I remember The Lemonheads appearing on The David Letterman show in the early 90s. The story goes, the band was being forced by their label to play their cover of the Simon and Garfunkel song “Mrs. Robinson” and as Letterman introduced them, Letterman suggests they play something else off of the album. Evan Dando thanks Letterman on stage for intervening and after back and forth banter, that includes Evan stating “I’m glad to be doing this song, because I wrote it!” the band goes into their title track “It’s a Shame About Ray.” Evan couldn’t of looked happier to do it and that same energy would be present later that evening on the stage of Thalia Hall, but first, hopefully a quick portrait session with Evan.
I had been talking via text and a few phone calls all day with his tour manager Jim Norton. Not to get confused with the comedian of the same name. We had a great conversation and it was very clear he would try his best to make this shoot happen, but there were no guaranty. Knowing what little I knew of Evan I understood and said I was ready to come anyway, wait patiently and wing it. And wing it is what I did. My writer Jim met me at the venue, got a quick beer across the street and waited outside the venue next to the tour bus, camera bag and lighting equipment in tow. Jim and I started talking about our upcoming shoot with Genesis and what shape Phil Collins was going to be at the show. Suddenly without warning, one of the little windows opens up from the tour bus and a shadowy figure ashed his cigarette. He said hey and we said hey back, it was Evan Dando. We both had an internal panic attack thinking back what was said between us. Did we bitch about the wait, questioning our time spent, what else did we discuss during that time by the bus?
Jim Norton soon appeared and we were left with a lot of unanswered questions. He quickly escorted us inside Thalia Hall and brought us into the green room. I had been back here once with another band and knew enough of the terrain. I said I would start setting up and he went to get Evan. These shootings are tricky because I’ve learned that I don’t get a lot of prep time. I blinked and there was Evan in the doorway. We all said our pleasantries and I assured him I was almost ready to go.
Within a few minutes of checking the lights we were off. Evan had a guitar so it was helpful and the background was perfect, run down brown couch with a nice simple brick background. I shot a few and then showed Evan the shots which seemed to quickly change any thoughts of this being a waste of his time.
He started to play and seemed to genuinely having a good time. I noticed the guitar had been through some hard times and he told me that it was a result of a ex-girlfriend. I said that sounds like the beginnings of a song and he said with a slight smirk, “I’m working on it”.
I then thought of one more shot if he was game, I grabbed a light and we went around the corner to the stairs that led up to the stage. I had shot the previous band on those stairs and I’m a fan of simple things like the painted faded words with a arrow that simply says, “STAGE”. Evan sat down and I decided to go more with a harsh shadow almost “film noir” like for this one.
In post I rendered a few in B&W and the result were pretty great.
Update: Since this time, management has purchased a few of the photos and here’s one of them used for The Lemonheads upcoming tour.