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Musician finds dark inspiration

Mark Oliver Everett headlines Vic Saturday night.

Mark Oliver Everett headlines the Vic on Saturday night.

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EELS

NICOLE ATKINS

♦ When: 8 p.m., Feb. 23

♦ Vic Theatre,
3145 N. Sheffield

♦ Tickets, $28 (18+over)

♦ Visit www.etix.com

Mark Oliver Everett likes to surprise the audience with an opening act for his band called Eels.

A ventriloquist was the support act for one tour. During his 2007 “An Evening With Eels” tour, Everett handed out ice cream. Don’t expect Everett to dish the surprise for his Valentine’s Day-launched world tour to support “Wonderful, Glorious [E Works/Vagrant Records] that rolls into the Vic on Feb. 23.

Everett, aka “E” will, however, talk about his theatrical inspiration.

“When I was 16, my older sister took me to a Neil Young-Crazy Horse show,” Everett said before his recent show at The Fillmore in San Francisco. “I think their last album was [1975’s] ‘Zuma’ and I figured it would be like that. It turned out it was the ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ show before the album came out. It was grand, theatrical magic — the last thing anyone expected from a Neil Young concert. I still think it might be the best concert I have ever witnessed.” His sister Liz took him to the gig at the since-razed Capital Centre in Landover, Md.

Everett will always live with the imprint of Elizabeth Everett. She committed suicide in 1996. A year later his mother died from cancer. During the 9/11 terrorist attacks, his cousin Jennifer was a flight attendant who died in the plane that hit the Pentagon. These events are traced in his 2008 memoir, “Things the Grandchildren Should Know,” and they informed his superb 2009-10 trilogy of Eels loss and desire albums: “Hombre Loco,” “End Times” and “Tomorrow Morning.”

The new “Wonderful, Glorious” is a cleansing pathway from the trilogy, anchored by the fuzztone anthem “Peach Blossom.”

“It was a bit complicated for me to figure out where to go after the trilogy because each record had a thread going through them,” Everett explained. “My plan for this one was not to have a plan. That’s something I’ve never done before.” “Wonderful, Glorious” is Eels’ 10th album, and that does not include the “I Am Messiah” project from his supposed alter ego, M.C. Honky.

Everett gives hints at his forward motion. In the blues-bottomed “New Alphabet,” he sings of being in a good mood and that he is “so happy it’s not yesterday.” In the leadoff twinkling-pop track “Bombs Away,” he confesses to having tiptoed everywhere.

“This record was written in the studio and done very organically,” Everett said. “It took about a month. The first day we got together nothing was clicking, and I thought this idea might have been a big mistake. Then we hit on the origins of ‘Peach Blossom’ and it never stopped.”

Everett even found time to appear in the hit Judd Apatow film “This Is 40,” where he contributed an acoustic take of “What I Have To Offer,” from the 2010 record “Tomorrow Morning.”

“When I got called to be in the film it sounded scary,” Everett said. “Then as soon as I think something sounds scary, I realize I gotta do it. Whenever there is a potential chance for failure there is also a chance for success and learning. Even if it is a failure it can be worth it. I’m not an actor, but it was one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. I’d do it again, for sure.”

Everett’s studio band is composed of the same musicians who will appear at the Vic: guitarists The Chet, P-Boom bassist Koool G. Murder and drummer Knuckles. “In putting the record together we decided to be open to any idea no matter how bad it sounded at the time,” Everett said. “It taught me to have more patience with everyone’s ideas.”

The Eels songbook (1992-2013) is connected by melodic threads, personal insight and pop sensibilities. And here’s another clue for you: His 2008 greatest-hits package was called “Meet the Eels.”

Everett reflected, “There was a lot of music from my older sister’s stereo. That was my biggest musical influence. As she got older she started working at a radio station and she was always bringing home lots of free records. I have a wide range of influences, but pop is one of them. When I was a little kid my sister played the Beatles and Neil Young. As I got older I got obsessive about whatever I got into. One year it would be the Who. The next year it would be Hank Williams. Then Sly and the Family Stone. Everything.”

As in E.



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