Toronto’s Evans Blue comes to Headliners on Dec. 2Written by Alan Sculley | | ASculley@toledofreepress.com
Dan Chandler has been around the music business long enough to believe there’s no rule book for how musicians can get their big break.
But he believes he is getting his shot at making a mark on a worldwide level as singer in the band Evans Blue because of two factors —preparation and opportunity.
“The preparation led to the opportunity, and the opportunity came and I jumped on it and I felt ready for it,” Chandler said in a phone interview.
Certainly, Chandler, who had been based out of St. Louis, never would have predicted that his path in music would lead him into a group from Toronto, which is home base for Evans Blue. Instead, all of his efforts up to that point had been built around projects with roots in that Missouri city.
For the better part of the past decade, Chandler had been in a popular local group called Switch 3 that had its sights set on getting a record deal and taking a run at success and stardom. The band even moved out to Los Angeles for about 18 months, thinking that was the way to get noticed by the record industry.
“It’s definitely a completely different world than I thought it would be, going out there and thinking ‘Oh man, every show I play there’s got to be at least one A&R guy there,’” Chandler said. “That’s just not how it works out there, at least from my experience, that’s not how it works. We had a great time. We learned a lot.”
But the band came back to St. Louis without a record deal. Instead, it was time to take stock and the members of Switch 3 began to look into new opportunities. Chandler decided to put more effort into songwriting and honing his craft.
“I started doing a lot of songwriting and touching on the pop end of it and even attempting country stuff and still writing rock nonstop,” Chandler said. “At this point, I didn’t know if I was going to be a performer or if I was actually going to be in the back end just doing writing. So I worked on trying to get a publishing deal. I was working with somebody for a little while and writing with a lot of people locally.”
It was somewhat by chance that he discovered he might have an opportunity with Evans Blue.
“One night, I was out at a friend’s house, my old drummer actually, and somebody told me there was this guy who tried out for Evans Blue, to be the singer,” Chandler said. “I didn’t even know they were looking for somebody.”
Chandler was a little familiar with the band and he contacted the group, which first sent him the instrumental tracks to a couple of older songs and had Chandler record his vocals to the songs. He passed that test, and Evans Blue next sent Chandler an unfinished song to see what kind of lyrics and vocal melody he would add to the song.
“I think they dug what I was doing,” Chandler said. “And I definitely felt like what they had going on was a direction I wanted. It was a great chemistry. So we wanted to meet each other, get a rehearsal and get a real feel for each other. So I flew up to Toronto and we had rehearsals. I met the guys, hung out, and we clicked immediately.”
In joining Evans Blue, Chandler knew he was filling a key role in that group. Formed in 2005, the group released two albums with original singer Kevin Matisyn, “The Melody and the Energetic Nature of Volume” (2006) and “The Pursuit Begins When This Portrayal of Life Ends” (2007).
“Erase The Scars” is one of several new songs in the band’s live set these days. But the fact that Chandler isn’t the group’s original singer isn’t stopping Evans Blue from mixing some older songs into the set as well. This isn’t a problem for the new singer.
“There are a lot of times they (audience members) will shout out a song they want to hear, and I want to be able to do it for them and I want to be able to do them well,” Chandler said. “I’m definitely not the original singer for those songs, but if I can do them justice and make them (audiences) like them live and have a good time as part of the new set, it’s definitely worth it for me.”