Interview by Jack Merry
We caught up with Indian heavy metal band AGAINST EVIL to discuss the brand new album, desert island discs, the band’s influences, and all things in between…
Hey, and thank you for your time! Please state your name and position in the band.
Hey! My name is Shasank, I am the rhythm/lead guitarist, songwriter, and manager in Against Evil.
You’re about to release your sophomore album entitled ‘End of the Line’ on May 14th, 2021 via Doc Gator Records (Europe). Could you tell me a little bit about how the album name came about and when writing sessions began?
The album name came from our cover artwork idea and concept about evil governments and shadow organizations taking over the world which meant the end of the line for humanity. We started writing in 2018 but, most of it was done after our European tour in 2019.
Where does the band name AGAINST EVIL originate from?
There’s no story behind it. We were just looking for a cool and catchy name that wasn’t already taken! We thought “Against Evil” sounded cool and when we started writing songs, a couple of them turned out to be about war, injustice, etc. So, the name became a good fit for us.
When did you first start getting into music and know you wanted to join a band?
I first got into rock/metal music in the early 2000’s. The first album I heard was “Use Your Illusion I” by Guns N’ Roses. I was blown away by the sound and decided then and there to learn the guitar. I went on a hunting spree for more music and managed to find a couple of tapes, CDs of Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Metallica. I mostly listened to the classic traditional heavy metal bands such as Judas Priest, Dio, and a few thrash bands like Megadeth which became a huge influence on me.
What was it like growing up in India and realizing you had an interest in the genre of heavy metal?
The genre was completely non existent in India back in the day (still is to some extent!) and albums, bands were not easy to find and discover. I could only find albums of mainstream metal bands but, I eventually managed to discover a lot of cool bands thanks to the internet.
Can you tell me a little bit about how the writing and recording process began for ‘End of the Line’?
Our initial plan was to release a 5-song EP. So, we wrote the first 5 songs of the album and recorded them early in 2020. The EP was mixed, mastered, and ready for release in June 2020 but, we couldn’t do so due to the global pandemic. Since we had some time on our hands during the lockdown, we decided to write more songs and release everything together as a full-length album. The last 4 songs were written in the second half of 2020 and were recorded, mixed, and mastered earlier this year.
Who did the artwork for your new album, and why did you choose them?
The artwork was done by “All Things Rotten” from Croatia. We started working with him in 2015 and he did every album cover, t-shirt design that we’ve released to date. He is extremely talented and we have a great relationship and love working with him.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
It’s traditional heavy metal with a few elements of power, speed, and thrash metal combined together with a modern and massive sound. We like to call it “Fist Pumping, Bone Crushing, Heavy Metal!”
After releasing the excellent ‘All Hail the King’ in 2018, how quickly did your European fanbase grow, and how did that part of your journey feel?
We’ve always had a small European fan base since we released our first EP in 2015. It kept growing with every release and with “All Hail the King”, it got bigger thanks to our partnership with Doc Gator Records and the subsequent European tour. It was a great journey and a great feeling, especially meeting all our fans who made our European tour possible. We can’t thank them enough for all their love and support.
What has been your favourite gig to date and why? Once the pandemic is over and live shows return fully, where are you looking forward to playing most?
Probably Turock Open Air at Essen, Germany in 2019. It was our first European open-air festival gig and it was an insane feeling playing in front of thousands of people and sharing the stage with legendary metal bands like Riot and Queensryche. Once the pandemic is over, we can’t wait to get back to Europe and play as many gigs as possible.
Which brand of equipment do you like to use when performing (either live or in the studio)?
We use Jackson Guitars, ESP Guitars, Blackstar and Laney amplifiers, Mooer, TC Electronic and Tech 21 pedals, DW Drums and Meinl Cymbals. We do not endorse any of these brands and play them because they are really good.
Do you have a favourite track from the new album, and if so, why? What makes it stand out for you?
It’s really hard to pick a favourite song from this album and I think all of them kick ass! But, if I absolutely have to, I’d pick “Speed Demon”. I think this song best represents the “Against Evil sound” and it’s also a fast, high octane balls-to-the-wall heavy metal song that’s super fun to play.
Where do you draw your influences from when it comes to producing new music/lyrics? Could you list me some bands that particularly inspire the sound of AGAINST EVIL and why?
We are mostly influenced by traditional heavy metal bands such as Judas Priest, Accept, Dio, Iron Maiden, thrash metal bands like Megadeth, and also 80’s hard rock bands like Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses because these are the bands that we grew up listening to. Lyrically, we just listen to the instrumental demos of our new songs to get a feel of it and go from there.
What is the metal music scene like in your hometown of Visakhapatnam (India)? Any new bands that have caught your attention?
There is no metal music scene in our hometown. We are the only existing metal band!
What is it like touring? Do you all get on all of the time? Or do you have times you need space from each other?
We’ve known each other for more than 10 years and hang out all the time. So, touring together was very easy for us.
Any bands you would like to go out on tour with? Who would be your ideal tourmates?
If I’m allowed to go crazy with my imagination, then I’d definitely choose Judas Priest, Accept, Megadeth, or Iron Maiden.
What genres of music do you like to listen to personally?
Mostly traditional heavy metal, power metal and thrash metal.
You’re stranded on a desert island with only 3 records and a record player. Which 3 albums would you want with you?
Megadeth – Rust in Peace
Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance
Against Evil – End of the Line
What do you like to do outside of music? Have you watched any great TV lately on streaming services etc?
Oh yeah, I watch a lot of movies and TV on the streaming sites. I also love playing video games on my PlayStation. I just finished watching the new Godzilla and Mortal Kombat movies and I can’t wait for the new “Army of the Dead” movie and season 2 of “The Witcher”.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Even with Covid, are you looking to get some live shows booked up? Maybe start on some new music?
We already have a few shows booked in Europe for later this year. Most of them postponed from last year. We usually like to take a little break from writing music after we put out a new album. Just a little time to recharge and get back with fresh ideas.
Thank you for your time, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers?
Firstly, thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview. To the readers and fans of our music, I’d like to thank you all for your love and support over the years. Especially the response and support that you guys have shown for our new album is unbelievable. We can’t wait to get back to touring and meet each and every one of you again. Please take care and stay safe!