Consider everything you think you know about Evermore. Run through their history, of brothers Jon, Peter and Dann Hume growing up in the rural New Zealand town of Feilding and finding their feet as musicians. Reflect on their breakthrough 2004 debut Dreams and its beautifully crafted follow-up, 2006’s Real Life, selling platinum and double platinum. Look at their six ARIA Award nominations, two NZ Music Awards, Channel [V] and MTV gongs, and the high esteem in which music fans and peers hold them. Gather those thoughts for a moment – then get ready to be blown away.
“It’s the album we’ve been wanting to make since we started the band,” says singer and guitarist Jon, 25. “It’s a concept album that takes inspiration from trashy media and political propaganda, and turns it into a fun, over the top rock’n‘roll show.”
It’s an impressive united vision that began as abstract thoughts and came together into a solid concept over 18 months in the band’s studio near their new home city of Melbourne. The result, the beautifully crafted Truth Of The World: Welcome To The Show, is one of the most ambitious albums you’ll ever hear. A grandiose piece of music that plays out like a modern brave new world rock opera, its foundation is built on a fictional news broadcast and branches out to paint aural pictures of a space saturated with cheap consumer pleasures, ads, channel-surfing sound effects and catchphrases woven into a rich musical tapestry.
“We put all our ideas down on paper if as we were writing a movie script. The scenes dictated how the music should sound under it, so it pushed us in different directions musically and vocally.” Jon adds. “We came up with the concept and followed it through completely, ruthlessly. Anything that didn’t fit in 100 per cent with what we were trying to achieve, we just threw it out.”
And while it takes a daring band to attempt such a grand feat, it takes a truly great one to execute it to perfection.
“I really wanted a writing challenge and to find some kind of voice to say things in a way we hadn’t before,” Dann says. “You need confidence, but I think we’ve always been quietly confident. In the studio, you have to think you can pull off anything.” Produced exquisitely by Jon, Truth Of The World certainly flows like a single piece of music with lyrics and melodies thread seamlessly between very different songs. Synth-rock stompers “Between The Lines” and “Hey Boys And Girls (Truth Of The World Pt. 2)” showcase the band at their swaggering confident best. Then there’s the typewriter-tapping “Front Page Story/Diamonds In The River”, which moves from a melancholic ivory-tinkering ballad into a tribal groove-laden epic. “Tonight On The Show (Truth Of The World Pt. 1)” and the later “Infotainmentology (Truth Of The World Pt. 3)”, feature complementing melodies and infectious Beatlesque pop breakdowns shine a light on the skill of both band and producer to weave together so many pieces of music together as a focused and cohesive whole.
“We had a very clear idea the album should run together as one piece of music, and while the lyrics are all on similar subjects, the music is diverse to say the least,” Jon says. “I knew it was going to be self-produced and that was part of the drive that really pushed us to go beyond our limits. There was no-one else there saying, ‘Hey, that’s probably not a good idea.’ It was just us bouncing ideas off each other – and some of them got pretty crazy by the end.”
Dann agrees: “Everything we did, the more extreme the better. It was like, ‘Let’s get 12 people in the room to scream as loud as they can’ or ‘What if we use a sample of Hitler at Nuremburg rally?’. Every time we just tried to do something more full on, it felt right. I was writing the outro on one song, and it was such an over-the-top melody, I thought, ‘What’s the most ridiculous words, the most mundane words, I could put over this?’ So I had the idea for, ‘And now a word from our sponsors,’ which skews it.” The dense musical and thematic production is buoyed by a cast of characters and sampled broadcast voices – many played with wonderful dramatic timing by Dann – and wry humour that the trio weave throughout the set. Sure, it’s over-the-top and loaded with provocative ideas, but it’s always engaging and, importantly, entertaining.
“We felt it was important to put the humour in there,” notes keyboardist and bassist Peter, 23. “The whole thing is broaching on some full-on subject material, but we didn’t want it to sound preachy or as if we’re taking sides. It’s almost like playing devil’s advocate and messing with things, distorting reality – doing things certain media does every day! But it’s also just having fun and wallowing in the kaleidoscope of the modern world.”
“The lyrical tone of the albums keeps changing throughout, so you don’t know what’s coming next,” Jon says. “Is it serious or a joke? Is it political or ironic? So in a way we’re not taking it too seriously and we’re having fun with it. If we’d written the whole thing in a completely from-the-heart way, it would have been really pompous.”
“We really just wanted to make things fresh again. We felt like resetting, as if we were a new band coming out and had no idea what the music industry was like, and just make the kind of music we’d like to hear,” Peter adds. “Albums are totally underrated these days. People say it’s the death of the album, but I don’t think so. I grew up listening to albums and the idea of listening to Dark Side of the Moon with the lights off or the Who’s Quadrophenia; to me it’s still the ultimate musical artform.”