July 18, 2013 9:00am PT by Tim Appelo
Seattle's The Young Evils Record in Former Sound City Space
Kevin Augunas, founder of Van Nuys' Fairfax Recordings, has added a new act to a roster including the Grammy-winning Gotye and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes: Seattle’s The Young Evils, who play sugary pop with a bite. “I first heard about the band via Facebook,” says Fairfax label manager Jason Reynolds. “Marco Collins had been posting about how great the band was.” Collins’ opinion counts, since he’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a KEXP DJ who broke Beck and sparked his record deal and the subject of a forthcoming documentary, The Glamour and the Squalor, scored by Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready.
McCready is a mentor to The Young Evils (vocalist Mackenzie Mercer, guitarist/vocalist Troy Nelson, guitarist Cody Hurd, bassist Michael Lee and drummer Eric Wennberg). He played on the Evils’ cover of Def Leppard’s “Too Late for Love,” a soon-to-be-released 7-inch single.
While personally close to Pearl Jam, The Young Evils have been thinking about Nirvana lately. Fairfax Recordings used to be called Sound City, and their forthcoming album was made in the room Nirvana made famous. (Rumours and After the Gold Rush were recorded there, too.)
“It was surreal to find ourselves recording at the exact same place where Nevermind was made,” says Nelson. “Every time I pick up the guitar, I try writing my version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ The outcome will never sound like that song stylistically, but I think about it every single time. Some may roll their eyes, but it's given me a goal my entire life. For a kid from a small town where the claim to fame is the Mitchell, South Dakota Corn Palace, it's a dream come true – like the magnetic force of my determined thoughts pulled the two worlds together.”
Look at the Evils/Nirvana connections, says Nelson. “Collins was one of the first people to play Nirvana, and he posted our video for ‘Dead Animals’ on his Facebook page, and that’s where the Fairfax people heard our music. Barrett Jones, who recorded our debut, recorded some Nirvana songs.” Jones is also Mercer’s stepfather. “Mark Pickerel, our drummer at one point, played drums for Kurt Cobain and Mark Lanegan when they recorded Lead Belly covers. Craig Montgomery used to run sound for Nirvana, and he was behind the soundboard when we played The Triple Door in Seattle.”
“So there's definitely -- and not purposely, I swear -- been a running Nirvana theme in this band.”
Bandleaders Nelson, 36, and Mercer, 24, are meeting with directors for three or four videos for the album, eagerly awaiting Augunas’ final mix of their album, due by August, and planning their July 2014 wedding. The wedding band could be famous. To get there, it will be a grueling next 12 months. Says Mercer: "Record release party, tour, wedding, tour, honeymoon, tour."