Beautiful Oblivion: Eve 6 on Touring, Online Streaming, and the Band’s Debt to the X-Files
When Eve 6 exploded onto the scene in the late 1990s, the band’s three members became bona fide rock stars before they were able to drink legally.
The band — made up of Max Collins on vocals and bass; Jon Siebels on guitar; and Tony Fagenson on drums — is known for hit singles such as “Inside Out,” “Here’s to the Night,” and “Victoria.” The band’s self-titled debut went platinum, and its follow-up, 2000’s Horrorscope, went gold.
“We are the original three, basically,” said Fagenson, speaking to the Kitsap Scene ahead of the band’s performance next week at the Suquamish Clearwater Casino. “A lot of times bands that have been around as long as we have, you end up seeing them play and it’s really one original guy and the rest are new people. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I think we’re fortunate enough to say it is the original three guys that are behind all the records, so we’re still going strong.”
Fagenson spoke with us about the start of the band’s summer tour (its first headlining tour since 2012), how online streaming has affected the music business, and the debt the band owes to the powerhouse scifi TV series The X-Files.
KS: You guys started out really young. Not when [the band’s debut album] came out, but when you first formed, you were in high school, correct?
TF: Yeah, that’s correct. And even when the record did come out, we weren’t long out of high school. Max and John actually went to the same school together and so they started the band probably sophomore, junior year of high school … And luckily for us, things just went pretty quickly. Got signed to RCA while still in high school. I joined right around that time and pretty soon after that we were writing songs and rehearsing and then recording the first album. I had just gotten out of high school and I was just starting my first year — which turned out to be my only year — at USC in Southern California. It definitely was a wild ride and a dream come true. We’re very fortunate.
The music business can be tough, and bands struggle for years and never really get anywhere. You guys seemed to have so much success right out of the gate, and you were so young. What was that like?
It was the shooting star kind of scenario where you just catch onto a wave and roll with it. I don’t think any of us really even expected it to happen or predicted it. When that wave comes along and all the different factors that play into are all firing at the same time, you just try to ride it.
It’s kind of hard to say what it’s like, just because we didn’t know any different at the time. It was of course wonderful. It’s everything you want. It’s the dream. Maybe that’s a cliche, but we really were living the dream, and at a great time for us to do it, because when you get to our age now, and people have families and people have a lot more home responsibilities, the idea of hitting the road in a van or bus for like 18 months almost straight isn’t as appealing when you’ve been around for this long and have more of a home life. So it was kind of perfect for a bunch of 19-year-olds to have that opportunity and we kind of did it on our terms, which was great.
We still had this sort of fight in us, because even though we were signed to a major label, RCA, we weren’t really a priority there at all. In fact, I think we’d heard rumors that even while we were making the first album, they were probably just going to cut us just like not even put it (the album) out, they’re going to drop us. Nobody really knew who we were at the label, so … we had kind of a small budget, left to our own devices with our producer Don [Gilmore] at the time, and we kind of fostered this kind of left-of-center underdog mentality there.
And also at the same time, on the radio around that time — this was like ‘96, ‘97 when we were putting the record together — believe it or not, everyone was preaching how “rock was dead.” It was just past the sort of alternative revolution of Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Chili Peppers and all these bands getting on mainstream radio. That had sort of matured, and now there was this kind of grab-bag and electronica was the big thing, with The Prodigy and all this kind of stuff, and so we were coming at it as sort of a simple three-piece rock band that was trying to keep it … I mean, obviously, we had our punk leanings and everything, but it was sort of more straight-ahead like that, and that was being preached as, well that doesn’t work anymore.
Streaming obviously is the future and is an amazing technology, but we’re still kind of figuring out how that trickles down to the artists the best way, because right now it doesn’t very much.
We were coming at it from all those perspectives, so then when it happened, it just felt all the better because we were able to do it on our own terms and really made our own decisions throughout our whole career. It was fantastic, what can I say? Incredible ride, we had a great time with RCA, and we’re really fortunate to have the support we had and just the opportunities that we had and frankly we’re still able to live from them today, to go on tour. All that was formed in those early days. It’s fantastic.
