Evile Interview, with Danny Draper, at the Gibson Guitar Studios, July 18th 2011
On a glorious afternoon I trundled off to the history Gibson Guitar Studios in central London. Today I was having the pleasure of meeting and chatting to Britain’s finest, Evile!
They’re about to drop their newest album, their third called “Five Serpents Teeth”.
The band has had a meteoric rise with a great tragedy along the way. After coming into the knowledge of metal heads back in 2006 with a set at Bloodstock that caught the attention of the record label Earache, after a little name change, they recorded their debut Enter the Grave to critical acclaim.
It was recorded by legendary producer Flemming Rasmussen and received 9/10’s in most publications. Relentless touring followed and a second album 2009’s “Infected Nations”, once again, receiving warm reception and acclaim from fans and peers alike tipping their hat to the resurgence of “True Thrash”.
Sadly, things came to a halt during October of 09 when bassist Mike Alexander passed away, tragically cutting his life short and during the early part of the bands career. There was an outpouring of condolences and love from the metal community from all areas and the band celebrated with two special concerts in Leeds and in London to commemorate their fallen brother.
Since then the band have picked themselves up and fought on and recruited Joel Graham to finished the line up of Matt and Ol Drake and Ben Carter.
They entered the studio to record their third album in March of 2011 and by the 25th of April they had finished and were ready to master.
Ol: I am very well, a bit tired from all the press but…
Has it been a long day for you guys?
Ol: Yeah, I’ve had quite a few and then there’s getting psyched up for playing in, however many hours it is! Ah he’s here now…
Ah ha! There you are!
Matt: How are you?
How are you?!
Matt: Good! How are you?!
Sorry, I’ve misplaced me self!
So, are you looking forward to the playback later on?
Ol: Yes, I think for the simple reason that we’re playing two songs that we’ve never played in front of people. Long Live New Flesh and Xaraya. We just have no idea what’s going to happen!
All unrehearsed at the minute?
Ol: No, we’ve play through them quite a bit…
Matt: Yeah, we had one real long rehearsal the other day.
Ol: It’s always different playing in the rehearsal room, it sounds great. But then when we play it live, we’re like “I have no idea where I am in the song!”
Matt: Yes! But I can’t wait for the playback.
Are you interested in seeing what people think and the looks on their faces?
Matt: Sat in a room watching peoples faces and they’re thinking “What have they done?! You idiots!”
Matt: I’m looking forward to that!
So you’ll be playing some new material later, will it all be new?
Ol: I think we’ll do four new ones? Maybe one or two older ones.
Matt: Might be less I think we’ve only got half an hour!
You finished recording your new album “Five Serpents Teeth”, how was the recording process? How did it go, were there any hiccups or anything?
Matt: It was actually really smooth weren’t it!
Because we’d been in the studio before with Russ on “…Nations” it was just like…
Ol: Yep! We got on with him so well we could just easily go in there and put it all down and have a good time.
Matt: We were more prepared as well, a lot more prepared.
We had most of it written, the only things that were left to tighten up were a couple of solos, some of the vocals. I think maybe six of the vocal tracks were done and ready to be recorded, but there were bits of em we did on the fly.
Like if something sounded shit we’d re work it and make it better, and the other ones were written as and when, we were a lot more prepared this time.
It was just a lot more fun because the songs were a lot more fun it was more fun to do them!
Ol: Not fun as in like “Yeah, Beer, Thrash, Burp!”
It wasn’t a Municipal Waste record then?
Both: No, no.
Matt: They’re very good at that and no one dare touch em’ for it, I wouldn’t even try and do that kind of metal.
Were there any changes that you felt you wanted to make musically on this record or new areas that you wanted to go into at all?
Matt: Singing. Actually being able to sing and not just go bler bler bler bler bler and just make shouty noises!
Ol: I think since we did that cover of “Cemetery Gates” by Pantera for Metal Hammer, when we were doing the vocals we were “WOW!”
Matt: “Oh, you can sing! We didn’t know!”
