THE LEMONHEADS

 

Evan Griffith Dando (Domino Publishing) formed THE LEMONHEADS with two high school buddies in late winter ‘86, in their senior year at Boston’s tiny Commonwealth School. A few months later, they spawned what is now one of the most sought-after punk relics of the 80s, the indie EP Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners. Boston-based Taang! Records immediately picked up on the LEMONHEADS, with three college radio pleasers to follow: the LPs Hate Your Friends (1987), Creator (1988), and Lick (1989) . In 1990 Atlantic Records took notice of the massively expanding LEMONHEADS fanbase in Europe (where they toured in 1989) and America by signing the band and releasing their well-received (in Cambridge, Massachusetts) fourth LP, Lovey.


A 1991 tour brought Evan to Australia, where by chance he met songwriter Tom Morgan (Domino Publishing) and future LEMONHEADS bassist Nic Dalton. Their collaboration made all the difference for the next Atlantic release, It’s a Shame About Ray (1992), a concentrated blast of pure pop perfection that clocks in at just under 30 minutes. Thanks to songs such as “Confetti”, “My Drug Buddy”, “Rudderless”, and “Ceiling Fan in My Spoon”, Dando hit a whole new audience (“they’re getting younger”, he confessed to Kathie Lee Gifford at the time).


Atlantic released a smash followup, Come on Feel the Lemonheads, in October 1993. The album brought Dando a genuine charting single (“Into your Arms”) as well as instant classics such as “Great Big No”, “Down About It”, “Being Around”, and “You Can Take it with You.” In winter 1993/1994 Evan Dando was in your living room, thanks to live appearances on the Letterman and Leno late night network TV shows. Inevitably, in Warrington, Pennsylvania, a 20-something named Jeff Fox published the first issue of his backlash ‘zine Die Evan Dando, Die.


Two years of brutal touring for THE LEMONHEADS followed, which Evan punctuated with some high-profile personal meltdowns on various continents that caught the imagination of a press ever eager for negative copy. Still THE LEMONHEADS (now with Boston friends John Strohm on guitar and Murph on drums) managed to crank out a defiant 1996 release Car Button Cloth, with some of their best melodic pop/punk to date: “It’s All True”, “If I Could Talk I’d Tell You”, and “Tenderfoot”. After a year promoting the record, Dando announced at the 1997 Reading Festival that he was disbanding THE LEMONHEADS. Atlantic released a Best of The Lemonheads album in 1998, and a lot of geezers surmised that that was that.


But back to the album called the The Lemonheads, the group’s 2006 release on Vagrant. You can think of it as a Best of the Lemonheads Volume II, featuring songs from the band’s greatest era that didn’t quite yet exist, played a little louder and little faster. “You should listen to the DESCENDENTS’ [1982] Milo Goes to College to get an idea of what the next LEMONHEADS record sounds like”, says Evan of his newly reformed band. “I wanted to make a rock record, a melodic rock record.” And more to the point, “Also, I’m sick of selling solo T-shirts.”