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Interview with Evile


English thrashers Evile first burst into the scene in 2007 with their Earache debut record “Enter the Grave.” Said album came during an explosion of new, young artists seeking to emulate the sounds of thrash’s legendary bands. The group even participated in its label’s retro thrash compilation “Thrashing Like a Maniac.”

The fierce speed metal attacks and bone-crunching rhythms displayed on “Enter the Grave” elevated Evile to the top of the new school thrash pantheon. The Flemming-Rasmussen-produced album ("Ride the Lightning," "Master of Puppets") received both praise and criticism for sounding so close to its mid-eighties forefathers.

Evile took both the positive and negative aspects of their first recording, and stepped away from the retro tag on their sophomore record “Infected Nations.” This time the group diversified their style, tempering speed with dynamics and rough voices with smooth singing.

In three short years, Evile has made a name for itself in the metal underground. Subsequent tours and festival appearances in Europe, their largest being in support of Megadeth, have pushed them onto the older generation of thrash fans. Metalship caught up with axe-dueling brothers Matt (rhythm guitar, vocals) and Ol (lead guitars) Drake on the second leg of their first North America tour.

Assuming the support position for classic thrashers Overkill in Austin, Texas, the two discussed an event filled last year including the passing of bassist Mike Alexander, their first visit to America, a pleasant surprise for Texas shows and their foray into new material.


Metalship : This is your second tour in America. Your first was with Kreator. What is your impression of our country? Have you gotten to do much tourism?

Ol: We love America and yes, we have seen a few sites. We saw the firehouse in “Ghostbusters” in New York. We also saw the house from “The Goonies.” We have been quite tourist-y.


Metalship : I read about how you enjoyed San Francisco.

Matt: Oh yes, it was quite nice there. We saw Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. We didn’t have time to take the tour of Alcatraz, but we will definitely go next time. We’ve had a very good time here, so far. It’s been great!


Metalship : Overkill and Kreator are both icons in the realm of thrash. These bands seem like a great fit with your style. How have the crowds reacted to your performance? Have you talked to any fans that came to the show specifically see the headliners and were turned on to your music?

Matt: Actually, I think it’s a bit of both. It’s surprising, we have done really well. It has been hit-and-miss. Some people have been staring on and I could tell they didn’t enjoy us one bit. Some have been really receptive. Others have come up to us after our performance and said they had no idea who we are, but they really liked us. There are some who came just to see us; they have waited years to see us. They came to the show, watched us play and then left (laughs). I didn’t want to see them skip out before the other bands, but at the same time, I thought it was cool that people would do that. The tour has been great; I can’t think of any bad shows. Before we came here, a lot of people told us to not expect much. We are the opening band, so nobody is going to pay attention. It has been the complete opposite. We also figured we would be playing a bunch of dives, but we have played a few palaces. Some of these venues are amazing!


Metalship : So you’ve played some big places?

Matt: The Grand Ballroom in San Francisco is huge! The Nokia Theater in New York is massive. It has been overwhelming how great some of these venues are. We think, “How did we get on this stage?” We were just blown away!


Metalship : In a press statement, Evile mentioned Overkill and Kreator as two of Mike’s favorite bands. Have you performed any covers of these headlining bands as dedications to Mike?

Matt: We haven’t done anything outwardly public about Mike. I don’t think we feel the need to. We’ve done as much as we could. I’ve done interviews only about Mike in the UK. We have Joel [Graham] now…this is Evile now, and I don’t want to talk about this at every show. I don’t think that is the right way to do it. He will always have a special place in our band, we will never lose that, but it is time to move on. I don’t think it’s fair to Joel. I don’t want this in his face all the time. We are going to do a Pantera cover tonight.


Metalship : You are only playing the Pantera cover (“Cemetery Gates”) in Texas?

Ol: Yes, considering Dime was from around Dallas and the whole Pantera/Texas thing, we figured “why not?”


Metalship : It should go over well.

Ol: That’s why we are doing it (laughs).

Matt: We are dedicating this song to Dimebag and Mike. That was the last song Mike recorded with us.


Metalship : What is it like playing this song’s guitar tricks?

Ol: It’s very challenging. We’ve played it quite a lot, so we are pretty confident.


Metalship : Are you trying to put your own take on the song?

Ol: No, we try to stay as true to the original as possible. I always hate it when people cover a song I love and they butcher it. I always think “why did you do that,” so we wanted to be loyal to the song.

Matt: It was quite a challenge to try to make the song as good as the original. My voice is quite different, but I think I’ve gotten it down. Live it might be different. Ben could do the high pitches in the studio. I couldn’t do it. Ben [Carter] did it in the studio, but I’m going to give it a go tonight. We’ll see what happens…


Metalship : How did you guys hook up with your new bassist, Joel?

