the story behind "Evelyn Evelyn"
the press has recently announced the release of my new project with jason webley, “Evelyn Evelyn”, a mysterious record created by two conjoined twin sisters from a small town near Seattle, WA.
jason and i, along with sxip shirey, are taking the twins on an EPIC tour of the states and europe starting in just over a month. a few of the shows are already sold out…(see tour dates at the bottom)
many of you have been asking, curious about and (sometimes) confused by this project, and my involvement, so finally…..this is my
Big Blog of Evelyn Evelyn.
you guys know me – i generally blog about everything as it’s happening (and let it all hang out in excruciating detail), but there are certain things about my life and my work that i’ve needed to – out of personal and/or business mandate – keep under wraps. this record was one of them.
first of all, the Neville Sisters, who work under the moniker “Evelyn Evelyn”, are EXTREMELY protective about their privacy.
second, my situation with Roadrunner Records (ahhhh) has made things very complicated.
i’m still very legally entangled over there (though there is light at the end of the tunnel, and please say a little prayer for me every night!!) and while this isn’t even technically MY record (my name appears nowhere on it, except as a producer and a guest artist, along with jason webley’s name), i’ve needed to hide away and work in private as to not put myself, the project, or of course the girls in harm’s way.
so be it.
painful birth or no, label or no….a few weeks ago, we put the finishing touches on this record, and i daresay…
it’s a FUCKING MASTERPIECE.
it’s slated to be released on MARCH 30, as a totally independent split release between jason’s label, 11 records, and my label, 8ft. records
(does that make it a 9.5-foot record? an 8’11” record? or a nineteen foot record??)
here’s the cover art:
(the drawing is by the artist cynthia von buhler)
and here’s the story….
jason webley, my awesome friend and endlessly touring minstrel-comrade, and i found the twins on myspace, about three years ago.
we were on tour together (jason was opening up for the dresden dolls) and working away on our laptops on an off day…i think we were in new zealand.
we were both emailed the link to their page at around the same time. mine came in through the dresden dolls’ fan address.
jason followed the link and listened first.
“you HAVE to hear this”, he said.
their myspace page was spare, to be kind.
they had TWO friends (tom, of course, and a chick named “sandy fishnets”), their graphics were AWFUL, and they only had ONE song posted (and that song had about 13 hits).
but the song was hilarious, and sweet, and totally compelling.
it was really raw, really genuine, and the way they played it, showed they had serious talent.
jason and i talked about this for endless hours over endless meals.
we wanted people to hear them.
we asked them if they were willing to record something for a little 7” vinyl series project that jason was doing on his record label, 11 records.
they said yes, and so about 6 months after talking to them for the first time, we flew to washington, rented a van, and drove them down to santa cruz, california (they refused to get on a plane) and recorded 3 “demo” tracks with them in a friend’s house (many thanks to tim smolens, jason schimmel and many other folk.)
here’s a little photo of the loft / recording studio where they cut their first demos, in seattle, WA:
they’re conjoined at the side, which makes moving around for them difficult.
they share three legs, but have only two arms, and they play of their instruments together – at last count, they’re kicking ass on piano, accordion, guitar, ukulele and we discovered recently that they also play DRUMS, which blew our minds.
they have similar personalities, but if you hang out with them long enough, you’ll notice that they’re actually quite different. they were christened “eva” and “lynn” at one point in their lives – but they strangely like being referred to by the same name, in a sort of weird solidarity, i guess. so they both go by the name “evelyn” – and they answer for each other all the time. it takes some getting used to, trying to figure out how to communicate with them, and the learning curve has been steep. they’ve been driving my agent and management team crazy because they’re really detail-oriented and demanding but also really non-communicative…leaving everybody frustrated a lot of the time. we’re getting there. jason and i spend a lot of time translating what we now call “evelynese” into normal-person speak.
when we hit the studio, they’d only ever recorded into a laptop and they had no idea what making records was all about. we released this teeny little 7” that included demos of the songs “elephant elephant”, “have you seen my sister evelyn” and a cover of joy division’s “love will tear us apart”…it was done as a very small edition (1,111 copies) – which sold out almost immediately…here’s what the cover looked like:
and over the course of our little recording, we finally got to know them.
well, WE didn’t. they had real problems warming up to jason. they were freaked out (seriously) by his beard and didn’t want to talk to him very much.
they could handle me a little better because i was a girl.
XXX EDITED DUE TO CONTROVERSIAL CONTENT XXXXX
(for more information of the disturbing life of the twins, please buy the record.)
“EVELYN and EVELYN NEVILLE are dicephalus conjoined twins, sharing between them three legs, two arms, three lungs, two hearts, and a single liver. Born on September 11, 1985 on a small farm on the Kansas-Colorado border, the Evelyns have lived in Georgia, Manitoba and South Dakota, and have traveled the greater part of North America performing with “Dillard & Fullerton’s Illusive Traveling Show”. They are fluent in chicken and their favorite colors are purple and yellow.”
