Gundagai is a quiet town, and there was no escape from it. I needed something to distract me and someone to talk to, and that’s when I received a call from Kevin Mitchell, aka singer/songwriter Bob Evans.
When I asked Kevin to describe Bob Evans in three words, he responded with ‘drunk, old, charming.’ This made me chuckle a little and it made the country air feel less stale. Turns out he was visiting his hometown of Perth, had a few drinks the night before and shared the fun with his folks.
After the successful release of Suburban Songbook in 2006, Mitchell has been busy touring, as well as writing material for his upcoming album due out early next year.
Bob Evans is embarking on a national tour, stopping off at all major cities, and including a couple of regional towns such as Toowomba and Katoomba. I asked Mitchell if he still got nervous before a gig. “I always get a little bit nervous every time I play a show… I think being nervous is a good thing, it means that you’re kind of switched on”. He goes on to say that before going onstage he drinks just a little bit, but doesn’t get blind drunk, and advises me that he enjoys a shot of Jaegermister to warm up.
Mitchell says this tour will be a ‘duo tour’ where he’ll be performing alongside Mal Clarke from The Sleepy Jackson – who will be playing keyboard and drums at the same time. Something worth checking out! He also goes on to say that he will be putting a band together for a later tour, and when Bob Evans plays festivals.
With a hectic touring schedule ahead, I asked Mitchell what the best and worst thing was about going on tour. Sitting in a van all day, going in and out of airports, the drudgery of travel and hangovers all make his worst list, but he describes the 23 hours of hard work in preparation for a one hour show as what he lives for. “I still get a massive thrill from being at a gig; after sound check, doors open… a room full of people… I enjoy it far more now than I ever used to”. And drawing on the topic, I asked Mitchell what he gets out of playing live “My ego gets a good stroking when people rock up to the show, I guess I have a lot of fun, free drinks and a good night out; that’s really all I’m after”. I ask him what he wants the audience to get out of his live show. “Just a smile… a smile and a warm fuzzy feeling. Hopefully they go home with a buzz, whether it’s from the alcohol or from my incredible songwriting”.
Being a singer/songwriter is a full time job for Mitchell, and I asked him what inspires him to move forward with music. “Paying the rent. I never really have much money so I have to keep working, and I can’t do anything else, I’ve never really done anything else and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Sometimes fear is a great motivator; I’m so shit-scared of having to work a real job someday that I’ve got to keep working, I’ve got to keep playing shows, I’ve got to keep writing songs, otherwise I’m going to have to get a job at a factory and be so drepressed. I don’t think I’m cut out for anything else”.
Curious on the direction of Bob Evans career, I asked Mitchell if he can see Bob Evans expanding into other music genres. I was interested to find out Mitchell has a fascination with Bossa Nova. “There’s a song on the new record that I’ve made that’s a total Bossa Nova song, it’s probably my favourite song on there. I would love to make an entire record of Bossa Nova songs… writing 12 Bossa Nova songs would be a challenge, I’d have to really practice Bossa Nova a lot… I managed to write one really good one.”
Kevin Mitchell has come a long way from playing leapfrog onstage with Jebediah because of a power black-out at Big Day Out to his new singer/songwriter alter-ego Bob Evans. It was both a privilege and a pleasure to talk to the man himself about his upcoming shows, drinking, inspiration, Bossa Nova and his favourite fashion accessory.