Eve 6’s Legacy: A Discourse by Correspondence

Eve_6

Dan:

So, Colton, let’s talk about Eve 6.

Their reunion album has come and gone. In a few months, we’ll hit the fifteenth anniversary of their debut album. Though they might tour some more and, who knows, release another album, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on their career, discography, and legacy.

One of the first articles I wrote for Earn This was a review of It’s All In Your Head. In the opening paragraphs, I wondered how (and if) Eve 6 will be remembered. Most of what I noted then still holds true: Eve 6 has not been hugely influential. They never became mega-stars, though their comeback album cracked the Billboard Top 40. They weren’t critical darlings or cult favorites.

So, to what extent is their music worth remembering and revisiting? In what ways does the band remain interesting and compelling as we get older, our music libraries expand, and our tastes evolve?

There are a few obvious answers to these questions. One is that I (we) simply still enjoy listening to their music. It’s catchy, well-crafted, and occasionally clever. Their music works in several contexts: It’s fun, polished alternative with lots of good hooks, so you can blast it as background music at a party or in the car. There’s also enough variety, subtlety, and intelligence in their music that you can pay attention to the details the way you might for a prog band.

Another relatively obvious answer is nostalgia. I loved this music in high school, and I loved life in high school, so this music brings me back to the optimism and enthusiasm I had in the early-mid aughts.

There are a few other answers that come to mind — that I enjoy every song they recorded pre-breakup, and that I’m fascinated with three-album arcs — but I’m curious what you think. Why do you (still) care about Eve 6?
eve-6-debuteve-6-horrorscopeeve-6-its-in-your-head

Colton:

Dan My Friend,

From preteen summers, my earliest memory of Eve 6 is arguing with friends over a poolside game of Egyptian Ratscrew about what that “heart in a blender” song was called. This argument took place about once per month, and every time, my hypothesis—”Faith In Nothing”—was democratically rejected in favor of “Beautiful Oblivion.”

We were lucky enough to have a local alt-rock station that carried “Leech,” “Promise,” and even “Open Road Song” in their respective days, beyond that debut single which all now know as “Inside Out.” But none of these made a splash. “Here’s to the Night,” of course, was the sweetest middle school dance closer this side of Green Day; and it enjoyed a reprise at high school dances where we all snickered, now aware that it was a ballad to a one night stand.

On some forgotten day, I learned that all these songs came from the same band.

No Rolling Stone writer raved about Eve 6. The blogosphere was not ablaze when Horrorscope dropped, partly because there was no blogosphere (and my family’s one computer didn’t have a dialup connection yet anyway). With no hardcore fans of the band among my friends, I had no reason to care about Eve 6 beyond my own tastes. You seem very close to saying that Eve 6’s only legacy will be personal impacts their music has made on individual fans. Well, maybe I’m putting words in your mouth, but if you did make that claim then I’d agree.

My early-00’s journey, discovering the trio’s work gradually, resembled Aladdin exploring the Cave of Wonders. I hesitate to namedrop songs because Eve 6’s ouvre is so dense with gush-worthy material. As you note, tastes change, and my CD collection has diverged wildly since high school. Still, I’ve always valued creativity in songwriting and deep arrangements. We could even give Max Collins and co. a handicap for eschewing a fourth member, but they don’t need it.

I could talk till daylight on historical reasons for imprinting on Eve 6, or just as easily expand on what makes their songs great anytime, anywhere. Which way would you go? If you’d been born 10 years earlier or later, but still got ahold of their CDs, would the band be relevant (for you) today?

eve6_insideout

Dan:

The Internet has made downloaded discographies and streamed albums the musical currency: The way my relationship developed with Eve 6 — and the fact they were one of the first bands I loved not introduced to me by my dad — is a big part of why I love them.

Like you, I fell in love with Eve 6 in a “bottom-up” way. Both of us discovered several songs by Eve 6 without knowing their shared creator, then later learned about the artist. We loved several songs independently first, then loved the artist. I can’t really say I’ve done that with many other artists before or since.

I have trouble believing if I wasn’t who I was, when I was, that I ever would have fallen for them as hard as I did. I’ve stumbled into bands out of their own time — say, The Raspberries and the Fine Young Cannibals. But those chance encounters have been by chance haven’t felt really personal. I love Eve 6 and the other bands from my golden years, such as Relient K, in a way that it’s hard for me to replicate ten years later.

