If you caught their great "What If" on 'The Experience 4' you'll know that EVERGREEN are an exceptional new indie rock band. The story behind their debut album is somewhat unusual as Andrew Long found out.
One of the festival favourites over the last few years have been a little band called River, later called Infopop, who played Greenbelt and Cross Rhythms and various other venues and drew satisfyingly large and enthusiastic crowds. Unfortunately, as is often the way with bands, they split, and it's there that we pick up the story.
Bandleader Ali Loaker still continued to pursue having a band and trying to find members, however he was finding it a difficult search and not getting the right response to his ads he decided to take the next logical step. "What I did was off my own back. I just went out and made a CD with one other chap called Ed Bird, who's now our drummer. He's only 14 years old. Me and him just went into the studios, it was the first time for him, and we just made an album."
The album was recorded at Dave Pick's famous FFG Studio. Apart from Ed's drums, Ali played all the instruments himself, backing vocals were contributed by Justina Agnew, Ali's sister-in-law, and suddenly Ali's new band Evergreen had an album, 'Dalek Boy'. Unfortunately Evergreen the band still didn't really exist. Ali told me how the rest of the band came to join. "Once the album was done I recruited a local guitarist called Lindsey Blickem who used to be in River with me. I played the album to him and he really liked it. We've always shared the same vision anyway. Then I was travelling to London on the train and reading Melody Maker and saw an advertisement from a bass player Chris Rhind and I rang him up and he had the same vision as well."
The new band began to practise seriously and had soon started to write new material together. They soon began gigging in earnest and have played a lot of pub gigs over the past few months as well as some Christian youth events. Ali believes that they could become a popular festival band in the way that River did.
"Yeah, I think we just naturally seem to create that sort of music that just creates more of a buzz live. We've already had some brilliant live gigs and the music we're doing now is even more ferocious than River was, more punky and faster so it lends itself to that sort of atmosphere."
Evergreen's influences are varied. Ali is currently listening to Greenday, Mogwai and Feeder as well as being a big fan of early Manics and Nirvana. The guitarist is a U2 man almost exclusively and Ali describes him as a bit of a recluse. "He just stays in all the time, watches sport and does ironing!" Ali says. "We all like Fono and we have been compared to them and to All Star United."
Future plans for Evergreen include a full band album next year and "to do as many gigs as possible."
Says Ali, "The vision of the band is simply to have fun and write songs that will touch people's lives and hopefully introduce them to a God that never fails and a Saviour who loves them. In this twisted world a message of hope and purpose is just what people need and the band has already received letters of thanks from people who have been encouraged or affected by the album."
The gifted singer/songwriter continues, "At the moment the band will play anywhere, anytime for a very small fee and are looking to increase their fan base and get regular gigs. The current gigs have been going well, the band have been using their previous experience to make them a force to be reckoned with on the live circuit. Oh yes, about the band name - an evergreen is a type of tree that does not die or give up its leaves when everything around it is dying, instead it defiantly keeps its leaves all the time and is still there when the other trees eventually get their leaves back. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit in us, we have access to an eternal river of life that will keep on flowing even when death tries to pull us under. As Christians, Jesus can empower us to become spiritual evergreens."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.