Ol: We played it in Dallas, because we were in Dallas, why not?! We did it and it was good to hear actual vocals. Because when you’ve got someone just shouting something it’s great and it’s aggressive but, when you have notes and melody it adds a whole new level to a song. So it’s great to have that new element of something to catch onto.
Matt: It makes me feel a lot more comfortable because, the way I sang on “Grave”, I didn’t know how to do it! I was literally just shouting as loud as I could! And it fucking killed! I think six weeks after I couldn’t really speak that well because I’d just wrecked my voice, I didn’t know what I was doing I was just shouting!
Ol: Sometimes after gigs you couldn’t even talk to him.
Matt: So that’s when I learnt how to do it properly for “Nations” but I only learned half of the technique, I only learned how to get the power. So, all you got on “Nations” was power! But I didn’t hurt myself, but that’s where it sounded different because I wasn’t pushing and it was more natural. So on this record I wanted to get the last half of that in. And now the album sounds like I do live.
Matt: My voice isn’t really deep. I can do a deep voice but it’s not natural. I have a naturally more melodic thing that just comes out live anyway. So that’s the exciting thing for me is that I’ve just sung naturally. I haven’t had to force it, it’s just come out. It’s so much better to do it like that.
So it’s a really good vocal performance on the whole of the album.
Matt: I’m so proud of it.
I’m a lot happier with this than with anything else I’ve done, I’m really chuffed with it.
I was just going to ask, are there any particular highlights from the album, so for you Matt it would be singing. What about yourself Ol?
Ol: Um… We got like, six bottles of Jagermiester!
A good all round laugh occurs!
Was that the fuel?
Matt: Rock fuel!
Ol: I think a lot of the time me and Russ were up until about 2 or 3 am drinking that and also on the X-Box! I think the highlights for me were tracking guitars, which I love. I just love it, that was one of mine. I think one day Russ actually kicked us out on the last album and when we came back and it just sounded amazing! I don’t know what he does, but when he kicks us out something amazing happens!
In Memoriam is a lovely, lovely piece of music, was it hard to go and write a piece of music in that vein?
Matt: Actually no, it wasn’t hard.
Did all come quite naturally?
Matt: The main ideas for the song were a guitar riff I’d been messing around with for the past two years saying, this has to be used for something at some point. We wanted to do a song… It splits the band members this one, because it’s…
Ol: I just explain it, the idea was there but there was never an avenue for it. As soon as Mike passed away, it was like…
Matt: Let’s go!
Ol: No, it was like “Let’s do that, why not?” It’s for him, but it’s because of what happened is how that song came about.
Matt: It’s a way of saying something we wanted to say but couldn’t necessarily say. It was the only way of getting across that point and having it mean as much as it does now, and it felt quite easy.
Ol: It was hard to track at some points, because we were there for the first time without Mike and it was the first thing we’d done since the Pantera song.
It was just weird, no disrespect to Joel, it wasn’t Mike there so it was already a bit weird. But doing that, for me, got me over that.
Matt: That was also the first thing that Joel recorded bass for, he tracked this bass thing that Mike used to play at sound check.
We still don’t know yet if he ripped it off of someone else but we’ve gone and recorded it anyway!
Ol: He said, “Oh yeah, I made it up” “Oh, cool!” and I just remembered it.
Matt: We thought shit did he nick it from somewhere?!
But we’ve gone and done it anyway so that was the first thing Joel recorded, which is quite cool and he also pulled out all these bass lines for “In Memoriam” that we didn’t know he was doing which was quite cool. We were like “We didn’t know you were doing that!” Just amazing and he made it a complete song. I wouldn’t say it was easy but it did feel quite natural.
Ol: The guitars were hard to do because it’s so precise.
When you’re playing at slower speeds you’ve got a lot more space to work with.
Ol: I’m used to just going really fast and now I was going slow and hitting all these chords I’m like “Oh shit!” I thought it would have been easier!
Matt: I was very self conscious about the singing, as you are when you’re singing like that. It was different, really proud of it. We actually argued a lot about the middle bit as well, where it goes heavy at the end.
Ol: Yeah Matt didn’t want it to go heavy. When we did it and we did a beat to it, it did sound bad. We worked around it to have the heavier harmony bit to it without it being…
Matt: I think we sidestepped a lot of cheese with it. Because to me it feels sincere.