The first song I knew by the trio was “Here’s to the Night”. I liked it a lot, and gradually more over time, but I didn’t really fall for an Eve 6 song until “Promise.” Our mutual friend Tyler burned me some CDs with his favorite music, and I found “Rescue” and “Inside Out” that way, only later realizing they were all by the same band.

One funny tidbit of that story was that he actually burned Inside Out on two different CDs, once as “Inside Out” and once as “Beautiful Oblivion!” It turns out you and your friends were not the only ones who struggled with that title.*

And then, some time around my senior year of high school, I bought all three albums in one go. I enjoyed them all from the first spin, but it took some time for me to appreciate the depth and replayability of the songs. I had intense affairs with each at different times.

One day, without really thinking about it, I realized that I identified them as one of my favorite bands. And since that epiphany, I’ve had trouble going a month or two without revisiting these discs. They’re old friends, longtime lovers. As young adult author John Green once said, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

You mentioned “Leech” and “Open Road Song” as songs you heard on the radio. I actually did not know that these songs were singles until I just now looked at a list of them on Wikipedia. That’s how consistent and filler-free that first album is: I don’t really differentiate the singles from the non-singles. (Horrorscope and Head are the same way.) “How Much Longer” is so catchy that I always assumed it was a single, but it turns out it wasn’t.

I did know, though, that “Inside Out” and “Here’s to the Night” were both hits. I’ve seen Eve 6 described several times as a one-hit wonder (the query [eve 6 “one hit wonder”] has almost 3 million hits on Google!), but was never clear which one of those hits the moniker was supposed to apply to.

I don’t like the “one hit wonder” tag for Eve 6 in part because it can be empirically proven false, but also because there is a lot more to Eve 6 than Los del Río. This is evident from their self-titled debut, which screams out of the gate. But maybe it dates back even further than that. I know from past discussions that you know the band from their pre-Eve 6, Eleventeen days. Was their aptitude obvious from the start?

*As a footnote, how long would it have taken you to correctly guess the title if you were told that it was a phrase from the song’s lyrics? For me, it would probably be around my tenth or fifteenth guess, at best. Here are ten alternate titles for Inside Out, in approximate order of intuitiveness. Am I missing any other key candidates?

  1. Beautiful Oblivion
  2. Through With You
  3. Heart in a Blender
  4. Faith In Nothing
  5. Empty Inside
  6. Swallow My Doubt
  7. Swallow My Pride
  8. Swallow
  9. The Lack Thereof
  10. Rendezvous

Eve-6-Eleventeen

Colton:

Don’t forget “Tie Me to the Bedpost”!

Gosh, I never heard an Eleventeen song until well after I’d collected Eve 6’s three prime releases. That was their name back in high school, and the self-titled CD features an 18-year-old Max Collins on vocals. And it’s funny, I really don’t like to listen to Eleventeen at all these days.

They had a different drummer, which made (to my ear) a negligible difference. Basically everything is the same about their composition: an intense but stripped-down approach to alt rock, sing-along choruses with wordplay in between, and sections where they spout the same two or three bitter lines over and over. The song “#1” enters on a guitar drone, as do three tracks from the Eve 6 self-titled album, and Eleventeen even had a track called “Nocturnal Emission” that ended up losing a word, gaining a chorus, and showing up on Horrorscope four years later.

The problems are in the recording and in Collins’s larynx. His voice wobbles, runs nasal, and sounds unpleasantly high compared to anything on Eve 6 or later. How it changed in the next two years I do not know, but thank goodness! As for the recording, there are palpable jumps in production value from each Eve 6 release to the next, and the trend extends backwards to Eleventeen. None of this is the band’s fault. From a talent and writing standpoint, they were already golden. But whoever signed them must have heard something at their shows that didn’t quite transfer in studio.

Now here’s a pickle. RCA was willing to invest in these rough kids, put out five singles off an 11-track debut, and promote to the point of one million units sold in just over six months. In 2000, the boys gave their label a follow-up that showed more ambition and a cleaner sound, yet Horrorscope yielded only three singles and barely squeaked its way to a Gold certification by mid-2001.

(It’s All in Your Head, whose mix of dirty blazers and anthems for the lost makes it my favorite Eve 6 LP, got two singles and made zero splash.)

