E of the Eels

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A conversation on E finally finding the sunny side of life.

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Chris Brunelle | August 23, 2010

E of the Eels

Photo by Rocky Schenck

The music of The Eels is often characterized by a gloomy
point of view. This is not without good
reason. Eels’ leader Mark Oliver
Everett, known to fans as “E,” has endured his share of hardships.

E’s father, Hugh Everett III was a renowned
physicist who famously pioneered the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum
Theory. Such an advanced mind left
little room for anything resembling human and fatherly interaction with his
family. Hugh passed when E was only 19 years old.Just off the heels of the first Eels album,
“Beautiful Freak,” E lost his sister to suicide. Shortly thereafter, E endured his mother’s
battle with cancer that ended fatally. E
has found his way through all of this with his music. It’s been a while since the heavy days of Electro-Shock
Blues
, but E’s never been a distant stranger to darkness. The Eels are back with the final album in the
trilogy that started with Hombre Lobo and
End Times. On the new Tomorrow Morning, E has recorded an unlikely record full of happy
tones, love, and hope. E sat down with
Impose to talk about this change of pace.

A lot of your music
and life have been marked with darkness. On Tomorrow Morning, it seems like you are turning the page. I apologize if I’m sounding new-agey, but I
hear you embracing a chance at optimism and hope. What brought you to this place lyrically and
musically?

Well, I guess if you’re lucky, as you get older, you
start to look around you and see the things you should be appreciating. And I suppose I’ve gotten to that point where
I’m starting to do that with my life. And I can’t help but notice there’s a lot
of very nice things about my life. I
think having gone through all those hardships, it made it a lot easier for me
to notice the good things.

Unlike other moments
in The Eels that reflect happier tones, Tomorrow Morning holds a sense that
everything really is going to be all right for you in your personal life. For me, this may be the first time I’ve heard
this so convincingly in your work. Is
this the beginning of a long line of feel good albums to come?

[laughs] I don’t know. Of course, that makes me think, “Wow, well we
don’t really need that!” You know, I
don’t want a long line of anything in particular. It’s impossible for me to predict right now. I’m sure I’ll find something to be miserable
about eventually.

When gearing up to
release an album like Tomorrow Morning, do you ever wonder if your hardcore
fans will get bummed out if you sound like you’re in too good a mood?

Honestly I don’t really care how the hardcore fans are
going to react because I think those kind of fans tend to look too closely at
everything. I’m not here to cater to
that kind of thing. I treat myself as the audience and I’m doing what I want to
hear.And if other people like it it’s
great. It’s a great feeling and I’m very
thankful for it. But…whatever. [laughs]
You can’t sit down and try and write a song to make a certain kind of listener
happy.

Because your music is
so personal in a way that seems like there’s a direct line between what’s going
on with you and what the audience has access to, is it ever hard for you to be
so open when you are performing live or even recording?

I have this thing where when I sit down and write a song,
I just don’t have any filter. I try to
get to the truth, to the heart of the matter, and then I try to get under that,
and then I try to get under that. Just
get down to the bone of the matter as far as I can.It never occurs to me, “Whoa, maybe I’ve gone
too far,” until I step out onto a stage for the first time to sing some
songs. Suddenly I think, “What have I
done?” [laughs] When you have to
sing in front of a room full of people, sometimes you can get a little
embarrassed about it. Ultimately I think
that’s a good thing. I think it’s good
in the name of getting to the heart of the matter.

I’ve heard you talk
about your reclusive tendencies in life. At the same time, the Eels project is marked with a history of
collaboration. Do you see music as your
means for socializing and connecting?

Yeah, completely. Music serves me on so many levels it’s crazy. My whole life is about music in every
way. Right now we’re on tour and it’s
really just an excuse to hang out with my friends because my friends are
luckily all awesome musicians. That’s my
social life, too.

How’s the tour going?

It’s going fantastic.

How far in are you?

About 2 or 3 weeks. We’ve got a long ways to go. It’s
about 2½ months. But we’re having a
ball.

Do the tours ever get
tough for you by the end?

They usually do. This one’s so much fun, I don’t think anyone wants it to end. I don’t know if I’ve ever had that feeling
before.

Is songwriting a
process of therapy for you?

I suppose it must
be because I’ve been compelled to do it for several years now. I’m sure that’s one aspect that I get out of
it.

You’ve mentioned how
you feel you’re now in chapter II of your life since writing your memoirs.

Yeah.

What do you want out
of Chapter II that you didn’t get out of Chapter I?

Some peace and quiet. [laughs]

Are you getting that
at all?

Uh, I am in little bits and pieces here and
there. I wish someone could have told me
when I was younger and everything was so tumultuous, that things would be as
nice as they are now. There’d be no way
to know that, but it would have been nice. It would have given me some hope. But I hope that I can give other people some hope by showing that things
can turn out OK.

The Eels' Tomorrow Morning is out August 24.

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