Tony Fagenson of Eve 6: "We're not shy of the '90s. That's where we came from."

Eight years have passed since the three members of Eve 6 -- Max Collins, Jon Siebels and Tony Fagenson -- released a new album together. During the break, they never stopped working on music; they just stopped working on music together as Eve 6. Nearing twenty years of working in the industry, the guys in Eve 6 have collected almost a decade's worth of experience and allowed that to shape Speak In Code, their fourth album.

In advance of Eve 6's show tonight at the Marquis Theater with Greek Fire and NameSake, we spoke with Fagenson as he and the other guys were driving cross-country in their van, with all of their equipment, getting back to their roots. Fagenson talked to us about returning to the studio with Collins and Siebels, never getting tired of playing "Inside Out" and his secret recording technique.

Westword: What was it like being back in the studio after such a break?

Tony Fagenson: Being back in the studio was great. Over that time, we'd all done individual, other projects, some other projects with each other. We had all produced other bands and written for other artists, so it wasn't a total break from music. We still stayed plenty busy making music and being creative. But it was the first time Eve 6 as we know it -- these three guys -- all got back in the studio and made a record. We kind of brought our new tricks to the table and had a lot of fun doing it.

It was actually a great experience because we got to do it as a whole album -- you know, it wasn't a bunch of different producers and a bunch of different scenarios. We kept a nice coherent kind of line through it, using our producer Don Gilmore who did the first two records. He did this entire album, as well. It was great; there was some experimentation in there, working hard to make each song be the best it could be and really come back strong. It was an awesome experience.

What can people expect from Speak in Code ?

It's our first outing in about eight or nine years, so we put everything that inspired us and influenced in those eight years into this thing. It's definitely a fun album -- a lot of different influences in there. They're all kind of our trademark vibe; we're still a power trio -- guitar, bass and drums and vocals. We put all of our efforts into making the best songs we can and letting the songs be the guide as to how we're going to perform it and introduce it. That has not changed in the band. I think it's our strongest record. Song for song, there's something for everyone. Our old fans should enjoy it and hopefully our new ones as well.

If you had to pick a favorite song from the album or one that is most meaningful for you, which would you pick?

That's really tough. About half of the album is of these songs we'd been building up over the years -- over the last three years or so, when we were on the road playing shows as Eve 6. Then there's another half that were kind of new and fresh from going into the studio and pre-production in the studio. It's this balance of the best of everything. It's hard, and we're starting to play these songs live now. There's a song called "Situation Infatuation." It's just this straight-up fun, power-pop, dance-rock Eve 6 jam. That's one of my favorites on the record. That was one of the last ones to be written for the record. It has great flow to it.

The whole creative process to it was really natural and easy, and I think that comes through in the song. We've actually been opening our shows with "Situation Infatuation" here in the last couple of days since starting this tour. I'm not sure if "Situation Infatuation" speaks to me lyrically, or if there's something going on in my life that it's speaking to right now, but it's just a fun dance song.

What is your favorite song to play live as a drummer?

That's a good question. When we're in the studio, I do the drums, then I get really into the rest of the music, working with the other guys, and the producer, keyboards, stuff like that. Once the drums are done, I don't really think about them again until it's really time to start rehearsing for a tour. It's like, "Oh my god, I haven't played these songs in, like, months -- since we've been working on this record." That's where it's sort of fun, kind of rediscovering them; and in some cases, hear them for the first time.

Here's a dirty little secret: A couple of these songs we kind of put together entire drum parts and entire drum recordings from other songs. That's kind of what you can do now with technology and with ProTools. So a few of the songs I actually had to learn for the first time [laughs] off of performances I had done for other songs. Songs to play for drumming -- there's a song called "Everything" from Speak In Code. It's the second-to-last song on this record, and it's kind of a classic, uptempo, Eve 6-type of song.

It's a workout on the drums, for sure. There's some difficult stuff in there, and it's fast. It requires all of my energy. For a second there, we were starting with it; it was the first song in the set. Last month we played South By Southwest in Austin and it was like, "Man, that's a tough one to start with." It was like jumping right in the deep end. We've moved it to later in the set now so I can warm up to it.

And how was playing South By Southwest?

South By Southwest was awesome. We'd never been there before -- never as Eve 6 or anything. It was certainly a great opportunity for a lot of different bands to come together and show what they are doing and meet other bands and people in the industry, to see what's going on and what's to come.

It's a really exciting place, definitely a whirlwind, as anyone who goes there I'm sure will tell you -- we had four shows in the space of three days and a bunch of interviews and stuff -- it was constant go-go-go. But it was really good. We got a lot of great stuff out of it. It was a great first kind of step in this whole process of getting the record out and then touring on it.

This is our first actual tour since 2004. We're taking our own gear and we're driving across the country. Right now, we're driving through the middle of Kansas. It's like real touring, T-O-U-R-I-N-G, and we're doing it. It feels good to be back out here and great to have a new album to put forth new material and bring it to the people.

Did you ever get tired of playing "Inside Out"?

No -- I know that's kind of a classic thing for bands, but it's a fun song to play. I would call myself a jerk if we didn't play "Inside Out" at one of our shows. Even thirteen years later or fourteen years later, it still is a blast. It still has that energy. I don't really tire of it. If that was the only song we had to play, then perhaps, but we've got four records now, and we actually have a nice catalog of material to choose for our live sets.

Compared to the first record, when you were desperately trying to fill an hour's set and you only have one album that's about 41 minutes long, you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel to figure out stuff to play. But now we've got four albums' worth, and it's actually a fun process mixing and matching for the set. "Inside Out" will always have a place in there, and we know it still gives people a rush. We're happy to play it -- until we're 1600.

What would Tony in 2012 say to Tony in 1996?

We're not shy of the '90s. That's where we came from. But I'm not really sure where '96 comes from. Our first album [Eve 6] didn't come out until '98 -- that's when our hit was, "Inside Out." That's when we really got going. In '96, Eve 6 wasn't really even Eve 6 yet [Fagenson joined in 1996, but the trio didn't release their full-length debut as Eve 6 until 1998] , so I don't know what I'd tell myself in '96..."You're going to join a cool band here soon."

Let's try '98 then.

To Tony in 1998 I'd probably say, "Enjoy this. You've got a really great thing here. Have fun. Don't be stupid. Make good choices. You're going to make some mistakes, and just try to learn from them." I don't regret anything that went down; I don't we could have done it any differently. We had an amazing run the first time around.

I think we actually needed to break up for a year or two there to do some of the things in order to really value and really grow and come back as strong as we are. I don't think we could have done this record -- or frankly a record as good as this -- if we hadn't gone our separate ways. I wouldn't change anything.

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