INTERVIEW WITH EVIL DRIVE
Interviewed by Arto
Evil Drive is a relativity unknown band rising from the Finnish metal scene. The five-piece metallers have been around since 2013 and put out a couple of releases, done a number of gigs, and made a visit to Holland and some East European countries. The most recent output called RAGEMAKER is an excellent slab of melodic death metal meets classic heavy metal. Metal-Rules.com had the pleasure to sit down with guitarist and composer to discuss the new album and a little bit about his influences as far as the writing is concerned.
Evil Drive is quite an unknown band for most of our readers. Could you enlighten how the group started out in the first place?
Everything started out when I had a gig with my other band, Domination Black, in Russia back in 2010. There was a warm-up band, which was Viktoria’s band at that time. I thought that band has a strong and tight female singer. I had to go to check them out. After the gig, I went to talk to them. One thing led to another and as a result, we got married a few months later. Well once she moved permanently Finland, she got a bit bored and we thought that she needs some interesting things to do. So, we formed a band together. So everything started out smoothly and we got many good friends together to play with us.
The line-up has basically been the same except a few changes, how have these changes influenced the band in general?
The changes have been really positive. We got a new guitarist, and he took part in the songwriting process for the RAGEMAKER album and also recorded and produced the majority of it. We work now as a team, and I don’t have to do everything by myself anymore.
You basically formed the band?
Yes, Viktoria and I formed the band.
And you have been in charge of composing and writing the material?
I still am. Most of the songs have been written by me.
It was one kind of Kickstarter. We did it very quickly but we had decided already then that everything in this band must akways sound and look great. At that time we didn’t have that much money to invest, but after all, it came out pretty good. It was our first EP, and it received pretty good reviews. It was chosen as the EP of the month in Finnish Imperiumi.net. Later on, we re-recorded all those songs for the debut album THE LAND OF THE DEAD.
When did Mighty Music come into the picture?
It was 2015. We sent the EP out to many record labels, and Mighty then wanted to sign us.
Was Mighty Music the only one choice or did you have other options?
We had few other options, for example, Inverse, but we thought Mighty Music was the best choice of options available. They would have wanted to release this new album as well but we chose Reaper Entertainment instead.
How does the working method of Mighty Music differ from Reaper Entertainment in your opinion?
In many levels. We paid a lot of money for Mighty Music for the promotion and distribution costs. And they have a good distribution, promotion and our albums were basically available everywhere in the world. But we had to pay all that by ourselves. Now with Reaper, and they do all the promotion work and they also invest a lot of money for us including marketing and all that stuff. Of course, they will own a lion share of the album sales money but we will make our share still.
How did Reaper come into the picture, because it is basically a new label and there is another band besides you?
It is run by the current/former people of Nuclear Blast, and we have a strong marketing machine behind us. For distribution, they use SoulFoood which is the biggest distributor in Europe.
How did you start to work with them?
They had heard somewhere that Evil Drive was looking for a new record label and contacted us directly. Then we asked for details and offer, and they sent it to us in few days. We also had a few other offers on the table, including Mighty, but we decided to go with Reaper this time.
Did you still have an option with Mighty Music?
No. We had one album deal only with Mighty Music, then we had an option decide whatever we wanted to continue with them or not. Mighty Music wanted to stay with us, but we didn’t. Fortunately, we got a deal this new deal with Reaper.
How is Reaper going to invest in the promotion and are they going to arrange some gigs in Europe?
They have invested a lot of money for us already and it shows on promotion. We have done tons of interviews and our songs have been played on radio stations across Europe. There’s also been talk about doing a European tour in the fall with some other bands together and Reaper will help up to put it together.
Are you scared or nervous because of the tour?
A little bit nervous because we all have our day jobs and the tour needs to make some sense financially. Otherwise, we simply can’t commit to it but of course, we would LOVE to do it and see our fans in Europe.
WORKING ON RAGEMAKER
RAGEMAKER is the second album from Evil Drive. How was the writing process for the songs of the album compared to the debut album??
