What began in 2011 as a basement-party band in the pits of Boston, MA exists today as the Brooklyn garage-soul group, Evolfo. The band is now readying their new EP, Last of the Acid Cowboys. With hints of King Khan and the Shrines’ raw and subversive energy, the psyche of the Black Lips, and gnarly guitar licks comparable to White Denim, their forthcoming EP, The Last Of The Acid Cowboys, is a collection of original tracks, mixing rock, psychedelia, soul, and a touch of spaghetti western drama.
Characterized by a three-piece horn section and a connection that only old friends can share on stage, Evolfo is reputed for their live show. And yet, even with all the glitter and upbeat energy of their performance, there is darkness — an almost imperceptible stain — in the collective soul of Evolfo. Like Robert Johnson or Faust, their past dealings remain shady at times; the status of their eternal soul is debatable. They write from the other side of a vision quest, armed with unsayable truths they work to define through song. Evolfo’s music is not nostalgic, but one could say that they are not afraid to dig into the past for textures that suit the tales they have to tell.
The 7 boy-men met while attending college in Boston, MA. Several debaucherous months of loud music, late nights, cheap beer, bloody noses, and run-ins with the police made the group inseparable. It was guitarist and singer, Matthew Gibbs, who initially suggested they form a band to go out and play shows. The goal was to cram an army of stylishly garbed people on stage; energy and bombast was number one. This large ensemble outfit was refined after hundreds of shows and what remains is a close-knit group exploring the deep reaches of sonic Earth. In the beginning they called themselves Evolfo Doofeht, which spells “The Food of Love” backwards, but the name has since been mercifully shortened to Evolfo: three simple syllables of mystery.
Fueled by their reputation for performing, Evolfo has completed extensive tours of the US. Their most notable festival appearances include CMJ, SXSW, and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Evolfo shows have become gatherings for the seekers of the weird and those who expect more than the average band. Ghosts pour out of a shrieking saxophone while Beelzebub sits smiling on a stack of amplifiers. Shrouded figures bang on the ivory fingers of skeletons. The rhythm section sounds out an ominous rhythm and the brass men navigate sweet passages of longing and euphoria.
Evolfo’s new EP, Last of the Acid Cowboys, is a shift towards a truly collaborative spirit. After relentless years of touring, the time had come for Evolfo to move their efforts from the stage to the studio. Singers, Rafferty Swink and Matthew Gibbs, sewed the songs’ seeds and then brought to the band to grow. The process was about creating something new using the textures allowed by the studio environment. Rather than attempting to rope the live performance onto tape, the goal was to build the energy from the ground up. The arrangements are punchy, distorted, and to-the-point.
Following notable music videos and single releases from 2014 and 2015, Last of the Acid Cowboys will be Evolfo’s first extended collection of songs. Much of the EP was recorded under the tracks of the J train in Brooklyn at Black Lodge Recording Studios and overdubs were completed at Diamond Mine in Long Island City. Much credit is due to their young upstart producer, Joe Harrison, who, in addition to engineering, contributed flute, auxiliary guitars, background vocals, and spiritual sauce to the record. More than a little mojo comes from recording drums, bass, and keys to Harrison’s 8-track tape machine.
“The process of writing and recording the Last of the Acid Cowboys EP was a lot of unlearning for me,” Says Swink. “My main focus was trying to reconnect the untainted excitement I had for music as a teenager. I went back to my Mount Rushmore — Shuggie Otis, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Madvillainy, The Meters, The Stooges and many, more — to break down boxes I had created for my music. Every artist I look up to defies categorization and I think that’s because they all concern themselves only with making art and not putting labels on it. I know this sounds simple and obvious, but these limitations are hammered into your head as an unknown artist and it’s only after you put both middle fingers up that you can make the real shit.”
Additionally, the visuals employed by Evolfo to represent the music are fantastical, ranging from colorful and erotic to dark and mysterious. Graphic artist, Reuben Sawyer, dreamed up the cover piece for Last of the Acid Cowboys.
“I had seen some examples of Reuben’s work on other artists’ albums and I just thought it was perfect,” says Gibbs. “It’s really dark and adventurous with a hint of fantasy. It also leaves a lot to the imagination, which we loved. We don’t like being too obvious with people – we prefer to get a few interpretations.”
Often Evolfo’s visual media depicts some sort of ambrosia, like wine or other unlabeled liquid substances. In the “Wild Man” music video for example, a purple devil man and dapper gentleman are pursued around Boston as they pour a mysterious liquid over objects and animals. These items and animals are instantly transformed into something else, something strange and exciting. This video, directed and animated by Screaming Shih-Tzu Productions, won several awards including Best Animated Video at the Louisiana Film Festival and Best Video in the Big Vision Empty Wallet Competition in 2014.
Stay tuned for the new EP, more creative music videos, and upcoming tour dates.