evans blue band

In an age where rock bands come and go with every flip of the calendar, it's becoming extremely hard to find new bands that become mainstays in this writer's musical rotation.  Enter one of the few constants... Evans Blue.  The world was first introduced to EB back in 2005, with the single "Cold (But I'm Still Here)" off of their debut album The Melody and The Energetic Nature of Volume.  All they have done since then is sell over a million albums and hone themselves into staples in the active rock world.  Not everything came so easy for them however, the band has endured lineup changes (including the replacement of original lead singer Kevin Matisyn), the perils of being major label artists, and personal tragedy along the way.  While most bands that encounter these things get weak and dissolve, Evans Blue has not only managed to persevere, they've progressed with each album leading up to their strongest release to date, Graveyard of Empires.  Recently, I had the chance to catch up with founding member and guitarist Parker Lauzon, on the eve of the kickoff of the Graveyard of Empires Tour, where we talked and laughed about everything from "one-man orchestras"-to- one man's fight for his life with the Czech injustice, err I mean justice system.  So sit back, relax with a cold adult beverage, and join me as we go "Beyond the Stars" with Parker Lauzon.

AWAY-TEAM:  I'd first like to say congratulations on the success of Graveyard of Empires, I've been a fan for quite some time, and I think I can say it's your best work to date...

PARKER LAUZON: Thanks! I appreciate it!

AWAY-TEAM:  It's well deserved!  (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  ...particularly form a guitar standpoint.  The album seems to be more riff-driven than those in the past, what can we attribute that to?

PARKER LAUZON:  I don't really know... I guess I'll start off by saying that this is the album that, personally for me being in this band from the beginning, and basically the founder of the band, this album is the pinnacle of what I've always wanted this band to sound like.  There's very diverse taste in music throughout the band.  I've always been since high school, a metal fan, but then the Staind's and the Deftones came out with the metal riffs, and the melodies, and that's what I was kinda drawn to.  So that's the sound I was always going for, but the albums always turned out a little lighter than I wanted them, and this album turned out absolutely perfect in my eyes.  It is exactly how I wanted this band to sound all along, so I'm very excited about it.

AWAY-TEAM:  The title of the album seems to have many meanings to it, what was it's meaning to you guys when you picked it?

PARKER LAUZON:  The title, Graveyard of Empires, was actually the working title for the song "Thank You", that Vlad sent in.  We liked it, we had a few other album title ideas, and we decided to go with it just because of the state of the world, I guess in general, but the state of the music industry in particular; ya know, all the labels crumbling.  We just think it's a really good time for the little guy, to be independent, to make their mark on the industry.  So we decided to go with that, and we like it.

AWAY-TEAM:  You mentioned the industry crumbling to a point, and I noticed that a lot of bands are going the independent route.  For you, having been on Hollywood Records, and seeing what it was like to be a major label artist, the pros and the cons, what do you make of the whole Kickstarter campaigning that seems to be spreading throughout the music community?  It seems to be a great way for independent bands to work on a major label budget, but do you think it's something that's gonna last?  Or do you think fans are gonna start saying 'Ya know what, I already have enough autographed paraphenalia from this band. I'm gonna keep my money'?

PARKER LAUZON:  Ya know, that's a good question.  I could take it, or leave it, it seems to work for some bands, but if I were to be giving money to a band to do their album, I would probably want something in return.  So I would think you would have to make the package pretty good, if you give us something we'll give you a little something.  We're lucky to have been in the industry to the level that we have that we can do what we want,  I can tell you right now, if we were on a major label right now I don't think the album would sound the way it does, and that would really disappoint me.  Without having those big heads leering over you, we have our artistic say, and that's really important to this band.  We want to not be told what to say or do in our songs, we want to write our songs, we don't want people to write them for us.  I think bands on major labels are losing that luxury these days.

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, someone's always pulling the strings behind the scenes.

PARKER LAUZON:  Yeah, it's really unfortunate.  People are scrambling to figure out how to fix this industry, and I think that the major labels are breaking it more than they're fixing it right now.

