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Goin' on a Beaver Hunt

Chicago's Evil Beaver ain't afraid to let it all hang out, as long as it's on stage... or you got a hot tub.

 
by tim mcmahan


 

 

 

 

 

Lazyeye: Jan. 31, 2001

 

"We are the queens of anti-cock rock."

What more enticement do you need to get out of your house and see a band? How 'bout the fact that they go by the name Evil Beaver? The Chicago-based dynamic duo call their sound "alt-metal," with front-woman Evie Evil on bass and vocals, and Laura Ann Beaver on drums. No sissy guitar or keyboards for these ladies.

The two first played together in the summer of '99 and began making a name for themselves by proudly playing some of the sleaziest dives in Chicago, including The Manhole, a joint Laura Ann describes as "a total leather fag bar. We cleared out the back blowjob room and put up a stage," she said over her cell phone as the pair drove around St. Louis in the pouring rain. They were looking for The High Point, the venue where they were to play Tuesday night as they make their way to a Feb. 3 Omaha date at The Junction with Ravine and Buzzo.

Speaking on the phone, Laura Ann sounds like your best friend's really cool sister who's into the same kind of music as you but doesn't make a big deal out of it. Evie, on the other hand, sounds like hell on wheels. She chimes in only occasionally when she overhears a question that she demands to answer.

For example, Evie's retort on to how they handle guys who want to meet them after a show: "If they have a hot tub, we make them take off their clothes and then jump in with them, if they're cute," she growls, grabbing the phone from Laura Ann. "If they're not cute, we send in a security guy to take care of them."

 

 

 

There's nothing subtle about Evil Beaver, or the way they rock. Their first full-length, Lick It, due out in late winter or early spring, is a self-release licensed to Four Alarm Records. "We're not signed to them," Laura Ann says. "No one's got a leash on the beaver."

If you can't wait for the CD to come out, check out the MP3 files on the band's website -- www.ridethebeaver.com (and while you're there, take a look at some of the band's rather revealing poses from recent shows, some featuring two of their "dancers," who unfortunately aren't along for this tour. One pic reveals as much of Evie as Omaha ordinances would allow.) For the sessions, the band worked with Dave Trumfio of the new wave band The Pulsars, who has worked in the studio with such acts as Billy Bragg, Wilco, The Mekons and Cibo Mato. 

"Davie's forte is fluffy stuff," Laura Ann said. "There's a bunch of huge producers in Chicago, but we wanted to get a pop sound and still have it be heavy. At one point when we were playing he just turned to us with a blank look, but he's cute and great with vocals."

Other than the obvious thick guitar sound and rapid-fire drums, the first thing you'll notice about Evil Beaver is their obvious knack for pop hooks amid the thunder. Their influences range from bands like 7 Year Bitch and Sabbath to The Minutemen, while their one-sheet draws comparisons to Metallica and The Breeders. In fact, their full-tilt rock sound is in the grandest tradition of the best grunge and post-grunge female-fronted outfits, like amped-up, angry That Dog or SF Seals or even Hole, but not nearly as cute, nor do they wanna be.

A song like "Chockin' the Pearl" breaks open with an almost stoner/sludge rock passion, while Evie lays vocals that remind you more of Perry Farrell than Courtney Love. "Cherry Master," the first single off the new album, borders on metal except that Evie's snarling vocals take the edge down enough to uncover a hook through all the powerchord hum. When the duo takes it down even further, they hit power-pop paydirt the likes of which we haven't heard since The Breeders were still breeding. "Superbird," included on the Decline of Midwestern Civilization compilation released by Omaha's Violenteer Productions and Ant Records, is at once subtle and melodic while verging on frantic violence and despair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Laura Ann describes The Manhole as "a total leather fag bar. We cleared out the back blowjob room and put up a stage."


 


"When I saw them come into Knickerbockers, I could tell just by looking at them that they weren't from around here."


 

Laura Ann said their inclusion on the compilation was the result of a fluke meeting with Violenteer proprietor Randy Cotton (bassist/vocalist with Ravine).

"We were stranded in Lincoln after our van broke down and ran into Randy at Knickerbockers," she said. "We gave him a CD and talked, then he asked us if we would represent the Windy City on his compilation."

Cotton remembers it fondly. "When I saw them come into Knickerbockers, I could tell just by looking at them that they weren't from around here," he said.

Only a year after their Manhole gig, Evil Beaver has headlined at most of Chicago's top rock venues, including The Double Door, Metro and The Empty Bottle. Now with the new CD on the way, Laura Ann says her and Evie will spend most of this year on the road touring. "We actually feel like we've conquered Chicago," she said. "Right now, we're doing very well there, but we don't want to play there too often. We donít want our fans to say, 'Oh, we'll just catch them next week.' That's why we want to get on the road."

Oh yeah, and what about the stigma of being in a "chick band"? Laura Ann says it's more of a hang-up for journalists looking for an easy angle than a gimmick for them. "Either you're gonna like us or not like us," she said. "The fact that we're women is something that people will always notice. It's the writers who make an issue of it instead of focusing on what we're bringing to the table."


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Published in Omaha Weekly Jan. 31, 2001. Copyright © 2001 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.