[Originally Posted on UK Music Directory February 2014]
Interview with Chris Buck and Sally Ann Evans of Buck & Evans
From the bio on your website, I saw that 2013 was an eventful year for you: opening up the Steelhouse Festival 2013, the first night of a weekend of classic rock music, and flying to Arizona in August to join Slash and other American rock bands playing at the Rock N’ 2 Remember fundraiser. What are some of your favourite memories from those performances?
Chris: 2013 was definitely a good year! Incredible, given we only formed in April. Playing with Slash was an amazing experience and an absolute honour – I grew up idolising him, so it’s a dream come true in many ways to share a stage with him, even more so when he’s such a gracious, humble character who is nothing but encouraging. That aside, another cool moment was our first show at the Troubadour in London. We were a new band at the time and very few people knew who we were or what we played, but the response we had was incredible. We were on a varied bill and unsure how we would be received, but people got it straight away and were incredibly responsive. A great moment that really reaffirmed my belief in the band.
Sally Ann: The first Troubadour gig we did was awesome. We didn’t know what to expect but the response blew us away! Playing the Steelhouse Festival was personally very special for me as one of its founders but lastly I guess the trip to Arizona was amazing to the point of being a little surreal. It was the first time for me to meet our management team, Alan and Heather Niven, who are incredible people. Being part of the Rock N’ 2 Remember benefit concert itself was very humbling as it existed only because of circumstances that had affected a small community in a very cruel way. Spending some private time rehearsing with Slash a world guitar icon we’d both grown up listening to and idolising was unreal and to cap it all off playing The Buck and Evans set was a real goose bump moment as the response was so overwhelming.
How long have you been playing together as Buck & Evans?
Chris: Me and Sally Ann started working together in February of last year after I was asked to open for Sandi Thom in Soho. The gig was better than either of us had imagined it being, so we decided to start writing material together. I guess Buck & Evans as a band was truly formed once we had Dominic Hill and Bob Richards on board as a rhythm section. They play together outside of Buck & Evans and subsequently, have an instinctive, unspoken rhythmic bond that only two people who know each other inside-out musically can have. As me and Sally Ann hadn’t really worked together before, having an instinctively tight rhythm section on board really helped create a cohesive sound straight off the bat, that wouldn’t have necessarily have been there with lesser musicians.
You’ve had a great start to the new year, being listed in Classic Rock Presents The Blues magazine’s, Artists to Watch for 2014. How does it make you feel to be listed there?
Chris: It’s an honour to be chosen. It’s a great magazine with a great pedigree and reputation for bringing largely undiscovered bands to the Nation’s attention. And besides, being in any magazine with John Lee Hooker on the cover can be no bad thing!
You’ve released an EP, featuring 3 songs. Is that exclusively available through your website, or can it be purchased elsewhere?
Chris: Currently, exclusively through our website. We’re looking at making it available for digital download soon, but for the moment, just through BuckandEvans.com
Tell us a bit about the songs on the EP. Did you write them together? What inspired them? How did you choose which songs made it onto the EP?
Chris: For the most part, they’re a collaborative effort. Sally Ann brought Treat Me Right to the band fully formed and I came in with Trail of Tears in pretty good shape having had an instrumental version of the track used in a film, Spirit of the Gumball which will be released later this year. Our debut single Going Home is a great example of a collaborative effort though. It came to fruition pretty quickly and was a combination of a riff that I’d written and a chord sequence that Sally Ann had. They fit together really well and the structure of the song fell into place extremely naturally. Some songs take days, weeks to get to a stage you’re happy with and some take minutes. Thankfully, Going Home was definitely the latter and was a great first song to get under our belts.
Sally Ann: It really only started out as a demo to capture early song writing while we were finding our sound. As it happened, we were quite pleased with the results and the response to them was so positive that we decided to use them for an EP. We wrote Going Home and Trail of Tears together, I wrote Treat Me Right as a ‘standing up for oneself’ message! Going Home started out with the great guitar riff from Chris. I followed up with melody and lyrics and the arrangement came together very quickly. It’s a song about getting back to basics in life. In dream dictionaries ‘waterfalls’ can symbolise revitalization, regeneration and renewal. I was writing about the fact that people can lose their way and forget about the basic things that have been taught by our parents and grandparents. Ethics, values, empathy, ambition, manners – the list is endless. Trail of Tears started out as an instrumental by Chris. I put the melody and lyrics to it – the sentiment behind it though captured a specific time for Chris.
Are you working on any new music, and do you have any plans to an album?
Chris: We’re writing new material all the time – it’s our primary focus – with the intention of releasing an album within the next few months. We’ve got the better part of an album’s worth of material already, but the more we write, the more comfortable we are with each other musically, and the more chance there is of producing something great. Plus, looking into the future, we would love to have some songs left on the back-burner for the next record, so we’re not in any rush to put something out. We’ll keep pushing our EP, gigging as much as possible and building a loyal fanbase beyond Facebook likes and retweets! As soon as we’re confident we have a debut record that best represents where we are at that moment, we’ll hit the studio.
Do you have any upcoming gigs planned?
Sally Ann: We have two great gigs lined up – the first in March at HRH Blues, Pwllheli North Wales and the second in July at Maryport Blues Festival in Cumbria. We’ll be putting new gigs in the diary over the next couple of months in between finishing the album!
What type of music did you listen to growing up? Was there any musician/band in particular that inspired you to pick up an instrument or go into the music industry?
Chris: Personally, I grew up listening to blues based rock. Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Guns N’ Roses, Deep Purple etc. Slash was definitely an inspiration to me – he’s an immensely tasteful player beyond what is sometimes obvious with such an iconic sound and image. I really identified with his tone though and his phrasing, articulation and intonation are definitely things that over the years have undoubtedly made me into a better player.
Sally Ann: My taste in music seems to have changed with age I guess! I started learning piano when I was 9 and have loved classical music ever since; I was a bit of a rock chick in my teens; funk, soul and jazz into my early 20s but the sound that has stuck with me since I was very small and first started singing with my mother is gospel music. Mahalia Jackson or a really good gospel choir chokes me every time!
If you could play in any venue, anywhere in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Chris: To be honest, one of my ultimates was ticked off the list when playing the Troubadour. Everybody knows the Troubadour in LA and its place in rock folk-law, but it’s the one in Earl’s Court that has seen Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, John Martyn, Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin grace its tiny stage over the years. Truly hallowed ground! Beyond that, Madison Square Garden would be an incredible experience. It’s a rite of passage, but even some of the biggest artists in the world haven’t played the Garden. If there is such a thing, I think it’s safe to say you’ve ‘made it’ once you’ve seen your name in flashing lights above Penn Station…
Sally Ann: I guess I would like to play the Troubadour in LA just to claim we’ve played London and LA! The goal as a musician is to play large venues and arenas because that would suggest that your music has been received well a wider audience but ultimately would really love to play some places in the US where soul and blues music was really established.
Any other news for your fans?
Chris: There’s definitely lots of exciting things in the pipeline, but none that are fully-formed enough to risk jinxing just yet! Suffice to say that 2014 is going to be a very interesting year for Buck & Evans though and we really hope that we’ll be in a town near you soon!
[Originally Posted on UK Music Directory February 2014]