photo & text by nacrowe
the thing that differentiated SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA POP PUNK band EVE 6 from the pack, especially with their self-titled debut EVE 6 (RCA, 1998), was their sense of lyrical SOPHISTICATION. at the time and in retrospect, the lyrical content with its SELF-REFERENTIAL, INWARD-CONTORTING phrasing seemed far more URBANE than need be in terms of genre expectations. its probably why leader bassist, lead singer and main songwriter MAX COLLINS has turned out to be such a great follow on TWITTER with his savage PITHY and often CAUSTIC putdowns of buffoonish conservative pundits and their ilk. god bless the man.
the single "INSIDE OUT" is worth examining. first heard this song a few months after it came out when i started attending a boarding school in MASSACHUSETTS after saying goodbye to my family that was still living in NIGERIA of all places. just a MONSTROUS transitional period in my life at a young age. originally i am from ORANGE COUNTY and have long had COMPLICATED relationship with that fact given how INSULAR, MYOPIC and naively SELF-IMPORTANT the people their were during my childhood. not to mention just how blatantly DISMISSIVE and brazenly RACIST they were to the hispanic population. so the lines "socal is where my mind states / but its not my state of mind / im not as ugly sad as you" meant quite a bit to me at that time. its that CONTRARIAN idea that, yes, i may in fact be one of them but at the same time im really not. i define myself, not my surroundings. for a CALIFORNIA teen being alone in an unfamiliar MASSACHUSETTS environment, having just spent his middle school years living in WEST AFRICA, that concept of self-determining one's identity was huge. im sure being fourteen also played into such as well.
needless to say, i didnt get this sort of SELF-EXAMINATION listening to GREEN DAY, BLINK-182 or even the DESCENDENTS at this point. i almost hold EVE 6 as more akin and comparable to preceding, weightier-themed ALTERNATIVE ROCK bands like SOUNDGARDEN, RADIOHEAD or NIRVANA than their immediate POP PUNK peers at the time. this can be seen in other STANDOUT tracks like "TONGUE TIED," "HOW MUCH LONGER" and "SMALL TOWN TRAP" which all seem occupied with the struggle to extend beyond your limitations, be they geographical or imposed by oneself or authority figures. heady stuff indeed and EVE 6 has aged remarkably well. its themes regarding SELF-DISCOVERY are no doubt UNIVERSAL and arguably more RELEVANT in the social media age than they were upon its release in the late 90s. my slight preference is for subsequent EVE 6 albums like HORRORSCOPE (RCA, 2000) and IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD (RCA, 2003) but their debut is definitely well worth checking out and exploring sonically and lyrically. and definitely give COLLINS a follow. the man helped me laugh my way (while crying admittedly) through the TRUMP ADMINISTRATION.
photo & text by nacrowe
there were a lot of POP PUNK pretenders back in the late 1990s and early 2000s chasing and emulating the likes of GREEN DAY and BLINK-182, but i think one of the standout (and contender) bands from that scene was the highly INFECTIOUS and strikingly LITERATE work of LOS ANGELES band EVE 6, especially their sophomore release HORRORSCOPE (RCA, 2000).
when i first heard this record sophomore year in high school i remember being taken aback by how dense and descriptive singer/bassist/songwriter MAX COLLINS was about the trials and tribulations of teenage life. that sentiment really spoke to me in songs like "PROMISE," "ENEMY," and "RESCUE" which all seemed to describe the psychodramas happening around me at an elite boarding school in MASSACHUSETTS surrounded by entitled peers with too much money and far too much privilege. looking back that experience was highly alienating and really set the tone for later career as an educator.
so in some ways this album, like the first THIRD EYE BLIND (review linked HERE) record was a soundtrack to this isolating period of my life. whereas STEPHEN JENKINS, another talented songwriter, really played up lush textures on that ERIC VALENTINE (SMASH MOUTH, QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS) produced effort to convey a sense of world-weariness that matched the lyrical content, here COLLINS and guitarist JON SIEBELS play to traditional POP PUNK conventions in their DON GILMORE (LINKIN PARK, GOOD CHARLOTTE, LIT) produced record in order to create a real sense of DISTANCE and FRICTION between the joyous sentiment conveyed sonically and that of the WORLD-WEARY lyrics. i really love it when bands are unafraid to write that way as it may confuse their audiences, but what it actually shows is a SOPHISTICATION and CONFIDENCE to express a sense of AMBIVALENCE and DISCOMFORT with past events. case in point is the standout ballad "HERE'S TO THE NIGHT" which really nails a hard won sense of BITTERSWEETNESS that comes with the transitory nature of being young. i remember feeling at the time like being young was my time to enjoy life before adulthood caught up with me. like there was a pressure to act and be a certain way. i was pretty miserable.
looking back i think that HORRORSCOPE is an underrated achievement that got lost in the shuffle of all the POP PUNK bands that came out during that period. their intelligence and song-craft separated them in my opinion and i highly recommend them to anyone interested in POP PUNK as well as quality ALTERNATIVE ROCK from that period.
parodies by nacrowe
the often maligned but irresistible sub-genre of POP PUNK is a sound that dates back to the very roots of PUNK ROCK with THE RAMONES and THE BUZZCOCKS back in the 1970s. check out HERE as we celebrate guilt-free the groups that have carried on the torch the last few decades mixing classic song structures and melody with the energy, excitement and aggression of classic PUNK ROCK.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.