One thing we love as UK country fans is following an artist’s journey as they keep coming back to see us and playing bigger venues each time – and Morgan Evans is a prime example of that.
The Australian-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter originally made his UK debut back in 2017, with return trips in 2019 and last summer during his tour of Europe with Brad Paisley. Now he’s graduated to his biggest British show yet – a main stage slot at this year’s C2C, after previously performing on the Spotlight Stage in 2018.
Ahead of his performance I sat down with Morgan to talk about his experiences with UK audiences, his emotional new single ‘Over For You’ and the accompanying documentary, touring alongside Mitchell Tenpenny, where he’s going next with his sound and much more.
Welcome back to London!
Thanks for having me back!
Although it feels like you were literally just here…
It does, doesn’t it? I was trying to remember when I was last here, when we did our own show in London. [laughs] I’m so… not jetlagged but just brain scrambled. I just did an interview and they asked me last time I was in London and I said three years ago, but we were here six months ago [laughs].
I mean, you’re practically an honorary Brit at this point, let’s be honest…
I know, and I loved that show, at that underground club [Lafayette in King’s Cross]. It was great. It was a wonderful gig and I’m stoked to be back.
This is your second time at C2C. What are your memories from the last time you were here?
Well when I was here before it was when I’d just started. So I had one song out and we played on the acoustic stage, which I have great memories of. But I think tonight’s gonna be a very different experience, playing on the big stage and doing a proper set. I’m really excited. We’re on day, I think, 12 at the moment on a run of shows. We’ve done Germany and the Netherlands and Dublin last night. So I feel like we’re in a good spot musically and I’ll have a couple more of these beers and we’ll be in the perfect spot for tonight.
You’ve mentioned the tour in Germany where you were out with Mitchell Tenpenny – that looked like so much fun…
It really was. I kind of knew Mitchell a little bit before, we’d run into each other and we have a bunch of mutual friends. But I really like that guy. He’s such a genuine person and obviously an amazing singer. We just had fun. We both grew up playing in punk bands or rock bands or whatever. We were playing these rock clubs of like 600 people, like the ones you used to play when you were a kid. And so I just loved revisiting that energy. I think like there’s a really exciting thing happening in Germany at the moment, and the Netherlands too, where they’re like maybe here 15 years ago. You know what I mean? People would come and it was a bit more underground and all that. There’s a certain excitement that comes with that. Whereas here, I guess that’s still happening here but it feels pretty big. I mean, we’re at the O2 tonight and that’s a different kind of excitement.
I think it’s something like 20,000 people out there – is that still quite a daunting experience? Or are you not fazed by that now?
Yeah. The 20,000 people doesn’t worry me at all any more. That excites me, honestly. I love that energy exchange, that’s what it’s all about for me. I honestly think 20,000’s a bit easier ’cause you don’t necessarily see a face [laughs]. It’s just thousands of faces. But yeah, I mean, we’ve never played here on the main stage so it is a big kind of career moment to get to play the O2 for the first time. I’ll definitely make a point of just stopping a few times throughout the set to be like, “I’m here, we’re doing this, this is really cool”.
Just to go back to the Mitchell tour, I loved the videos you two were putting out on Instagram during that – the one of you and the fish in particular…
Oh, that was so funny. Have you seen that before, fried herring?
So we did these videos to promote the tour. We shot them in Nashville before the tour. So we tasted some beers and wine, and then we tried some traditional German and Dutch food. But yeah, the lady that set this video up was, she’d got this fried herring which comes in a little can as big as, like, a cigarette packet or something like that. And you pull it back and it just smells like cat food. And I didn’t realise Mitchell had such an aversion to seafood. I thought he was gonna throw up in the kitchen we were shooting in. Anyway, as soon as we got to Germany I went into a grocery store and I found a whole aisle of different versions of fried herring. I made a video for him and he was like, “oh no, not this again!” [laughs] Anyway, yeah, that was fun.
Are there any songs you’re particularly enjoying playing live at the moment?
