It’s been a long journey for Everything, Now!, the Bowie/T-Rex/Zombies-tinged rock ’n’ roll outfit born in Muncie that moved to Indianapolis. Lineup changes, bad luck and a generally lackadaisical attitude towards promotion have all contributed to the band’s obscurity outside of Central Indiana.
Spatially Severed, the band’s fifth release — and first on MFT Records — is easily their most accessible record, and probably their best. Compact, concise and focused, it captures Everything, Now! for the first time as a rock ’n’ roll band, and not as a collective revolving around frontman Jon Rogers. Longtime keyboardist Drew DeBoy remains, former member Dan Schepper has returned to man the drum kit and Dave Carter has been playing bass during live shows.
“We were constantly thinking about Exile on Main Street and Bee Thousand,” Rogers said. “The idea was to make something that was kind of long … it was meant to be a little overwhelming.”
Everything, Now! formed in 2002, when Rogers arrived in Muncie as a freshman at Ball State University. The band began modestly, born out of several other groups and collectives around the sleepy college town, including punk act Revel in the Morning.
During those early years, they all lived together in a house in Muncie — dubbed the 525 house — that was the epicenter of the Muncie indie music scene before it was infamously condemned and shut down.
In those years, Everything, Now! recorded and performed as a collective. Their shows were often messy and chaotic, and with the lineup sometimes ballooning to nine members, it wasn’t always easy to distinguish between parts.
But by the time of the recording of Bible Universe in 2006, the band was in the waning stages of its lawless days as an Elephant 6-esque collective. Things had gotten out of hand and the band consciously began to downsize.
“Sometimes the whole collective thing was more interesting,” DeBoy said. “It was more freewheeling back then. Now it’s a more cohesive effort … [Earlier] there was an effort to kind of engage and alienate the audience. Now we want people to be into it.”
“Things are changing,” Rogers said. “As a group we work together better than other people I’ve worked with. These are all guys who I really needed to make a rock record with.”
Produced by Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s Tyler Watkins, Spatially is the band’s sleekest record to date, the first truly written and recorded by a band with a central core and more focused and guitar-driven than previous efforts. Infusing the band’s signature psych-rock sound with country (“Brother of the Prodigal Son”), French freak-beat (“The Labyrinth”) and harsher, indie aesthetics (“The Shelter”), the band has expanded their palette considerably.
Like all Everything, Now! albums, Spatially Severed is a concept album. It has something to do with aliens sending messages via song to Earth. As far as concepts go, it’s no sillier than Tommy. But aside from the sci-fi conceit, Spatially Severed is remarkably profound, joyous and down-to-earth. Songs like “Burden Time,” “Hello God” and “Save a Life with Diet Chocolate Sprite” ruminate on God, depression and suicide in surprisingly uplifting ways.
For the first time, the band seems to be making an effort to promote the record. Soapbox Promotions is putting the band in listening stations in independent record stores across the country, something that hasn’t happened in the past.
“I do think we wish we had all taken the necessary steps to get bigger,” Rogers said. “It hasn’t been a big focus for us. But we have to want people to hear our music and we have to work hard to have people hear the music.
“[We want to] see if Everything, Now! can be important in 2009,” Rogers said.