You guys are still going and touring. How do you come at it from somebody who has been doing this for many years now, and as a band that has a lot of experience under its belt?
Things definitely change both in how you, the artist, perceive things and do things and create, and also how the world around you changes and technology and fans and the audience, how they listen to and learn about music and everything. Just in general, I think you’ve gotta be fairly coherent with all that and on top of it. We’ve always been sort of pro-technology, I guess you could say, and interested in the new delivery systems and everything. I think you’ve just got to stay kind of flexible with it.
It’s definitely, I would say, sort of a tougher climate now, on one hand, for musicians, because there’s a lot less money changing hands. Not to put too crass of a point on it, but when people buy music, it helps everything: it helps support the recording process and touring and all of that. And there’s a lot less buying of music.
I mean, it’s in the form of streaming now, which obviously is the future and is an amazing technology, but we’re still kind of figuring out how that trickles down to the artists the best way, because right now it doesn’t very much. It’s hard to live off of that, and we were very fortunate to come up in kind of the last phase, the last round of bands that had the fortune to really have a great support system in kind of the heyday of the major label era. It’s because of that, the combination of what we did and who we are and that support system, that allowed us to get the audience that we’ve gotten and connect with the great fans that we’ve had over the years, which we still get to see every year when we go on tour. I think it’s really hard for newer bands to get to that point where you have a long-lasting relationship with your fans the way I think Eve 6 does.
This is to tell you how nerdy I was: I had my bag of VHS tapes of labeled X-Files episodes that I had taped off of TV
Honestly, we’re not releasing a ton of new music right now. The last record we did was back in 2012, Speak in Code. That was actually on Fearless Records. Before that it had kind of been a long gap where we actually basically broke up for a couple years, then got back together to do a lot of touring and writing and put that record out. So, the new record release is very sporadic right now. I think if we were to do a record, say, next year — which I’m not saying we are, I’m just saying if we were to — then it would probably be a very different process, even from the one we did a couple of years ago. So you’ve just got to stay on top of that. We’re definitely getting past the era of the full album. I think that audiences want to have a constant flow of new things coming in so you can do different release schedules like shorter EPs and all sorts of stuff you can do to keep things vibrant and alive. But right now, our main thing is really just the touring and that’s kind of where the focus is for this year.
According to Wikipedia, you came up with the name of the band based on an X-Files character. Is that correct?
That is correct. There’s actually sort of a weird falsity that’s come out.
I was the big X-Files fan, so I do take credit for bringing that into the fold. When we were recording the first album — especially when we went up to Seattle and did some recording up there, because our producer Don was from there, so we did some of it in LA, some of it up there — we were staying with a relative of John’s and every day we’d come home from the studio and — this is to tell you how nerdy I was — I had my bag of VHS tapes of labeled X-Files episodes that I had taped off of TV. DVDs were around, but I don’t think that show was on DVD yet. I think it was just a show on the network, obviously way before Netflix or any kind of on-demand video, so I would tape them. I was a big fan of the show and I wanted the good ones. I had a bunch of them and we’d watch them every night. That’s where that started. It was kind of a nice little post-studio ritual for us to go watch X-Files.
In the midst of that, we were trying to think of a new band name. We had a bunch of different ideas and none of them were great. We were currently “Eleventeen.” That was actually the name of the band when the band got signed to RCA and when we were making that album. Max and I were watching an old episode and it was the “Eve” episode, a very early one from the first season. It was actually Max that said “Eve 6,” which is the name of a character. He said, “Huh. ‘Eve 6.’ What about that?” So he actually said it first and I said, “Dude, I think that’s it.” And we both were like, “Yeah, I think that’s the band name. That feels great.” It just felt right to us. So for some reason I’ve gotten total credit for naming the band, but it was sort of a joint thing.
Did you watch the new X-Files episodes that recently came out?
I didn’t. Obviously, everything I heard was very mixed. A friend of mine watched them and then he kind of verified what I expected would probably happen. To be honest with you — if any makers of the X-Files are … (reading this interview), Chris Carter or anything, I apologize — but I really lost interest in the show after like the first four seasons or so. I feel like it took a different tone. To me, the quality of the writing wasn’t what I fell in love with about the show. It was still great production value and everything, but I just went off of it.