AWAY-TEAM:  Right.  Now, the title track of this album is a little bit of a break from the norm, stylistically, you eluded to it earlier that you all had different musical tastes.  It's a "piano and a one-man 14 string orchestra"...

PARKER LAUZON:  Yeah (laughs)  Stevie Blacke and Al Jankowski...  Stevie Blacke is on the strings, he is absolutely incredible!  You can go to YouTube and watch him, he sets up his studio like an orchestra was playing in there, and he plays each instrument from the seat that instrument would be sitting at.

AWAY-TEAM:  Wow!

PARKER LAUZON:  It's absolutely incredible to see!  So he did the strings on our album.  Al Jankowski is, our studio is up in Traverse City, MI, he owns a Marshall's Music up there, and we had the idea to throw a little bit of piano on the album.  We were looking for a piano player in Traverse City, we obviously were there getting some stuff, and our producer Trevor Kustiak knew him.  So he came in, and just owned all the tracks.  The track "Graveyard of Empires" wasn't originally named "Graveyard of Empires" at first, we had the title of the album, but that part was just an extension of the song "Beyond the Stars" at that point.  And then somebody, I believe it was our producer, came up with the idea to make it the title track, and we had no hands in that.  We just had the idea to go into something instrumental there, with strings and a piano, but we let them have carte blanche to do what they wanted to do with the track.  So it was really cool to have it come back to us and listen to it, and be like 'Wow! That is absolutely incredible!'

AWAY-TEAM:  I was gonna ask you what that was, and I can't believe that it really is truly a one-man orchestra! (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs) Yeah, he does strings for everybody.  He did like, Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and Cambria, all the big metal bands.  He's on all those albums, so we're really proud to have him on our album.

AWAY-TEAM:  After the departure of your former drummer, Howard Davis, which actually delayed this album, the album was recorded entirely with session drummers.  Who are you bringing out on the road with you for this tour? And what are your plans for finding Howard's replacement?

PARKER LAUZON:  We have a drummer named Dusty Saxtonfrom Austin, TX filling in on drums.  He's really, really good; he's probably one of the better drummers I've ever drummed with.  We're not really in the market for replacing a drummer, like signing a drummer into the band per se.  It'd be nice, eventually someday, but we're gonna concentrate on the tours, and on the album.  Right now Dusty's out with us, he was actually suggested by Jason Pierce, the touring drummer for Paramore, who drummed on our album in studio.  So he came with a shiny recommendation, but it was still kinda nerve-wracking, because we had a whole tour planned, and there's alot of money that goes into planning a tour.  So when we were coming into the studio and jamming with a drummer we had never met, and never jammed with... (laughs)  and having the tour booked, so you can't say 'This isn't working out.'  It was kinda nerve-wracking at first. (laughs)  But he nailed it!  In fact, he sings background vocals for us, and it adds alot to the show.  So we're happy he's out with us.

AWAY-TEAM:  With your last album, you had welcomed a new singer in Dan Chandler into the band about half way through the writing process.  You hadn't really known each other that well, even as you finished the album.  This time around, after having spent countless days and nights together on the road, and sort of gelling as friends and bandmates, how has that affected the creative process this time around?

PARKER LAUZON:  I think you pretty much nailed it.  The first album with Dan, the music was half written before he got into the band, and anybody's who has been in the industry knows that when it's time for an album, it's go-go-go, rush-rush-rush.  So we were just finding melodies, writing lyrics really, really quickly.  This album had time to ferment, to fit in, some of the songs on it were from just after the third album came out.  We had been constantly writing since then, so we had time to sit back, listen to the demos, and be like 'This is cool, but what can we do here...'  You know, how an album is actually supposed to be done, not 'You guys have a few weeks, get it done.' (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Right. (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  So we had all the time in the world to get it done, and really take our time.  And Dan really just went into the depths of his past, and all the trials he's been through in his life, and just sing from the heart, and just what he's been through.  Some of it, he's had a hard time, and some of the best songs that are written are the most honest songs.  They say 'This is what's happened to me.  This is my life.  It's not a nice part, but people need to hear it.'  I think people can relate to it alot, nobody's happy all the time, I mean c'mon.  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  I hear you!

