While you were in Econ 101 struggling not to fall asleep as you switched between your facebook homepage and your 87th game of minesweeper, Evan P. Donahue was adding his unique brand of songwriting to the vibrant mix of the Nashville music scene. As a senior at Belmont University, Donahue balances his Audio Engineering major with the task of promoting his debut album Rhythm & Amplitude. Donahue’s band, a tight and poppy rock outfit complete with trumpet and trombone, gigs extensively within the Nashville area and now with a well-polished full length LP in hand is looking to reach a wider audience. I had the recent chance to sit down with both Donahue and drummer Mike Kavouras (the self described “brains behind the project”) and discuss the band’s most recent activities.
Rhythm & Amplitude was self released in April at a listening party in a local Nashville cinema and plans are in the works for an official release show in November. “It’s a lot different then our live sound, it’s a lot cleaner which I think kind of shocks people at first,” commented Donahue “It’s a fall-winter record so I think now is really a good time for people to listen to it.”
When explaining the substantial planning that went into the album, Donahue drew a modest comparison to George Lucas’s overly ambitious first film, “We spent 2 years on the record. In our career maybe it’s like the THX”. In fact, Donahue’s careful outlining translates into an incredibly cohesive and energetic album. Musical metaphors are dispersed seamlessly throughout the songs and the entire effort is tied together by 3 tracks, “R” “A” and “&”, which correspond to the album’s title.
By far the album’s strongest attribute is Donahue’s intricate and clever songwriting. Take for example the track “California Sunshine”. At face value it is an innocent and poppy surf-rock love ballad. But the lyrics tell a mature and well imagined story of a middle aged man’s journey to a Brothel named The California Sunshine. Donahue explains, “It’s about discovering a new walk of life. Finding miracles in weird places.”
Donahue also had a lot to say about being an up-and-coming artist in Music City. “I love what’s going on here. I think the Nashville scene does a really good job at what they’re attempting to do”, he said in admiration of his adopted home town. However, he had some frustrations with trying to be heard in a town over-populated with musicians. “There is so much going on in terms of music. They can’t do justice to everyone.”
Kavouras and Donnahue felt a mixture of excitement and apprehension about the prospect of their musical careers post graduation. “Whatever we do is gonna be by the seat of our pants” stated Donnahue. Kavouras laid out a loose vision of moving the band to New York City and eventually embarking on a European tour. Whatever uncertainty the future may hold, the two were assured that their unique and authentic music will carry them beyond Nashville. Kavouras voiced this determination clearly when he unabashedly declared, “Ultimate goal: open for Paul McCartney”.
Rhythm & Amplitude is available for download at http://www.rhythmandamplitude.com/
–Bryan McTiernan, Co-host of Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell (Saturdays 12-1)