Ol: It’s quite eerie as well.
Matt: We didn’t want to do a ballad at all. We wanted to do more of a… haunting-ish kind of feel. To me it sounds like a song from Silent Hill! It could be on the Silent Hill games.
Ol: HINT HINT!
Matt: Yeah it’s not ballad-y and more like something from Silent Hill.
Ol: We just turned the reverb up!
Are you big gamers then?
Ol: Yeah, Joel isn’t.
Matt: Joel’s not even heard of an X-Box!
So would you guys like to do something in that vein? I think the guitar hero series is dying out but would you like to do music for games?
Ol: We’ve got a lot of stuff on Rock Band, because I authored loads of stuff for that… But it would be great ya’know.
Matt: We could write some ridiculous Nes style stuff for some retro games!
Anything game wise, I love it!
You guys play what I would call the original and truest form of thrash metal, in consideration of where thrash came from and how it’s evolved. You throw your name in the hat with a lot of American thrash bands; do you feel burdened at all by being one of the big British Thrash bands?
Ol: I think we’re really proud of where we’ve got… I’d say in a short space of time but we’ve been doing it for a long time, but yeah we’re proud that people think that highly of us.
Matt: We just kind of do it.
It comes naturally…
Matt: Yeah we don’t really try and sell anything… Apart from albums! Ha-ha!
It’s just us, instruments and music, that’s all we have, that’s all we can do!
I don’t feel pressured by it at all actually because; the whole revival thing is weird for me anyway.
Yeah, because there’s all the retro, revival and neo thrash or whatever they call it.
Matt: For the first while I thought “Yeah cool! Retro revival” thing and then I just thought, “That’s quickly got quite old!”
That’s where we kind of wanted to take off and be that one band that dares to do something a bit different, a bit ballsy, especially with this new one, it’s pretty ballsy move to make. It’s not as ballsy as Load or The Black Album but it’s ballsy to me, I think because its got singing in it! It’s not straight out screaming, it’s got a couple of songs like that on there… well quite a few actually!
Ol: Yeah quite a lot.
Matt: Quite a lot of it’s fast actually. What we on about?!
Ol: No idea!
Matt: Forget that bit I’ve just scuffed that one up!
Have you been well received across the pond in America?
Ol: We’ve sold the most albums in America!
Last year we did two months with Kreator and then Overkill, it was weird because you could see they were all there for those bands but they look at us and go “You’re alright…!”
The next time we did three months with Overkill and someone else and you could see with the same venues we played before the same people were there, maybe a few more and they were into us! As if we’d gained their trust.
Matt: We definitely saw an increase in people liking us, but we don’t really have that much perception on what’s going on because we’re inside.
Ol: I’d like to see us live.
Matt: I don’t think I would! Ha-ha! I’d be afraid!
How was Download?
Ol: It was awesome!
Matt: Good shocking! Our first ever Five K’s in Kerrang!
Ol: I think I was suffering; I never drink or anything but someone introduced me to a person called Gin… Yeah!
I’d never had it before and I was already on my way so I was like “Yeah cool!”
I woke up in the morning with sunstroke and sun beaming down on the tent, hung-over from Gin and I didn’t recover till the Monday after Download!
It was hard, I still enjoyed it, but it was very hard!
Matt: I thought you were going to die!
Ol: I was just green and white all day! Ha-ha! But other than that it was amazing!
Was that the first time you’d played there or had you played there before?
Matt: Yep first time!
Ol: Never even been to Download before that!
Never as a fan?
Matt: Couldn’t afford to go…So we got to go this time for free!
Ol: Yeah! Wait until we can play!
Matt: That was the plan! I wanna go to Download… I know, I’ll learn guitar and form a band! It was really good, the response was surprising, I didn’t think we’d get as many people in as we did.
You were playing mid afternoon weren’t you?
Matt: No at like six-ish?
Ol: The band before us finished and everyone left the tent and we were saying “Oh my god noooo!” And then we turned around a few minutes later and it was full and we were like “Oh! Yeah!”
