Nashville-based Progressive Rock band Evership is the conceptualization of composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer/engineer Shane Atkinson. He moved into Software Engineering after growing disillusioned with the music industry, but he says he never really stopped writing: over the years he amassed at least a hundred hours of material.
Finally, in 2005, in response to a dream, he sold his big house in the suburbs, downsized, built a recording studio, and opened a commercial and film music production company to finance the album effort. It would take about ten years to make the record, not just for the actual recording, but combined with raising a family, holding down the production company and remaining business interests, and sifting through the mountain of song material. There is purportedly enough material for four or more albums.
Shane says that listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, Rush, Yes, Queen, Kansas and Jimmy Hotz while growing up, he had no idea it was progressive music. He just liked it. Amongst his other influences were classical composers, particularly Bach, Rachmaninov and Ravel; he has a sizable Opera collection and is a Puccini fan. Fusion music also played a role in the early years, including Chick Corea, Al Di Miola, and Mahavishnu Orchestra: anything that challenged him musically. “Even what I’m writing now is not intentionally Prog. It’s just what comes out. Many of these songs are life-stories, I can’t tell them in three-and-a-half minutes.”
After deciding on material for the debut album, Shane started demos in 2009, but life circumstances halted production until 2013 when he shut the music production company down to focus on the record.
Originally, the singer Shane had keyed the music to was longtime friend and 90’s band mate Jason Beddoe, who ended up needing to bow out due to life changes. Shane says, “This was operatic music. These kinds of singers just don’t exist anymore. I thought it was over.” Beau West was literally an answer to a prayer.
Beau had moved to Nashville in 2005, and met Shane through session singer Mike Priebe (who sings BGVs on the record, along with Nicelle, Mike’s wife, on violin). Shane and Beau had a conversation about music that lasted hours. The two had the same musical interests and the same vision for what they wanted to accomplish. After an initial meeting to review the material, Beau was invited to the studio to sing on the most challenging vocal track, Ultima Thule. Shane says, “Beau has that rare range and tone that sounds great anywhere on the scale. He could handle anything I threw at him.” From there, Shane and Beau set course for a three year journey of finishing the recording and coming up with the brand that is now Evership.
Shane chose to play drums, keyboards, and an assortment of more obscure instruments like the Theremin and Chapman Stick, but to sub-out most of the guitar and bass work to like-minded musician friends and family. The earliest recording, Flying Machine, was performed by Dan Smalley on classical guitar and Brandon Vestal on electric guitar. However, the classically trained Rob Higginbotham performed most of the rhythm electric, acoustic and classical guitars.
Shane’s brother James moved into town later in the recording process and performed the lead guitars, which turned out to be essential to the Evership sound. “Having my brother in town reminded me of when we were kids. We used to do these ‘concerts.’ We’d open the garage door and play songs from just about every classic rock group we knew. The neighbors would set up lawn chairs and watch.” With James on guitar, the ‘brother magic’ (a term James coined to explain their telepathic ability to communicate musically) made the lead guitar production more organic.
The infamous Nashville Prog bassist Jaymi Millard (Innocent Monday, Kinetic Element) rounded out the tracks.
Shortly after the album release, the live band was assembled. In addition to Beau West on lead vocals and Shane Atkinson on keyboards, James Atkinson and Jaymi Millard are retained from the record, playing lead guitars and bass, respectively. Seasoned Nashville player Jesse Hardin plays rhythm, acoustic and classical guitars, and Joel Grumblatt, as Shane puts it, is the Chester Thomson to his Phil Collins.
Ten years in the making, the eponymous debut release Evership signifies both the end of a very long journey and the beginning of another. In essence, that journey is what the band and music are about.