It's pretty hip to be a journo, and put the boot into ALL ABOUT EVE at the minute. No longer the frail Goth flowers the music tabloids once loved, and not a band fronted by a gormless, untalented drab so beloved of the Metal magazines. On paper at least, they haven’t really got a chance. But native good sense prevails and the Barrowlands is mobbed by patterned skirts, sombre black and patchouli. Great quantities of cider and blackcurrant are poured down necks and the odd 'Eskimos' T-shirt flirts into view. Nothing really changes except the guitarist…
"That was Julianne [Regan]’'s great idea," said Eve's bassist Andy Cousin, indicating the petite vocalist sitting nearby. "Our old guitarist wasn't pulling his weight so we kicked him out. Julianne came up with a few names and Marty was one of them."
Anxious to avoid an all round claw sharpening session over the departure of Tim Bricheno, I asked the newly arrived Marty Wilson-Piper what he'd been up to before being snared by ALL ABOUT EVE.
"I was touring the United States with THE CHURCH," he said.
Did he find it surprising to be asked to join the Eves?
"Surprised…," Marty said distantly. "Not really. When someone asks you to join a band you sometimes think, 'Wow, this is it,' but no, not surprised. Pleased actually. It's great to be asked to do something like this."
As Marty and Andy are hauled off into the bowels of the ballroom to finish sound-checking, Julianne picks up the threads of Marty's explanation: “Marty was one of my first choices. I'd been into THE CHURCH for about ten years. I really liked the way he played and I imagined him fitting very nicely into the group, and expanding upon it. We weren't just looking for a replacement for Tim. We desperately needed someome who could take the band in other directions."
Clearly Wilson-Piper's inception into the band has been very fruitful. The band put together nearly forty songs in four weeks, quite astonishing as it usually takes that long to get most musicians out of their beds.
"Marty's just very different. His set up is Rickenbacker and vox, which is unusual. He's an absolute workaholic in truest sense of the word. It's great to have a personality in the band that gives it such a momentum."
Touched By Jesus, the album, is heavy with 'guest musicians' to build upon the Eves' sound. Was this wagon going to take the road with them in the future?
"Our keyboard player [Warne Livesey] is the guy who produced our album, who's coming along for this small tour…" a grimace flickers across Julianne's face "…to be replaced by a tape machine or something. Unfortunately, expenses don't permit a fifth member of the band." She shakes her head in general negativity.
Julianne described her lyrics as "do-it-yourself psychotherapy to help cope with changes and real life situations." Although the new album wasn't exactly a quantum jump forward (in-joke for Australians) ALL ABOUT EVE seem to be painting with a wider brush these days.
"I think we're more or less wishing up a lot of things," said Julianne. "We wasted a lot of time and nearly let the band slip through our fingers when we got lost a couple of years ago. Everything was on the verge of collapse. Now we get such a rush from working, a sense of enjoyment and purpose. We're more of an outward-looking band, not introspective, dark, and closeted, like we were before."
Nothing like a little spiritual housecleaning?
"Oh yes. We're also now taking great pains to dissociate ourselves with certain 'movements' that we've supposedly been involved with in the past. We did the Gothic thing in the past. We sounded like SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES and all the 'Goth' reviews, they were warranted and had their place, but that was over five years ago.”
Yet it's plain to see that that tag, plus their association with THE MISSION sticks like glue. They simply can't get away from it and people keep dragging it up like FISH and PETER GABRIEL or some other well-flogged horse.
"I think if you listened to our new album and didn't know anything about our past you wouldn’t put that label on us. To me it's just irrelevant and I don't see the point in getting upset about it. We played in Liverpool and I had a front row of girls shouting 'Goth's not dead, you bitch!' at me. Carry that torch if you want to…" she trails off with a smile.
A point that could be argued until blue in the face is that Julianne is a woman working in a world controlled and regulated by men. I wondered if the old 'Who the Hell does she think she is?' syndrome applies?
"Oh God, yes. I get picked up on for really trivial things like my clothes – just bitching. That and female journalists who believe that because I'm a woman in a band I should be spouting feminist principals and, because I don't, I've fallen prey to the macho male game. That kind of stuff's bullshit."
Interestingly, there's another female voice on the album's title track. Care to shed any light on that American voice.
"Linda Hayes. We needed a certain type of voice, a streetwise New York voice, hanging around backstage with The VELVET UNDERGROUND, that sort of thing. Linda has her own band, does covers of sixties music. She's just a real off-the-wall character. We tried PATTI SMITH but we got 'Very nice song, but no thanks, I've left all that behind.' We also tried DEBBIE HARRY who was too busy, so Linda was kind of infamous but could deliver as well as the two luminaries," said Julianne mystically. "I suppose I could have done it myself, I do it live, but we really need that kind of flavour for the breakdown passage in the song.”
The most notable thing about Touched in comparison to, say, Scarlet And Other Stories is the graduation away from acoustic songs and, as Julianne said, a move away from the introspection of the past. Much of this she feels is down to producer Warne Livesey as much as co-operating with Marty on the songwriting.
"All has worked out well, a change of producer, change of guitarist, change of sound. Paul Samwell Smith brought out one side of the band very well, the acoustic side and the vocals. This time we didn't want the music to be so much in the shadow of my voice [vocalist in 'no ego' shock??] and we wanted someone who wasn't really afraid of electric guitars, so to speak. Paul's strength is with voices. He’s worked with BEVERLY CRAVEN. That’s what he's good at."
Surely not a nail in the coffin of songs like Martha's Harbour?
"That side of our music still has its place," she confirmed, "but it would be wrong to hijack ALL ABOUT EVE for one style of music and neglect everything else, which is what Tim and I did for a while. I have a soft spot for that kind of music and maybe I should team up with someone and record but right now I'd be wasting my time pursuing it."
Yet in a business that thrives on labelling bands and aiming them at a certain audience, ALL ABOUT EVE could present someone with a sizable headache, an American promoter for example who'd maybe heard the old HEART/ FLEETWOOD MAC comparisons. Julianne's eyebrows skyrocket.
"Maybe ten, fifteen years from now," she sounds concerned about such comparisons. "I think some people hate us because we haven't got into that rut. They don’t have that angle on us at all. With the music papers, we're not 'indie rock,' we're not 'dance rock' or whatever you want to call us and so we don't fit into a nice, tidy editorial policy."
Hear! Hear! The evening's gig was to bear out a great deal of the 'new' approach to ALL ABOUT EVE's music. I’m sure a few people were surprised to see Julianne waltz onstage in a pair of cut off denims after years of long skirts and extravagant 'hippy' gear or the once funereal black garb of the past. I don't think Marty Wilson-Piper has yet managed to ring all the changes in the band. Comparisons with Tim Bricheno will be inevitable and he'll no doubt be practising up a few verbal parleys on questions about his predecessor.
I enjoyed the gig. Speculation has it that they'll be back before Christmas. Dyed-in-the-wool readers might pooh-pooh the idea of Riff Raff giving bands like ALL ABOUT EVE space. I wouldn't knock it. You never know what's around the corner and I think I have a rough idea where they're going, and it will raise eyebrows.