What gives? I’ve got one theory, and it has nothing to do with quality. Up till 2001, every major release from Eve 6, Third Eye Blind, and 311 went Gold or Platinum—then none after. Compare that to fellow alphanumeric bands Three Days Grace, Finger 11, and 3 Doors Down, who had phenomenal success in the early-to-mid 00’s—but not before. Alt rock to the left of me, post-grunge to the right. Maybe my sample is biased, but I can’t understand why RCA would decrease their support for a band that kept getting better unless it was a business maneuver in response to changing popular tastes.

This leads to an even bigger puzzle in light of the wildly unsuccessful Speak in Code. We’ve established that Eve 6 were never superstars and that they faded into obscurity amid little fanfare. In 2009, their stylemates Third Eye Blind self-released Ursa Major and delighted their hardcore fans while raking in minimal sales. Why would Collins and the boys see this as an opportune time to regroup and go indie?

eve_6_2

Dan:

There’s very likely some truth to your theory. Just from my anecdotal observations, I would agree that polished alternative was on its way out when I graduated middle school in the early ’00s. Meanwhile, the slightly grimier, more constipated-sounding post-grunge bands like Nickelback and Three Doors Down were on the up-and-up. As a data point in favor of this theory, the four bands that last.fm identifies as most similar to Eve 6 (Lit, Everclear, Stroke 9, Third Eye Blind) all released their bestselling album between 1997 and 1999 — before Horrorscope.

Maybe they knew their target scene was dying when they released Horrorscope, but it still seems like RCA missed two obvious singles: “Rescue” and “Amphetamines,” which are the band’s two most popular non-singles according to last.fm. Two of Horrorscope‘s singles (“Promise,” “Night”) did well, but neither improved upon “Inside Out” in sales or chart position.

By the time It’s All in Your Head rolled around, I can’t really blame RCA for any lack of promotion. For one, the band was proving a headache. Max Collins was famously and hilariously arrested, and the band’s third album was significantly less commercial (and successful) than Eve 6 or Horrorscope. But also, record label executives were having a pretty bad year in 2003, so I can see why they’d be panicking and dropping troublesome assets.

It’s All in Your Head was apparently a pretty taxing album to create for the band, and you can really hear Collins close to breaking down in those twelve tracks. But for all of the talk of the band being burned out, there’s plenty of evidence that the band was still ascending to their creative peak. First, you and I agree their third album is better and more interesting than their first two. It was a step forward, not a stumble. It doesn’t sound like a band running out of ideas. Second, the band apparently wrote around fifty tracks for the album.

Circa 2003, Collins was writing so many songs that he couldn’t even release a quarter of them. Circa 2004, the band is apparently done. What happened? Drugs? Frustration with lack of success? Eagerness to try something new (they were, remember, only our age when It’s All In Your Head came out, despite having been on the same label deal for seven years)?

Probably all of the above. Still, a fourth pre-breakup Eve 6 album off some indie label (a la Hanson’s reinvention), released in 2005 or 2006, ranks as one of my top counterfactual releases. Sugi Tap just wasn’t the same.

And yet…

I can’t complain at all about the three albums we got. They work so perfectly. They fit together so nicely. In the past, I’ve summarized their respective themes as longing->indulgence->withdrawal. It works as a thematic cycle, as if the band planned it that way.

These themes stand out especially starkly in the leadoff tracks: in “How Much Longer” Collins complains about how “balked and unfulfilled” he is; in “Rescue” he describes a “vixen [who] stole Cupid’s arrow and came to rescue” him with steamy sex; and in “Without You Here” he wishes he could “undarken the night” and return to that passion.

But as I’ve been reading about the band’s history the past few days, a more apt classification of the albums came to me: Eve 6 is a high school album. Horrorscope is a college album. It’s All in Your Head is a post-graduation blues album. The timeline even works!

Now, I’m not arguing that Siebels, Collins, and Fagenson were hitting the books in between MTV sets. Still, let’s think it through.

The self-titled debut has songs about the thrilling freedom of driving a car (“Open Road Song”), being stuck at home and hating it (“Small Town Trap”), and a mismatched crush (“Tongue Tied”). High school.

Horrorscope has songs about dealing with life-altering consequences of your decisions (“On the Roof Again”), hooking up at parties (“Here’s to the Night”), and experimenting with your sexual orientation (“Jet Pack”). College.

It’s All in Your Head has songs about trying to figure out what it means to grow up (“Good Lives”/”At Least We’re Dreaming”), missing old romances (“Girlfriend”/Without You Here”), and a vague feeling of a lost era and wasted potential (“Hey Montana”/”Arch Drive Goodbye”). Post-graduation blues.

