“We’ve been threatening to put out an album for a couple years,” Scott Harding says. The lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Evergone is discussing the band’s imminent release What Went Wrong into the Charlotte music scene, the long awaited follow-up to their 2014 debut EP In the Shadows, in which the full-throttle rockers will finally follow through on their longtime threat.
In March 2020, after replacing original bass player James Stratford with Robbie Thornton, the band decided it was finally time to record a full-length album, Harding recalls.
“We started looking into studios and boom, COVID hits!”
Now with the city and its music scene gradually reawakening from its COVID-related deep freeze, Harding and his cohorts are back in the game.
It’s not often that new music from a group of mature rockers inspires such anticipation, but the resumes of Evergone’s members read like a who’s who of Charlotte local and regional rock: Harding toured with the band Circle in the late ’90s, lead guitarist Larry Kohler has been in several groups including Mother Fungus and Stunt Shot, Colin Welch-McLoy drummed for Charlotte ska outfit Bums Lie, and bassist Thornton currently plays with The Menders and Witch Motel as well as Evergone.
“We are all quite seasoned,” Harding says.
With that experience comes toughness and resilience. Kohler says he’s weathered a fair amount of music business heartbreak.
“[You] watch chances slip through your fingers,” Kohler says. “Not stardom, but [things like] grabbing a record deal. You’d get your hands on it but something would happen and it [would] slip out of your grasp.”
Despite Evergone’s ephemeral-sounding name, its road-hardened veterans, a rock ‘n’ roll band of brothers, craft complex, propulsive, rough-edged music that makes a lasting impression.
In the Shadows contains four songs, each offering tight harmonies and complex arrangements. With its slow build up of roiling guitars, “Rotten Water” combines the ’90s alt-rock roar of Pearl Jam with the nimble ’80s angularity of Mission of Burma. Harding’s gruff, gravelly vocals duel with Kohler’s grinding guitar and Welch-McLoy’s splashing cymbals in the anxious “Chapter Book.”
The band’s twin-guitar, double-barrel assault gives way to spiky, spiraling ska on “The One.” Despite slashing guitars and careening drums, “Out of Time” feels melancholy, as if singer Harding is watching helplessly while something vital slowly fades away.
Evergone’s progression to releasing new Charlotte music
The band played its first show in early spring of 2014 at Roux in NoDa. By the end of that year, they had recorded their debut EP at Studio 1 studios in Charlotte with Patrick Boyd at the board.
Soon, the band started participating in Justin Fedor’s tribute shows at the Neighborhood Theatre to benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. The band members had a good reason to get involved. Harding’s son was born three months prematurely, weighing in at 2.2 pounds. From Pineville Main Hospital he was quickly transported to Levine Children’s Hospital, where Kohler says his life was saved.
“I could never in a lifetime repay the Children’s Hospital for the care they gave to my Brooklin and my family during that time,” Harding says. “My way of helping and giving back was through these benefits.”
Today Harding describes the band’s music as “Punk Rock Horsepower,” but he’s fine when people compare it to a classic rock’n’roll band or a ’90s grunge combo.
When COVID hit, the band continued to rehearse and did a few live streams. In December 2020, the foursome dove in and started recording with Pete McCoil of Crash Media/805 Recording Studio. The process took three months, and now the completed album is slated for a late summer release.
Then, on June 12, Evergone played its first gig in front of a live audience since the start of the pandemic. Harding calls the experience “priceless.”
“It was an amazing feeling, like Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day all wrapped up into one,” Kohler says.
Now, after a seven-year wait, Evergone is releasing new music while the summer heat lingers and the music scene thaw gathers momentum. Harding says he’d love to hear that the new album gives people hope. Looking back on the band’s career, he sees reasons to roll with the punches and endure.
“Things get fucked up; sometimes you have to force changes to better your life,” Harding offers. “You have to realize what’s going wrong, and what’s incomplete, and what’s in your next chapter and say ‘Let’s fucking go.’”