The Young Evils first floated into my consciousness sometime earlier this year when I heard that KEXP's Troy Nelson had started a band with his>"/>
The Young Evils first floated into my consciousness sometime earlier this year when I heard that KEXP's Troy Nelson had started a band with his girlfriend, Mackenzie Mercer. I heard some songs and then got the chance to see them live for the first time last month when they played REVERB Fest and absolutely enchanted me with their breezy, so simple and so appealing pop tunes. Upon further investigation, I discovered that their debut release, Enchanted Chapel, is chock-full of that delightful sound -- this is an album where I can't choose my favorite song because they're all so solid and wonderful; the combination of Nelson's driving guitar and Mercer's sassy vocals is a rare winner. But a good place to start is "Get Over It" (see above adorable video), and I also have a special place in my heart for "This Rock and Roll City Is Done" -- so sweet, but still so much attitude. The Vaselines are much beloved to me, but if they decide to pack it in again, they have a worthy successor in The Young Evils.
Last night I had the opportunity to spend the evening with The Young Evils -- we had some drinks at Hazelwood and chatted about their fateful meeting at Easy Street Records, their families, and the new album they already have written:
How did you two meet?
TN: We were both working at Easy Street. We met about three years ago, and we were just friends for two years.
MM: I thought you were cute though.
TN: I'm blushing.
TN: The second or third day of meeting her, I said, 'for some reason I feel like I've known you my whole life,' and she was like, 'me too!' It was one of those things. We always got along.
Nelson just turned 34, Mercer recently turned 21. "I got one toe in the grave," says Nelson. "We have a 12 year difference."
"I told my mom when we started dating, 'ok, he's 32.' I was 20 at the time," says Mercer. "But once she met him, she got it."
Mercer's dad is the acclaimed rock photographer Lance Mercer (he shot all the images for Enchanted Chapel's artwork) and he actually already knew of Nelson before the couple even started dating. "Her dad was the bass player in the Briefs," says Nelson. "[Nelson's former comedy duo] Black Daisy did a DVD screening at the Rendezvous with the Briefs before I even knew Mackenzie. He bought a copy of our DVD. So I was ok on the dad side."
Mercer's a Seattle native, but Nelson hails from South Dakota, where both his parents still live.
"Troy's parents own a romantic couples bed and breakfast in Deadwood, South Dakota," says Mercer. "There's six little themed cabins. They have hot tubs. They're adorable. Troy's mom never gets mad, she's always smiling. Troy's probably heard her swear once."
"One time, I heard her say, 'time to get your ass out of bed,'" recalls Nelson. "I was blown away."
Enchanted Chapel is currently a top seller at Easy Street, but the two are already preparing to move on to new territory -- they're currently auditioning for a touring drummer, and Nelson says he's got an album's worth of new songs ready to record, which they plan on doing this month.
"The new stuff is a little more rocking, a little darker," he says. "The fun will still be in place, and the melodies will still be in place. The songs are a little more 3-dimensional, a little more complicated in terms of structure."
I don't have any doubt that Seattle will be just as receptive to the band's new material as they have been to Enchanted Chapel -- thanks in part to Nelson's home base at KEXP.
"I was kind of shocked how much they enjoyed it," says Nelson. "I didn't want to push it on them."
"We had to talk him into giving it to them," says Mercer.
"I was hoping that a few DJs there would like it and maybe one or two songs would get played here and there," says Nelson. "But the reaction has been overwhelming and very unexpected. We're putting out a little 25-minute folk pop record in a musical climate of either hip hop or noisy indie rock, so I didn't think anyone was going to care."
"The programming director, Don [Yates], has become a fan," adds Mercer. "He and his wife are in Hawaii, and he sent us a photo of them the other day, and said, 'The Young Evils sound so fitting at a Maui sunset.'"
"It was so cute," says Nelson.