By Christopher Duda (SugarBuzz Toronto)
Photo By Bootsy Holler
The year 2006 will be the year of the Boss Martians. Changing direction over the years from a garage surf band to a killer Powerpop band has gained many new fans. The 2004 release of The Set-Up on MuSick Records had many singing their praises including Little Steven. I had the opportunity to converse with Evan Foster about where the Boss Martians are now and the history and growth of the band. Encounter them now, than lay claim in the pissing match that you discovered them first. You have been warned!
1. Earlier Boss Martians were more garage/surf. Now I find you have more of a power pop/rock and roll sound. Would you consider that a natural progression or just a direction you wanted to take?
EVAN: I think a lot of bands experience some degree of growth & change; this is natural. Altering their entire focus is maybe not that common, but the growth stage we’ve gone through has felt really natural -- almost like it’s the only way things could have ever been. I got to a point where I knew something musically had to change but I didn’t want to start a new band just to embrace another guitar/organ hybrid take on rock & roll. Nick and I wanted to stretch out musically but keep working together, which is what we did, and indeed pissed some of our earliest fans off in the process that expected more of the surf/6T’s sound. Nice to know some people were listening!
2.Did Mystery Action and Boss Martians become one band and sound?
EVAN: Not really, MA was mainly a project intended to help us gain more of a focus on writing better songs -- which indeed influenced what we wanted to do when we re-focussed on the Martians -- that is, to learn how to write better songs in general. Ultimately I would say the Mystery Action project definitely helped us with writing and arranging for The Martians.
3.Everyone has favourite line up’s in bands, for example I love the Brian James era Damned but I also really like later LP's (like Strawberries) because they were growing as a band and exploring new territory.
4.Did your fans celebrate the change of your sound or was there a reaction to change?
EVAN: Good question, some fans totally embraced the new material, some not so much (enough to show up at shows sometimes and let me know personally!) -- got to love Rock & Roll people! All in all the reaction has been positive.
5.When you played Little Stevens Underground Garage Festival, did you get the opportunity to meet a lot of the other bands?
The MC5, Stooges, and New York Dolls are in the top list of my favourite bands.
EVAN: Yeah we did, hanging out with Iggy was definitely a high point -- he was the baddest motherfucker I had to pleasure to meet that day, his show slayed! You can more than consider me an Iggy/Stooges fan I guess. Dolls? Johansen and Sylvain were great -- lots of killer new bands and talent too -- Raveonettes were great I thought. Always fun to watch the Swingin’ Neckbreakers as well.
6.Who influenced you early on? An easy comparison would be that your vocals at times sound like Costello .Are you influenced by Costello?
EVAN: Early Elvis for sure -- but so many others -- tough question, list goes on and on…
7.You seem to be getting a lot of press about being “the next big thing.” Sometimes in the past people have been built up only to crumble as trends change or there is a backlash to being force fed information as to what the industry thinks is hot. Boss Martians never seemed to follow trends in the past. Do you have a fear of becoming so big that you become a trend?
EVAN: Press, and ‘the industry’ it seems, can be very misleading at times -- we’re doing what we do, working hard to show growth and create our own voice more than ever I guess. (In other words, NO COMMENT ha ha!)
8.You came from Seattle at a time when the music associated with the city was the whole supposed Grunge scene. Were you swimming against the tide during that period or were you accepted?
EVAN: Most people thought we were mentally challenged for doing something so against-the-grain here when we first started. It definitely took a while to meet some other bands doing something similar.
9.I had a friend point out that when it finally came out that Link Wray died there was hardly any press. This man influenced the world of guitar.
Knowing you have a love for instrumental/surf, did Link Wray influence the way you approach guitar? Who else inspires your guitar work?
EVAN: LINK WRAY = ROCK & ROLL GUITAR. When Link Wray died, we lost one of Rock’s most threatening guitar heroes. Link Wray’s style and attitude toward the guitar has definitely influenced me. Lots of other players that have influenced me, Lonnie Mack, Steve Cropper, James Burton, Angus Young, Paul Burlison, Dick Dale, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Jones, Pete Townsend, Robbo & Gorham-era Thin Lizzy, Bobby Fuller, Buddy Holly, Mick Jones, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Rick Neilson, the list goes on.
10.The old cliché question but I always find the answers enlightening. If you had to choose 5 albums to listen to the rest of your life what would they be?
EVAN: PASS!! Trying to drive me insane?