Everything was completely different this time. The songs of the debut album were written already when we started the band 2013 and we had played them for a long time already. Now all material used was fresh. It took half a year for us to get the songs completed. The working process was now more intensive and also more creative. We listened to demos all the time and figured out which parts need to be changed, then took some time off and listened to them again. If we came up some good new ideas, they were added. The songs were molded all the time and we worked those until none of us had anything to complain about. There were some serious complaints about the first album. But now everyone was satisfied with the songs, the sound, and the whole package. For sure some points will be noticed afterward, but then we know how to improve that for the next album.
What were the main elements that you paid more attention than before?
Well, the signing – the signing was done 10 times better, for that we invested a lot. But the sound, in general, is much better because we had more pro-people working on the album. The singing was recorded by a professional supervisor guiding the vocal coaching, how to pronounce the words correctly etc. When we did THE LAND OF THE DEAD we recorded four songs in a day. Now Viktoria did much shorter sessions, we only recorded one, two or only parts of the songs per day.
Saku Moilanen obviously brought a lot of ideas and guided you with the coaching in the singing?
Yes, he advised how the singing should be taken care of and he finally mixed it.
What kind of studio is the Evil Drive studio?
Our second guitarist JP recorded the whole album. Yes, we did at our rehearsal place; the drums, the guitars… As a matter of fact, when we recorded all the guitars, which was one hell of a work, we sent all the guitar parts to the produce Saku Moilanen. He let us know the guitar parts were in wrong formats and wasn’t able to release them. We had to re-record all the guitars again. They had to be in different formats. After all, it was a good thing, cos we had rehearsed quite a lot and there were some changes which we could play again and even better.
Besides singing and guitar recording, did he pay attention to anything else for example songs?
No no, he didn’t bring anything to that area. When we recorded in that format, we were able to have great sounds. That’s why it had to be in a digital format. Even though it was recorded through a computer with a distortion, but the sound had to be clean when he converted it via his own equipment as a result how it sounds.
As for the lyrics how have they improved or changed for the RAGEMAKER album?
Viktoria writes them. The lyrics are basically the same, like how people got cheated in the social media. It is basically the same as on the debut album.
Are you responsible for lyrics ?!
I did the lyrics for the “Ragemaker” song. I and the other guys helped Viktoria with the lyrics when some ideas popped up. The name of the album RAGEMAKER came up from when I was reading the newspaper at work about some rapists and pedophiles. I got pissed off and started writing down what should be done for those kinds of people. It ended up as the title of the album and it became a good kick ass song.
What are those songs that you would pick up from RAGEMAKER?
Tough question. There are a lot of different genres. There is a ballad, thrash, modern metal and of course the 80’s metal. It is basically what you want to listen to. When we started working on the album it felt these songs were all so different, we thought we could get the acceptance without going too “soft” in the same package. It was so damn different, we had to figure out how we were able to make the album sound the same band through the album. I think we did it very well.
Regarding that ballad song, as you pointed out, it was a particular choice?
Yes. When I do songs, I don’t care about genres. I listen to Scorpions, the next following day I may listen to ARISE by Sepultura. As long as a song sounds good, I dig it. Sometimes I listen to the Finnish rock music. Unless it is good music. As for that ballad song, it is pretty 80’s song remaining me slightly of “The Price” by Twisted Sister, which starts growing and growing. And of course we wanted to show the respect for Lemmy, Jeff Hannemann, so the lyrics are for our own heroes.
You had Veronica Männikkö as a special guest singer. How did this come about?
We won FemmeMetal competition in Helsinki and got a chance to travel to Holland and play a show there. She arranged that competition. When we were at the hotel lobby in Holland, we used to sing by playing an acoustic guitar and she was there singing with us. She was really good. We asked her to sing on the album because she has a different voice than Viktoria, The song turned out great and we had a lot of fun.
BEING INFLUENCED BY CLASSIC NAMES
When you’re listening to RAGEMAKER now, are you able to pick up some elements which could have carried out in another way?
After the LAND OF THE DEAD album, we didn’t notice anything at all. Instead, afterward, we started finding them. As for RAGEMAKER, maybe it is the same thing. I think we have done this more carefully. Therefore those things should come by. Maybe drumming and arrangements could, maybe the drummer would have used more some drum fills here and there. It wasn’t much planned, it was more like “here is a song, just play”. We didn’t have that much chance to rehearse. Of course, the album could be better, but we are truly satisfied with the results anyway.