Yeah. I mean, they’re all pretty fun at the moment. Last year we had kind of the same show we played all year, or different versions of the same show, and this year we went into rehearsals for a couple of weeks to rejig everything. So we have new arrangements – I don’t know if this is too nerdy of a conversation but that makes everything exciting again. So we’ve added ‘Over For You’ into the set this year. We’re doing the full band version which is really good. And we’ve been playing a couple of new songs the last couple of weeks as well. They’re starting to feel like part of the set now. They’re gonna come out in the next few weeks. It’s exciting.
I did want to ask about ‘Over For You’ – how have you found that the fans’ reaction has been to that song?
It’s been amazing actually. Yeah. Obviously a really personal, sad song, but the interaction that I have with people about this song is so positive, so special. There’s a depth to it that I don’t think I’ve experienced so far in music where people will reach out. Instead of getting comments and messages like, “Great show man!” or “See you in Chicago” or whatever, there’s stuff like, “Thank you for writing this song” or “You put into words exactly what I felt when I was going through my break-up or my divorce or whatever”. Yeah, like definite variations of that. They all mean so much. And I see that when I play it live. I don’t open my eyes too much when I’m playing it, but every now and then I’ll look out and I’ll see someone either singing at the top of their lungs or with a little tear in their eye. Just to be able to make music that connects with people like that is truly a gift and it’s such a positive thing to come from something not so positive.
You also made a documentary about the song whilst you were out on tour in Australia. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yeah. Well, it was a bit weird actually. Because we had a whole film crew planned to come out to the show that we played down there which is a festival – it’s kind of like the C2C of Australia, really. Been going for 15 years, I played at the first one and my manager started it, so to finally headline it was a huge career thing for me. And so we had the guys there to film it, and then I played that song and it just kind of did its thing. I guess the way the time in the world worked was, I played it on stage in Australia at nighttime, and then by the morning in my time when I went to bed and woke up it had already been picked up by all the radio stations in America and the label in America said, “You need to put this out”. I woke up the next day and I was like, “Oh, OK”. And you see that in the documentary too – “well what are we gonna do?” And so this documentary that was meant to be about me going home and playing for the first time in three years ended up being part of this journey.
We’ve talked a bit about the new music already – how do you feel your songwriting has evolved over your career?
Hopefully it’s getting better [laughs]. I don’t know. I think, having written ‘Over For You’, for me that’s definitely a level of honesty or authenticity that I’m trying to aim for now. You don’t always get it but it’s definitely something to aim for. We have a song coming out [‘On My Own Again’] which I feel really does that and I’m super proud of that. We have a couple of other songs coming out through the summer that are just really fun, summery songs as well. I think it’s important to have all those things. But yeah, definitely there’s an aspiration for a depth that maybe I haven’t experienced until ‘Over For You’ that I’m trying to get to.
What would be the advice you’d give to your younger self if you were just starting out now?
It’s a tricky one because I feel if you wanna go back and change stuff that means you’re not happy with where you are. I am really happy with where I am right now but I would say maybe if there’s one thing I could tell myself it’s just believe in yourself. And if it feels good, do it. I have a tendency to overthink. I don’t know if you have that too, but one thing I’m grateful for about the ‘Over For You’ thing, the fact that someone videoed it and put it on the Internet meant that I didn’t get the time to overthink that and not put it out. And then I never would have had so many experiences with all these people that are positively interacting with it. So, yeah, there you go. That’s the long answer to that.
What does the rest of the year look like for you? We’ve talked about the new music – is that going to be the focus?
Yep, new music, more stuff in the States. We’re going back to go on tour with Brett Young around the States for the next couple of months which’ll be great. And then there’s gonna be more international stuff too. Honestly I hope we can come back over here. I always think if you get the chance to play places like this, huge places, that you need to come back. And I really wanna come back to Ireland, Scotland and England at least later this year. There’s nothing booked, I don’t even know why I’m saying it out loud publicly. This is what I do now – I say it out loud publicly and then we’ll make it happen!
Morgan Evans’ latest single, ‘On My Own Again’, is out now on Warner Music Nashville.