Characterized as “sax-fuelled, finger lickin’ rock n’ roll,” MFC Chicken is a high energy rock and roll band with a chicken theme, based in London. Spencer Evoy (son of Larry Evoy of the Canadian band Edward Bear) fronts the group, sax in hand, and Alberto Zioli is on guitar, Fernando Terror on bass, Reverand Parsley on organ, and Ravi on drums. The band members add to the vocals and to the authentic 50s sound. It’s an attitude of rock and roll, one we may have mistaken for psychobilly.
So did we get it right? Chicken-themed psychobilly?—with a bit of surfer chicken thrown in, as well, of course....
- I suppose that's pretty close, although I wouldn't say we're a Psychobilly band so much as a high-energy rock&roll act with strong 50s and 60s R&R, R&B, Proto-Garage Rock and Surf influences. Psychobilly to me implies a slightly punkier, more Rock-a-Billy influenced sound. But it's not far off!
So where did the name come from? and the theme?
- When the band started, we used to practice in our bassist's flat, which was situated on top of a condemned chicken shop called "MFC Chicken." We were struggling to decide on the band name before our first gig, and saw the old chicken shop sign sitting there on the roof. We decided to take that sign and call ourselves MFC Chicken. It stuck. The general chicken theme arose naturally from that, and was fuelled by the strong tradition of chicken themed tunes in rock and roll and in 1950's Rhythm and Blues especially. "Doing the chicken" has been a part of this kind of music from the start, so it just seemed to make sense. To us, at least. Maybe not to anyone else.
You guys have a great retro sound. There must be some influences that go way back. What artists would you list as most influential to you?
- The main inspiration behind the band would have to be 60s Pacific Northwest Garage RnB rockers The Sonics, the bands that influenced the scene they sprung from like The (Fabulous) Wailers, and the classic 50s black R&B they took as their own foundation like Little Richard, Chuck Berry, etc. I always thought The Sonics were the perfect template for an all-out party band, so I thought starting there, working backwards and adding our own twist was the way to go. Sprinkle on that some more obscure 50s R&B stuff (like Amos Milburn's "Chicken Shack" featured on our second album), some Dick Dale surf sounds, a bit of Gary U.S. Bonds, a hint of Johnny and the Hurricanes, dial it all up a notch with a twisting beat and there you have it. Or at least a general idea of it.
Some may know your father’s (Larry Evoy) group, Edward Bear—called the “Beatles of Canada” by none other than Quentin Tarantino. MFC Chicken certainly is a completely different sound to Edward Bear, but are there influences from your father at work in your music?
- It's funny, because the stuff that I really dig is the stuff my dad grew out of by the time he had started Edward Bear. I think he thinks it's kinda funny that I listen to the stuff that was already passé by the time he was in his early 20s. That being said, growing up with the oldies radio stations always playing on the drive to and from school and hearing stories from his early touring days certainly planted the musical seed in my mind that would influence the kind of stuff I do now. It was a roundabout journey though, because I only found my way back to the old school stuff I love now (and heard when I was younger) through listening to contemporary bands like The Hives and The White Stripes as a teenager. I guess you always gotta find your own way to your sound even if it ends up being close to where you started in the first place.
Have you and your father ever thought of collaborating on a song or album?
- I often record demos with the old man when I'm back visiting Canada. He'll play drums and record the sessions, and then I'll bring them back to the UK for the band to learn. I really enjoy that. Last time I was back I came up with a new song that my dad particularly liked, and he's since performed it live at a fundraiser with my brother on keys. I thought was pretty cool! He's coming to visit the UK soon, and I'm hoping to get him to play on a little side project I'm working on....
MFC Chicken puts out high-tempo party music. Is that difficult to produce in the studio and is there any plan for a live album?
- For the first album we went into the studio and just recorded it like a live set, all together, all live, most of it in one take, to tape. So I think that captured the energy of the live set with a cohesive, vintage studio sound. We played around a bit more with the second album, but still focused on keeping the energy from the live set. I mean, these are all songs we'd been playing live for a long time. We did record an actual live set at a gig a while back and got some good material from that. Not sure yet what we'll do with it, but I think bits of it at least should find it's way on to a release of some sort.
Your new album, Solid Gravy, was just released and has fourteen very fun songs—many chicken themed. I particularly like “(Get Outta the) DJ Booth.” What are the top three song requests that would allow the requester to hang out in the DJ booth?
- That's a good question. That song is definitely inspired by many painfully true stories. Most requests I get when I'm DJing are a one way ticket out of the booth for even the most attractive requester. If someone were to request Tony Harris "Chicken, Baby, Chicken", Richie Knight and The Mid-Knights "My Kind of Love" (a Canadian selection), or The Royal Teens "Harvey's Got a Girlfriend" they would forever have a place in my heart. But that will probably never happen.
I see you are recording with Sister Cookie. What’s the project?
- I've been a big fan of Sister Cookie for awhile now, and I wrote a couple songs with her voice in mind. We finally were able to get together and lay the tracks down in studio, with the idea of releasing a single. It's sounding great, and hopefully that'll be out later this year!
And what’s on the horizon?
- We're touring Spain in September this year, then Germany in October...beyond that, we shall have to wait and see. We've been cooking up some new tunes, so there should be some more material released in the not-so-distant future in one form or another. Keep your eyes peeled!
It would be great to hear some of those demos with Larry Evo and son, drums and all. The new work with Sister Cookie will be great to hear as well.