we were all covered in white dust.
Brightwell: So expect lights, energy and fire extinguisher smoke.
Evolett played at the End Sounds South By Southwest Showcase last March. Do you have any plans to play at South By Southwest this year?
Brightwell: If everything works out if we’re not busy doing something else, I imagine we’ll be there. I imagine we’ll probably play the End Sounds show again. Everything else is still kind of up in the air.
What are you goals as a band for 2011?
Jessamine: My personal goal was always to film a music video and that already happened so I’m all right.
Daly: Tour as much as we can.
Blume: Continue to have huge drums.
Brightwell: We’re going to be touring a lot. We’re going to start trying to write new material now that we have a solid lineup. Definitely an EP. I know we’re going to try to shoot another music video here maybe by February.
Sloan: I’d like to spend a grand total of about two weeks at home and that’s it.
Brightwell: Yeah, we’re just trying to stay busy the whole year.
(Photos provided by End Sounds)