It works! Or maybe I’m over-imposing a structure on a system with less order than I give it credit for. I tend to do that.

But I think we agree that Eve 6 failed to enhance its legacy with last year’s Speak in Code. Maybe they just wanted to squeeze their former fans, many of whom are now in the workforce with disposable income, for every possible penny. But my favorite theory is that they, like me, felt like Eve 6 had one more great album left in them and hoped the iron would still be hot enough to mold something worthy of its legacy in the mind of its fans. They wanted a happy ending. Instead, they’re left picking up the pieces.

If I had to fit it into the arc of their previous albums I just described, it’s their mid-life crisis album. The nostalgia makes them forget the pain that their young adulthood actually endured. They forget that pain was a large part of their identity during those years.

How do you see Eve 6’s prime three albums fitting together? And how does their reunion and disappointing fourth album affect your overall opinion of the band? Where did they go wrong?

speakincode

Colton:

Haha!  Your coming-of-age trilogy interpretation is creative.  And evocative.  And a wee bit eisegetic.  I’d argue that “Think Twice” is basically the same song as “Showerhead” from two albums prior while, as I mentioned, “Nocturnal” was written back in Eleventeen days.  As these guys soaked up life, new experiences certainly found their way into the music, but I can’t read a concept into any of their releases.  I’ve heard it said that albums suggest false divisions in an artist’s growth by packaging into chunks songs that were written individually and continuously over time.

Then again, you have enough evidence to make a case.  Besides, isn’t meaning in the ear of the be-hearer?  If you look at Eve 6’s work and see a representation or reflection of your own life, that’s awesome!  It doesn’t matter what I think, and we don’t have to care whether the band intended it or not.

Since you asked, though, I happen to focus on completely different strands when evaluating Eve 6.  Around some friends, I have a reputation for ignoring lyrics, which is fairly accurate: I’m far more likely to dig a great composition with janky words on top than an insightful poem sung over bland, empty chords.  This is a band that manages to score big with me in both columns thanks to Collins’s idiosyncratic flow, which turns his voice into a signature instrument.

I spit and stutter stuff and clutter worries in my worried corner
Maladjusted, just untrusted, rusted sometimes brilliant busted thoughts

Those lines sound typify the band’s sound.  The redheaded frontman rattles them off in a percussive stream of glory, beautiful even if you’ve got Wernicke’s aphasia.  (Thanks, linguistics degree!)  Beyond stress and meter, Collins sadly lacks the chops to stretch a song vertically to the high highs and low lows, though he makes up for it with convincing emotive range.  From bored as hell to every stage of grief to completely—as you say—breaking down, the man can home in on a feeling and sell it.

But what really separated Eve 6 from the litany of Mighty Joe Plums, Fastballs, and Cowboy Mouths who flickered and faded from late-90’s alternative radio was their knack for building memorable songs.  Maybe working with just drums, bass, and one guitar let them focus on each element and avoid “support syndrome,” where one guy plays four boring bars over and over to flesh out a song because the writer only put effort into the melody.  This disease most commonly afflicts rhythm guitarists, though it’s easier to notice in drummers when you listen for them.

Listening to Eve 6, you find effective arrangements in the verses that make each track’s bulk just as exciting as the hooks.  The really cool thing is that all those songs were designed to be played live, because the potential for expanding to a wider sound palette in studio hadn’t yet dawned on the band.  “Rescue” is a personal favorite because it kicks off the next album with an immediate surge of electronic influence, as if to say, “Check out what we can do now!”  Right on the tail of “Rescue” is “Promise”, which could’ve been pulled straight from the first album but for the slicker production.

If Horrorscope was dipping their toes in the water, It’s All in Your Head was a total plunge.  “Still Here Waiting” and “Hey Montana” are only two slots apart on the track list, but they sound like they’re off two separate albums, neither of which the Eleventeen boys could have conceived of.  As you’ve pointed out before, there just doesn’t seem to be any filler.  Becoming less valuable to RCA may have been a blessing: without pressure to crank out singles and tours for profit, Eve 6 was allowed three years to generate that enormous stock of material from which they chose only the best tracks, guaranteeing quality across their “last” album.

