It’s been a while since we saw Morgan Evans over here on UK shores. Last time was in 2019 when he toured with just his guitar and loop-pedal. Now he’s coming back next week with a full band for solo shows in London and a European tour supporting Brad Paisley. We were thrilled to grab 20 minutes of his time to talk all about that and his new project ‘The Country and the Coast’.
Hi Morgan, it’s so great to speak to you again, it’s been a while. How was your 4th of July weekend, first and foremost?
It was pretty great actually. We played out in a town called Woodlake, in California. I didn’t know this beforehand but in Woodlake they have the largest, legal, marijuana farm in the world! (laughing) It was unbelievable. What was even funnier was that the police chief of Woodlake gave us the tour around! (laughing) There was 10,000 very chilled people at the show that night. (laughing)
You can see a photo on my Instagram. When we walked into this thing it blew my mind, it’s the most professional greenhouse set up I’ve ever seen.
And you’re coming into London for a show next week and a European tour with Brad Paisley too!
Yeah! It’s all happening again. The gas pedal is going back down again. We leave on the bus tonight and I think I’m back for a day at the weekend and then we’re flying over to see you guys! It’ll be the first time I’ve been to Europe since 2019, it’s been too long, man.
I did the 2019 shows solo with just my loop pedal so this will be the first time you guys get to see me with a band. I’m excited to bring them and we’ve got lots of time to make up for.
And lots of new music to listen to as well. Have you played with Brad Paisley before?
I think I’ve, maybe, been on the same day at a festival as him before but I’ve never played specific shows with him before. He’s one of the guys that I really loved in the early 2000’s, growing up in Australia, obsessed with Country music.
The guitar playing on some of those records, the lyrics, oh man, he was a major influence on me and a big part of making me fall in love with what was going on in Nashville. This feels like a big deal for me to be going out with him.
If you could appear with him on one of his songs which one would you choose?
Oh, that’s hard. Maybe ‘Mud on the Tires’? It’s a bit of a throwback one at this point but I think two guys can sing that together.
I’m really enjoying your latest release ‘The Country and the Coast: Side A’ which came out last October. What as the thinking behind splitting the release up into two parts?
I do feel like there is a duality to me, definitely two sides. I grew up in the bush in Australia but we also lived near the beach too. Some of my favourite things to do were to climb trees, ride horses and play in the mud with my brother but I also loved to go surfing at the weekends with my mates too.
I wanted to show both sides of me on this project. We are working on the ‘Coast’ side right now, as it happens. After this I am going into the studio to record some songs for that.
I still like the idea that a group of songs can be a piece of art, you know? Tied together with a theme.
Let’s talk about ‘Country Outta My Girl’. I love that song and I really love the images you create, lines like ‘black dress baby with a blue jean heart’ really seem to capture my perception of who you were writing about on it. Was it a quick, easy and painless write considering who your muse is?
It was an idea that I had going into the session with a couple of buddies of mine who I write together a lot with. The bones of it came out really quickly and then we really dug in to it to try and make each lien a really special image and really meaningful.
The fact that you referenced one of the lines that stood out to you really means a lot because that’s what we were aiming for. We worked so hard to create a complimentary yet contradictory set of images.
Tell me about the version you released with Rivers Cuomo (Weezer) back in March…….
(laughing) (a lot!) There’s the funniest story behind that! I started playing guitar in the early 2000s and I feel like anyone that did that would have been a Weezer fan, right? It was around Christmas time last year and I heard the Weezer song, ‘Island in the Sun’ so much because it was summer in Australia and I did a cover of it on TikTok. Rivers commented on it and shared it too and then reached out through our shared management company .
A guy at the management company asked if I wanted to do something with Weezer and I was like, ‘Are you kidding? Of course I would!’ He told me that Rivers loved ‘Country Outta My Girl’, which was probably not the song I would have picked to do something with him on and then the management guy said that Rivers had already written a verse and a chorus for it!!! (laughing) They sent his version over and we loved it! That version is so uniquely ‘him’, that’s what I love about it.
