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Making Beautiful Music Together

by Cindy Rivers

The EvinRudes are a long way from the "Third World experience" they encountered during the making of their five-song EP in a basement a year ago: smoke was coming out of the console the whole time they were recording...

Ironically, they've enjoyed tremendous success, selling over 7,000 copies of the EP in singer Sherry Cothran's hometown of Nashville, on the strength of the band's mega-hit "Drive Me Home." They've also won numerous awards, including "Best Unsigned Band" at the Nashville Music Awards. Now, with two independent releases, the EP and 1997's Little Red Stars,under their belts, the `Rudes are poised to do it again with their major-label, self-titled debut due in August.

Although the EvinRudes are known as a quintet, it's the husband and wife team of Cothran and guitarist/songwriter Brian Reed that fuels the quirky, guitar-driven songs the `Rudes are known for: a marriage of Reed's crafty storytelling and Cothran's sugar-coated vocals, a là Rickey Lee Jones. Like Sonny and Cher and Tina Turner and Ike before them, their marriage is a "huge part of our chemistry," Brian admits. Not coincidentally, this enables Cothran to endearingly execute Reed's twisted lyrics as though they were her own.

I was trying to categorize your music. I came up with a southern alternative kinda thing -- without the depression, of course. Fun songs with catchy lyrics... then I heard Brian was an English major. Did you always wanna be a songwriter?

Brian: Yes. I've been [songwriting] since I was fifteen. I've only gotten good at it a few years ago.

What inspires you?

Brian: I keep meticulous notes on my Macintosh. Whenever I have an idea, I record it out of everything catalogued. So when I write a song, I'm not sitting [there] calculating what I'm going to write about. I've never had a blank slate. I always have some hook, chorus, or thematic idea to draw from before starting. Some of the songs are more clear, as far as the narrative is concerned. There's a more direct story line. Those are self-explanatory. Others are a bit more ambiguous... that come from the deep, twisted recesses of my mind. "High Street in the Universe" is kinda esoteric. It's kinda like "Wow, what is this about? There are a lot of different couplets strung together. But what's it really about?" I'd have to say, overall, the theme is moral decay. That finds its way into a lot of my stuff. It must be something I obsess about.

In reference to my categorization, what did you think of that assessment?

Sherry: I think maybe it's an alternative to southern. We stay away from the word "southern." Even if we're influenced by things from the south, it certainly isn't what we'd consider southern rock music. It's a very classic rock sound, with some alternative influences.

Brian: Did you know we were from Nashville?

No. I formulated my questions before I read your bio. When I listen to "Drive Me Home," I hear things like the slide guitar, lending it that feel. It's also folksy. There's a lot of storytelling going on.

Brian: Okay. From that perspective, I guess your pigeonhole is right on target. I'd add -- of course this remains to be seen -- if it sells well, let's hyphenate it this way: Let's say it's southern/alternative/pop. If it becomes popular, it'll be pop music.

Sherry: In Nashville, we're definitely considered more pop.

Brian: Right. Coming from a country town, we certainly don't sound country. "Indians on the Moon" has a bit of a country smack to it, but that's by design.

Are you familiar with Hummingbird Productions in Nashville?

Sherry: We recorded with an engineer there like three years ago. You know that Budweiser commercial where the three frogs go "Bud... wise... errr... ?" He ended up being the "Err."

Brian: He was our first keyboard player.

I heard you guys were in more than twenty bands in your career.

Brian: That's incorrect. Sherry and I had sung in a few bands together when we were in college, but not anywhere near twenty... It took us a while to figure what direction we wanted to go. I started to write a body of songs that sort of had common denominators, and that's when we became the EvinRudes. And the roles became more defined. We quit our jobs. Sherry was in music publishing, and I was in book publishing. We had good jobs -- had a house. We decided, "Let's try this. I know it's absolutely insane. The odds are against us... " But we wanted to see if we could make a career of it, and we've been at it for close to three years.

Do you plan to have any kids?

Brian: We will eventually. Not right now, while we're doing this rock star "thing."