Soulive is a soul groove organ trio consisting of brothers Alan Evans (drummer), Neal Evans (Hammond B3) and soul brother Erik Krasno (guitarist); and this trio has taken their soulful instrumental jazz stylings to new arenas. Collaborating with the likes of Chaka Khan, Dave Matthews, Amel Larrieux, and MeShell N’dgeOcello and opening for groups like the Rolling Stones, the music of Soulive continues to bridge the gap between the old school funk-jazz organist like Reuben Wilson and Jimmy Smith; and the jazz-rock-hip-hop-soul of today. I caught up with Alan Evans as he was preparing to tour in support of their latest studio release “Up Here”.
AJI: What’s up Alan and thank you for taking a little time out of your busy schedule to speak with us here at AtlantaJazz.Info.
AE: Hey Ginger, it’s my pleasure. Ah yes, busy, but exciting.
AJI: You (Soulive) will be here in Atlanta on April 28th at The Loft. Are you bringing (vocalists) Toussaint or is this an all funk-jazz affair?
AEToussaint was on our last CD (No Place Like Soul) from 2007 and he’s great. This year, we decided to return as a trio again – it just feels good. Evolving! We’ve kind of moved on to other things. We have this cat Nigel Hall singing a couple of tunes with us on our new album.
AJI: You recorded that record (No Place Like Soul) on the legendary Stax Label – tell me about being a part of that lineage?
AE: It was surreal. There was so much music, influential, timeless, classic sounds that came out of Stax… it came at the right time for the group – to be associated with Stax as they were celebrating their 50th anniversary…. Every artist on the label brought something different to the music. I’d like to think that we have our own thing also. At the same time, we loved the association but it’s kind of like being at someone else’s family reunion. You have a great time, but then its time to move forward. (laughing)
AJI: I caught the trio in LA last year and you always graciously invite different Cat’s to sit in – then the last time you were in Atlanta Lil John Roberts sat in and I thought “Wow, two of my absolute favorites.”
AE: Ah man Lil John, he is the nicest Cat on the planet. Its very rare that you meet a musician of that caliber who has that much of a vocabulary with so much soul – He has all of the technique and like doesn’t use it …….but he will pull it out on you every once in a while!!! (laughing)
AJI: Now that is the truth! Soulive has always done some great collaborations; I was expecting to hear you on Chaka Khan’s last album.
AE: Yes, that’s some good music. Chaka’s done shows with us, at some point when we were hanging out she wanted us to get on her new album and visa versa…. it’ll happen. I mean there are so many that you just vibe with, you know? Some of the best collaborations happen naturally. When you try to schedule this or that person and it feels kind of forced, those are the situations that you don’t necessarily want to be in.
AJI: What has been the key/the logic behind this group maintaining its autonomy and has it been ten official years for you in the business?
AE: Well, it’s been a little longer – Soulive has been about ten. The main thing that I’ve stuck to is you just have to do your own thing. You have to be comfortable, especially these days. It’s impossible to try and please everyone. It’s important that you just stay in touch with the fans and really make music for those people. Not trying to become – like the days of the mega-rock star are pretty much over. Its more grass roots, more like a community thing, you know? Access to fans and visa versa is so much easier.
AJI: Yes, this generation has grown up with computers, blogs and social networking in the home, so it is indeed different. You can reach right out and email an artist directly now! So now you’re on your very own label “Royal Family Records” tell us about the new CD “Up Here”.
AE: We decided to take 2008 off for the most part and towards the end of the year I was recording in my studio working – mixing, producing other bands and some of my own stuff I sent Neil and Eric a clip of some drums that I’ve been working on and said hey we should get together at the studio and just hang out. We had Sam (Kinninger – sax) and Ryan (Zoidis – sax) come in. We just started vibin’. We did two three-day sessions and at the end of it, it’s like well we had a new album.
AJI: Wow (laughing)
AE: The thing is, it’s funny because like the last album “No Place Like Soul”, it was like a year or so of practice – recording, and scrapping and going back to the drawing board. It was a huge effort. On this (Up Here) we were just having fun. Literally, back to the basics. I’m excited.
AJI: Well I heard a couple of tunes on your website and they sound fantastic. Congratulations on the tour and the new CD “Up Here”!
AE: We’re always excited about Atlanta.
AJI: Thanks for being so gracious with your time Alan. We’ll see you when you get here.
Alan Evans was interviewed by Ginger Dee for AtlantaJazz.Info
For more information on Soulive visit www.royalfamilyrecords.com