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Pittsburgh Artist of the Week: Evan Lybrand

Our Pittsburgh Artist of the Week is Evan Lybrand. Have you tried to connect the dots between Greek epic poetry, a snotty punk kid, and Wilco? If the answer is no, don’t worry! Evan did the work so we don’t have to.

What’s your musical history to this point?

My dad corrupted me at an early age. I remember going to preschool and my dad playing Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and ZZ Top. I think that’s kind of where it all got started for me. A few years later in grade school I picked up a cello for the first time, and that’s when music really became my thing. It didn’t help that I was uncoordinated, so sports were out.

Around 7th or 8th grade my dad bought a drum kit and I wanted to play with him, so I got a guitar. I’ve been playing guitar off and on for about 18 years, but really got back into it around college. I started actually writing songs then. When I moved to Pittsburgh, I dove into the music scene here and have played in a few local bands, Westinghouse Atom Smasher and Outside Eliza. I’ve always had a little skill with instruments, so I picked up drumming and bass along the way, but guitar is my passion.

How do you describe your sound?

This is always a tough one for me. I try to draw from a lot of different sources and styles, but a major part of my music is narrative. I love to write story songs, to come up with characters, or situations and play them out, either through the lyrics or the actual music. As for genre, I like to say that I fit more in the Americana space with a healthy spattering of alternative and blues.

Tell us more about the song “It’s A Start.” What inspired you to write it and what does it mean to you?

“It’s a Start” came from a couple of different spaces. On the very surface level, it was kind of a play on the Odyssey. I wanted to play with that story a little bit and I thought a fun angle would be to re-cast Ulysses as kind of a snotty punk kid who grew up to be someone who looks back on their life and reconsiders everything. On a personal level, it’s kind of myself looking back and thinking what would I tell young Evan now that I’m where I am? And I guess musically it’s me trying to be one of my idols. I love Wilco and the first song by them I ever heard was “Born Alone” and I kind of just wanted to write my “Born Alone.”

Joe Kukula

What is the first album that really changed your life?

This is actually a super easy one for me. It’s Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. That’s the first album I even remember. A lot of people go to "Dark Side of the Moon" as their go to Floyd, but it’s always been "Wish You Were Here" for me. David Gilmour is a huge inspiration to me and he’s the one that has always inspired me. Especially that legendary lead work on “Shine on You Crazy Diamond I-IV.” He’s able to cram so much emotion and heart into so little. It’s effortlessly heartfelt and cuts right to the core. I still tear up when I listen to it.

My favorite moment is when he flubs a note, but they kept it in. It’s become iconic to me, even that little nothing of a moment says so much about how he felt and who he is as a musician. And "Wish You Were Here" was where I started on guitar. It’s the first song I ever learned. Plus, it’s one of the first things my dad shared with me about music.

Who are some other Pittsburgh artists you think more people should listen to?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Outside Eliza. David and Ian’s writing is always so accessible and packed with emotion. Plus, they’re a ton of fun to see live. Other than that, I’ve really liked Alan Getto. I’ve seen him at a few shows and really enjoyed his stuff.

Any other super interesting things you think we should know about you?

Umm, I don’t know. I guess you’ll have to be the judge of interesting. I collect old samurai and Godzilla movies. I also have an extensive knowledge of video games (It was my focus area in grad school).

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.