Up until recently, Wally Kempton, bass play for Even, manager, booking agent, tour manager and general rock’n’roll man-about-town, thought last year’s Christmas Even-Fauves show was the first time Even and The Fauves had shared the same bill. “But I read an interview with Coxy (Andrew Cox) last week that Even played on a Fauves album launch once, but I don’t remember that!” Kempton laughs. “I used to go and see The Fauves in the late 1980s at places like the Richmond Club. There wasn’t even a stage and the doctor would wear strange hats and plays lots of instruments – saxophone, trumpet. I loved ‘em from the outset – fuckin’ hilarious guys. Now he wears baseball caps and plays guitar,” Kempton laughs.
It’s lunch time on a typically cold Melbourne day, and Kempton is perusing the menu of his favourite Japanese restaurant. The waitress is compelling us to choose the lunch option, but Kempton is resolute. “Can we have the ramen noodles as well?” Kempton requests. “And we’ll have the sashimi box too. That should keep us going.” The food arrives shortly after, and there’s a brief moment of regret when we realise how much food is there to be consumed. “Wow, look at that,” Kempton says with culinary admiration. “But we’ll fit it in. And how good is this miso?”
This Friday night sees the Melbourne leg of the national Even-Fauves tour, which has so far visited Sydney, and which will head subsequently to Hobart, Perth and Adelaide. While The Fauves’ latest album, German Engine, was launched last year, Even’s most recent album, In Another Time, has only just appeared in shops. “It’s a good reason for The Fauves to get back out there. So in effect it’s a dual album tour,” Kempton says. Even and The Fauves will appear at the Regal Ballroom in Northcote, the first time Kempton has either patronised or performed at the iconic venue. The tour has been progressing well, with the bands sharing a very laissez-faire attitude to logistics. “I’ll tell you how laid back this tour has been,” Kempton says. “I said to The Fauves, ‘Do you mind if we headline in Melbourne, ‘cause I want to go to the footy earlier in the night?’ So I’ll be racing from the G to the gig in time to play!”
Kempton is coy on the prospect of special moments at the Regal Ballroom show. “I think Ash was going to ask a few extra musos to get up on stage,” he says. “Maybe the Wolfies (Wolfgramm Sisters), because they sang on the record, maybe Vika and Linda Bull, because they also sang on the record, maybe Bruce Haymes because he played on the record.”
With Even guitarist and vocalist Ash Naylor likely to hit the road with the national upcoming Rockwiz tour, the Regal Ballroom gig will be the last opportunity to see Even until mid-August, when Even reconvenes for its annual Even Jukebox show. "We’ve had a lot of stuff on,” Kempton says, when asked to explain Even’s absence from the live scene. “Ash has been playing in other things, Matt [Cotter] has been teaching, and I’ve been tour managing for a lot of this year,” Kempton says.
The band’s irregular live appearances causes Kempton to describe Even – with a lavish dose of irony – as “the Crown Lager of music – it’s a special occasion, but it’s not”.
August’s Even Jukebox is shaping up as another classic in this now annual event. “We’ve got something special planned for that show,” Kempton promises. “It’s something that Brett Chadwick will lose his shit over,” he sees with a glint in his eye. “It’s actually the 40th anniversary of Ziggy Stardust, so we’re going to do the whole album. The thought of it fills me with excitement and scares the complete shit out of me,” Kempton laughs. On the recording front, Even’s back catalogue is also slated for re-release, this time on vinyl in its entirety. “Only one of the records was put out on vinyl first time around, so this time all of it will be on vinyl.”
On Wednesday July 18 Kempton will appear with Even as the backing band for the Sacred Heart Mission Heart Of St Kilda benefit gig at the Palais in St Kilda. "That’s becoming another Even tradition – they keep asking us back,” Kempton says. “It’s a great lineup, and it’s a really good cause. We’re opening the show with a couple of our own tunes, and then other artists, like Lanie Lane, Nick Barker, Normie Rowe will sing their songs and we’ll back them.” Other artists on the bill include Stonefield and Tim Rogers, with comedy interludes provided by Brian Nankervis, Cal Wilson, Fiona O’Loughlin, Lawrence Mooney, Raymond Crowe and Greg Champion. Sadly, Even won’t be backing Champion on some of his tunes, including There’s Always Johnny Worsfold Behind You. “Nah, he’s on his own there – but it would’ve been fun,” Kempton laughs.
BY PATRICK EMERY
EVEN and The Fauves play the Regal Ballroom on Friday June 29 as part of The Northcote Theatre's 100th Anniversary celebrations (now known as The Regal Ballroom). The HEART OF ST KILDA Concert featuring Even, Stonefield, Michael Paynter, Tim Rogers, Nick Barker, Lanie Lane, Normie Rowe and Rebecca Barnard and Billy Miller’s Singalong will be held at The Palais on Wednesday July 18.