Matt: We put out a press release looking for a new bassist. We asked people to put in applications—videos, pictures, describe themselves, that kind of stuff. Joel’s application really stuck out. He was the only person who wrote about his self—what he is like; instead of stating “I can play this, I can play that.” He was the only guy who did that. I think he got our situation. We weren’t looking for the most amazing bass player ever. We were looking for somebody we could spend twenty-four hours a day, two months at a time in a small space. We needed a good person for that. We needed someone who was on the same wavelength. We were looking more for personality than player. He’s a good guy; (laughs) he is lazy like us.


Metalship : You’ve had a year to reflect on your latest release “Infected Nations?” How has it been embraced by your fans and critics?

Matt: It’s been mixed, actually. To us, it’s a step up. The response has been half-and-half. I think some people wanted “Enter the Grave II,” didn’t get it and thought we were shit now. Other people saw what we were doing and figured we were trying to improve on what we did before. They understood what we were doing. Some people didn’t like it at first, but listened to it and slowly came to understand the album. If you listen to “Enter the Grave” and then you put on this one, you will notice a big difference, but the more you listen to it, the more it will grow on you. Then, you will realize that it is just better. It is, of course, what we want to be doing…and that is not sound like Slayer (laughs).


Metalship : I really felt that “Enter the Grave” sounded a lot like “South of Heaven,” so you probably got that retro label. Were you trying to go away from that with this album?

Matt: Definitely. It was a conscious effort. “Enter the Grave” was a compilation of songs we had written over the past four to five years. We wanted to play thrash metal and be fast. “Infected Nations” was our first chance for us to actually write an album. It was a huge step-up from what we did. We were definitely a part of the whole retro thing, but then we wanted to take a step away. The whole throwback thing is cool because a lot of bands are sounding like the old bands again. It’s fantastic! But to make it worth it, bands have to take advantage of it and step outside of the box. “Enter the Grave” kind of fell victim to the whole retro thrash tag. Yeah, we did it, we thrashed hard, but now we want to get away from it and become Evile—a really good metal band! We’re still a thrash band, but not one of those retro thrash bands. Retro bands come and go, but we want to stay. I think we were one of the bands ballsy enough to step away and form our own identity.

Ol: I think because “Enter the Grave” was written before we got signed, we were just having fun. When we got signed, we took writing much more seriously. Then we did our first tour we didn’t get serious until writing our first album for a label. “Infected” was our first attempt at writing an album. The third album we can apply our learning from writing, so that one might even be more out there. It could be ridiculously aggressive or it could be both. That’s how it goes, I guess.


Metalship : I read that you have a concept and possibly a title. You said you don’t know what direction you’re going to take, but you have somewhat of an idea.

Matt: Ideas are forming. We have an idea about how it’s going to feel, but we just don’t know what the material is going to be written. We know how we are going to approach it. We are going to try different things and go different ways. We are going to approach it like song writers and write good songs. We are going to experiment and see how it comes out. I’m going to try different ways of singing, and use my voice the best I can.


Metalship : Are you working on any new vocal techniques.

Matt: I’m actually trying to sound more natural. On “Enter the Grave,” I had no idea what I was doing and just belted it out. I really damaged my voice. I couldn’t speak for weeks. I took vocal lessons for the second album and learned how to make my voice more powerful. I learned how to use that power and sing. The next album I want to combine the powerful vocals with singing. I want to get some good notes.

Ol: I have a lot of new material, a lot of new riffs. I have a lot of stuff I came up with that I thought would be interesting to use. Matt might have some ideas that will go with mine, but we haven’t been home for quite a while. We haven’t been able to settle down and try these new ideas.


Metalship : Where do you guys go from here? Do you have another tour?

Ol: We have European festivals—Wacken, Hell Fest, Blood fest. We just have festivals, but as soon as we get home we’ll be writing. We’re coming back to The States for another tour in November.


Metalship : When you sit down to write, is that a collaborative thing or mostly you two?

Matt: It’s mostly us two, but we will take a song to everyone and ask their opinions. Then, all four of us will work on it. The songs we write might just change completely because half the band might now like it. We’re quite democratic; we all need to like it to do our thing. Sometimes if it is three against one, one person might not like, but he will just have to put up with it. It will be ok, have a bone and you’ll be fine.


Metalship : You think you have the concept for the art work. I really like the cover art for “Infected Nations.” The color scheme reminds me of Sepultura’s “Arise.” The artist, Michael Whelan did a lot of Sepultura covers such as “Chaos A.D.,” “Beneath the Remains,” “Roots”—pretty much all of Sepultura’s classic catalog. His artwork also graces Obituary’s “Cause of Death” cover. Do you have anyone in mind for the next album?

Matt: Michael Whelan, he is a good guy.


Metalship : I looked at his Wikipedia. I didn’t realize how many awards he has won and art he has produced.

Ol: He does most of Stephen King’s book covers. We are quite honored to have him do our art. We actually met him recently. We met him in Connecticut. We are very excited.


Metalship : Can you tell our writers what you want the art to look like?

Ol: Nope, it’s in the bag! It’s staying in the bread box.


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added by Darren Cowan, on May 17, 2010 for Metalship

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Evile

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