So you have new songs in the can?
Yeah, we made a-three-album-deal with Reaper and they have a –five-year-plan. This was the first one. We are basically working on the next one, although this current one hasn’t been released yet.
Can you reveal which direction are you going to on the third album?
It’s impossible to say yet because that album hasn’t taken its shape yet. It is going to be melodic metal anyway.
You just mentioned these classic names such as Scorpions, Twisted Sister, but when I have reading reviews released in European magazines, Evil Drive has automatically been compared to the Swedish bands such as Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, The Haunted, and Arch Enemy. How do you view that? Is it a bad or good thing to be compared to Arch Enemy?
It is not a bad thing to be compared to Arch Enemy. It is a famous band (laughter). Speaking of myself I haven’t ever listened to them and these other Swedish bands. I always listened to Kiss, W.A.S.P., Iron Maiden, Sepultura, old Metallica, Slayer. I think Iron Maiden plays a big part of the whole thing because of the melodies. I checked out Arch Enemy some time ago and found them pretty good. But I think they have the same influences as we have, that’s why. They are in the same age.
How have Scorpions and Iron Maiden influenced you and your playing versus these thrash bands such as Sepultura Slayer and Metallica?
Metallica has had a major influence on my playing. I used to play Kiss stuff earlier. But at the beginning of the 90’s Metallica’s Black album came out, I was blown away. I rehearsed all the old Metallica songs. I used to rehearse James Hetfield’s playing style and the MASTER OF PUPPETS album from the beginning to the end. When comparing the old Metallica and Iron Maiden it can’t be a bad combination at all.
The reviews are coming out in various magazines and sites, which elements do you pay more attention to in them?
Well, I truly hope that the words Arch and Enemy are missing “Laughs” because I just got a little bit annoyed about reading reviews how Arch Enemy was constantly mentioned in every review. I don’t understand why they wanted to compare us to Arch Enemy? There were reviews where a reviewer hadn’t listened to any single song, but however, we were compared to them. That bugged me a little bit.
There are a plenty of female-fronted extreme metal bands, for example, Jinjer trying to make a breakthrough. Do you view Evil Drive as already categorized to that particular genre ?!
In my opinion, the vocals are definitely not any monotonous growling like several bands have. Especially now when Saku Moilanen monitored and took care of everything, for example, all the lyrics in the singing can be heard and they are very clean. After all, it doesn’t matter if it is a female or male singer as long as it sounds great.
How do you view about the development of Evil Drive during these six years?
It has developed quite a lot during the past few years. It has become more melodic and more explicit. It is more a coherent feeling in the band, knowing each other’s life and commitments. Someone does more, and someone does less. We have a good groove within the group.
THE NEXT STEP FOR EVIL DRIVE
What’s the next step for Evil Drive? Promotion…?
This time all promotion is taken care by Reaper people and we don’t have to worry about it too much, with the exception of doing interviews and press. There will be all-in-all three promotional videos for the album. The third and last one will be released at the same time as the official release date of RAGEMAKER.
What is the purpose of these videos on Evil Drive from your point of view??
The videos are important to have the coverage. It is damn hard to decide which songs are suitable for a video. Now we did that ballad one. Wel,l that can be a risky choice. It is not an easy choice, but it is a great song. Once again I ignore this genre thing, cos a good song is a good song.
When got signed by Mighty Music, you already released videos before that and you had a little bit different image, being a more war-like. Now that war theme has been erased away from the image of Evil Drive.
Yes, the world of nowadays is different. When we using the war theme, it was actually created before when all these wars in Ukraine started out. We had developed and ordered the backdrops in advance. When all these things, later on, started out, the whole thing became too factual. Of course, it wasn’t supposed to happen, but the world has changed quickly. It was completely impossible to change anything, because everything had been ordered. The new Evil Drive style is based more on leather and spikes. It is kind of old school.
Accept was accused of being Rambo-ism back in the day. Was this war theme your way of being Rambo ?
A little bit yes. The lyrics were about the war and the social media cheating the people.
All right I for one thank you for the interview.
The official Evildrive sites :