Somethin’ to say
PETERBOROUGH: Alan Evans of Soulive is coming to town with his own rock and roll trio — ‘bring your earplugs!’
Renowned drummer Alan Evans is coming to town Saturday night to play a show at Harlow’s Pub with his group Playonbrother. Evans’ name is synonymous with funk, soul, jazz, and perhaps most of all, Soulive, the seminal trio Evans co-founded with his brother, Neil Evans, and Eric Krasno. They’ve toured the world over the past 15 years bringing funk to the masses; however, when it comes to Saturday night’s show, don’t expect to hear that signature Soulive sound — at least, not entirely.
“Obviously whatever I do is going to have some soul and funk infused into it,” Evans said in a recent interview, “but when you talk about challenges, that’s definitely been one of them. People are expecting Soulive light, but it’s definitely a rock-and-roll band, without a doubt. Bring your earplugs!”
Aside from rock and roll, it’s hard to nail down exactly what kind of sound Playonbrother brings to the stage — something Evans said is a result of the musical era he grew up immersed in. “It’s funny, these days it’s easy to pick out the differences,” Evans said. “That’s hip hop, that’s reggae, that’s pop. But for me, my influences, they come from a time period where everyone listened to everything and everyone was influenced by all styles of music, so it was hard to really pinpoint what was coming from where. I grew up listening to a lot of Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa, Grand Funk Railroad, Zeppelin, Cream, Mountain.”
Beyond his duties with Soulive, Evans has been touring with Playonbrother — originally called the Alan Evans Trio — for the last four years. And while most people will know him from Soulive, Evans stressed that Playonbrother isn’t just a “side project.”
“I hear lot of ‘Oh, this is a side project of Alan’s,’” Evans said. “But I think of a side project as just a couple cats around the neighborhood that get together and play shows. This a band, and its a long-term project for me and these guys and it’s a lot of responsibility.”
While the freedom of being the de facto band leader has been liberating for Evans creatively, it comes with its share of pressures.
“Any original tunes that we’re playing — and the majority of the set is originals — are all mine,” Evans said, “and I’ve always had a clear vision of what my songs should sound like live. There is some pressure, because it’s all my stuff. Your name is on it, so it’s easier for people to put it under a microscope. It’s art, so you’re putting yourself out there for people to dig or not dig. It’s fun at the same time — it’s a lot of fun.”
The trio originally consisted of Evans, organist Beau Sasser and guitarist Danny Mayer; after Sasser left the group earlier this year, Kris Yunker stepped in to fill the void on keys. The new puzzle piece meant a fresh start of sorts for Evans, and it didn’t take long for the trio to get on the same page. Yunker joined Mayer and Evans at Evans’ Massachusetts studio space, learned the songs in a couple of days and the group took off on the road to kick off their tour in Chicago.
“The cool thing is that Danny and Kris are still in a band together, so their chemistry is there,” Evans said, referring to Maker and Yunker’s On The Spot Trio. “It was pretty apparent the first show where things just started happening on their own. It’s one thing to follow the script. But the communication between us has been incredible. The thing is that you’re always just a little worried, even though I knew Kris was the right cat for the band, but before you play together it’s still going to be like that. But after just the first few notes of the night I knew it was going to work. And every show after that it’s just been getting better and better each night.”
With a month of touring under their belts, and a new live EP (available at playonbrother.bandcamp.com/releases), Playonbrother is tight as can be and ready to bring the noise to Peterborough Saturday night at 9:30 p.m at Harlow’s Pub. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door; for more information, visit harlowspub.com or playonbrother.com. Details on Playonbrother’s upcoming album, scheduled for a fall release, can also be found at playonbrother.com.