Matt: Well you kind of just went “urgh, bleurgh, yergh”!
Are you going to do a tour over here at all?
When are you looking to do that?
Ol: No idea.
Matt: It’s just that nothings planned.. we wanna do it, but nothings planned yet.
Ol: We’re just concentrating on getting the album out and then… I think that the more people know about the album the more that people will want to come to a gig, so we might as well tie that in when people have heard the record.
Is it the same with America then? Waiting for the right opportunity?
Ol: Yeah, I think waiting for the right tour if it’s financially viable. And…
Matt: If I can get the time off work!
Ol: It’s so many factors; it took us three years to get to America.
We’d always try and it’d be cool “We got a little tour with GWAR!” And they’d say “Oh, we’ve got someone else who can afford to do it!”
We’d pulled bands and we were like “ahhhh…”
Matt: A band that pulls bands!
Are you releasing a single and a video for the new album at all?
Is there anything picked yet?
Matt: Not yet, we’ve got ideas but not sure yet.
Ol: It’s probably going to be a certain one but don’t want to say anything in case it’s not. But it probably will be that one!
Matt: Then again being us…it probably won’t!
Ol: We’re gonna film it in August whatever the song is, then have it out just before the album comes out. Yeah, a teaser, do it pop style…bring it out on MTV and all that!
Matt: Could do Cribs! We’ve only ever done one song and one video for each album, could do about four or five with this album! I wanna bring out loads, I love all of em’!
I just wanna keep bringing em’ out.
Ol: Get Lady Gaga in it!
Matt: We’re gonna get Lady Gaga in it, an animated one…!
Ol: Will Ferrell…
Matt: Yeah that’d be great.
The Lonely Island?
Ol: YES! Oh we should do a song with them! A thrash comedy song!…
We’ll keep that one in the pipeline then…
What sort of music have you been listening to recently?
Ol: Well personally I haven’t been listening to that much metal recently, I think the more metal I listen to or write or what I’ve been listening to injects into what I write, so I think do I want to listen to metal in a way?
I’ve been listening to Prog bands like Yes and Gentle Giant. Stuff like that…
Ol: Yes! Only the first album though.
Matt: I’ve completely reverted and I haven’t gone past 1987 in a while! I’m stuck in the Beatles and Credence Clearwater Revival, free, things like that and Deep Purple.
Stuck in old stuff, I just can’t get away from it, I love it! Classic Rock really, Queen…
It’s well written music!
Ol: Plus it’s where our influences were influenced, It’s good to hear the original reason where thrash and heavy metal came from.
Matt: A lot of the vocal stuff is a lot of classic rock as well, you don’t hear it, but it has been inspired by it for me.
Ol: Cult has a bit of Freddy Mercury.
Matt: There is a bit of Mercury in Cult during the harmonies.
Ol: Brian May harmonies!
So you’re hoping to get up on top of Wembley?
Matt: Oh yeah why not?!
Big Brian May solo on the Wembley roof?
Ol: Or Big Ben!
Matt: At midnight! On the dot!
Just play it during an England game!
Matt: Yeah why not!
Ol: To the Top Gun theme!
Matt: With the wind blowing! That could only be a win!
Thank you for answering our questions, is there anything you’d like to add or that you want anyone to know?
Ol: Support music you like!
Buy the album….Yeah!
Ol: But seriously support bands!
I think that 98% of bands that are touring and playing probably don’t have any money, and it’s very hard to do this so if you like a band then support them.
Download it if you want, but if you like it go out and buy it!
Ol: Yeah, exactly.
Matt: I’m fully on that train of thought. I don’t care if you download or not, I download myself, if I like it I buy it…if I don’t, get rid of it!
And then buy it on vinyl because it’s better.
Ol: Yeah! Because then you’re cool!
Matt: Vinyl equals cool!
Thank you very much!
Both: Thank you!
What a lovely pair of blokes, really committed, honest and just a pair of down to earth normal guys. Evile are a great band and with this honesty and jovialness about being in a band, got the brains and the stones to go on and make big waves after overcoming some big hurdles. Top marks lads. Cheers!
Photos by Michelle Murphy