Rising Stars [Issue
The Unpretentious Celebrit-E By
With Strings: Live at Town Hall
With success comes
celebrity, whether it be in sport, acting, or music. Choosing how to deal with
that celebrity can result in excess, superstardom, or even death.
Maintaining a healthy
balance takes determination and a discipline to live on ones own terms.
Such is the existence of Mark Oliver Everett, aka E of Eels. From his 1992 debut,
A Man Called E, which spawned the unlikely alternative hit, Hello Cruel
World, to his latest creation, Live at Town Hall, a string-infused compendium
of existing material, albeit arranged and played totally differently, Everett
has chosen to shut out the Los Angeles glitz and glamour and find contentment
simply smoking a cigar in his backyard and playing with his dog. I guess
its a combination of things, says Everett. Its partly
my stubbornness and my wanting to live on my terms. Ive always been idiosyncratic
in that way. I never wanted to be a big commercial success.
With a revolving cast of musicians, Eels have released six studio albums with
their most recent, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, garnering critical acclaim
and an exhaustive twice-global tour featuring a string quartet, steel guitar,
mandolin, musical saw, celeste, pump organ, and even a trash can. Physically drained,
Everett needed to recoup but while playing with his dog Bobby Jr., he was inspired
once again. I had no intention of touring after Blinking Lights but as I
was sitting there smoking a cigar, it dawned on me how nice it would be to recreate
this moment on stage.
I suppose I want to be a friend to the listener and be the best musical
artist I can be, says Everett. My music is always changing and evolving.
Live At Town Hall features 22 tracks of reworked material covering his entire
career. The preparations for the album were the toughest so far. It was
much harder than I had anticipated. We have never been in a situation where the
band members were reading written music. I cant even read music! This wasnt
a pick up your guitar, plug in, and see what happens situation. There
is very little margin for error with this type of setup. Theres no feedback,
no cymbal wash to hide behind when something goes wrong. Youre very naked
and everyone can hear every little thing very clearly.
The album, accompanied by a DVD, gives wonderful insight into the musical genius
of E. Beautiful melodies and haunting lyrics abound. Recorded live at Town Hall
in New York City on June 30th of last year, the album features Bus Stop
Boxer from the Souljacker album stripped down to almost nothing. Its
raw and brilliant. Ditto for I Like Birds from the Daisies From The
Galaxy album and Novocaine For The Soul from the critically acclaimed
album, Beautiful Freak. Everett also puts his touch on Bob Dylans Girl
From North Country, Johnny Rivers Poor Side Of Town, and
The Left Bankes Pretty Ballerina.
Somehow he has been able to keep himself away from the trappings of stardom. His
life is simple and graceful. I just like sitting in my house and coming
up with new ideas. I dont get into the whole LA scene. His legion
of fans awaits whatever incarnation of Eels that Everett will come up with. Perhaps
next time hell be feeding the birds and voila! You just never know.
With Strings: Live at Town Hall