There are times when a sound hits you in all of the right ways to create something that you never knew that you needed but never want to let go. Enter Evolfo. The ‘garage-soul’ band from Brooklyn is on the cusp of their next release, Last of the Acid Cowboys. We had chance to ask the Rafferty Swink, keyboardist for the group, about how they got together, their creation of garage soul, and the juxtaposition of joyous music with dark lyrics.
When did the band originally get together and how did you find each other?
The current formation of the band met in 2010 while we were all going to college in Boston. My first roommate’s boyfriend was a cousin of Matt’s roommate Julian. We were introduced and quickly realized we were neighbors. A few weeks later Matt asked me to do a recording session of a few of his original songs. At that point it was just a quartet, but just a week or so after that all the horns entered the picture. Everyone was living in the same area so linking up was easy. Kai, our trumpet player, lived down the hall from me. It snowballed quickly and we’ve been more or less the same line up since.
Your music has this eclectic driving feel but rooted in something very familiar, how did the sound evolve?
Back when we first got together our first shared musical love was soul and funk music. Groups like The Meters, James Brown, and Dr. John were people we often covered and are what inspired our earlier original music. Over the course of five years of “school of hard knocks” style touring we grew. As we matured and started embracing all of our musical loves I think we found a more genuine sound. I think our sound will always be developing, but I consider “Last of the Acid Cowboys” to be us standing up and shouting, “this is what we’re about!”
Can you describe what you’ve coined ‘garage soul’?
Genres are always tough. I think ‘garage soul’ is the closest concise descriptor we’ve found for our music, but it still isn’t perfect. The mixture of psych rock and Memphis style horns are the main sonic ingredients we’re working with. We don’t want to just be a “horn band” that does P-funk covers, but that soul will always be in our writing because of how simple, direct and emotional it is. We see ourselves as a garage band with a raw horn section.
Who are the Top 5 musical influences that shaped Evolfo?
Fuzzy psych bands like the guys over at In the Red Records, the Black Lips, David Bowie, hippie country guys like Gram Parsons or Townes Van Zandt, and of course New Orleans and Memphis soul.
With a group of 7, what is your songwriting process?
For LOTAC, Matt or I started the majority of the songs. We would meet up a couple times a week and play our ideas for each other and iron out lyrics together. We were also rehearsing as a whole band. In those rehearsals everyone would focus more on the arrangements and how individual parts work together. A few of the songs started just by playing riffs as a band and then going back to write lyrics later.
For such joyous music, the lyrical content can be a bit more serious. Where does that come from?
I think Matt and I are both drawn to that contrast and duality. We both like writing songs that communicate the dark, evil, and sometime sad parts of life through wild semi-fictional stories.
Last of the Acid Cowboys is your next EP, where and with who did you record?
We recorded the bulk of the EP with our good friend Joe Harrison at Black Lodge Recording in Bushwick. Joe produced, arranged, and mixed the record along with us. We also did overdubs in our bedrooms and additional mixing at Diamond Mine in Long Island City.
What was the biggest challenge in trying to capture the excitement of your sound to record?
I think the biggest challenge was learning how to utilize the studio to the fullest artistic and aesthetic potential. Trying to balance the freedom the studio allows with capturing the raw energy of our live show was a learning process.
Evolfo has a great reputation playing live – what can one expect at one of your shows?
Expect to sweat! Expect to move! Expect it to be loud, bombastic, and fast pace!
Wish fulfillment question – you can tour with any 2 bands, alive or dead, who do you take to travel the road?
Ty Segall or The Stones (in 1969) or Black Sabbath (in like 1970). I know that’s three, but these questions are impossible.