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Interview: Morgan Evans talks UK fans, festivals and new music

We caught up with the rising Australian country star at his sold-out London show.

Morgan Evans
Credit: Dave Sanchez

Since making his UK debut back in 2017, Morgan Evans has become one of the biggest new stars in country music.

As well as making an appearance at C2C: Country to Country last year, he’s found time to release his debut album Things That We Drink To – which topped the country charts in Australia and reached the top 10 in the US, as well as producing the top 3 single Kiss Somebody. Currently he’s out on his first world tour, which included stops in Dublin, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and at The Long Road Festival.

Ahead of his sold-out London show earlier this month, I sat down with Morgan to talk festivals, UK fans and plans for new music. Read on to find out more…

You’re currently out on your first world tour – how’s that going so far?

It’s been amazing. We kicked it off in Dublin, in a town I’ve never played in before [laughs]. That was great, such a great energy in that city. Then we went up to Glasgow, where I’ve played a couple of times, and that felt a bit bigger, y’know? And then Liverpool last night which felt bigger again. And tonight is a small place, but they’re jammed in here and it’s gonna be fun.

Is there anywhere on this tour you’re particularly excited about playing?

I think London is an easy one to say. That’s one of the greatest cities in the world, y’know, and to come to London and play a sold out show is a big deal. And as you said, I was here a couple of years ago, before I even had music out here, and I always wanted to be able to come to this city and play shows. So tonight’s a big deal.

I remember seeing you at Borderline back in 2017 and now you’re back in London playing a sold-out show. Is that quite a surreal thing, to be coming back to that?

It’s so funny, it doen’t feel anything like what I thought it would feel like. I feel like, especially when you’re headlining – we’ve been opening up for bands all year, we went out with Old Dominion, Dan + Shay, Rascal Flatts all summer. And there’s no pressure to be an opening act. You go out and you get a little nervous, but you wanna be as good as you can be and meet some people. But I think there’s pressure. People show up, they buy tickets and they came to see you play. Which is incredibly humbling, but at the same time you wanna give them everything you have.

This is your third trip to the UK now – what keeps you coming back?

I just wanna be a part of this community. I wanna be a part of this part of the world. I think for me too, I’m from Australia so there’s so many similarities between what happens in the UK and what happens in Australia – the way of life and the pub culture and even the music. So I feel like I have as much crossover with the music from here as I do with the music from Nashville. It’s always gonna be important to me to be here.

Is there anything that surprises you about UK audiences in particular?

I think it didn’t really surprise me because the same thing happens in Australia, and they’re similar in that way. I think country music fans are loyal the world over, that’s kind of one of the traits of a country music fan, but particularly here it’s the whole artist. It’s not just the song they heard on the radio or the singles. They know album tracks. The airline lost our bags the other day going from Dublin to Glasgow, so we didn’t have any equipment to use – no loop pedals, nothing. I sat on stage and played the album from top to bottom, and was like, ‘do you guys know this one? This one wasn’t on the radio or anything!’ And they sang every word. That’s just an amazing feeling. I mean, being a songwriter too, they’re all important to me and the fact that they’re important to fans here is a big deal.

Would you ever do a full acoustic tour at some point?

Maybe. I mean, I play solo as it is, so I do feel like it’s pretty stripped-back. That said, I had such a good time the other night in Glasgow. It’s even more relaxed, you know? But I do like having some beats and a lot of noise and making it feel like a party as well. So who knows? Never say never.

You’re quite well-known for your mash-ups – have you got a particular favourite of those?

I think my favourite one at the moment is one that I’m doing live, I haven’t put it on the internet or anything. In a song called Everything Changes, I mash up Freefallin’ and Hey Jude into that as well. It was particularly cool playing the Hey Jude part in Liverpool last night… [laughs]

Yeah, I imagine that got a big reaction!

Yeah, so that’s cool. I mean, that’s my favourite at the moment, but I’ll probably come up with another one for the next tour.

You played The Long Road Festival while you were here. Do you approach festivals in a different way to other shows?

Festivals are different, because similar to what I was saying before about opening for people, not everyone at the festival knows who you are. They didn’t buy a ticket necessarily to see just you. And it’s a shorter set as well, so we try to keep it punchier and up and less ballads and less talking [laughs], you know? But I love the connection. That’s the reason I do this. And at these shows, where people come to see my show, I enjoy telling some stories and some bad jokes and all that.

Now you’ve got me wanting to ask what your worst bad joke is…

They’re not even jokes, they’re just like stories that I have, just from life. And when you’re on the road all the time, funny stuff happens [laughs]. And so, even the other day losing our bags and stuff. They gave us all of our suitcases, all of our merchandise, our guitars were fine, everything else we needed to use for the show was gone. How does that happen? This is unbelievable.

At least it makes for a good story though…

Yeah, exactly.

I saw on Twitter you’ve been working on some new music – can you tell us more about that?

Yeah, we have dates booked in the studio later this month to go in and record the first couple of songs. It’s pretty exciting.

Is it going to be similar to the first record?

I mean, it’s definitely gonna evolve a little bit. I’ve been on the road the last couple of years and you listen to different music and get inspired by different things. Yeah, it’ll definitely be a progression, for sure, but I mean hopefully it’s in the same world. I’m still gonna be singing it, I still wrote it all and I’m really excited. Really excited to record and obviously nervous to release it, but I think that’s a normal feeling.

You’ve talked about being on tour and on the road – what have you learnt from that?

Lots of things. I think the two main things are one, just have great people around you and be great to the people around you. There’s tours that stand out to me as the most fun, but also the most successful tours have been that kind of environment. And the other thing that I think I’ve learnt from Rascal Flatts this year – they’ve been touring at this level, playing for 20,000, 30,000 people a night for 20 years – is just to stay hungry. Their show this year is so good. The production is as good as any production I’ve seen – new bands, hip-hop acts, pop stars. It’s amazing. And for an act that’s been doing it at that level for so long to still be reaching for whatever the next thing is, that’s really inspiring to me.

You’ve also just released the official video for Day Drunk. Can you tell us more about that? I know you shot it all backwards…

We did. It was so difficult. I tried to push myself with that video. I pushed myself with the last video, just doing that one slo-mo shot for Kiss Somebody. And for this we did the reverse, and I had to learn the whole song in reverse. So like, to give you some example, I think Day Drunk in reverse is [singing]. So it was a tough day but yeah, great people we got to work with, and I think the energy of that video shares the song, which is the whole goal.

What’s the one song you wish you’d written?

I think All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey [laughs]. It’s the biggest song in the world! Every year. No, I don’t know, it’s an impossible question to answer. That’s my default answer for any question like that [laughs], but I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m just gonna run with that.

What does the rest of 2019 look like for you?

Yeah, in the studio a little bit. We go over to Berlin after this, then over to Toronto to meet up with the Flatts tour for a week. Then go into the studio and then go back down to Australia for a couple of weeks, then we come back and then we do the US and some more of Canada, and then it’s Christmas. I’ll sleep a little then, I think!

Morgan Evans’ album, Things That We Drink To, is out now.

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