Matthew, Ash and Wally are Even. Emma-Jane Johnson photo.
Ask any Australian fan of hooky powerpop who they rate and the answer will almost inevitably include Even, the Melbourne institution that’s been a fixture on the Oz scene since forming in 1994. Fronted by singer-songwriter-guitarist, Ashley Naylor, with Matthew Cotter on drums and Wally Kempton (aka Wally Meanie) on bass and backing vocals, they have just released their eighth album, “Down The Shops”, and it's reviewed here.
“Down The Shops” is a beautifully presented, vinyl collection of covers Even has released down the years. Ever since working up a rocking version of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” in their early mid-‘90s days playing the pubs around Fitzroy and St Kilda, Even have usually had a cover or two on the go. And they weren’t adverse to working up a load of them; they did "Even Jukebox" performances every year at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar.
Reverse Light Years – Even (El Reno)
This double album features Even at their creative best – a beautifully crafted 17-track, 81 minutes with something for all tastes. It provides a definitive, seminal record for long-time fans and will certainly open the door to new legions.
Ash Naylor is arguably the hardest working “stop and go man” in Oz music. He, (Wally) Roderick Kempton II(bass) and Matt Cotter (drums) make a formidable three-piece. And a durable one.
I can’t remember the first time I saw Money for Rope play. Probably sometime around 2010, give or take a couple of years. Wally Kempton, initially fan, then manager, now the band’s record label benefactor, was there, telling us these guys were good. Very good. He was right, of course.
There have been a few changes in the line-up since that initial sighting, maybe not on the scale of The Fall, but enough to threaten Money for Rope’s initial promise. But every time I’ve seen Money for Rope since then, they’ve been as impressive as they were that first time. Sometimes you get bands like that.
A tense moment at a Meanies band meeting: Wally Kempton-Meanie (right) comes to the realisation that it's his shout and he left his wallet in Spain.
Wally Kempton is a busy man. Fresh from a Meaniestour of Spain (more on that later) last month, Kempton hopped off the plane in Melbourne and into the van for various tour managing duties.
In the coming days he’ll be rehearsing with Ash Naylor and Matt Cotter in preparation for next week’s annual Even Christmas shows, then regrouping with The Meanies for a gig at Hotel Westwood with Super American Eagle and Rocket Science. Then there’s the raft of current, imminent and potential signings to his Cheersquad Records label and associated promotional and general label managerial activities. “I just can’t stop!” Wally laughs.