Interview with Matt Gibbs and Rafferty Swink of Evolfo
Written by Samantha Key
Photographs by Rick Perez
With their new feature length record coming out April 2017, Brooklyn based “garage soul” band Evolfo has a lot going on for them. I had the pleasure of sitting down with frontman Matt Gibbs and keyboard player Rafferty Swink before their 11/27 set with Stuydeyed and Tall Juan at Brooklyn’s Babys All Right. We talked about staying creative, musical growth, and the importance of sending a good email.
BOC: You guys formed in Boston, but now you’re Brooklyn based. How do you feel the two scenes differ?
MG: I think the thing about Boston is that it’s still sort of reeling from the whole ska scene. When we were there, we really got the last of that. Sort of like the whole Big D and the Kids Table thing.
BOC: I will say – with you having so many people in your band, it’s sort of hard not to make that connection.
RS: *Laughs* It’s our cross to bear.
MG: Other than that, Boston was mad supportive. Usually it was older people coming out to local shows, but I was really grateful to them. We actually won a Boston music award, which made all the younger bands kind of be like, “Fuck you” but *laughs*. They thought it was kind of bullshit.
RS: In general, Boston feels more like a college town than New York. New York just feels like people. I would say though that people in New York don’t want to go out of their comfort zone. I’m guilty of this, too – at a show no one wants to be the person who’s standing out. It’s not as much like that in Boston. So that took a little getting used to. I’m unfazed by it now – but initially I felt like people did a lot of standing around at shows. I would think, “this sucks”. But afterwards, people would come up the merch table and say “Ahh, that was awesome!”
BOC: With those things in mind, how has the band changed over time?
MG: Well, we definitely used to be a hard funk band. I don’t think we were ever consciously like “We are stopping making funk music now.” But it just got kind of hard to make funky shit, and other stuff started happening in the song writing. It feels like a fundamental difference to some people – I almost feel like were building up a fan base in the jam band circuit and then everything sort of went 180 and I think a lot of people might think “Oh, Evolfo moved to Brooklyn and became a hipster indie rock band”. But I do think we have changed a lot.
RS: I hope people think we’ve changed a lot! I don’t think it had that much to do with moving, I think it was more about trying to make music that we actually fuck with. So instead of saying “We’ve got this funk instrumentation and that dictates the type of music we play” instead we look at it as “We listen to a bunch of different kinds of music and we want that to be a part of the equation too. “ At some point it started to feel not genuine to write and play funk music for me, and I just thought “I’m going to write music that I like.” And that was the shift.
BOC: You have a full length album, Last of the Acid Cowboys, coming out in April. Are you guys still writing new stuff in the mean time or focusing on the album release?
RS: Well I’m still focused on mixing and wrapping up loose ends. Hopefully the record will go off to mastering tomorrow. We’re always writing down new ideas and stuff, but my head is kind of focused on the new record right now.
BOC: What was the creative process like for the new record?
RS: How it usually goes is we sit down and said “We’re going to record.” and from there Matt and I mostly get the songs going, either by ourselves or together. Then we’ll workshop them, bring them to the band, and we’ll flesh out the arrangements and our parts as a group. We’re looking to get more and more collaborative.
MG: The creative process altogether will have taken 2 years to get this record together. But it was mainly because we went into recording with the mindset that were weren’t going to try and capture what our music feels like live, we just wanted to find the best we could come up with in the studio.
BOC: What do you guys do to stay creative?
MG: Rafferty probably keeps the juices flowing the most.
RS: I’m always working on stuff. More often than not, its actually not for Evolfo, but I make it a habit to be in the studio or working at home. I feel bad actually if I don’t work for a period of time – I will feel it. A lot of the time it’s just staying up after my girlfriend’s gone to bed to work because there’s no other time. I’ll stay up till 3 just working. But it’s fun, it’s more cathartic than anything.
MG: I get out of practice with that and sometimes let it slip. I’m also doing a lot of reaching out for the band, which I find has its own sort of skill set, and you have to keep those skills sharpened as well. I’ve been harping on that a lot lately.
RS: You send a damn good email.
BOC: What is your biggest dream for Evolfo? And what is your favorite thing about Evolfo?
MG: Dream? I want to be able to put significant time into the show, I want the show to go above and beyond. I want to be on bigger stages consistently where we can experiment with the spectacle and the sound to their fullest extent. My favorite thing about Evolfo is that its really fucking fun. I totally live for the tours and I look forward to these shows more than anything else. One of the only places were I don’t feel like a total dingus is when I get up and I play. I mean, sometimes I feel like more of a dingus than ever before on stage *laughs* but in the end its the greatest moments, the greatest feelings in my life. It feels like its really me.
RS: For me, my favorite part of Evolfo is that its a bud band. We’re all friends. When you’re trying to play music and make money that’s not always the case. But it is with our band, and thats cool.
BOC: Final question: If you guys couldn’t be in a band, but you had to do something as a group, what do you think Evolfo would be the best at, or would have the most fun doing?
MG: I feel like we have a good creative mind set where we could each fill an individual role. Maybe we’d make a good group of Dungeons and Dragons Questers. We’d have an awesome D+D quest. Just because our roles could so easily be defined in an emergency. In a zombie apocalypse we’d probably make a pretty good team, too.
RS: Zombie apocalypse group. That’s my final answer.