The Tim Buckley Archives


Evan Cohen - 1999

President of Manifesto Records

What follows is an email interview that I had with Evan Cohen just prior to the release of "Works In Progress". For those of you unfamiliar with Evan's company, he is the President of Manifesto Records and the distributor of five of Tim Buckley's CDs.

He is responsible for the sale and distribution of "Dream Letter", "Live At The Troubadour", "Sefronia", "Look At The Fool", and the live "Honey Man" recording.

Evan is also the nephew of Herb Cohen, who signed and managed Tim for his whole career. I wanted to ask Evan some questions about the business part of the industry. He was very cooperative and helpful in my search for contacts and information about Tim's associates. For that I am indebted. Evan also turned me on to The Wedding Present, an exciting group that record on the Manifesto label. I've been listening to their "Sea Monsters" CD of late, and I find it to be quite adventurous.

Manifesto has an interesting catalogue of artists. You can check it out yourself at

Q...Hi Evan...Let me start by asking if you knew Tim at all?
A...I didn't know Tim (I was a bit young to know anyone!), but I remember meeting him in 1969, when I was nine years old. It was for a party for the opening of our offices in a new building at the corner of Cahuenga and Sunset, in Hollywood. I remember him as young guy with big bushy hair, and he was coming out of an elevator.

Then some girl actually fainted when she saw Tim, and I remember thinking, "He must be a rock star!" I also remember my father taking me to the Troubadour to see Tim play, in about 1967 or 1968. I also remember the "Goodbye and Hello" billboard on Sunset Blvd., which was a big deal for the time. That's about it. I don't remember Tim from the early 1970s at all.

Q...As a label executive, how much interest have you been seeing in the sale of the Buckley CDs that you distribute?
A...I have a lot of interest. It's my job to make sure that the CDs are effectively distributed and readily available. There are some good things going on now, especially with Internet distribution. Anyone who wants one of our CDs can find them on many different sites, just click a mouse, and they arrive at your house.

That's a huge improvement over the way it used to be, when the only non-retail distribution was through a record club. You don't have to depend on anything being in a record store ever again. And the prices are better on-line, obviously. On the other hand, there are some problems with retail; i.e., declining shelf space, higher prices, etc.

Q...Is interest in Tim's music rising or declining?
A...That's hard to say. I think it's holding steady.

Q...I think that the quality of the "Dream Letter", the "Live At The Troubadour", and the "Honeyman" CDs is terrific. Did you have anything to do with putting these CDs on the market?
A...Yes, I did, especially with regard to the latter two. The "Dream Letter" album was put together when we were distributed by Enigma, with the help of David Baker, who is now at Rhino. They did a great job, that is, Lee Hammond on graphics and Bill Inglot on the mastering.

The same people worked on "Troubadour," which was supposed to have come out on Enigma also, but they went out of business. It finally was finished in 1992 when we were distributed by Rhino. "Honey Man" was done the same way, with the same attention to quality.

Q...Do you have anything of Tim's left in the vault that you might release in the future?
A...Well, we don't, but Rhino does. As I said, David Baker is at Rhino, running an imprint called Handmade Records, I think. They plan on doing Internet-only releases, which I believe is sort of strange, but it's their call. He is a huge Buckley fan and a very talented and thoughtful compiler. He is working on a CD right now of unreleased studio recordings from 1968. Rhino is, of course, a WEA company now, so they have access to all of the tape vaults of Elektra from the 1960s, and they find stuff. I'm sure there will be more in the future.

Q...When it comes to your uncle Herb, can you tell me how he feels about Tim after all these years?
A...You'll have to ask Herb that question. you think that Tim was self-destructive?
A...I don't know that he was self-destructive, in the common sense of that term. I didn't know him personally. However, it's important to keep his career in perspective -- he had a huge artistic output -- nine albums released by the age of 28? Sure, the record industry was different then (now it seems that people wait three years between albums), but that's still a lot of work.

Q...Do you think that Herb would consider doing an interview for our discussion forum?
A...You might want to ask him yourself. It's just easier that way. He is not online, to my knowledge, but you can call him at (XXX) XXX-XXXX. That's his office number.

Q...How about you Evan...Who do you listen to for relaxation and enjoyment?
A...A lot of British Indies music (like The Wedding Present, etc.), some old things, but I like hearing new bands, like Belle & Sebastian, Looper, Mojave 3, Stereolab, Cornershop, Gene, that sort of thing.

Q...Are you a musician or a technical engineer?
A...Not right now. I used to play bass years ago.

Q...Have you ever wanted to be in the recording end of the business?
A...No, although with all of the new technology, I suppose anyone can record now, at home on their computer.

Q...Do you make many trips to N.Y.C.?
A...Not really. Sometimes I make it to CMJ, but that's about it.

Q...If so, then what do you think of the New York life-style?
A...Love it! I love shopping, food, bars, music, and it's much more intense there than in L.A.

Q...Have you had a chance to visit Greenwich Village (in particular the Bleecker and MacDougal Street area)?

Q...If so, how would you compare it with the L.A. club scene?
A...I'm not sure that it can be compared.

Q...What kind of changes have you witnessed in the L.A. music scene through the years?
A...I'm really out of it with regard to the L.A. club scene. There's a tendency of older people to say that "it was better in my day," that is, the 40 year-olds criticize the scene of the 20s crowd. When I was 20, the older crowd couldn't understand punk rock, and didn't like our scene. I think the club scene was better in 1980, but who am I to say?

Q...Are the clubs in Los Angeles, like The Whiskey and The Troubadour still the places to look for new bands and solo artists?
A...There's a whole bunch of active clubs right now, most much smaller than the Whiskey and the Troubadour. If I were looking for talent, I probably wouldn't do it in L.A! The scene appears to me to be either jaded or contrived, or both.

Q...Do you keep in touch with Judy or Taylor Buckley?
A...Only to send Judy royalty checks.

Q...Are they still involved in any way with Tim's music?
A...Well, yes. Pursuant to the U.S. copyright laws, and because of Tim's untimely death, the U.S. copyrights to all of Tim's songs are reverting to his heirs. Judy has an administrator who takes care of those rights. I don't know what happened to Jeff's share.

Q...What are they up to these days?
A...I don't know.

Q...If an artist wanted to do a cover version of one of Tim's songs, should they contact Rhino?
A...Rhino doesn't own anything. They just license the right to use songs from either Tim Buckley Music or Third Story Music, Inc. The masters are owned by Elektra, Warner Bros., and Manifesto.

It's nice to know that in the music business, there are some friendly human beings out there, like yourself. I'd like to thank you Evan for your cooperation and participation in our forum. Good luck with Manifesto and thanks again for keeping Tim's music alive and well and on the marketplace for all to share and enjoy.

© 1999 Jack Brolly/Room 109

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