I feel like the best seasons are basically the first three, with some good stuff in four as well, and then I just wasn’t into it. I kind of wasn’t really paying attention when these new ones came out. I’ll probably get around to watching them, but everything I’ve heard kind of verifies what I expected them to be. I’m not sorry, X-Files, but hey, we’re still carrying on the name! Still carrying on a piece of the X-Files in our band name.
Do you ever get X-Files fans at your shows who are into the band because of the name?
I’m sure that’s happened. I can’t really think of specific things. We definitely see online, like someone will say, “Well look what I just found,” and they take a screenshot of them watching the “Eve” episode, where the character’s name is actually on a plaque above her cell that says, “Eve 6.” And so they’ll take a picture of that and it’s like, “I’m betting this is where they got the name from.” We get a lot of that. People connect the dots and everything.
It would be kind of cool if someone says, I was watching the X-Files, saw your band name, and then it got me into the band. I mean, it’s possible. I’m sure that’s happened, but I don’t know any specific instances of that.
The Pacific Northwest in general has always just been a great area for us. It’s actually a great way to kind of kick off this tour this summer.
Have you ever spent any time in the Kitsap County area where you’re going to be playing?
I don’t actually know if we’ve ever been across (Puget Sound). I know we took a boat ride with our producer and his wife back in the ‘90s when we were recording back there and I think it was all through that area. I know we boated past some of the Microsoft guys’ houses and stuff. Definitely we haven’t been to that casino. We’ve definitely played lots of casinos in our day and some are nice and some are not so much, so it’s good to know that this will be a good one. The Pacific Northwest in general has always just been a great area for us and the band and me personally. I love it up there. So it’s actually a great way to kind of kick off this tour this summer.
And this is technically the first show of this summer’s tour. We just did one little one-off last week in Indiana, but that was kind of separate from this. But yeah, it will be a great kickoff show.
I don’t know how the tours differ from each other, but if this one’s over the whole summer, it must be pretty extensive?
It is. This is actually our first headlining tour since 2012, since spring/summer of 2012 when we released that album, Speak in Code. The last two summers we were on these package tours. In 2014 it was the Summerland Tour with Everclear and Soul Asylum, and then last year it was the Under The Sun Tour with Sugar Ray and Uncle Kracker. So we’ve been doing these package tours which are great fun, great hangs with the other bands, but our set is a lot shorter. We get like a half hour set. We’re playing, we’re in the middle of the bands and stuff. Other than that, we’re doing kind of one-offs, or fly dates, or maybe a weekend here or there, but this is really our first true tour on our own as the headliners, since 2012.
That’s actually really exciting. I think the audience is going to be stoked. We’re playing longer sets. We’re digging into the catalog a little more for some fan favorites and some songs we don’t usually play, especially in the last few years. We’re kind of stretching that out a bit and it’s turned out to be a lot of dates. We start out with you guys in late May and that runs pretty much into August. There’s a little bit of time off here and there in July, and then in August it gets a little more sporadic, but we’re out there and covering all four corners on this one. We’re pumped. It should be a great show. If you haven’t seen us, then you must. And if you have seen us, come see us again, because it will be a different show and different songs and stuff we haven’t played in awhile.
It’s always kind of fun to hear what musicians are listening to. Are there any bands out there right now you’ve been really into lately?
I’ll take this opportunity to plug a band that I just produced called Dead Posey.
They’re brand, brand-new. They literally just came out with one song. But I think they’re awesome. We’re getting some really good response from it. A couple of the blogs are starting to pick it up and all that kind of stuff, so check them out. It’s sort of bluesy, gritty, dirty kind of rock with some other undertones in there.
Eve 6 performs May 26 at Suquamish Clearwater Casino‘s Beach Rock Music and Sports Lounge
Doors open at 6 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m. Must be 21+
Cost is $25 for general admission, $50 reserved, $75 for VIP meet and greet.