Even – Reverse Light Years (Q&A)

“The Melbourne band’s eighth album is their best yet – a musical cornucopia of glam stompers, magnificent power-pop and epics”, headlines The Guardian.

Reviewer Andrew Stafford writes, “Well, if it turns out, more is more. Reverse Light Years sounds imposing: 17 songs in 80 minutes. EVEN have always been consistent, but this is by far their most impressive album, a cornucopia of musical delights where everything singer-guitarist Ashley Naylor, bass player Wally Kempton, and drummer Matt Cotter try comes off.”.

You won’t hear a better guitar record this year than Reverse Light Years. That’s my opinion.

Ashley Naylor explains how the new records came about.

When did you realize you were making something exceptional?

It’s hard to know how songs are turning out until you live with them for a while. I’d never be so smug to assume we were making something special, but the quest is to create an album you hope to be proud of. 

How did Reverse Light Years come about?

Looking back to 2019, when I started writing songs for the album, I made a pledge to have an album out within a few years of 

‘Satin Returns’ as the gap between that LP and ‘In Another Time’ was seven years. The most complete track from 2019 was ‘Mark The Day’s which we recorded one afternoon in Brisbane before a show in May 2019.

The album really took shape when all my touring commitments in 2020 were canceled. This led me to record at home again, something I had not done much of in recent years.

The Covid lockdown has destroyed a lot, but fantastic records are being released this year. Is that the ultimate confirmation that creativity is a force of nature?

As many musicians can attest to, creativity can be very fleeting. One might say that the work and domestic circumstances created by the pandemic gave me more time to entertain creative thought and refine guitar parts at home as I was not bound to the normal itinerant lifestyle of a touring, working musician.

So in effect, yes, creativity can be considered a force of nature if we also refer to creativity as a by-product of circumstance. 

The fern on the album cover is a reminder to me that nature was also a big part of maintaining mental balance in the last eighteen months.

The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?

At the risk of sounding disingenuous, the idea of success for me now is very different from what success may have meant to me in 1995. Success for me now is primarily based on how I feel about an album I have made, not about how many physical copies we sell or streams we accumulate. Of course, there is a logistic consideration as we operate independently and manufacture our own CDs and vinyl albums. Still, on a creative level, if the songs resonate with the band first and subsequently our audience, then that is success.

The guitar solos make me very happy.  It will probably never be like in the 60s/70s and 80s, but I have hope that more songs will be cut in half by a howling solo in the coming years.  Or is that not necessary?

It’s very rewarding to hear the guitar solos make you happy. Quite honestly, it is my favorite part of the recording process, the icing on the cake.

I am a strong advocate for as many guitar solos in a song as humanly possible! That said, not all the songs I write require one.

I understand it is not to every listener’s taste to have a long guitar solo in a track. Still, I felt inspired to let loose on this album as I was often working in solitude with no clock on the wall and no record executive bankrolling the album. 

Listening to lots of Hendrix also inspired me to open up and not hold back. One must feel free to make good music, and his music encourages that feeling of freedom. 

Also, being a double album, there is space for myself, Matthew, and Wally to stretch out certain tracks and not be constricted by any commercial expectations.

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