The world is much clearer if we ignore Speak in Code completely.  We’ve barely acknowledged it so far, though I guess we already covered that ground.  (By the way, despite writing them in isolation, we produced eerily similar reviews.)  To follow up, it’s been eight months and I still don’t like it.  It’s a piece of junk that doesn’t deserve to be part of Eve 6’s legacy.  I can only pray that this wasn’t merely Brett Favre’s year with the Jets, due to be followed by another change and another failure before thankful retirement.

And with that, I think we’ve wrapped up Eve 6’s legacy as we see it.  But I know we’ve been restraining ourselves a bit, trying to stay academic, while admitting that the band’s impact is overwhelmingly personal.  As long as we’re airing out all of our feelings, what do you say we take this opportunity to gush about the songs we love most?

eve-6-collins

Dan:

But there’s too much to gush about. I’ll give it a try, nonetheless. My first draft included my top thirty five songs off their first three albums (hah!) but I’ve narrowed it down to fifteen tracks, which I ranked from my favorite to least favorite.

Let’s start with the debut album. Eve 6’s biggest hit is “Inside Out” (my #6), and it’s not hard to see why it struck a chord.  It’s a nifty little song with a catchy groove. You noted the fantastic rhythm and repeated sounds of that lyric from Promise, and I’d agree that’s one of Collins’ writing strengths. We see similar examples in “Inside Out,” including “wanna put my tender / heart in a blender” and “rendezvous then I’m through with you.”

My favorite song on the album would have to be “Showerhead” (#3). Its melody isn’t quite as relentless as “Inside Out” or the other singles, but it packs a bigger impact. Its intensity and emotional hurt are evoked in large part by Max Collins’ fantastic vocal performance. I also think the lyrics — while not quite as ominous as those of its cousin, “Think Twice” — stab you right in the chest. In a good way.

“How Much Longer” (#8) has one of the band’s best sing-along choruses, which is saying something. It is also a standout in the wordplay department; Collins demolishes such lines as “he waits around / he’s spun around” and the staccato “peers don’t know what they can’t see.” It’s a good, fun opener that sets an energetic tone for the album.

The only song that ramps the pace and energy to even higher levels is “Open Road Song” (#13). It’s only a few pegs behind “Don’t Stop Me Now” as my favorite driving-down-the-freeway anthem. I also have to commend the “pore”-“pour”-“poor” trifecta of the final verse.

Horrorscope is probably the album of the three I come back to the least, but it definitely has its standouts. The first Eve 6 song I loved, “Promise” (#2) will always hold a special place in my heart. It has some of the band’s best hooks and finest wordplay. The previously mentioned “Spit and stutter” / “Maladjusted” lyric is a masterpiece, but I find  something so satisfying about the “Promise not to try not to let you down” line. As a side note, I first knew the clean version of Horrorscope so the f-bomb in the chorus can still catch me off guard when I listen to the original. The “ffff” sound in the clean version just sounds better to me.

Not far behind “Promise” in my mind is the other hit of the album: “Here’s to the Night” (#4). Yeah, its “one night stand” lyrics render some of the sonic romance moot. But the swooning music, accented by just the right amount of strings, is of the rarest vintage of radio ballads. It’s almost “Every Breath You Take”-ian.

I agree that a large part of “Rescue”‘s punch (#11) is how immediately it evolves Eve 6‘s more elementary timbre.  But without the soaring chorus and catchy verses, the compelling texture would be for naught.

And I have to give a shout out to “Jet Pack,” (#14) easily Eve 6’s funniest song. I love the bridge (“What the hell are you talking about…”) almost as much as I love the image of all of Collins’ friends trying to figure out if this song is about them.

As good as the first two albums are, It’s All in Your Head is the most dense with classics. Its only minor hit, “Think Twice” (#12), is evocative and brooding. The darkness starts from the first line (“When all is said and done and dead”). We hear Collins’ world disintegrate as he comes to grips with the fact that his girlfriend is cheating on him. Does it end with his suicide? Arguably; either way, the track sears with a compelling hurt.

But there are a few album tracks I like even more than the single. “Bring the Night On” (#5) explodes into each stunning refrain. The lyrics of Collins battling insomnia and depression as he falls for a girl are nearly as impactful as the music.

Supposedly, the band’s favorite song they ever recorded is “Good Lives” (#9). It’s a justifiable choice, a fine summary of the band’s existential angst paired with some strong, escalating hooks. The song has a rich texture with several nice touches, like the syncopated hits during the bridge (“I never wanted to be…”).

