Centipede is the brain-child of Australian musician Steve Evans.
I have been enjoying his brand of psychedelic rock on ye olde Cloude of Sounds for a couple years now, and without a doubt he is one of the more prolific creators around. The songs are varied and unique, and his catalog is very deep (as of this post he has uploaded 629 tracks to his SoundCloud).
While the songs are typically somewhat pop-oriented in terms of format – few are longer than three minutes – the substance is sonically rich and texturally layered. They seem to draw from a deep well of influences that have been carefully filtered and assembled into a neat little package. There isn’t really an overtly recognizable formula to any of it, it always feels fresh and engaging – but he definitely has a unique and recognizable sound all his own.
Listening to his tracks I am hearing the darker esoteric dabblings of Bubblemen or Tones on Tail, with a nod to the sparkling glam and tambourine attitude of Marc Bolan, and finally smashed together with all manner of Los Angeles folk inspired psychedelia of the late 60’s.
I reached out to him with some pretty simple questions aimed to help illustrate some of his motivations for making music, how he goes about it, and where he is coming from. Take some time, explore his catalog and get to know his music. It really grows on you.
So, how long have you been making music?
Probably for 30+ years. I used to write songs when was a kid but I had never learned how to play any instruments so they were all songs in concept only. Then later on when I taught myself some basic guitar I recorded heaps of stuff onto cassette tapes. It was an intricate process of over-dubbing tracks between several tape decks and over loading the inputs to make my acoustic guitar sound like an electric guitar. I have no idea what happened to all those songs but it would be interesting hearing them all these years later. Then much later computers came along and made everything easier to record and I’ve been working at it non-stop ever since, just for the fun of it.
Have you ever been in or are you currently in any gigging bands? Does your current project perform live? Have you had any music used in films or other mediums?
I was in a punk band when I was about 18. We had a single gig lined up at the local university but got kicked out of the venue and never made the stage. Just after we arrived, the bass player was arrested for stealing a bicycle and someone broke a window. We were just acting like drunk and obnoxious “punks”. I never joined a band again haha. I keep getting asked to join cover bands but I have zero interest in playing anyone else’s songs so I don’t bother.
Do you have a particular “muse” of any kind? Are your songs “about” anything or anyone? Is there any kind of theme you find yourself returning to often?
Occasionally a song will be about something or someone but more than likely songs are just inspired by something I read or saw on TV. I don’t ever really listen to words in other people’s songs anyway so whatever I write is usually just nonsense that rhymes with itself. For me, words are just there to add melody and sound. If I had something special to say then I’d spend a little more time than I do and write something properly.
Can you tell me a bit about your recording process? Do you record in your home? What kind of equipment do you typically use?
I basically have a room in the house with a desk and a computer that I do all my recording in. My main guitars would be a Yamaha Studio Lord, Rickenbacker 360-12, a Gibson 335 copy and a Fender Telecaster. I have a Rickenbacker bass guitar and a Squire Jaguar bass. I use a Recording King acoustic guitar and 1960’s Eston 12 string acoustic guitar. There is a Yamaha keyboard for all the synths and keyboard stuff. There is a Roland electronic drum kit that I play – or if I’m too lazy, I program Superior Drummer to do all the drum stuff. There is a pile of tambourines, shakers and other small musical instruments that I’ll use from time to time. Guitars get recorded direct through a variety of Guitar simulation plug-ins. I have about a dozen hand-built fuzz pedals that I also use. My DAW of choice is Presonus Studio One and I basically play and mix as I go. Lately I’ve been paying more attention to recording things better and getting away from the lo-fi sounds.
How about your writing process – do your songs begin a certain way, on a certain instrument, does it vary for you?
I usually start off with a drum loop and just plug in and play along until I get a sound or melody I like. Then I add or subtract from it until I hear something start to take shape. The tune sorts of gets molded like a piece of clay. Then after a while I start to hear words and phrases in my head so I jot them down and write the rest of the words on the spot. All up, an average song takes around 4 hours before I can get to singing the vocals. I’ve already worked out in my head how the vocal melody will sound so I just sing it a few times and hope for the best. I don’t get attached to the songs and once it’s finished I probably won’t hear it again for months. If it gets a few likes or reposts on Soundcloud I go back and have a listen because I can’t remember any of them by name haha
Do you release any physical products? If so, be sure to link me, I will include as many links as you can provide. Tell me about your most recent release, etc.
No. I do it for my own amusement and if others get pleasure from time to time from listening to my music for free then I feel it is an accomplishment.
Can you name some other artists who inspire you? They don’t have to be strictly limited to sc artists or whatever, just who do you like to listen to when you aren’t making music yourself? Who would you recommend to other people who are interested in your stuff?
Beatles, Stones, Ramones, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Byrds, Ride, T-Rex and to many other things to mention. Basically all sorts of guitar oriented melodic stuff. Special shout out to Soundcloud artist Steve Vercelloni who is not only an extremely talented artist but who also took the time and personally engaged and encouraged me when I started out on the Soundcloud scene.
Do you have any collaborators you work with or have worked with in the past?
In the past I’ve worked on songs with others but lately it’s just been me. Depends on who is around at the time and what they want to contribute.