11.Why the move in record labels? (From Dionysus to MuSick)? Was that change important for the growth of the band?
EVAN: Both labels have been cool to work with. MuSick was supportive of the ‘new’ direction (though they initially signed us as a surf band) -- funny thing is Dionysus actually released the vinyl version of our 1st MuSick CD “Making the Rounds” which was the first album featuring the ‘new’ sound. At the time we delivered our 3rd full length to Dionysus they were about to start focussing on re-issues more so the move was mutually good for everyone I think.
12.The easy comparisons to make to the Boss Martians are Cheap Trick and Elvis Costello. However, in one review you were compared to the Neighborhoods from Boston. Are you familiar with this band? (Great lp by them "Fire is Coming")
EVAN: Not familiar…
13.Critics say your borrow from too many places. However, I see that as a culmination of your tastes. In my opinion, you take what you are influenced by and put your twist to it. How do you feel about statements of that nature and do you take criticism constructively?
EVAN: Rock & Roll seems in many ways to be like a liver -- its constantly regenerating itself! The criticism doesn’t bother me; it’s always good to get fresh perspective, though at times it seems ‘out there’. When it comes to our songs, I’ve noticed that two completely different people can hear completely different influences in the songs and will have no crossover at all. I like the way you put it best -- putting our own “twist” on things…
14. Besides Elvis Costello, I hear a lot of early Stiff artists influence in your music (The Set Up, London Bridge Demos). I recently picked up the first two Joe Jackson cds and can hear elements of him in your tunes. Are you a fan of early Joe Jackson?
EVAN: Damn, you’re good. No secret, I love early Stiff bands/artists -- the first two Nick Lowe sides being among them, great songs. And yes, I do love earlier Joe Jackson (first two Joe Jackson Band albums are great -- the nervousness & urgency was totally genius).
15.Do your listening habits help change what and how you write?
EVAN: Good question, sometimes yes, sometimes no -- it depends entirely on where I am in the song writing process.
16.Are you always exploring new music whether from the past of present?
17.Who are the The Boss Martian-ettes? You managed them didn’t you?
EVAN: How’d you hear about that?? That was a stormy, drunken, hormone-fuelled debacle -- no comment…
18.Over the years, you have had many songs on compilations and singles. Are there any plans to release an extensive comp of these tracks?
EVAN: The label we’re on, MuSick, has considered a project like this, but there’s just too much currently going on to turn any real attention to it. We’ve heard of some fans making and trading their own “Best of…” and “B-Sides” CD’s over the Net though…
19.When do you expect the new cd to come out?
EVAN: Fall ’06 I think.
20.How will this differ from the Set-Up?
EVAN: Kind of hard for me to say since I’m so close to it all right now (we’re recording the new one w/ Endino as I answer these questions) -- suffice it to say the material feels much more ROCK & ROLL right now if that helps. I can say this -- things feel a little more focussed which makes a big difference for me.
21.On Set- Up, you used three different drummers. Have you settled on one drummer now? Is Brandon Gonzales still playing bass with the band?
EVAN: We’ve been working with the same line-up (Scott Myrene on bass, Tommy Caviezel on drums) since last April; it’s been intensely productive and exciting. I’ve been able to hear a much more unique sound take shape. Can’t wait to get back on the road and start playing the new songs!
22.You and Nick Contendo (organ/piano) have had a long partnership. What has kept you working together?
23.These days music gets ripped into tiny little sects and sub sects. My favourite is Norwegian Death Chronic Disco. Okay, so I am full of crap. You get my drift. Really when you get right down to it don’t you feel the Boss Martians are just Rock and Roll?
EVAN: I agree the sub-categorizing these days is pretty fucking humorous. Moreover, yes I would agree that the Boss Martians are truly a living, breathing, sweating, stinking ROCK & ROLL band when you get down to it.
24.What has been the most memorable gig for the Boss Martians?
EVAN: Some of the shows over the last 2 yrs have been amazing! Randall’s Island show was more than memorable; also, the festival dates in Europe last summer were great…
25.Any plans for world domination? (Tour)
EVAN: Plans are set… TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION OR BUST -- including, but not limited to: cash, drugs, women, drunken debauchery. (Hopefully not starvation, depression, homelessness, etc).
26.I will let you have the last word. Is there anything presently on your mind that you would like to convey?
EVAN: Thanks for the interview, hope to see you all soon...