“Hokis” (#10) is kind of a weird song. I’ve heard alternately that that title is the Armenian word for “soul” and that it’s the name of an Armenian gang. For all I know, both or neither is true. The song serves as a heavy climax for the album. I love the chorus (one of the only Eve 6 songs in which it appears just twice) and, even moreso, the pained “yeah yeah yeah” near the end of the track.

If “Hokis” is the climax of the album, “Arch Drive Goodbye” (#7) would be the denouement. Sad and touched with a bit of sweet nostalgia, it was the perfect way for the band to end its career.

My favorite Eve 6 song, “At Least We’re Dreaming” (#1), is quintessential. It is chock full of hooks, steadily building in intensity from beginning to end, and spiced up with great performances and touches from all three band members. Just go and listen to the last minute of the song again — the way Collins absolutely loses his mind in the vocal part is fantastic. You can hear him struggling (and failing) to convince himself that “everything’s gonna be all right.” Catchy, moving, impeccable, charged — it’s one of my favorite songs.

If you’ve been counting, you might have noticed that I’ve only listed fourteen songs. That’s right, I’m breaking our agreement to pretend that Speak in Code doesn’t exist. I like only a couple of the songs on the album, but “Lost & Found” (#15) is exactly what I hoped the new album would be: A clever, polished coda to the band’s career. It’s too bad most of the album fails to live up to the standard of the first track they leaked.

So, in summary, I selected “At Least We’re Dreaming,” “Promise,” “Showerhead,” “Here’s to the Night,” “Bring the Night On.” “Inside Out,” “Arch Drive Goodbye,” “How Much Longer,” “Good Lives,” “Hokis,” “Rescue,” “Think Twice,” “Open Road Song,” “Jet Pack,” and “Lost and Found” as my favorite Eve 6 songs.

Anyways, sorry that took so long. Like I said, there’s much to gush about when it comes to Eve 6. Why don’t you bring us home? Is there anything else Eve 6-related that you’d like to comment upon? Any particular songs you want to comment upon or effusions of mine you’d like to contradict?

eve-6-fagenson

Colton:

My duty now is clear.  To back up our claims about the depth of Eve 6’s great albums, I propose to extend the list you’ve begun to cover their 30 best songs.

Everything you picked would’ve made my top 30, so there’s no need to question your choices and ranks.  I’ll take the top half of the list as granted.  My only comment is on “Jet Pack”: ever since seeing a blog post by guitarist Jon Siebels on the Huffington Post’s Gay Voices section, I’ve wondered if maybe…

Let’s get started!

Young Max Collins never came closer to soaring vocals than in the verses of “Leech” (#18).  The first of the debut album’s slow songs, reflecting endemic hometown boredom, it offers a complete and ripe aesthetic without extraneous licks.  How they got a song so right, so early, is beyond me.

Swapping out aggression in the chorus for aggression in the verse, “Superhero Girl” (#28) is frenetic and threatens to explode from the first giddy cry.  As aloof and cool as Collins usually sounds singing about high school days, here he is unabashedly engrossed by a girl, idolizing her.  The chilled-out verse sounds downright sweet!

The music video Eve 6 made for “Tongue Tied” (#26) features Katie Holmes, in early-Dawson’s Creek form, making out with some guy on their teacher’s desk.  It might’ve been the guy from 7th Heaven, it’s not really important.  It’s a pretty good video.  Can’t really remember if the band is in it.  Maybe I should watch it again and get back to you.

Meanwhile, “Saturday Night” (#24) kicks in with a tight drum beat that really rocks.  Tony Fagenson gets a workout here and does most of the heavy lifting, while Collins riffs masterfully in time.  The repartee between those two makes for a couple of brilliant verses.

The band’s best ode to boredom comes, suitably, as Eve 6 is winding down.  “There’s a Face” (#21) has a laid-back groove, tons of guitar noodling, and lyrics that seem to come straight out of a lounge chair.  Choral backing vocals in the bridge are a clever touch that you might miss on your first listen.

That takes me to my first submission from the sophomore record: “On the Roof Again” (#17).  A tale of love, betrayal, and overreaction, the song gives us my absolute favorite Eve 6 bridge—no small feat by any means.

I’ll never know what crazy women inspired any of Collins’s songs about variously twisted relationships, but the face behind “Amphetamines” (#22) must have been a pretty young thing with a good heart.  That’s the impression I get from him begging her to “Phone me once in a while, let me know you’re alright,” the central line among his upbeat but desperate pleas.