My favourite song is ‘American Dream Truck’. Any chance of that going to radio?
That’s definitely been a conversation, for sure. A lot of people have said to me that that one is their favourite song and that means a lot to me because I wrote that one for me, really! It’s a very specific story about me coming to Nashville and buying a truck but so many people use it as a way to tell me a story about their first car or truck so it seems to be relatable to so many people.
My brother and I still have the van that we grew up with and used to tour all over Australia with! It’s the van that my dad uses to take the dogs to the beach with, you know? (laughing)
I had the truck up for sale when Kelsea and I were living in a condo downtown and there was nowhere to park it. It was 2020 and I decided that I had to get rid of it. I put it up for sale on Craig’s List and we were in a writing session where we were working on ‘Sing Along Drink Along’ and I was checking the listing to make sure that it had posted and the guys were like, ‘What are you doing, man?’ I told them all about it and within minutes we were writing a song! By the time we started on the bridge I’d deleted the listing!!! (laughing)
The truck is still parked downstairs!!!! (laughing)
In the song ‘Love is Real’ you name-check Tim and Faith’s classic ‘It’s Your Love’ duet which is one of my favourite male-female duets of all time. Do you have any particular favourites?
Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss’ ‘Whiskey Lullaby’ has to be up there. My mind goes to songs like ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ (Elton John and Kiki Dee) which was huge for me growing up in Australia. ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’ by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty is awesome too.
I used the reference to ‘It’s Your Love’ because it’s one of Kelsea’s favourite songs and I wanted that to be in there.
Will there be a big duet between you and Kelsea sometime in the future?
I’m sure there will be one day. I snuck her onto my song, ‘Dance With Me’ at the eleventh hour and we didn’t tell anyone about it! (laughing) It will happen but we have to find the right song and make sure it is as special as it can be. I feel like once we’ve done it once, we’ll just sing together all the time after! (laughing)
You mentioned that you are working on ‘The Country and the Coast: Side B’ right now. Are the songs all in place or are you still writing?
I feel like we have the songs set but until it’s all closed down and rubber-stamped, who knows? (laughing) I’m always open for a new song to come in because I really have trouble stopping writing. My favourite song is always the one that I have just written, too. We have two songs that are almost done that we might finish up in the studio today and we might even play a couple out on the road in the next few weeks. There will be three more that we will finish up when we get back in from the European tour.
The Instagram post where you surprised your family with a secret visit last Christmas brought a tear to my eye. Was that hard to pull off? Did you have accomplices in the family that helped?
No, we didn’t. It was really hard to pull off. (laughing) I hadn’t been home since 2019 because of the pandemic and the last time I went home I think I had one niece and by last Christmas there was five! We all missed each other but Australia had so many Covid restrictions in place that we just couldn’t get over.
We had to lie to my family and tell them that we couldn’t come for Christmas, it was so hard, man! (laughing) We stayed in a hotel in Sydney the night before and then drove over to my house on Christmas morning!
I saw an online description of your music that said ‘Morgan Evans’ music is good for the soul.’ I agree. Is that your mission statement? Don’t you ever want to sit down and write a gut-wrenching ballad like ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’?
Ha! To me it is important to write about real stuff. So I wrote ‘Things That We Drink To’ for my manager who passed away – he was like family to me – it’s important to write songs like that but I also think it’s important to see the positives in things.
I do have one song that may end up on the ‘Coast’ part of the album that might well be the saddest song I’ve ever written, even though it’s actually called ‘The Best Days of My Life.’ (laughing) I’m torn about it because I don’t necessarily want to have to sing a sad song every night for the rest of my life!
If there’s anything that I want people to experience from my music and my shows it’s an escape and I want it to be a hopeful experience. That’s a really important thing for me.
You can grab tickets to see Morgan Evans right here