Eva Plays Dead are about to head out on UK tour and have announced new single SPIN will be released at the end of March.
Storge editor Sarah Lay talks to Matt Gascoyne, guitarist with the band about the highs and lows of the last year and where they are headed next.
Last year was a mixed bag for Eva Plays Dead – they had some great support slots with the likes of Alien Ant Farm and Steven Battelle, and topped the year off as a spotlight artist on Kerrang. But the theft of most of their equipment nearly led to their continued rise through the music ranks coming to an abrupt halt.
“We were in the process of finding a new place to rehearse and store our gear as Zach (Shannon, bass) was moving house and we normally kept it there.” Matt Gascoyne, guitarist with the band retells the tale of how the theft came about.
“We were due to move it all to a self storage place in Derby but our timing was really unlucky as Zach had already moved, so we kept it in the van overnight on a private, gated driveway with CCTV across the road, as a one off. After pulling up at 11pm after rehearsal, we had a call from Zach at 11am the day after saying that we had a break in and gear was missing. It was absolutely heart breaking.”
The band lost more than £3000 of equipment and with a run of gigs booked in faced having to cancel, while also trying to navigate insurance claims and recovery of stolen gear. As they did this they appealed to their fans to help keep an eye out for their equipment.
“The only help that we asked for was through a video message, that people keep an eye out and let us know if they see any of our missing gear in second hand shops, music shops or on eBay. Our fans being the incredible people they are, shared it an insane amount of times, racking over 100k views so that companies such as KHDK (Kirk Hammett of Metallica and a great guy called David Karon) and D’addario heard our story and sent us some of their products to help us carry on with the shows we had booked in!”
From this appeal came a crowdsourcing campaign which led to the band being able to get back on their feet – and on the road. Matt said, “The crowdsourcing idea itself came from a fan – something which we were not expecting at all and the most insane bit is when we logged on to see that Dr Martens had donated £2000 to help us fund replacing our backline. We seriously wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for our fan base.”
That fan base has been built over years of gigging around Derby and Nottingham as well as releases via Belper-based independent label Sound-Hub. The story of the band starts years before they became Eva Plays Dead. Matt said, “Tig (Dockerty, vocals) and I met on the other side of the world in Japan as part of a secondary school exchange trip! Although we got off to a bad start and didn’t get on (whoops), we learned that we shared a mutual interest in music, so we started writing and playing a few gigs with some of our mates.
“A few line up changes later, we found Seb (Boyse, drums) and Zach playing shows around Derby and Nottingham which gained us a decent bit of attention on a local level until we decided to do it ‘properly’ and kick off Eva Plays Dead at the beginning of 2013.”
The members still share that love of music but bring together a wide range of influences in their own sound. From local alumni LostAlone, to Black Flag, QOTSA, and Marmozets, they pull from across the rock and punk spectrum. Matt said, “We listen to a load of different bands but there isn’t much that we disagree on – we have quite an eclectic taste. One album that we all love is The Weird and Wonderful by Marmozets – it’s a banger and we’re excited to see what they put out next.
“More recently, Black Peaks album Statues has influenced us to experiment with a few different things and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes albums are great references for us when we want to take it real raw.”
The band are into a routine with each other when it comes to writing and recording, having spent several years honing their style and the process which works for them. “We turn up to our rehearsal room and thrash it out until something stands out, whether it’s a riff, chord progression or vocal melody… whatever. And then we use it is our starting point.
“We’ve started demoing a lot more in our own space and time too, so we then bring those ideas back to the room and see how we can make them work. Tig and I also spend time together with an acoustic guitar before we take it to the room and turn it in to a full band piece but everyone has their input before we take it to the studio.
“We are very hands on when we record and work with our producer Romesh (Dodangoda) – we go in with a solid idea, like to experiment with different sounds and take risks in the studio but he’s very honest when he thinks that something won’t work. It is a collaborative process but the songs don’t change drastically, however there have been examples where we’ve agreed to trim a bit off of a verse or something like that to make it punch slightly more.”
Although they’ve announced a new single, SPIN, will be released at the end of March their most recent release Bones has been enjoying a great response.
“Bones is the first track which wasn’t written from start to finish with all four of us in a room. We wrote the foundations of the song at our rehearsal space but it was finished off when recording demos at home and in the studio.
“It’s also the first song which we recorded when we started working with Romesh Dodangoda who has produced and recorded a load of great bands. The reaction to the song has been killer – the press and radio have really picked up on it and our fanbase have been as awesome as ever by helping spread the love for it.”
The band are signed to Sound-Hub records and have released several tracks with them. The independent label is based in Belper and supports many local artists through their early releases, and Matt explains what benefit they see as a band to being signed, “We released our EP Sounds of the Written Word through Sound-Hub and our most recent single Bones.
“It’s really great to have their help in distributing the music so that we can get it out to our fans and asking their advice about the new material we have in the pipeline because it let’s us focus on things which need our attention.
“What people don’t realise is that we still pay for everything and 100% run everything ourselves, which is great because we can do what we want but people mostly see the ‘signed band’ thing and instantly think that we’re on the bank roll.”
Keeping that DIY ethos means that while the band may be playing bigger venues now – they are about to embark on a UK tour with Devilskin and Sumo Cyco – they are still passionate about the grassroots music scene they grew from. “We wouldn’t be here without smaller venues.
“Our old stomping ground was The Victoria Inn, even before Eva Plays Dead was launched! We learned how to play shows there and it was great coming back to sell out shows there when things started to kick off.
“It’s really important to support these venues where you can – pay for tickets, buy beer behind the bar and buy merch from the bands. We don’t get to go to as many local shows as we would like but we make a conscious effort when we are able to.”
You can see Eva Plays Dead at Rock City, Nottingham on 23 March 2017. Full tour dates on their website. They premiered new track SPIN on BBC Introducing East Midlands last week and will release the track via Sound-Hub on 31 March 2017.