If ever you could hear destiny ringing in the background of an Eve 6 song, it’s probably in “Bang” (#27) about thirty seconds before destiny smacks you in the face.  Suspense and intrigue aren’t common among the band’s punk rock influences, so I consider this song another demonstration of their stylistic range.  Well, the outro is pretty standard, but standard-fare Eve 6 is still high quality.

Enraptured in “Girl Eyes” (#29), Collins slurs his way to new coinages like “vodkareenin’.”  He also pulls off the rare double-zeugma with the brilliant sequence “I took her hand and then an aspirin in the morning / I took her hand and took her home.”

Having ended Horrorscope so sweetly, Eve 6 must have been determined to kick off It’s All in Your Head with an honest-to-goodness headbanger.  “Without You Here” (#30) fills that role admirably, with double-time high hats and rasping vocals ratcheting up the intensity throughout.

“Still Here Waiting” (#19) is the one Eve 6 song that consistently makes me laugh: “Lay off the coffee, and the Kafka, and the coughing!”  The garage rock sound and gang vocals show the guys really letting loose and telling some girl exactly what her problems are, and that they’ll be kicking back and sweating nothing until she’s ready to be less of a stuck-up priss.

Steel strings and lonely prairie sounds usher in “Hey Montana” (#23), a ballad to wasting away in a place nothing like home.  It’s sad and it’s lonely, with a jangly sound and sparse percussion, a radical change of pace for the band.

Back in their wheelhouse, “Friend of Mine” (#16) is Eve 6’s answer to Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” (or is it “Wounded”?), and every bit as moving.  It’s funny how these close, personal conversations, so full of fear, tend to focus on random little images.  It feels real.  And there is no song in their collection more sincere or better for cathartic screaming when that’s what you need from music.

Painfully, Collins decided to follow up a song about fear of needless loss with a song about true loss and acceptance.  “Girlfriend” (#20) can bring me to tears some days, every instrument perfectly orchestrated to reflect the weakness in the words.  You can hear doubt, and you can hear hope, and their interplay makes for a stunning piece.

Last but not least, I’ve also got one submission from Speak in Code, though I know that Collins and Fagenson wrote “Pick Up the Pieces” (#25) years before the rest of the album.  What I wanted out of the comeback was a return to their early-00’s alt sound, and this tune fits musically right between their second and third releases.  Lyrically, it’s classic Eve 6 style on top of a story that reminds me of Our Lady Peace’s “Innocent” from 2002.

Here’s your wrap-up, from favorite to less favorite: “Friend of Mine,” “On the Roof Again,” “Leech,” “Still Here Waiting,” “Girlfriend,” “There’s a Face,” “Amphetamines,” “Hey Montana,” “Saturday Night,” “Pick Up the Pieces,” “Tongue Tied,” “Bang,” “Superhero Girl,” “Girl Eyes,” “Without You Here.”

Thanks for carrying this conversation so far!  There probably aren’t many people out there who care about Eve 6 as much as us, but I’ve had an awesome time capturing what made the band special.  Happy 15th anniversary, Eve 6, and here’s hoping the boys make the right decision going forward.

eve-6-logo

Dan:

Well, I guess that wraps things up. I’ll sign off by giving some well-deserved thanks: to Colton, for joining me; to readers, for suffering through 5k+ words of adulation; and to Eve 6, for some of the finest damn music I know.

If any of you Earn This visitors made it this far, please share your thoughts in the comments section: Where do you agree and disagree with us? What did we miss in our discussion of the band’s legacy? Do you have any personal stories of Eve 6 fandom to share? Let us know; we’d love to hear.

Over and out!

Colton O.

Colton O.

Colton drinks straight out of coconuts and writes about music for Earn This. He joined the site in 2009.

Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

16 thoughts on “Eve 6’s Legacy: A Discourse by Correspondence

  1. You guys have made me curious to check out their other stuff, but Here’s to the Night still 100% takes me back to being a terrified middle schooler at dances. I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.

    • Yeah “Here’s to the Night” still gives me that uneasy feeling, too.

      It’s easy to give Eve 6 a try, btw, because they only have three short albums, all available on Spotify or easily found else-wise.

      “Inside Out” is pretty representative of their usual sound, and almost everyone likes that song, so you should listen to that at least.

  2. Damn, I loved this. I read every word and was sad when it wrapped up. Eve 6 has been my #1 favorite band since I first heard ‘Inside Out’ back in 1997 so this was a fun read.

