The Rise & Rise of Evening Records

The Inner-West’s alt-country scene has exploded over recent years thanks to a rag-tag bunch of muso’s that are tangled up like like a horse’s tail in a sandstorm. We caught up with label head, Ross Tipper to try make sense of who plays in who’s band, how it all kicked off, and why we’re both sick of people saying that they’re excited gigs are back

What spurred on the launch of Evening Records and who was the first release?

The idea for ER was born out of a few very passionate conversations between myself and some of my best friends in bands in the Inner West. We all play music in each others bands, or go to each other’s shows every week, and are part of what I think is such an amazing scene of talented and committed people. We felt the best way to really get attention about what we are doing is to band together (no pun intended) under a banner of sorts, to really bring one focal point to our scene and drive it forward as one kind of engine. 
The first release was from Jay Squire – former song writer/guitarist/singer of the great band Easy St. – the ‘Sub Rosa Vol.1 EP’, on April 8th 2020.  

What labels/scenes/eras would you say ER takes inspiration from and how does that shape the labels movements.

I grew up idolising Drive-Thru Records from the US. I was a huge fan of a few of their bands, and through their label found other bands I grew to love. The idea of them all being in one place – maybe not based on location as such, but metaphorically at least – and therefore more easily accessible, is something I really want to showcase with Evening Records. 

By bringing what I think is an amazing scene and group of friends I’ve had the pleasure of playing with/going to shows with over the last 6 or so years, I fell it’ll be easier for those outside the Inner West to decipher exactly what is happening here. It’s to shine a light on what everyone is doing, and together we make a much stronger statement – I think – than separately. 

Ruben Neeson At The Vanguard
Ruben Neeson by Tom Wilkinson

It’s not hard to play 6 degrees of separation with the ER artists. There’s a lot of doubling up and busy schedules within the family and outside it. Can you help us untangle this web of collabs/cameos?

Untangling the Web

I think a healthy scene is supposed to be this tangled, or maybe it’s just inevitable after a while. It shows that not only do we support each other by going to gigs, but that we are actively helping each other write, record, book shows, publicise and inspire each other to keep going. 
Choosing to work and live in the music industry – especially in Australia, and maybe even more so in Sydney – is a daunting task, but doing it together provides a backbone, a strong base for an existence that can be very trying at times. 

Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys features live members of River Dreams, which also features members of Joe Liddy & The Skeleton Horse. Ruben Neeson plays pedal steel with Caitlin Harnett, and also has Ben James on drums who does amazing work with Cobra Club (CCXO), booking and promoting nights at various venues across the Inner West. Darby has collaborated and sings with Jay Squire, who sang in Easy St., alongside the wonderful Magic Nic. Iain T. McKelvey is an absolute workhorse in his own right, and has just put together a ripping band called The Midnight Tangos who play with him. I (Pan-Pacific Grand Prix) also play guitar in Lady Lyon, which features members of Baby Beef AND Caitlin Harnett’s band. 

So there you go, full circle!

Lady Lyon by Four Minutes to Midnight

Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys played at the Enmore Theatre recently. How’d that gig go down?

To see your best mates play that stage, was so beautiful. Caitlin & The Pony Boys played, as well as Andy Golledge, who I will say can from here on in be known as the forefather or perhaps Mayor of our Inner West alt. Country expedition. 

To see them shine on such a huge stage alongside some HUGE acts – Tim Freedman, Choirboys, Ian Moss , and some more – was really, bloody lovely. And they sounded incredible. 

Caitlin Harnett & The Pony Boys by Yeah, Rad

Tell us about Camry sessions. Does your Camry come equiped with tissues as a standard?

Haha yes, the Evening Records Camry comes equipped with tissues. Sometimes I need them after an artists performance as they often reduce me to tears, tears of joy!
Check out River Dreams Camry Session to see what I’m talking about.

A lot of your acts have been powering through Covid, gigging since June last year. As restrictions start to roll back does the label have any parties in the works?

Yeah I had a conversation with a friend last week who said he was excited to go to a gig again finally, and I was like, “We’ve been playing like two shows a week since October last year, where have you been?!”. 

Nobody stopped working throughout the lockdown, if anything, it lit a bit of a fire under everyone to get shit done. I lost my job, so I started Evening Records and recorded a split album with Darby. Lots of other people lost their jobs or cut down hours, so they jumped in the recording studio, or started writing, or finally had the time to finish those mixes or whatever. I feel it was a pretty productive time, for those of us who were time-poor before, to throw everything into our creative sides. 

Yes, parties! There’s some awesome shows coming up, and then an Evening Records 1 Year Birthday is in the works. Now we can dance at it, how good!

Check out the Evening Records playlist below: