10 Minutes With: Wayne Everett, on ‘Two Ghosts,’ and 18 years between albums

Wayne Everett (Photo by Terry Prine)

Wayne Everett cut his teeth in SoCal bands such as Starflyer 59, the Prayer Chain and the Lassie Foundation — the latter notable for its “pink noise” (Beach Boys-meets-shoegazing) sound and for being the original station of Jeff Schroeder, now guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins.

Everett’s new album “Two Ghosts,” out today, is his first release since 2002’s “KingsQueens.” It’s a dreamy mix of psych-pop and jangling rockers that reflect on those years as if gazing into a slightly fogged mirror. “Two Ghosts” has echoes of the singer-songwriter’s previous endeavors: the Lassies’ the languid swirl on album opener “Pick Up the Bricks,” Starflyer’s chunky guitars on “Walk of Fire” and “Blue Shadows,” and the caustic bite of the JAMC-inspired “Prayer Chain” on “The Kite.” Throughout, Everett’s tenor remains evocative of the most hazy of reminiscences.

“‘Two Ghosts’ captures moments from a pretty large stretch of my life,” Everett told Big Takeover, where the album premiered. “Some of these songs started a long time ago with one intention but have since taken on a different character entirely. For whatever reason, I still believe in them after all this time. Other songs were finished recently and quickly. Maybe some should’ve stayed in the demos folder. I don’t know what exactly to make of it all, and I love that. Is it a haunting, or just the voice of reason?”

Buzz Bands LA caught up with Everett for a chat about “Two Ghosts” and whether a musician is a musician if he’s not releasing music:

The most obvious place to start is: Where you been hiding all these years?

Wayne Everett: Well, there was a certain point when it was like, “How can I call myself a musician if I don’t make music?” But there were also the others things — trying to make a living, going through a divorce, moving to New York and then back again. … I never could take my solo career very seriously, because when it comes to music I’m not a very good careerist.

Your last album was released right after 9/11 and now you’re releasing an album in the middle of pandemic. Is there something we should know?

Wayne Everett: Oh shit, I never made that 9/11 connection. Weird coincidence. I guess maybe that’s a sign that if I’m working on a new album, we all should get ready for a disaster.

Who are the ghosts you’re referring to in the album title?

Wayne Everett: The title comes from a line in “Crazy Jean”: “I thought we’d worked it out / And I thought we’d left this down / The ghosts are gone except for you and me.” In the song, it refers to the two people who can’t resolve the thing that’s happening between them. But as I took a step back at some of the other themes on the album, it seemed like it could also refer to my sense of who I am and who I should be — the typical existential worries, etc. But I also like that they’re intangible figures, because some of the songs, I haven’t quite figured out what they mean.”

Were these songs written over a long period of time, or did they come to you in a lightning strike?

Wayne Everett: Some of the ideas are like 15 years old. I actually used a demo part from a Lassies song for “Crazy Jean.” Relationships are the main topic, but there are other things. As far as the older songs, the reason I kept that song and “Manpower (When All the World Is Singing)” is because I really believe in them. “Manpower” is one of those songs that, over time, came to mean something. … “Goner” and “The Kite” are two of the most recent songs. On the other hand, I think “Pick Up the Bricks” started as a Lassies demo in 2013.

There are ideas that never go away, right?

Wayne Everett: I’d like to think that if they’re good enough, they don’t. But often I’m fighting myself in these songs. A lot of time I’m speaking to myself — to try to right the ship.

Many of the songs seem consciously opaque — how much specificity should be read into them?

Wayne Everett: When I was in New York, I saw a David Bowie touring show at the Brooklyn Museum and really got an eye into his process. Sometimes he’d pick out words from the headlines and just piece them together. I was inspired by that. Then I read an interview with Jeff Tweedy about how artists always want to control the meaning of things — he called it letting the ego get in the way.

“Hey Skinny” is a particularly bright moment — is that about anybody in particular?

Wayne Everett: It’s a tribute to Steve Hindalong, who produced the Prayer Chain stuff back in the day. He wrote a song for me years ago on his solo album, so I owed him one.

In these past years you’ve kinda watched from the sidelines as lot of friends have carried on and done special things. How does that make you feel?

Wayne Everett: I’m stoked for them, and glad they are doing stuff. Jeff (Schroeder) and Eric (Campuzano, his Lassie Foundation bandmate) and Jason (Martin, of SF59) have all been integral parts in my life.

After five years in New York, you moved back to California in 2018. Was that a shock to the senses?

Wayne Everett: I lived in Long Beach for seven years before I moved to New York, and now I’m living in a part of Los Angeles (Koreatown) I’ve never lived in before. So I feel new, getting my bearings, reconnecting with people, managing all that life stuff that got in way before.

||| Stream: “Blue Shadows” and “Prisoners”

||| Stream: “Two Ghosts” in its entirety