They’re like the musical equivalent of the sign of Gemini, a yin-yang, his-‘n’-hers, boy-meets-girl phenomenon. They were born the same year; his mum’s a model, hers a fashion critic; he’s outgoing, she’s a little shy. They met at a pizza restaurant in Boston. And their music blends seamlessly.
I was lucky enough to see Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield on stage at the Zoo in Brisbane last night. They looked exactly the same, if a little older; he a little fatter, she a little skinnier. (Fortunately, my eyes are getting a little older too, which makes for good airbrushing.) He kept looking towards the sky; she kept looking at the floor. And of course, they sounded rockin’, going through all their classics from My Drug Buddy to My Sister.
Ahead of the gig, I got to interview them for U on Sunday magazine. It was an amusing and candid interview – they spoke openly about their estrangement, their insecurities and who owed whom money, until they asked me not to ask so many personal questions and focus more on the music! Which I did, of course.
Here’s the interview in full.
So where are you both right now?
Juliana Hatfield: I’m in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Evan Dando: I’m in L.A.
It’s great you’re coming to Australia. Will you be catching up with the guys from Smudge and Godstar?
ED: Absolutely. I will be. Our support band is actually Tom Morgan from Smudge and his wife, Leticia. I think Juliana hasn’t been back here since the ’90s. I was here in 2010.
JH: It’s been a long time for me.
How much do you guys keep in touch? Or can you tell me a little about how the reunion came about?
JH: We got together to do some shows a couple of years ago and we’ve been in touch since then, but I think before that there was a long period of time when we weren’t really much in touch, right?
ED: Yes, something about a mess up with a slight debt. It was just the kind of thing that happens sometimes between friends that can cause friction, and it wasn’t handled very well by me possibly. But we reconciled.
JH: We were estranged for a while and then we fixed our problems and made up.
What got you back together?
JH: I think a friendship hasn’t been tested until someone screws the other one. No, I’m kidding. Neither of us would do that to each other, but I think that when a friendship is tested it…
ED: Gets stronger.
JH: Yes, and then you make up and you’re better friends in the end.
Did you pay back the debt?
JH: It wasn’t even about the debt.
ED: Yeah, it was 60 bucks.
JH: It wasn’t about money.
ED: There was a token of that. There was the dollar sign symbol involved somehow. There was a bunch of messy behaviour back in the day but it’s all over.
JH: It’s all fine now
So how long had it been?
JH: It was probably like a 10-year period when we weren’t talking. Is that right, Evan?
ED: Yeah, I guess because you didn’t make it to my wedding so I didn’t see you then and I didn’t really see you much when I was married, for those early years, because I was pretty busy being married and I was just doing stuff with my wife. Did you even meet Elizabeth?
JH: Oh yeah, I saw her here and there at shows, I think.
ED: We haven’t really engaged our friendship since–we just started back a couple of years ago really hanging out again. It’s great.
So what can you say about each other? How much has each of you changed or stayed the same?
JH: I think we’ve both kind of always been the same, that’s sort of how I see it.
ED: Yeah, me too.
JH: We grow, we get older but neither of us has had any radical personality or looks changes. We’re kind of the same people.
ED: We try to get a little wiser as we go along but we haven’t changed much.
So have you picked up any life’s lessons along the way?
ED: Certainly, yeah. None that I can really describe in a quick sound bite but I definitely have learned a thing or two.
JH: I’m still learning how to be more patient. I still get a little anxious and sometimes Evan’s on the receiving end of my anxieties but I’m trying to calm down, slow down, and be more patient.
ED: Actually I’m am anxious person, too…
JH: I know, I get that, I feel that, and it affects me. I’m very sensitive to Evan’s moods and I myself am moody too so it’s complicated sometimes.
I think a lot of people can relate to that.
JH: Yeah, we’re sensitive. That’s a good thing, for the most part.
In what ways are you two similar and in what ways are you different from each other?
ED: Oh well, I’ve had a lot of problems with drugs in my life. That’s one thing that Juliana hasn’t had, I know.
JH: Yeah, I never had that problem.
ED: We both really like sports and we’re both kind of from the same sort of European stock I think.
JH: Yeah. Evan’s better with people than I am. He can make friends with people more easily than I can. Like for example, Evan knows a bunch of people in Australia and I don’t know anybody.
Would you like to know more people or do you not like meeting too many people all at once?
JH: I guess I don’t really like meeting too many people. It’s kind of overwhelming for me. I think I’m a little autistic.
ED: I’m quite a hermit myself. Certainly I can be crazy sometimes but I like being alone – a lot.
JH: Yeah, you’re pretty well-rounded. I like that about you. You’re not one thing, you’re many things.
ED: I was going to say a little less personal, more about the music, please.
Oh really? OK!
ED: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say.
Fair enough. Tell me about the kind of feedback that you’ve had from your shows.
ED: It’s been really good. It seems like we haven’t been using electric guitars so all the feedback’s been accidental so far. (Laughter) We’re going to bring electrics this time.
JH: So we’ll be able to make more feedback if we want to.
ED: I’m just really looking forward to playing down there with Juliana. I think Juliana’s a great singer and a great guitar player and I like playing with her, it’s really fun.
So are you singing on each other’s songs?
JH: Yeah, we’re blending, we’re singing on each other’s songs, playing on each other’s songs. We’re just kind of making a duo of everything.
ED: I try to make sure it’s 50/50 but a lot of times it’s more of my songs that come out.
JH: I just think they work better.
ED: That’s not true, Jules.
JH: I think more people want to hear more of your songs. That’s how I feel. That’s how I interpret the audience.
So what can you say about each other as songwriters?
JH: Evan’s a much better songwriter than I am. I really think so.
ED: Exactly. Juliana is a much better songwriter than I am.
JH: A little more poetic, I think.
ED: She kills me. She kills me.
JH: He’s more poetic. I’m too personal in my songs, I think, and too earnest. He’s funnier.
Do you have a favorite of each other’s songs?
JH: I can’t choose one favorite. That’s too hard to name one.
ED: Yeah. I really like Choose Drugs by Juliana.
JH: Oh, you do?
ED: Yes, I love, love the song My Darling and I really like Live on Tomorrow. Is that what it’s called?
JH: Yep. All right if we’re naming names, I really like—There are too many I can’t name favourites!