Three years ago, Evan Dando fi gured the Lemonheads’ name was dead and buried.
“I was just hiding behind the name, really,” he says. “I was calling the shots creatively, 100 percent.”
But after one solo album, Dando, 39, decided that there was still some life left in the group’s name afterall, resurrecting the Lemonheads as a touring concern in 2003 and continuing with “The Lemonheads,” the band’s first set of new material since 1996.
“There was this Brazilian festival in honor of the Lemonheads in, like, 2003, where a bunch of young bands played a couple of Lemonheads songs,” explains Dando, who has also toured as one of the guest singers in the DKT/MC5 band. “I thought why not bring the name back? I always had plans to do that, really. That was sort of the fi nal straw.
“I found the right people to do a Lemonheads record with, and we were off.”
Those right people were drummer Bill Stevenson of Descendents and Black Flag and Descendents bassist Karl Alvarez, who recorded “The Lemonheads” with Dando on-and-off over a period of 18 months at Stevenson’s Blasting Room studio in Colorado. Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis and The Band’s Garth Hudson
were guests, and Dando feels that it “sounds pretty similar to the old stuff, just played a little better, maybe.
“That was a goal,” he adds. “I thought that, if this is gonna be a Lemonheads record, I had to make the musicianship a little better. That’s what all those guys are, great musicians.”
He feels the same way about the current touring incarnation of the Lemonheads, which includes the rhythm section from the Indianapolis group the Pieces.
“There’s been about 18 lineups of the Lemonheads,” Dando explains, “so this is really nothing new.”
But he cautions that while he’s happy to trip through most of the band’s past, the trio won’t be playing the Lemonheads’ biggest hit — a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” that came out in 1993.
“That was a weird record company thing, a fluke,” says the Boston-born Dando, who now resides in New York and plans to continue releasing both solo and Lemonheads albums. “We only played it maybe 15 times live, and then had other people from the audience sing it. I didn’t ever want people to think that’s what we were all about. But anything else we’ve done is fair game.”
The Lemonheads, Vietnam and the Hymns perform Sunday (December 10th) at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $17. Call (313) 833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit. com.
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