“I’m not like a Benny or Björn songwriter,” says Even guitarist and vocalist Ash Naylor. “I can’t lock myself in a cabin and come out with a ‘Waterloo’.”

Naylor is musing on the still- mysterious creative process
 of songwriting ahead of the relaunch of Even’s debut album Less Is More, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. New music is on the way too, with a seventh record in development.

“Writing tunes is never a problem – finishing off lyrics is a problem,” says Naylor. “But it’s a good problem to have because it’s a fun thing to make a record. The object is to make the music sound effortless. And that’s the hard thing – you put so much effort into making it sound effortless and light and buoyant.”

Even have been working
on their new record for two years, suggesting a laborious production process, but the reality is the domestic and other musical commitments of Naylor, bass player Wally Kempton
and drummer Matt Cotter mean studio time is difficult to find. In fact, Naylor suggests, Even have probably spent as much time in the studio as they did when they recorded Less Is More over four weeks in the mid-’90s. The band isn’t beholden to a record label, so there’s no external pressure to complete the album.

“You’re making a record for its own sake,” Naylor says. “You’re playing to an unquantifiable audience. In effect, it’s pure in the sense that you’re making a record for your own artistic purposes. And that’s a good feeling.”

Less Is More, released in 1996 and now set to arrive on vinyl for the first time, was named after a self-help book published around the same time. The title also reflects Naylor’s view that a record shouldn’t be over-engineered. But as a perfectionist songwriter and musician, Naylor admits he’s prone to “lumping shit” all over his songs.

“The new album isn’t intentionally a bookend, but we’ve reverted to the trio recording as a unit and there’s less overdubbing,” he says. “It’s pretty well the sound of the bass, drums, guitar and vocals, which is basically how we recorded the first few records, with minimal additional sounds. I’ve been trying to exercise a bit more economy in the sound. Hopefully there’s a bit of breath in these songs, a bit of space.”

It’s not just Even’s songs that have been afforded a bit of space. In contrast to their halcyon period between 1995 and 2004, when the band toured regularly, Even shows come at a premium these days. “We used to play all the time, and it was a bit of a whirlwind
back in that first decade,” says Naylor. “And then the rhythm of life changes, for everyone really.”

Looking back on those days, Naylor’s only regret is that he didn’t take time out to enjoy the fun. “I look back on it now and think it was a great period in my life. Hopefully I can speak for
Matt and Wal as well – it was a great time to be in a band, from the early ’90s to 2000s, and it still is now. We’re so infrequent now, so it’s a big event for us when we do play. But I don’t tend to be too philosophical looking back. We’ve made the records and wherever you stand in the overall scheme of Australian music, it doesn’t really matter.”

Even will be playng at Newtown Social Club on Friday January 13.

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