Rockin’ Gold Coast export Evol Walks are currently kicking up their heels and making a helluva lotta noise on the LA music scene. Jodie Bellchambers chatted with the band’s frontwoman Leah Martin-Brown about their US fans, her love of guitars and, surprisingly, Justin Bieber.
The band is mostly LA based now. How nurturing has the creative community in LA been for you?
Surprisingly it is nurturing when you get into the professional level here, some of the musicians I have been lucky enough to work with have been great and very nurturing; they are like a family. It is also very competitive so it does push you to be better otherwise you won’t last here long if you don’t. They do have open jam nights and open mic nights and other things. Even going to karaoke in LA is not like going to a normal karaoke, it’s very rare that you’d find someone who is not a very strong singer. It’s a real entertainment town and people here are all about being seen, doesn’t matter what kind of gig it is anyone could be in the room.
As an artist and a musician it really pushes you to be better and to work harder because everyone is amazing here and the people who aren’t amazing have to go home. It’s really tough but it’s good if you can break in and get to that nurturing level – but yeah that grass roots level can be a bit cutthroat.
How important to the band is the signing of the management deal with Rick Sales Entertainment Group?
Yes, so important… He saw us for the first time last year in November during our American tour, then he came to see us again in April this year and he offered us the deal then. But there was so much going back and forth between lawyers that by the time the deal was finally signed which was late July early August and things were starting to happen, the excitement had kind of worn off. The negotiations were so long so we didn’t get to celebrate.
It is still really exciting but you do have to wait until the ink is dry on the contract; you don’t take anything for granted. By the time it did we were just ready to get to work. Rick Sales entertainment group is huge! I’m still kind of pinching myself wondering how does this happen to a group like ours. They are one of the best – if not the best – heavy music managers in the world so I don’t know how a band of our status got on that label. We’re not Slayer or Gojera or Ghost; we’re not that big.
Your recent cover of Let Me Love You by DJ Snake and Justin Bieber is fantastic. Was that a strategic move to reach a wider audience or are the band just secret Bieber fans and love the song?
I wouldn’t say we are Justin Bieber fans, no! It was actually a very strategic move. We had kind of been in the studio working on and off on new material for our EP which we were hoping to do this year, but with the new management coming on board we had to re-evaluate that, so we will do it next year instead.
We picked the Justin Bieber one – we actually originally did Send My Love (To Your New Lover) by Adele and even shot the video and then we did this one as well and had them both ready to go. Adele was meant to be the first release but this one just turned out so much better. Justin Bieber’s vocals are so much different to mine, it’s a girl singing a guy’s song so it puts a new take on it, whereas Send My Love (To Your New Lover) wasn’t much of a stretch for me.
We are getting some really good radio play on it; we have people who would not normally listen to us kind of liking it and what we are doing. We have a show on Friday so I guess we will see if it has improved our audience numbers.
You have a love of nice guitars. What are you enjoying playing with at the moment?
At the moment I am still playing the guitar that I got for my 16th birthday which is a Gibson Dove but I recently – last time I was on the coast – went to the Musician pro shop (it’s changed to Allen’s Billy Hyde on Mermaid Beach Highway now) and one of the guys in there has been helping me with guitars since I was a kid so we settled on a Gibson J200.
I put a deposit on that and when I visit for Christmas I’ll pick it up and take it back with me. I’ve been eyeing off some Les Pauls but I still have my Gibsons so I think I might stick with acoustics which I do the bulk of my writing on and play acoustic shows with. My guitarists are wonderful so there‘s really no need for me to play on stage.
You played at Europe’s largest outdoor music festival in Poland. That definitely has to have gathered a new army of fans into the Evol Walks fold. Have you seen much evidence of this?
It was huge! That was August last year we did that so we saw that there was a really big growth of Polish fans and other European people. Polish people seem to love using Spotify and YouTube so we are really getting a lot of plays on that and getting message requests to come back to Europe and play.
I haven’t really seen it as much in the US and Australia. Our fans who were already on board with us got excited and maybe we picked up a few new fans when they showed their friends which gives us validity.
I think in Holland after that festival one of our songs was in the top 10 of their equivalent to Triple J for ages.
Which festivals would you be keen to play?
As far as festivals in Australia go we played the Mitchell Creek Blues and Roots festival which was fun. I’d be super keen to play Splendour but I don’t know if we would be the right vibe for that we are not really a Triple J rock sounding band but I’d still love to. Airlie Beach music festival would be awesome I’d love to play that one, if Soundwave was still around then definitely a big yes.
Follow Evol Walk’s adventures on Facebook.