Music

E from The Eels: "I should take the Taylor Swift route"

E from The Eels talks about The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, John Lennon and whether he's happier in an alternative universe

What lessons will we learn from listening to The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett?


I thought it would be a worthwhile endeavour to throw myself under the bus as an example of stupid things you should avoid doing. I’ve already done them for you.

But all this bad relationship stuff has happened to you – the bus has already run you over.

The bus did run me over, but figuratively I am throwing myself under the bus again in terms of songwriting.

Is that what the songwriting process is like for you?


Not usually. That’s what’s different about this one. I realised I have plenty of songs where I point the finger at somebody else. There wasn’t enough where I was pointing the finger at myself.

Do you think women ever break heart just so you’ll write a song about them?


That never occurred to me. I need to chew on that for a minute… Maybe that’s what’s been going on all along. Shit. I may have to reapproach everything now.

Start writing bad songs then they won’t be interested at all.


Or I could write songs where I identify them by name. Paint a portrait of a terrible person then they’ll leave me alone. I should take the Taylor Swift route.

Is it important to get something out of a negative experience? Does a good song make the heartbreak worthwhile?


Eels often get mispegged as a sad band but the only way to truly get to a meaningful positive place is to deal with all the negative sad stuff. Any real lesson you learn in life is painful.

When Eels fans are sad and alone we listen to The Eels. What do you do?


Em… I don’t listen to The Eels.

You’re mostly known as E, is Mark a different person? Who am I talking to?


People who know me call me E. Most fans and people who approach me call me Mark so when someone comes up to me and says, “Hey Mark!” I know it’s somebody I don’t know. I think they’re thinking that’s what my friends call me but the opposite is true. I shouldn’t have given out the secret code.

Are you happy so many kids were introduced to your songs after they were heavily featured in the Shrek films?


Yeah definitely. Kids are pretty good at innately recognising good music so I feel like it’s a good sign. Every kid likes The Beatles if you play songs to them.

Last time you were in Liverpool you stopped by John Lennon’s old house.

Yeah. That kind of thing is a big thrill for a musician. I was so nervous I decided to do something stupid and I played a Rolling Stones song in his bedroom. The rest of the band were like, “You idiot”.

Your father first proposed parallel universes. Is there an alternative universe where you’re a member of the Backstreet Boys?


There probably is. And I’m probably a lot happier in that one.

The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett is out now

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Bob Vylan: 'Is it OK for me to cry? As a man you can feel there's not space to be vulnerable'
Bob Vylan
Music

Bob Vylan: 'Is it OK for me to cry? As a man you can feel there's not space to be vulnerable'

Soweto Kinch on ripping up the jazz rulebook and how his new BBC show is building community
Soweto Kinch
Music

Soweto Kinch on ripping up the jazz rulebook and how his new BBC show is building community

Grassroots music venues need your help to survive now more than ever. Here's why
The Nefarious Picaroons play at Fiery Bird in Woking
Venue Watch

Grassroots music venues need your help to survive now more than ever. Here's why

Iron Maiden legend Bruce Dickinson: 'You don’t need some rock star saying war is a bad thing'
Bruce Dickinson
Letter To My Younger Self

Iron Maiden legend Bruce Dickinson: 'You don’t need some rock star saying war is a bad thing'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know