Interview: Eve 6

brent johnson chats with Jon Siebels, the guitarist for recently reunited ’90s rockers Eve 6 …

You might know them for their first hit — a catchy slice of 1998 punk-pop called ‘Inside Out’ that featured the words “rinds,” “wicker cabinet” and “chalk white” all in the same lyric.

Or you might know them for their second hit — a yearning piece of rock called ‘Here’s To The Night,’ which thousands of teens across the U.S. danced to at their senior prom in 2001.

Or you might simply know Eve 6 as one of the bands that made it big during alt-rock’s last great commercial wave — when Bill Clinton was at the end of his term, and guitar groups like The Wallflowers and Third Eye Blind actually ruled the Top 40.

Eve 6 — the Southern California trio of bassist and vocalist Max Collins, guitarist Jon Siebels and drummer Tony Fagenson — were always a little punkier than their late-’90s counterparts. Think Blink 182, but minus the bathroom jokes and with a darker set of chords.

The group broke up in 2004, just after Britney, Backstreet and auto-tuned hip-hop took over the charts. But Collins and Meyers revived the group in 2007 with a different guitarist. And the original lineup reunited last year and released Speak In Code —- their first new album in nine years — last month.

Now, they’re on tour. Catch them tonight at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J.

Pop-Break’s Brent Johnson spoke with Siebels over the phone about why ’90s nostalgia is suddenly in vogue, why he never even made it to his own prom, and which band he’d like to see reform.

Pop-Break: How did the whole reunion come about?

Jon Siebels: After we split up in 2004, I started working on another band called Monsters Are Waiting. Tony and Max ended up working on some stuff together. So it sort of was a little quicker for them to get back to the point where they were ready to do Eve 6 again. I had already started this other project, and things were going well with that. So I needed to see that through.

Then, personally, I was at a point where that was done, and these guys had been doing shows. It was just one of those things where one day, I was like, I’m ready to be doing this again, and these guys want me back. Everything moved very quickly from there about a year and a half ago. I had no idea that getting back into the fold would mean we’d be doing a record so quickly or any of the things that have happened so quickly. I don’t think any of us saw that happening. But it was a really nice surprise. Everything has been really smooth since we’ve all be back together.

PB: Jumping back into something that you hadn’t done in a while, did you need to look up tabs online for ‘Inside Out’ or rehearse your old parts?

JS: [laughs] No. There were definitely a few things where I had to go back and listen to the record and remember what the part was. But it all came back pretty quick. The first thing we did in getting back together was just getting in the rehearsal room together and play through some of the old songs. It all came back pretty darn quick actually.

PB: You guys came about at a time when guitar rock was still played on the radio and MTV. Were you surprised that just a few years later, dance music and hip-hop had pushed that out?

JS: Yeah. I feel like it’s all a bit cyclical. It’s interesting: When we were working on the first record it was like ’97 and it came out in ’98 — and even at that time, I remember people saying, “We like your songs, but it’s just too rock for radio.” At that time, it was almost the same thing. The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy and all these electronic things were on alternative radio, and then shortly after that, it was sort of guitar-based.

And then when we were coming out with our second record in 2000, it was completely the opposite, and we were too pop for radio. It was Linkin Park and Korn. I feel like it all just kind of comes in waves.

Definitely this sort of dance music and dance-based rock music has dominated in the last couple years. But I feel like guitar-based rock music is something that will never just go away. It will have its ins and its outs, but it’s never just gonna go away.

PB: Do you see a sort of ’90s nostalgia now, though? A lot of bands of that era have reunited and are playing again.

JS: Yeah. I think just the way that the industry has gone, the late-‘90s/early-2000s, that was the last time rock bands got a big push. And I feel like it’s hard for a brand new rock band to get that these days. Maybe at least for us, it feels like we had something then that we wouldn’t get today, and there are still a lot of fans out there for us.

And again, everything sort of comes in waves. It’s been far enough down the line. There’s always a backlash against something immediately after it happens. Then, 10 or 12 years go by, and everyone goes, “I liked that.” In the 2000s, it was everyone wanting to hear the ’80s again.

PB: Do you ever feel proud to play on the only pop song ever to reference both ginger ale and origami?

JS: [laughs] Yeah. Even when I first started making music with Max when I was 14 years old, I think I’ve always known that the strong suit of what we have is his lyric writing. And I think that’s what set us apart from other bands at the time and allowed our music to sort of stay around. It’s not just about a style or a genre or whatever. It’s about his lyrics. And I’m as much of a fan as anyone.

PB: Part of the reason I was excited about this interview was that I graduated high school in 2002. And my prom song was ‘Here’s To The Night.’ Did you hear a lot about that song being played at proms back then?

JS: A lot of that — prom and graduation. It was sort of preceded by Green Day’s ‘Time Of Your Life.’ There were a couple of songs like that from that era. But hey, it was a way of us reaching people that probably wouldn’t have known us otherwise and something that sort of kept us on peoples’ minds all this time. It was really funny that that happened, but we’re also really grateful for it.

PB: Do you remember what song was played at your prom?

JS: You know, I didn’t go to my prom. [laughs]

PB: Why was that?

JS: I don’t know. I guess I was too punk rock for prom or something. I was kind of originally planning on going, and I ended up going on a trip with some friends instead. I went to my 10-year reunion.

PB: A lot has changed in the music industry in the decade since you guys made it big. Looking at it now, do you have any advice for bands starting out? Or is this a much different animal from what you remember?

JS: It’s definitely a much different animal. There are some advantages and there are some disadvantages. With the internet, there’s a lot more opportunity in different areas you can be exposed in, and you can self-promote and all that. In a lot of ways, that’s a good thing. In other ways, it’s also vast and a lot of work.

I think when it comes down to it our advice to anyone is: I think things move so quickly these days, and people just want to get a recording out and be famous — and there’s really so much more to it. The idea of getting good at what you do and practicing and sticking with something and focusing, that’s a really hard thing these days with the lack of focus people have. So I think that’s the biggest thing. The cream of the crop will always rise up. Just really be good at what you do and be confident in what you do. Those things have always been true.

PB: What do you like most about the new album?

JS: Being able to be away from it for a while and all of us being able to spread our wings and do other stuff musically, I think we all sort of brought new tricks to the table. The first three records were so back-to-back. We were young. We were just in a bubble for those first three albums. I think being able to bring other things to the table and other musical styles, that was the most fun for all of us.

PB: If you could reunite one band right now, who would it be?

JS: Oh, man. Up until about six or seven years ago, I would have always said The Pixies. But that happened. [laughs]

I’d like to see an actual Pavement reunion. Going off that ’90s nostalgia.

4 COMMENTS

  1. One of things that made “Here’s to the Night” so successful was its simple acoustic sound. Eve 6 would have been better off staying truer to the music of their early records instead of trying too hard to be relevant by using boring synthetic sounds and rhythms. Further, there is absolutely no lyrical value to any of the songs on Speak in Code. “Here’s to the Night” resonated with high school graduates because its lyrics had some sort of meaning to them. With most of the tracks on this latest record, it’s hard to take Eve 6 seriously. Speak in Code blurs the line between a comedy album and an actual pop rock release, because of the goofy lyrics.

  2. Not true. Speak in code is a fantastic album. Is it different? Yes. But that shows they have grown as musicans. Here’s to the night is actually about a one night stand, not graduation or prom. It just goes to show youngins will latch on to anything without knowing what it means…

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