Bob Evans – What’s In A Name

I HAVE always thought that Bob is an unusual name and in the case of singer/songwriter Bob Evans it is. The man behind the faíƒÂ§ade is none other than Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell, who chose the name on the spur of the moment for his first show.

“It was just a name I had on a t-shirt that I was wearing when I had to come up with a name,” he said. “I was just wearing the t-shirt that day, I looked down and said I’ll be Bob Evans. I just never bothered to change it, really.”

The reason Bob is such a weird name is because if you read it backwards, you still get the same name – it’s freaky. Mitchell could not shed any light on why he had a Bob Evans shirt on that day, but a quick search on Google revealed that there are many Bob Evans in the world.

They include a scenic photographer, an American family restaurant chain, an actor/producer, a real estate agent, an ageing English singer/songwriter, a former Formula One driver and oh, I almost forgot, an Aussie singer.

Mitchell shot to fame with Perth rock outfit Jebediah in 1997 with their debut album Slightly Odway.The album spawned many hits that have stood the test of time including ‘Leaving Home’, ‘Harpoon’ and ‘Teflon’. But after five albums and numerous national and international tours, Mitchell has taken time out to get his side project off the ground.

Bob Evans is about to release his second long player Suburban Songbook on June 10 and this time it is with a major label, Capitol Records (EMI). His debut album Suburban Kid fell under the radar of the music industry and was recorded in a house in Perth during his spare time with Adam Said Galore bass player Simon Struthers.

“There is a pretty massive difference between the two records,” Mitchell said. “The first record is very much a home recording and the second record was done in a studio with session musos.

“Things are always going to be different when you go from putting a record out independently to putting a record out through a major label. I also believe that Suburban Songbook is a better record than the last one. I am really proud of it and I want more people to hear it.”

Suburban Songbook was recorded in a studio in Nashville during a one block session and it was the first time Mitchell had recorded overseas. The record is tinged with country, but Mitchell said it has nothing to do with where it was recorded.  “All of that country stuff was in there before I even knew where I was going to record it or who was going to make it,” he said.”It wasn’t even a conscious thing, it was just what I felt like doing at the time.

“I’ve always listened to a little bit of new country music and I’ve always tried to flip bits of pedal steel and stuff into Jebediah records, which I’ve managed to do successfully a couple of times.”

Bob Evans has just completed a sold out national tour with Josh Pyke to support the release of the album’s first single ‘Don’t You Think It’s Time’ and he was blown away by the support. “I was just surprised,” Mitchell said. “It blew away both mine and Josh’s expectations. It was terrific.”

Mitchell said he has been unleashing Bob Evans to the world since he was 13-years-old living in Bullcreek in Western Australia, but it wasn’t until he was 20 that he began to compile a short list of songs. “I’ve always written stuff on my own,” he said.”The only difference now is that people are hearing it.

“It’s a fantastic thing to be able to make a record where you can fully realise all of your ideas, which has been the case with this album. I’ve been writing songs on my own and recording songs on my own at home on a little four track for such a long time. For me it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything different.”

All of the songs on Suburban Songbook were written in the past two years and many of them are about Mitchell’s fiancíƒÂ©e, who is from North East Victoria. The couple will tie the knot in November, but Mitchell is unsure when the honeymoon will take place with plans to bring out another Jebediah record in the not to distant future. “We (Vanessa, Chris, Brett and Mitchell) all really want to get together and get writing again,” he said. “We’ve already started the process, we just have to find time to get together.

“Once I finish touring Bob, we’ll hopefully make a record.”

Mitchell relishes in the idea of having two mediums to release his music through and said there is room for more.”Probably 10 percent of the songs I write end up getting recorded,” he said. “I’m constantly writing, I’ve constantly got songs in my head, I’m constantly sitting down with a guitar or while I’m driving or in the shower I’m thinking of things.

I’d like to make more records. The only thing that slows down making records is the promotion side of it and the touring side of it.  But you’ve got to do that otherwise you can’t pay your rent. I’m sure most songwriters would like to put out a couple of records a year.”

I think the fans would like that too.