    I think you guys hit the nail (s) on the head(s), and I LOVE that you included two of my personal favorites, ‘Hokis’ and ‘Bang’.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    • I know this is a year late, but — thanks, Kat!! We really appreciate it, and we’re sorry we missed one of your favorites.

  3. In my last comment, I did forget to add that one omission for me was ‘Jesus Nitelite’. The last 60 seconds or so is one of my favorite Eve 6 musical moments from any album.

  4. I thought the same thing about “jet pack” after realizing that Siebels’ article was posted on the Gay Voices section of the Huffington Post BUT he does have a daughter…who knows.

  5. What a great read! Brought back a lot of awesome memories.

    My first run-in was when I was just 12 years old and following my dad around the Media Play (think Best Buy before Best Buy was Best Buy) in New Britain, CT. Some promoter handed me a CD with two tracks on it. The first track was a 00:10 track titled “Hook” with the lead-in to the chorus of “Here’s to the Night”, followed by the full song as the second track. I remember going home and popping that sucker in my Sony boom box and listening over and over with utter fascination. Sadly I was too young to really become a fan at that time!

    Fast forward to summer of 2009 when Colton himself invited me to a free, outdoor Eve 6 concert during his summer in Chicago. I gave the albums a quick listen so I could enjoy myself at the concert. I marveled that we were able to be just a few rows back. I remember thinking, “How is this possible, aren’t people clamoring to see these guys? And for free??”

    Just one year later, I’m strapping on a bass in a cover band and learning the bassline and backup vocals to “Inside Out”. It was one of the songs I auditioned live on, in front of an audience. I had a near panic attack before the show trying to place the chorus harmonies.

    Since then I’ve really gotten into them (for real this time). I don’t know if it’s a compliment or not, but my sister said I sound like a female version of Max. In case this engineering thing doesn’t work out, I guess I could always start an Eve 6 tribute band…

    Awesome post, guys!

    • Love this comment. Thanks for sharing. Better late than never to be an Eve 6 fan! Wish I could see them for free, almost front row seats…

      If I had any musical talent, I would be all in for an Eve 6 cover band.

  6. Im not gonna get all deap and everything but i will say this it was from a carefree time your high school years are crazy fun and sometimes tragic and thats where i came to know them their songs fit every part of those days i lost touch with them due to some lets say addictive days and thought they had gone but rediscovered my love for them and their music when they came and played a free concert us troups stationed at camp buehring they gave us all their new album Speak In Code. we all got to meat them shake their hands and took pictures. a lot of celebrities musicians and such say they support the troups and all but ive been deployed twice for a total of almost 2 yrs and they where the only ones ive every seen. it was amazing to sit there for a little bit and forget where i was. needlees to say i follow them on facebook as well as other sources never again will i lose touch with a band that has meet so much to me

  7. Excellent read! As the other readers have stated, it definitely brings back memories. Their self-titled album hit during my high school years and I was hooked! I remember going nuts on the news of the next two releases! Almost all of theirs songs hit home in some way. I have got to give my #1 to Rescue: writing Jessica Rabbit in the lyrics just rocks!!!
    Eve 6 and Horrorscope both are easily playable in almost any situation. It’s a blast hitting the random dive bar, putting a few Eve 6 songs on the Juke Box and watching the crowd react. People that may never say they liked eve 6 start singing along.
    They are actually on the road and hitting a few spots in CA this year.. I’m already figuring out where/when I can drag the wife out to see them!
    Cheers!

  8. I discovered Eve 6 about two years ago (the definition of “tardy to the party”).

    Though I had previous exposure to his like “Inside Out ” and “Here’s to the Night “, I was not well versed in their musical library.

    They quickly became my go to for a better day.

    Their musical style is something that today’s music is sadly missing.

    Thanks for the great write up.

  9. What a fantastic read! Don’t know how Eve6 managed to keep me listening from the ages of 15 through to 30 plus but they are probably the only band that has! Not many other people here in UK knew about them but such is life, thanks for the epic nostalgia

  10. Great band, great discussion. I love Horrorscope because I know it best, but the clever, creative writing is what always set them apart for me.

  11. Pingback: A good album is like an old friend (discussing Eve 6’s “It’s All in Your Head”) | Mr. Rainy Day

  12. RE:Eve 6’s Legacy: A Discourse by Correspondence НПП Валок крановые и трамвайные колеса перфолисты обогатительного и сортировочного оборудования

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *