A few words with Evan Dando, reluctant champion of the proudly slothful

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Dispatches, May 1997

Who Needs the Great Outdoors?

A few words with Evan Dando, reluctant champion of the proudly slothful
By Hal Espen

For nearly a decade, Evan Dando has been lead singer of the Lemonheads, a band that certainly can be said to have its finger on the pulse of pop culture. So upon hearing that the group had recently released a countryish ballad called “The Outdoor Type” — in which the narrator shamelessly confesses to his girlfriend that he lied about his
wilderness prowess to win her favor — we were admittedly a bit concerned. “I never owned a sleeping bag, let alone a mountain bike,” croons Dando, who even goes so far as to tell his girlfriend, “I can’t go away with you on a rock-climbing weekend / What if something’s on TV and it’s never shown again?” Could this be the first volley in a campaign of recreation bashing,
marked by intolerance and outright prejudice against those who prefer the actual jungle to the concrete variety? Who better to ask than the new torchbearer of the sedentary, Evan Dando himself.

Where did the “The Outdoor Type” come from?

It was written by an Australian friend of mine, Tom Morgan, who’s in a band called Smudge. He showed me the song, and we sort of messed around with the words a little.

What was the motivation?

Well, Tom lives in Sydney, and he’s a true urbanite. There’s this whole macho outback thing that goes on in Australia, and he had an experience with someone he was dating who he had kind of fibbed to.

You, however, grew up surfing and skiing in Massachusetts. As the artist singing the song, don’t you feel there’s an ethical dilemma?

I don’t think so. [Laughs.] It sure took me a while to reconnect with nature — I was hung up in the whole New York City thing for years. But now I spend a lot of time on Martha’s Vineyard. The ocean is the most important thing for me these days.

Have you ever spent a night in a tent?

Uh, I might have gone on a camping trip or two when I was really young.

Now here’s the burning question, as far as we’re concerned: Does your song represent the tip of the iceberg? Has a backlash begun?

No way. I hope not. That’s really not the intent of the song. I’m actually a Luddite — I try to deny all the technological advances that are happening, and I curse everything that’s making people stay indoors, like the Internet.

So when you sing “The Outdoor Type,” you’re not making a deep, personal, Courtney-Love-type statement?


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