Alan Evans Trio | Drop Hop Tour w/ Interview | Fort Collins, CO

Article Contributed by Kevin Adams | Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Steamy keys, gritty six string, soul drenched stomp. Black Cadillac music, back ally marque blue. Greasy chops deep-fried in fatback. Kick drum with fist on the pulpit thuds, and a cymbal’s smooth splash…riding it…smoky with a hairy funk. That almost covers the sound of the Alan Evans Trio.

Alan Evans Trio is on tour in support of their debut album, Drop Hop (April 2012). Co-founder, writer and drummer of Soulive, Alan Evans reached out to good friends Danny Mayer (guitar) and Beau Sasser (organ) to play on this new project with Royal Family Records. On a warm August night at Hodi’s Halfnote in Fort Collins, Co, AE3 took the stage and brought the heat. The trio ran through several instrumentals raunchy with ’70’s funk.

AE3 is the brain-child of Alan Evans, but on tracks like “Check Your Lugnuts” and “The Meter’s Runnin’”, it is apparent Mayer and Sasser aren’t taking a backseat on this tour. While on the road, this trio has grown more familiar with one another’s talents than on the day they first met in the studio to record Drop Hop. Together, they evoke the soulful grooves of an earlier era. Yet, they also steer freely through musical genres. On “Crooooz” AE3 pulls from sounds reminiscent of fusion jazz, with intricate drum breaks and playful organ fills. To accent Evans’ acumen, Mayer and Sasser display a wide range of musical ability on the album. However, their live improvisational solos on songs like “Whistlin’ Willie” are jaw dropping. If you love digging through dusty crates of old funk and soul albums, this is a must-see show!

Before the show, Grateful Web hung-out with AE3 backstage and talked about the tour…How they formed, where they are headed, and what the may discover along the way.

Backstage Interview w/ Alan Evans Trio

GW: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, I am just going to jump right in…Where did you start with the tour, where do you finish, and what do you hope to achieve in between?

Evans: We started in LA, working our way up the coast, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Portland, Arcadia. We are out for 6 weeks. We are planning to record another album sometime after the tour, so we are playing some new tunes live. We are hoping to flush out the new material for the album.

GW: together for Drop Hop, with this new material, is it something you are trying to write together. Or how do you approach this new material?

Mayer: It’s all Alan.

Sasser: That’s a great question. It really is stemming from the mind of Al. It will be different because we will have first crack at the tunes live.

Evans: That's the thing, before going into the studio to record Drop Hop; I actually recorded all the tunes myself and sent them to these cats to learn before we got together. Some of the parts like some of the bass guitar we left, and kind of just added to it. So the nice thing about here is, well.. I kind of did the same thing. I recorded all the new tunes I have written and sent it to these cats to check out. What’s going to be nice about this time around is… I mean… literally the day these guys meet was the first day of recording Drop Hop. So now it’s different. We are on the road and hanging out playing the new tunes, then going to the studio. So it's a different approach.

GW: Danny, do you think with this new approach, you will have more of your voice on the album? It seems like it is a more conversational tone or approach musically, and conversations have a way to leading into new areas.

Mayer: I think he new what he was doing when he got me on board, our voices aren’t really that different. Alan produced a record for my other band, On the Spot Trio. Everything he is playing on the guitar is what I love to play, so it didn't feel like it wasn't my voice. I’ve been listing to his music for 12-13 years through Soulive and his own stuff, so I’m pretty familiar with his ideas. But again, a big portion of the tunes is improvising with solos, so I get to say whatever is on my mind. The cool thing about being able play the tunes live over and over again, Beau and I are starting to connect with the tunes in are own way while still keeping the integrity of the idea.

GW: Going into material, whether written or recorded, how is it structured?

Evans: I’m very particular about melody and harmony of the song, but there is room within it for everyone to do their thing but still have the structure, the actual song to come back to.

GW: Do you have a date for the new material?

Evans: Honestly, no. This time we are going to record it and throw it in the can, and wait. The thing is we just got this last one out. The band just got together in February, dropped the album, did one tour in spring, and now we are out on this tour. What we want to do is end this chapter of the band with a live album or EP. I'd like to put the album out like I did with my last solo album, out on Bandcamp. And you can pay what ever you want.

GW: That seems to be the way artists are going, does this translate or is there an advantage to putting it out there with fewer barriers to the album?

Evans: I’ve wanted to do it for years, and I did it on my last album because I recorded it all myself with a couple friends. Why not, if someone wants some music and can’t afford it? I noticed some people paid more than what a label would of charged for it. I think it is just about getting music out there and trying to get people to come out and see us live.

GW: With the new material being hashed out on tour, as a trio. Do you foresee other artists sitting in with specific pieces that audience may not see during the tour but may hear eventually on the next album?

Evans: Actually on Drop Hop, {we had some guest players}… but I don't have any intentions of adding members. It’s hard to say, Beau has a Univox keyboard, so on the next album we want to expand with tones, but that is between the three of us and we will just do our thing live.

GW: Beau, having different instruments, have you seen your influence to express yourself within the trio, have you seen it lead the sound in different directions?

Sasser: On Drop Hop, we only really used the organ, so it will really be interesting to bring it out and try a few new things. Its funny, this Univox keyboard we were talking about is kind of this 1970’s analogue keyboard used by a lot of different bands back then. We were listening in the van to Black Heat and they were using it. So, as we roll along listening to music, that's how we get a lot of ideas. Like “That sounds great! Hey, I might have that keyboard.” I’m sure we will discover a few more along the way…

For more information visit: Official Alan Evans Trio Website.

Alan Evans Trio on Tour

9/5 - Evanston, IL - Evanston SPACE

9/6 - Columbus, OH - Woodlands Tavern

9/7 - Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe

9/8 - Hancock, NY - Catskill Chill Music Festival

9/9 - Fairfield, CT - Fairfield Theatre - Stage One

9/12 - Richmond, VA - Capital Ale House

9/13 - Wilmington, NC - The Soapbox Laundro-Lounge

9/14 - Athens, GA - New Earth Music Hall

9/15 - Black Mountain, NC - Pisgah Brewery

9/16 - Virginia Beach, VA - The Jewish Mother

9/19 - Vienna, VA - Jammin' Java

9/20 - Philadelphia, PA - Milkboy

9/21 - Portland, ME - State Theatre w / Soulive

9/23 - Burlington, VT - Nectar's

9/25 - Pawtucket, RI - The Met Cafe