May 11, 2001
BY JIM DeROGATIS POP MUSIC CRITIC
It was the sort of show that would quickly pass into legend on the local underground
rock scene. The biker-rock duo Evil Beaver was playing a benefit for Radio Free Chicago, a
weekly show on Loyola's college radio station, WLUW-FM (88.7). Realizing that they were
the only women on the bill, they decided to make a statement.
Bassist-vocalist Evie Evil walked onstage at Metro sporting nothing but pasties and a
G-string. Never one to be outdone, drummer Laura Ann Beaver wore a glitter-speckled
bathing suit and a sash proclaiming her "Miss WLUW." She made her entrance
sitting astride the shoulders of a male "slave"--and things only got wilder from
"I'm sick of seeing shows where people just stand up there and play," says
the percussive dynamo, who's also known as Laura Ann Masura, legendary scenestress, former
president of the Smashing Pumpkins fan club, longtime waitress at the Twisted Spoke and
the former drummer with Motorhome and the Prescriptions.
"This is Evie's first band, and from the beginning, I encouraged her to go wild. I
think I did way too good of a job, because I've had a hard time harnessing her ever since!
But she's been great. Between Motorhome and the Prescriptions, I had two other people
onstage who just stood there. Now I finally have somebody who outdoes me by taking her
blouse off or falling off the stage."
Bosom buddies Masura and Evil (her real name is a well-guarded secret, "and
besides, it's Greek and you probably couldn't spell it anyway," Masura says) started
playing together about two years ago, around the time the Prescriptions were disbanding.
A former music student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Evil has a powerhouse
vocal style that recalls Courtney Love and a complex and melodic approach toward playing
the bass. After buying her first drum set from Jimmy Chamberlin, Masura quickly developed
into an extremely musical and vastly entertaining drummer. ("I've always looked at
drums as a lead instrument," she says.) She and Evil quickly decided that they really
didn't need any other musicians to flesh out their sound.
"It's literally like a dream come true because it's two friends who are just
seriously having a really good time and it happens to be catching on," Masura says.
"I had some guy stop me in the restaurant the other day. I was waiting on him, but
when Evie walked in, he put two and two together and all the sudden his eyes got really
big and he was just like, `It is an honor to have you waiting on me!' I was just laughing,
like, `Yup, my "real" career is supported one burger at a time!'
"As far as being a duo, you have to think about it a lot more because there's only
two people. But after all of the drama and the crap I went through in all of the other
bands, I was just thinking, `Wow, one less person to vote. One less person to feed, one
less person to pay!' That was an upside, but the truth of the matter is it was all about
the music. Evie's style is so full that there really isn't room for anything else. We
could have gotten some noodley, Jesus Lizard-esque guitar player, but we just weren't
interested in that. It sounds great, it sounds full, she does a great job, and it just
took off from the very first show. We toe this line in between all of these different
genres: We have the metal and the pop and the indie rock."
In typically twisted fashion, Evil Beaver made its recording debut with a live album
taped at the Manhole and released on Johann's Face. The group proceeded to issue a
Christmas disc and then a single, "Cherry Master"/"Wasted Milo." It
finally got around to releasing its first proper album last month on its own Frooty Nation
label, distributed via Chicago's Four Alarm Records.
"What we had as a vision was to do our first album as a double greatest-hits disc,
like, `Let's do it all backward!' " Masura says. "But we put out a four-song
sampler, and everybody just went so crazy that we thought, `Let's hurry up and do one more
session with Dave [Trumfio] and get this out now, because Chicago is so fickle, we've got
to strike while this is happening or there'll be another Evil Beaver right around the
"Lick It!" is an impressive explosion of estrogen-fueled frenzy, though
pop-minded producer Trumfio helped assure that the girls didn't skimp on the hard-rocking
melodies in tunes such as "Enter Beaver," "Superbird" and "Muff
Control Unit." Think AC/DC after a sex-change operation, or L7 with a little more
metal and a little less punk.
"We both just wanted to bring rock 'n' roll back," Masura says with endearing
earnestness. "We go across the country and all these clubs will give us $50 to play,
but they find out I'm a DJ from Chicago, and they'll say `We'll give you a thousand
dollars if you spin after your show!' Everything across the board is sort of making it
real difficult for the kids right now--rock is dying and it's really sad. That's why with
the touring thing I was like, `Ev, we have to get out there! If we don't get out there and
keep it alive, it's going to totally die.'
"I mean it: I want to be the next Guns 'N Roses. I don't mean that on a
major-label level, but being the band that brought rock 'n' roll back. Quite honestly, if
it wasn't for GNR, there wouldn't have been a Nirvana because people would have still been
listening to that keyboard crap from the '80s."
The obvious similarities in larger-than-life frontwomen and brazen displays of
in-your-face sexuality have earned Evil Beaver comparisons to equally outrageous
underground phenoms Nashville Pussy. ("Who?" Masura asks sarcastically.) But the
Chicago duo actually has a much sharper and smarter sense of humor--they're sort of like
the Monster Magnet or Urge Overkill to Nashville Pussy's Ted Nugent.
"We didn't walk into this thinking shtick," Masura says. "We love camp.
I'm just a huge John Waters fan, and I think Evil Beaver is just a way for me to channel
"As far as the name, being Evil Beaver has pluses and minuses. Either people see
our package and they're like, `Evil Beaver? Heh-heh. I gotta listen to this!' Or it's,
`This must be a joke,' and they throw it in the garbage. But it does help the merchandise,
that's for sure. Whether people like us or not, they want an Evil Beaver T-shirt, so I'm
She also isn't kidding. In addition to several different styles of T-shirts, the band
even has logo underwear available through its Web site, www.ridethebeaver.com. (As
far as I know, Guns 'N Roses never had logo underwear.) Stardom may well be within Evil
Beaver's grasp. And for attitude and marketing savvy as well as their hard-hitting sounds,
the duo is well-deserving.