Bob Evans w/ Georgie Winchester & Belle
Bob Evans w/ Georgie Winchester & Belle
Great Southern Nights

Bob Evans w/ Georgie Winchester & Belle

The Stag & Hunter Hotel (Mayfield, NSW)
Friday, 8 March 2024 8:00 pm
14 days away
18 Plus
Australian Artists

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“It’s a rock album. That’s how I hear it, that’s what I was trying to make.”

That’s the first surprise from ARIA-winning Bob Evans, the musical alter ego of Jebediah’s Kevin Mitchell for more than 20 years. But it’s not the last as he talks about his new record, the exuberant Tomorrowland.

Over five albums, Bob Evans has been the acoustic melody king, the folk/rock alternative whose songs became favourites, then beloved and finally classics. Now, Mitchell says, “I think this is the most electric guitar I’ve played on a Bob record. I pretty much had an electric guitar in my hand for every song.”

Not just an electric guitar but a band cutting the record while feeding off their collective energy and putting tracks down in a handful of takes. The result: songs that almost burst out of the speakers as if they’ve been freed from lockdown, like the sunshine jangle of Bad Mood and the punchy Falling with its rolling drums.

“That’s what you get from putting a bunch of guys in a room and making a record live,” says a buzzed Mitchell.

“Having the band in a room playing together – we did two nights of rehearsals leading up, so everyone was really fresh - there’s an electricity that is conjured. I wanted that to kind of give the songs that extra little something that I can’t do on my own. Fill them with a bit of personality or a bit of character. I think all the songs have a kind of vitality to them.”

Another surprise is that Tomorrowland was spawned during one of the worst times for anyone, anywhere: the covid-cursed 2020, a period when initial recording was completed one day after all his gigs were cancelled, and two weeks before Mitchell and everyone else in his home state went into an agonisingly long lockdown.

“My reaction coming out of the studio was I felt desperately unlucky. I’m self financing this album, for the first time since the first Bob record, and then this pandemic hit and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish it.”

But that mood didn’t last. “The interesting thing now, as I reflect back, is my attitude towards it has gone a complete 180. Now I feel incredibly lucky that I managed to finish this record before shit went down.”

Nonetheless, Tomorrowland – whose title reflects Mitchell reassessing the past and looking into an uncertain future - doesn’t hide from difficult subjects. Luxury Car ponders a dystopian future almost here and resisting the voices which try to tell you everything is all right (“because it’s not”) while Concrete Heart jumps right into the way online culture can separate us, harden us and make a phrase like bleeding heart an insult.

“It’s actually kind of funny because I see being a bleeding heart as being a badge of honour. How has that become such a bad thing?,” Mitchell asks. “If the opposite of that is a concrete heart, well I don’t want to be that.”

Joining him on Concrete Heart is guest vocalist Stella Donnelly, who Mitchell saw at Laneway Festival and knew had to be part of this album. “Because it’s such a fun expression of something that isn’t exactly a fun topic, I wanted to do it as a duet and she was the first person I thought of. She just injects a lot of her personality into it.”

Permanently by his side through the recording was the band Mitchell had taken on the road for some years now, establishing the trust and connection that enabled immediate results and spontaneous ideas: Ash Naylor on guitars; Lachlan O’Kane on drums; Richard Bradbeer on bass; and James Fleming on keys.

“Not only did I really enjoy the time in the studio with everybody, I really like listening to it,” Mitchell says. “It’s one of the rare albums where it sounds like I hoped it would, or thought it would.”

No wonder even dystopian futures can’t keep these new songs from holding some optimism about the world. The future may be as murky as the past, but that’s ok for Kevin Mitchell, and Bob Evans.

“Tomorrow is a mysterious island yet to be explored,” he laughs. “And that’s where we are all headed.”