E of eels finds good times after bad

As he tells it, Mark Oliver Everett — aka E, misanthropic leader of the lower-case, angst-pop combo eels — was just sitting on a bench in London’s swank Hyde Park a few months ago, enjoying a reflective afternoon cigar.

Granted, he was sporting rumpled jeans, a scruffy coat, and a Smith Brothers-like beard.

He was still stunned, he says, “when I was approached by a bunch of police, with guns, even. They said I was a suspicious character, and at first I laughed, but then I saw the guns and noticed that they weren’t laughing. So it actually turned out to be a very unpleasant experience.”

The authorities received a tip about Everett, who brings eels to San Francisco on Monday, and they actually mistook him for a potential terrorist for a full half-hour.

“They said I was standing, looking menacing, in front of an embassy nearby,” he says, “and they also said I’d been peering back at my own hotel in a sinister manner.”

So he showed them his room key and explained that he’d just finished hours of press for “Tomorrow Morning,” the final installment in his latest rapid-fire trilogy of releases that began with “Hombre Lobo” and “End Times.”

“And I said, ‘Look — I just finally got to leave that hotel for the first time! Why would I be looking back at it?’” says the keyboardist of the winning logic he eventually used. “And they said, ‘Yeah, that doesn’t make a lot of sense.’ They finally let me go, but I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to leave the country for a while there. It was probably the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, which is really saying something.”

But ever since his 1992 debut, “A Man Called E,” Everett has made a living morphing quirky, often depressing experiences into songs.

He’s dealt with death, suicide, breakups and the legacy of his late father, physicist Hugh Everett III, who created the theory of dual dimensions (which his son investigated in the recent PBS TV special “Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives”).

That history makes “Tomorrow Morning” a catalog anomaly — it glows with radiant paeans like “I’m a Hummingbird,” “This Is Where It Gets Good,” and “In Gratitude for This Magnificent Day.”

“As you get older, if you’re lucky, you start to figure some things out,” he says. “About what not to sweat and what to really appreciate about your life.”

No cause for eels-fan alarm, though. “I won’t just be writing songs about being at peace,” says Everett. “I’m sure I’ll find something to be miserable about soon enough!”


IF YOU GO
eels

Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Tickets: $39.50
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.ticketmaster.com

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