XXXXXXXXXX END OF CONTENT EDIT XXXXXXXXXX
when we met them, they were 22. they’re 24 now. the record took forEVER…. it has been demo’d for ages and we finally laid down the real tracks in the last few months.
and the record itself? it’s full of really wonderful, lush production….jason engineered & orchestrated much it himself and brought in a lot of heavy-hitter instrumentalists to flesh out the songs. there are full string sections, tons of different styles, and you’ll just have to hear it to know how awesome it is.
we got a slew of guest vocalists to join in on a song called “my space”. let it be known: this wasn’t a “we are the world” type situation in which all these people flew to LA and recorded different lines of the song in a studio under the direction of quincy jones. just so your bubbles aren’t burst when you get the record: everybody took 45 seconds out of their lives and EMAILED us a file of their voice singing THE SAME LINE, and we mixed it all together, gang-vocal-style. there was a minor tabloid blow-up while i was away announcing the album features the “singing debut of frances bean cobain.” oh good god. if you’re looking for that, wrong record. everybody was just having fun, and there’s almost no way to distinguish who’s singing what…it was mostly a show of symbolic support for the twins on the parts of all these kind people.
the guests include “weird al” yankovic, tegan quin, sara quin (from, um, tegan & sara), soko, jimmy urine (from mindless self indulgence) and his wife chantal claret (from morningwood), eugene mirman, corn mo, ethan and ari gold, andrew w.k., gerard way (from my chemical romance), kirsten vangsness, frances bean cobain, neil gaiman (how’d we get HIM??), margaret cho, franz nicolay, reverend peyton (of big damn band fame), kim boekbinder, zoe boekbinder (the two of which are known to many of you from vermillion lies), jason, and i think that’s it.
the album will be available for PRE-ORDER very soon (within the next few days, actually) and will be available digitally, on CD and/or VINYL, plus we’re coming up with a bunch of creative bundling packages at all different price levels with different goodies included….
PLEASE, PLEASE…take the time NOW to sign up for THE MAILING LIST.
it’s at http://www.amandapalmer.net/emaillist.html (just making SURE you have it)
THE PRE-ORDER WILL BE ANNOUNCED TO THE MAILING LIST BEFORE IT POSTS TO THE BLOG OR TO TWITTER, OR ANYWHERE ELSE!
if you’re not on the mailing list, you’ll be out of the loop until a few days later.
cynthia (the artist), jason and i are also encouraging the girls to work on a graphic novel depicting the story of their lives…and this is in full swing to be published by dark horse comics sometime next fall.
it’s time to hit the road.
the twins have stayed living in their same town in washington (we gave them a really small advance on the record, and they’ve been able to move into slightly nicer room) and this tour is going to be their first forray into the world of rock and public performance!!! we’re all hoping of the best.
we did one little show in NYC a few weeks ago to get them their sea legs and it went pretty well.
we invited a few contest winners and friends and tried to make them as comfortable as possible.
they had a beautiful conjoined-dress hand-sewn for them JUST for the tour by the wonderful designer Kambriel (yes, THE Kambriel)…here’s a shot i took of her fitting them up in a new york hotel room a few weeks ago, while jason makes endless production phone calls….the video camera you see was Michael pope, who is the only videographer allowed anywhere near them (he shaved):
we’re trying to keep the tour relatively simple. they REALLY hate plane travel and so getting them to commit to the european tour was near impossible.
but they did it (and the first three london shows are fully sold out, which is fantastic! we just added a fourth; see dates).
the insanely talented and charming sxip shirey, who many of you already know, is coming on tour to help manage them and to play his own solo set.
the order of the evening will go something like this:
a short set by JASON WEBLEY
a short set by AMANDA PALMER
a short set by SXIP SHIREY
-intermission- (GO BUY MERCH!!)
an hour-long set by EVELYN EVELYN
the whole evening will last between 2-3 hours, depending on the venue.
note: **jason, sxip and i will be signing stuff on any nights where there isn’t an absurd curfew or we don’t all need to fly out at 6am the next day.**
we tried to get the most high-class, comfortable venues possible, because we really want people to pay attention to what the twins are doing onstage.
if you’re coming to any of the shows, please respect the twins’ wishes that no photograph be taken of them unless you’ve been formally informed that it’s ok. (but take all the photos you want of me, jason, and sxip; we love it)
and get tickets NOW — with the three shows in london being an indication of what’s to come, these will no doubt sell out like hotcakes…fast.
send these dates to ANYONE you know in these territories! here’s a link to tweet (feel free to edit/repost a similar link on facebook, myspace, etc): TOUR DATES for @AMANDAPALMER, @JASONWEBLEY, @SXIPSHIRY, and @EVELYNEVELYN up NOW at http://bit.ly/seeEElive
April 12 – OBERON in Cambridge, Massachusetts
April 13 – OBERON in Cambridge, Massachusetts
April 17 – Òran Mór in Glasgow, Scotland
April 19 – The Academy in Dublin, Ireland
April 22 – Koko in Camden (London), UK
April 23 – [SOLD OUT!] Bush Hall in London, UK
April 24 – [SOLD OUT!] Bush Hall in London, UK
April 25 – [SOLD OUT!] Bush Hall in London, UK
April 27 – L’Europeen in Paris, France
April 28 – Melkweg in Amsterdam, Holland
April 29 – Kampnagel in Hamburg, Germany
May 1 – Babylon in Berlin, Germany
May 3 – Gloria in Köln (Cologne), Germany
May 4 – Arenbergschouwburg in Antwerp, Belgium
for additional information on all of these shows (including ticket links, times, ages, and more) click HERE.
MORE US DATES FOR MAY/JUNE SOON TO BE ANNOUNCED, stay TUNED, and if you’re not on it: JOIN THE AFP MAILING LIST for first crack at many tickets and the pre-order packages!
p.s. my upcoming solo tour dates in oz and new zealand are HERE, too! sadly, i’ll be jason-less, sxip-less and twin-less, but the show are going to ROCK nonetheless-less.
plus neil will be with me for part of new zealand, hoorah!
(“stencil” mockup by cynthia von buhler)