Remember when rock stars were pompous dicks who punched-out photographers and stormed off stage mid-show because they just didn't care? Are you ever nostalgic for those days?
They're so friendly and gracious now it's almost a let down. Sure, Jack White seems like an evil bastard, but get him on the phone and he'll start talking about Loretta Lynn's chicken and dumplings. Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn may stumble around the stage snarling like a drunken wolverine, but he'd still prefer to have a long, benign chat about Jack Kerouac rather than take a fistful of amphetamines and live out his own version of On the Road.
What happened to surly? What happened to not caring? What hap-oh, hey, Evan Dando, I didn't see you there.
OK, so The Lemonheads frontman is not a pompous dick-certainly not compared to classic rock dicks like Axl Rose-but it does seem like he just doesn't care. Unlike White or Finn, Dando exudes an edgy, standoffish '90s rock attitude, and it seems strangely and refreshingly genuine.
In the '80s, the alternative-rock gods (R.E.M., U2, et al.) had a welcoming, distortion-less sound and were happy to pose and preen for Rolling Stone. But the guys that Dando dug (Paul Westerberg, Bob Mould) didn't look nice or give affable interviews. So when Dando exploded with his pop hooks and good looks (landing himself on People magazine's "Most Beautiful People" list in 1993), he took his cue from Bob, not Bono. And this doesn't seem to have changed.
CityBeat: So how is the European tour going?
CityBeat: Why did you decide to tour Europe before the States? Did you want to work out new material on the road or build buzz for your homecoming?
Dando: No. No reason, really. We had to get it over with at some point.
And so on for 20 minutes.
Maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that Dando hasn't changed. The Lemonheads' new, self-titled album sounds like a great, lost college-rock record from 1991. It's got the mild thump of his early punk albums, but is as bouncy and melodic as It's a Shame About Ray. It's even got some wicked J Mascis guitar on it.
But how can Dando not have changed? How can he sound and act exactly the same almost two decades later?
After releasing Ray's follow up, Come On Feel the Lemonheads, Dando began boozing with Oasis and smoking crack on his own. Not surprisingly, he dipped below the radar only to reemerge this year with the new album. This sounds like stuff that would transform you. Not so, he says.
"My writing still comes from the same place. Its always just came from me and I'm the same."
But what about his presumably clean-and-sober lifestyle? Well, he won't confirm or deny anything. When asked if he's become a museum-hopper on tour now that he's not recovering from chronic drug hangovers, he plays it vague.
"You can take drugs and go to museums, too," he says. "I'm doing what I always did, trying to sneak in some cultural things along the way while I tour. But about not doing drugs anymore, I wouldn't say that for sure. I won't talk about that one way or the other."
We probably shouldn't read too much into Dando's unwillingness to confirm his sobriety. We also probably shouldn't read too much into the fact that he says he wants to get back into the studio and record another record ASAP. After all, we know that rock stars who seem like they just don't care can't be trusted. That's why we love 'em so.
The Lemonheads play with Vietnam and Reeve Oliver at the Belly Up on Sunday, Nov. 19. Doors open at 9 p.m. $20-$22. 858-481-8140.