PARKER LAUZON:  And if they are they're faking it! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)  Speaking of your self-titled album, "Erase My Scars" has been a vehicle to promote your band's charity.  Tell me a little bit about that charity, and what brought you guys to create it.

PARKER LAUZON:  The song "Erase My Scars" was written for Dan's nephew Chase, who unfortunately lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of eight.  So that song is very, very emotional for us.  I lost my mom to cancer, everybody involved with this band has been touched by cancer, (bassist Joe) Pitter lost his father, so that song is very close to our hearts.  We just wanted to do something, we're not out here making millions of dollars, but if we're making some money, we want to give some of that money to somebody to help make their life better.  Maybe not help find a cure, but if we can help them get to the hospital, or anything small like that,  ya know, one more doctor's visit or something.  So we just started the Keeping Chase Foundation to put some of the percentages of our sales into helping people's lives that have been affected by cancer, make their lives a little bit better.  Just before we left for tour, there's a friend named Chrissy in Houston, TX, who just sent us a wonderful picture saying that she is cancer free as of right now, and we were helping her out through the foundation. That was exactly our goal, and such a beautiful story, I can't wait to get down to Houston so I can hug her.  It's such a wonderful story, and I hope we can make more of those stories.  The more money that comes in, the more people we can help.

AWAY-TEAM:  That is so awesome!  Congrats!  Back to touring, I'm sure you guys have seen your fair share of over-zealous fans, but what do you make of the whole situation with Lamb of God's Randy Blythe?  And do you think that if that were to happen in North America, it'd be treated the same way?

PARKER LAUZON:  That's a tough one.  I mean, from the video you can't really see much, and you can't see what happens to the kid once he goes into the crowd.  I don't wanna say anything negative, I don't think he should be in jail for it, that's a bunch of B.S. right there.  But, if it happened in North America, no.  It's obviously, blatently, not his fault.  There's no way he could control it.  They're saying that the kid kept jumping up on stage, and getting in their face, and when it comes down to it what I view it as, is ever since Dimebag was killed, that shit is just not cool!  You just can't come up on the stage, it's not cool!  He needs to get out of that jail, and I really feel sorry for the fans there because once he's released that band's never coming back there.  It's just a really crappy situation, it's unfortunate, I hope for all the boys in Lamb of God, and Randy, he's released soon.  It's a rock show!  You can't be held liable.  I hate to say it, but part of me thinks it's because he's in another country, and because he's American that they're holding him.  Because he's in an American metal band, and they gotta set an example, and I think it's a bunch of bullshit!  It's a rock show, people come to a rock show, you know you're gonna get roughed up a little bit, there's gonna be a mosh pit.  If a band tells you to stay off the stage, don't try to get back on the stage!

AWAY-TEAM:  Absolutely! I liken it to someone running out into a gun range and getting hit by a stray bullet, the guy had no intention of killing you, you didn't belong there.  It's not his fault, it's yours!

PARKER LAUZON:  There are son many variables that can come into play in the situation.  What happened after he got into the crowd?  The crowd caught him? Or the crowd caught him and he got beat up in the crowd.  You can't blame one person for that, that's just making an example of an American lead singer of an American metal band!  Because, you know, metal's bad, and we're related with Satan, and evil; it's just a bunch of bullshit!  It's just stupid, just let him out and be done with it.  It is good press for that city, I'll say that.  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah, not for the fans though! (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  These people want attention, and it's really dumb.  He needs to be let out and come back home.

AWAY-TEAM:  Amen to that!  I know you've just released an album, but what can we expect from EB in 2013?  Any kind of live album, or DVD in the works?

