|Stephen Evans - ZX+|
Twisted Wheel. Let's get the connection out of the way. Stephen Evans has been strumming bass for the north west trio since the end of 2010. Lauded as 'a breath of fresh air' by one time Oasis front man Liam Gallagher, and given the thumbs up by none other than 'The Modfather' Paul Weller, you might ask why I'm so eager to get the link out of the way. It's simple. Mr Evans wants to trade on his own name. Not on the name bestowed upon the much praised band for whom he makes up one third.
Today Stephen Evans is only talking solo. And that means ZX+ and the newly completed album 'Sickly'.
An album of 14 songs. Some new. Some a little older, but all songs that Stephen has been desperate to share and veritably gagging to get out on vinyl.
With a copy of 'Sickly' rammed in my CD player I popped down the M62 and wound my way through the moors that so characterise the towns littering the countryside north of Manchester. My destination - the home cum recording studio of the man himself.
Greeting me on the doorstep, I'd no sooner arrived than I had a coffee in my hand and a promise of pizza when the new cooker could be mastered.
Down to business
Two slices of meat feast later we got down to business. Talking 'Sickly'. A chance for Mr Evans to be in control. A chance to record an entire album of self penned material. A chance to do something different. A chance to be distracted from the waiting 'round and getting bored that can be an occupational hazard when you're in a band. In between tours and in between albums, twiddling thumbs doesn't suit Stephen Evans.
Having had a good few listens I dared to suggest that 'Sickly' could be construed as a concept album. No said Stephen. But he did hint that the dark characters lurking around adolescent memories of video games and super heroes are all real. Unconnected, but real. And in the case of 'Rebecca' only the name has been changed to hide the identity of a very strange past acquaintance.
In layman's terms 'Sickly is a grower. Standout tracks for me are the title track and 'Secret Wars'. Stephen Evans names the influences on his work as diverse as Led Zeppelin, NWA, Richard Hawley and Van Halen. On 'Sickly' though you're more likely to pick up on nods to the Kinks and Beatles with a smattering of old school punk.
'Sickly' will be released on Stephen Evans own label - Play and Record Records - in May. You can pre order the destined to be rare white vinyl now. Limited to just 250 copies, those purchasing the LP will be given the chance to download the MP3 files too. Will the album then be available for general download after that? Possibly. But possibly not. So you could get a real collectors piece as well as an excellent album.
In conversation and in session
Want to hear what Stephen has to say about the album? Why not listen to our interview AND listen to an exclusive session where he performs the title track 'live' as well as an old classic....and there's another exclusive - 'he said he was a taxi driver' in full, direct from the new album.
Brian Plumridge in conversation and in session with Stephen Evans - also known as ZX+
Listening on your phone? Download the audio here
Plans to take the new material on tour? None yet. You never know. A maybe for now. But whatever Stephen's plans, enjoy the new album. I did.
Photos (c) Brian Plumridge
ZX+ music (c) Stephen Evans / Play and Record Records