He burned out, dropped out and all but disappeared. Now, more than a decade after delivering the Lemonheads’ acclaimed “It’s a Shame About Ray,” Evan Dando has returned with “Baby I’m Bored.”
Dando’s solo debut, released April 22 in the U.S. on Bar None (after a March 17 release in the U.K. on Setanta), shows his songwriting talents and wicked sense of humor are firmly in tact. The singer-songwriter says he always knew he’d eventually record another studio album, his first since the Lemonheads swansong, 1996’s “Car Button Cloth” (Dando’s “Live at the Brattle” was released in 2001 in Australia only).
The delay between albums, Dando says, was due to the fact that he fell in love with his now-wife, Elizabeth Moses, who graces the cover of “Baby I’m Bored” and sequenced the album. “Falling in love took two seconds, but the realization of the love took awhile,” he says. “My wife’s a model and we were like, ‘F*ck it, let’s live our lives. Let’s go wherever we want, whenever we want, stay in hotels and travel around.’ So we basically traveled around for two years.”
He later admits — alluding to his much chronicled drug use — that meeting Moses did more for him than provide a traveling partner. “Before that, it was like, ‘I guess I’m going to die soon,'” he says. “My wife saved me.”
Much of “Baby I’m Bored” seems autobiographical, with tales of Dando’s decline and re-emergence, even “All My Life,” one of two tracks penned by his protege Ben Lee. “He wrote that for me to sing about myself,” Dando says. “That’s a biographical song. Ben was the first person to come to my aid when I was really lost. He really gave me the initial kick in the ass.”
Others lending Dando a hand include producer/composer Jon Brion, producer Bryce Goggin and songwriter Tom Morgan, Giant Sands’ Howe Gelb, Calexico’s John Convertino and Joey Burns, ex-Spacehog frontman Royston Langdon and Come’s Chris Brokaw and Arthur Johnson.
“I totally freed up the thing by dropping the ruse that was the Lemonheads,” Dando says. “By 1990, as far as the albums were concerned, it was a solo thing basically.”
Free of the band and major-label baggage, Dando set out to record “Baby I’m Bored” at a leisurely pace, but he had high standards. “I put a lot, a lot of work into it. I worked so hard,” he says. “I said, I’m not doing it unless I can step aside from myself and listen to it and say, ‘At least he’s doing his all.'”
Four years passed while he was recording and playing gigs to fund the sessions, but Dando quips it was not like a Fleetwood Mac-type recording session. “We didn’t have enough money to buy enough coke to do it the way they did it,” he says. “We couldn’t spend eight months on the snare drum sound.”
On the touring front, Dando performed an acoustic showcase gig in Los Angeles a week before the album’s release, with a New York show that coincided with street date. In June, Dando mounted a full-band tour backed by a combo that includes old pal Juliana Hatfield on bass, Brokaw on guitar and
Dinosaur Jr./J. Mascis & the Fog drummer George Berz.
As for Dando, who is now sober and wiser, he’s ready for another shot. “I was burning myself out. I live the whole rock ‘n’ roll dream — blowjobs, coke, all that stuff — I did all the f*cking weird, evil, fun, childish rock’n’roll sh*t. I just had to do it once, now I’m done with it.”