Marques Bovre & The Evil Twins – Multiple personality music
For Marques Bovre & the Evil Twins, there are two sides to every coin. Bovre grew up in the tiny Sugar River village of Paoli, Wisconsin, but he remembers taking the 8 a.m. Badger Bus into Madison most weekends, finding relief in a place so big that nobody knew him. Lead guitarist Linus has a legal name and an adopted name; he has worked as a youth minister and openly identifies as gay.
As you might expect, the band makes music that can’t be easily defined. It’s Midwestern country-rock that seeks out the fine line between comedy and tragedy. It steers toward the edges of social and spiritual comment. Then it meanders back to irreverent humor and an appreciation of the absurd, which Bovre models when he describes his own music. “It’s like Neil Young giving Lyle Lovett a big french kiss,” he says, “and on a good night, Lyle kind of likes it.”
Across five albums, Bovre has tapped the dualities of Wisconsin folkways, the state that gave America “Fighting Bob” La Follette and Joe McCarthy. His musical heartland drifts unsteadily between the comfort and confines of tradition.
“Big Strong House” uses the pastoral images of prairie life to build a faith metaphor. But “Weary” laments the loneliness of an all-state football hero disowned by his father for being gay. “I Hate My Government” is a stunning portrait of a war veteran who “listens to Limbaugh, voted Perot, but still it ain’t turning out right.” The band’s signature song, “I Like Gyrls (Who Like Gyrls),” looks judgment in the eye and proclaims, “It’s a twisted little world/We’ve all got our little kinks.”
Dichotomies have run through the band’s career as well. Two of their albums were recorded by grunge-pop rockers Butch Vig and Duke Erikson of recent Garbage fame. Vig interrupted his work with Bovre in 1991 to record Nirvana’s Nevermind in Los Angeles. But last year, when Garbage triumphantly brought home a platinum record and Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, it was Bovre & the Evil Twins who won an annual newspaper poll for best Madison rock band.
Joining Bovre and Linus in the lineup are Eric Dummer on drums, Doug Meihsner on bass and C.J. Summerfield on keyboards. Together, Marques and Linus are a singular stage presence and a study in contrast, respectively short and tall, laid-back and gregarious. Linus diversifies the instrumentation with an e-bow and nearly 20 vintage effects boxes, changing the tone of his strings with a stomp of a floor pedal. The band’s most recent release, last year’s self-recorded C’est La Vie, is arguably their best effort yet.
As Bovre’s music evolves, you can be sure the twin motif will continue to make a mark on it. “I’m a Gemini and the son of a twin,” he says. Then there’s the episode of “My Three Sons” that has long stuck with him, the one where Robbie gets in trouble when he’s mistaken for a lookalike ruffian. It was, of course, a Bovre favorite.