You didn’t fall for those silly little rumors about Evan Dando being dead, did you? Well, he’s not. In fact, the reformed poster boy has returned to skank & roll by reincarnating his precious Lemonheads and taking them out on tour in the wake of a new album, Car Button Cloth. It’s classic Dando: Poppy, moody, silly, serious, raw and buff, but this time there’s more heart, an urgency we haven’t witnessed before.
On the floor of his almost-fancy New York apartment, there’s a lot of junk: stepped-on photos, wadded letters, dirty clothes, QVC-bought fishing lures — and that’s where a flu-buggy Dando sat down to break it to us gently and, once and for all, let us know that, indeed, the kid is all right.
So where have you been? Three years have passed since you last recorded.
Yeah, yeah. I’ve been just . . . ah . . . I rented a house at the Vineyard —Martha’s Vineyard — for two summers in a row. I just led a normal life for a while. I needed to do that. I didn’t want to have anything to do with the music business, and I didn’t think that anyone wanted to hear anything from me anyway [this from a man who seems to turn up onstage at every rock event in New York]. So it was a perfectly convenient situation, you know?
Did you enjoy making this album?
It was back to making music for the sheer fun of it. The last record was like, “You guys have got to make a platinum album,” so we were under pressure. I just wanted to make one that I liked myself.
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“6ix” is about Gwyneth Paltrow in Seven. Do you know Gwyn and Brad [Pitt]?
Yeah, man. [Gets up] Should I call Gwyneth now? I just found her phone number.
No. Has she heard it?
No. [Sits down] But I’ve got to play it for her, because it said in Rolling Stone that there was a song about her head in a box, but she must know it’s about the movie, right? And it’s about Soupy Sales.
Yeah. Um, will you act anymore? You were in Reality Bites and Heavy.
I don’t know. The only person I’ll act for now is John Waters. I’ve been lucky enough to make his acquaintance, and we correspond regularly. So I’m going to ask him to give me anything in his next movie.
Do you think you’re pretty?
I’m not, like, horribly unattractive.
Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
Oh, come on! Are you kidding? Girls are my main passion in life. It’s been a real advantage. In high school — this might sound like a total-asshole comment — but I could pretty much pull any bird that I wanted.
I mean [laughs] . . . no . . . yeah, I enjoy, you know, being able to hang out with really beautiful ladies.
You were in rehab, right?
Yeah, I went to Silver Hill. That’s the place where Edie Sedgwick went. I wrote that song “Hospital” in there.
You still drink, though.
Yeah, yeah. I drink, smoke pot, smoke cigarettes— try to keep it to that.
Definitely not. I’ve been off it for six months or so. That stuff’s the closest thing to Satan on this planet, because it makes you feel good for no reason. You should feel good for reasons.
You were in Austin, Texas, for a while.
Me and Gibby [Haynes of the Butthole Surfers] spent a totally lost summer there in ’93 when I was making an album. We just went for it. [Laughs] We had this little car that was all fucked up, and we’re like, “Let’s get in the Nissan Crack Finder and go downtown.” It was a very exciting summer, but it took its toll, you know?
What’s your favorite song on this album?
“Losing Your Mind.”
When I wrote it? Definitely! I went on tour with Oasis, and I was hanging out in London with my friends, doing heroin. You develop this semihabit after two weeks. Then I flew down to Sydney [Australia], and I banged up a bunch of fucking speed the first night. You know, clean needle, of course. And the next day I did two hits of ecstasy, didn’t go to sleep, and the next day I did a hit of really strong acid, and then the withdrawal symptoms started kicking in. And that was it, man.
And then what happened?
I was totally fed up with overexposure, and I wasn’t going to play anymore.
Did you learn anything?
Yeah: Everyone doesn’t know what’s good for you. You have to trust your instincts. For example, what photographers ask for: unnatural things that make you look like a dick. You know, get all styled, your hair all combed. I’m through with all that.
You do have to look out for yourself.
Right. I’ll only have myself to blame then. I’m sick of blaming other people. Everything’s worked out fine, anyway. Except for this cold that’s coming on, everything’s groovy.
‘Robitussin will take care of that.
Tussin up, yeah!
Do you put much credence in the past?
What? Creedence Clear-water Revival?
No, Evan! The past. A lot of people rag others for living in the past!
Well, memories of childhood are endless, which makes life infinite, which is convenient.
Do people think you’re dumb?
I wouldn’t blame them if they did. In interviews, I used to put up a shield of a total airhead. I guess I was a little wary about people finding out who I was. It was funny for a while, but . . . I don’t know, I doubt people think I’m dumb. I really don’t care. [Holds up a sizable rusty nail] You ever heard of Babes in Toyland?
Of course, yeah.
Kat [Bjelland] gave me this in Austin and said, “This is your martyr nail.” And I happened to hold onto it. It’s scary.
Wow. Well don’t lose your martyr nail, you may need it later in life.