PARKER LAUZON:  I'd love to do a DVD!  2013?  We're not that far ahead into the planning, I think we have a lot of ammunition on this album to keep us on the radio, and keep us out for quite a while.  The more touring, the better for us, that's where we want to be.  In front of the fans, playing shows.  You know this tour, I'm saying this as I'm looking at the stage setup, we have this enormous backdrop, we have all these light trusses, and production, we haven't done anything like this before.  It's such an exciting time for this band, especially being independent, we're just recycling our own money back into our tour, and I think that's what the secret is.  You stay out on the road, you play shows over and over again, you make the show better and better, because albums (in general) are selling less and less.  But 2013, to answer your question at all, I'd like to see us go to the U.K., maybe Australia would be nice.  Maybe some Sweden, stuff like that, we wanna get overseas because we're growing a fan base over there, and it's been a long time coming to get over there and play some shows.

AWAY-TEAM:  Hey, do me a favor, stay the hell out of the Czech Republic! (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs)  No, no rock shows for your for a while Czech Republic! (laughs)  At least not at a club that condones stage diving, I can't do that!  (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  That's another thing! You just brought up a good point, that's gonna kill the national rock scene over there.  Poor fans.  No band's gonna wanna go over there now!  It's so ridiculous.

AWAY-TEAM:  Last but not least, you guys recently became the first rock band to have your own tattoo ink color.  Tell me a little bit how that came about, and have you gotten any pieces done with that color yet?

PARKER LAUZON:  I am going to soon, actually.  It was just, Dan had been talking with some guys, and they had an idea to come up with some Evans Blue ink.  He flew out to Oregon, where they're based, and got some ink done, he actually got an 8 hour session with two guys, one on each arm.  I'm like 'Man, that must've felt really good!' (laughs)  So he went out there, they released it, and they're actually doing really well.  We're playing a show in Hampton Beach in a couple weeks, and they're flying out for a convention, so I'm working on getting my chest colored in by them.  So Evans Blue ink will definitely be on my chest.  I can't wait, we all love tattoos.  Dan and I, I'm covered in them, and he's catching up, it took him a while but.  Yeah, Evans Blue ink, it's a no-brainer, why haven't other bands done it before.  I mean, rock n' roll is so connected with tattoos, and all that.  We just got an email, 'Hey, we're thinking about making an ink.  How do your guys feel about it?'  And it came out the same day as the album was released, we were like let's do it.  Dan's got it on his arm, it's a really cool vibrant blue, and I can't wait to get mine!

AWAY-TEAM:  What are you gonna get?

PARKER LAUZON:   I'm gonna get my chest colored in, but I'm not sure exactly what I'm gonna do.  I have my son's name written across my chest, so I'm gonna just get it filled in with stuff.  I think it's about time I got the butterfly logo tattooed on me somewhere.  (laughs)  So I think that's what I'm gonna do.

AWAY-TEAM:  Well hey Parker, thanks so much for your time.  It's been a pleasure and an honor...

PARKER LAUZON:  Hey man, anytime, my pleasure.  It was fun.  Some of these are not so fun, they're kinda like pulling your hair out! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  I hear you.  Sometimes it's like that on the other end too. (laughs)

PARKER LAUZON:  (laughs)  I bet dude! (laughs)  I've met some real characters out here, so I bet.  It's on both ends for sure! (laughs)

AWAY-TEAM:  Yeah.  Best of luck with the tour, and the album.  Hopefully if all goes well, I'll be seeing you next month when you make your way to Florida.

PARKER LAUZON:  Yeah man, definitely hit us up, come out and have a beer!

AWAY-TEAM:  Definitely!

PARKER LAUZON:  Alright man, good talking to you.

AWAY-TEAM:  You too man, talk to you soon.  Bye.

PARKER LAUZON:  Bye.

For more info on Evans Blue, including Tour Dates visit the band's official website here.

 

 

Special thanks to Parker Lauzon for so graciously giving me his time, and to Kenneth Nixon at New Ocean Media for making it all happen.