Lead guitarist Ol Drake from Evile
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
The British thrashers Evile signed to a legendary metal label Earache Records just in the mid of October´06. In a way it could be said they deserved to get signed by them even if there has been a lot of talking about Evile as another Exodus rip off band. On the other hand, one needs to ask ‘do you like old school Thrash?'; I mean, the way it was churned out in the ´80s ála Slayer, Death Angel, Heathen and of course Exodus? If that´s something that makes your heart pound, body sweat, and blood run faster, then be all hailed and welcomed Evile! The band surely knows how to thrash – how to thrash the way through every thrasher´s heart by all that sheer strong potential they share inside the band, to become even the next big thing from England that might well take the whole world by a firestorm.
Ol, the lead guitarist of Evile talked to Metal-Rules.com about the band, signing to Earache, as well as of course their forthcoming debut album – not forgetting completely to throw a handful of praising words toward his main influences either who have influenced him as a guitarist. Read on…
Good day… how are things in West Yorkshire? Obviously your band Evile has been keeping you constantly busy, at least for the past couple of months now when the band is rehearsing new songs for your upcoming debut album, to be released via Earache Records sometime around in spring 2007?
Hey Luxi, things are great in very warm and sunny West Yorkshire. We’re hoping to release the debut mid 2007, and we’re going to be gigging our asses off to spread the thrash as much as possible. People who haven’t had chance to see us in the UK yet, definitely will in the near future. We’ve been writing constantly and practicing, but that’s no change from the usual.
SIGNING BY THE NAME OF METAL – SIGNING TO EARACHE
Would you tell us next how your deal with this legendary English label Earache happened anyway? Were there some other labels around at that time that were also interested in signing Evile, too?
There was no other label interest at all. As far as we’re aware, Digby (Earache MD) saw us at a gig out friend Andy arranged in Nottingham at Junktion 7 playing alongside Deadfall and Pitiful Reign. He must have heard what he liked, because he saw our performance at Bloodstock Open Air 06 where we headlined the unsigned stage. Soon after we just heard from nowhere that Earache were interested in us. It was an incredible surprise, as we’ve never actually… “gone after” labels.
Do you think one of the important facts was why you eventually chose to sign this deal with them as they are an English label, and it´s always somehow easier and more secure to work with your country mates than let´s say, to sign with some label out from Columbia, for example?
That is one way of looking at it, but a big factor was that it was Earache. We have all actually loved this label for the bands it has put out over the many years. Deicide are one of mine and Mike’s favourite band, Carcass are loved by us all, Napalm Death and we’re good mates with Biomechanical.
How many old demo songs have you planned to choose, and to record for your debut album, and how many new songs will be all new?
These decisions will be made closer to the time, we’re just focusing on writing right now. If some demo songs sound right to put on the album, then they’ll go on. But the problem is, will a song we wrote in 2004/2005 sound right shoved in with a bunch of songs written in 2007?Our sounds and approaches to song writing seem to change all the time.
PLAIN EXODUS WORSHIPPING… OR RIP OFFING?
Those people who have heard your band, many of them have said that you guys have a huge Exodus -vibe in your sound – as well as some of them have said that some people might even mistakenly think Evile comes from the Bay Area due to your strong Bay Area Thrash –vibe in your sound. I guess you can at least partly understand all these comparisons to the Bay Area´s direction, and to Exodus – don´t you?
It’s highly understandable, because that’s where our main influences come from. Exodus are a HUGE influence. When people say “Man, you ripped off Exodus in (*insert song name*)”, we didn’t rip them off, we just write in the vein of the music we love. If we tried to stear away from our Thrash influences we’d be playing Reggae Jungle House Jazz Dance Rave Grindcore Choral Swahili Pop.
You just almost recently played a show with Exodus that obviously was a great experience for you from every single aspect. I know you are all huge Exodus -fans, so how was it to share a stage with them, and to meet the guys at the backstage?
It was fucking immense. They’re all awesome guys too. For me the greatest honor was to just sit stage side and watch Bostaph annihilate. That man is a fucking machine. I thought he kicked ass before, and even seeing him live before he kicked ass, but seeing it from another angle, seeing everything he does and puts into it was just insane. It was brilliant sharing the stage with Biomechanical too, can’t forget them.
Ol Drake giving a shredding lesson
THRASH TILL DEATH
You also played some shows with the reformed Onslaught, Xentrix and Pitiful Reign in the beginning of June 2006 under the “Thrash Till Death” -moniker; a true package of the English Thrash Metal dynamite. How was this tour for Evile all in all? I think it´s still somewhat different to tour with your own country mates, and in your own country compared to being on the road with some big international name – and in different countries around the globe, correct?
It’s the only “tour” we’ve done, so we have nothing to compare to (bigger bands abroad etc), but it was definitely comfortable and kicked ass because everyone knew everybody and could get along. There were a lot of problems on that tour which I won’t go into, but overall it was a great experience. Playing with Onslaught and Xentrix, as well as Bloodstock Open Air were definitely the highlights in the “Thrash Till Death” tour. On the other end of the spectrum was camping in Wales. Advice: Don’t fucking camp out in Wales.
Talking about touring with bands in general, is there – or are there some band (-s) you´d love to tour with sometimes in the future? Exodus, or Slayer maybe?
Personally the main bands I’d love to tour with would be out of: Testament, Exodus, Destruction, Annihilator, Slayer, Obituary, Onslaught, etc. – there’s loads, pretty much any band we like, ha-ha-ha!!
Is it easy to get gigs in England for a metal band like Evile these days? I bet when this Grunge -thing was peaking in the mainstream popularity in the beginning of ´90s, with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc. leading the pack, many metal clubs either closed down completely, or didn´t book that many metal bands to play at those clubs any more back in the day. Can you remember how this Grunge -boom affected metal bands in England to get gigs in the ´90s? Did it have any effect on the metal bands coming from your country at all?
It’s piss easy to get gigs in the UK at the moment, but whether they pay or not is a totally different story all together. We’ve played countless gigs over the years for nothing but a can of beer and a “well done, bye”. Man, when the Grunge -thing was happening I didn’t even know why my shadow followed me around, let alone the English metal scene. All I remember is everything was Nirvana, and there was no trace of anything else other than Queen, Status Quo, or ZZ Top (but then again I was only small, so I wasn’t paying attention).
What are some of the coolest clubs in West Yorkshire to play gigs at from your point of view?
The Snooty Fox in Wakefield is brilliant. It’s small, the sound sometimes isn’t brilliant, sometimes 1 person shows up, but for some reason the atmosphere is just perfect. Plus the owner, Malcolm, records, mixes, and edits a DVD (using several cameras) whilst you play your gig, then after you’ve played he walks up and hands you a DVD of the gig, ha-hah… Legend!
Matt Drake in action
As for your song writing, how do you basically keep things interesting for yourself when writing new songs for the band? What inspires you to make you to grab your guitar and start shredding new riffs for an Evile song?
There’s a thousand things that inspire a riff or song etc. Sometimes a film can inspire me to write a riff (for some reason), or I can just be sat on the bus and I’ll think of a riff in my head, and have to get home before I forget the fucker. To keep things interesting, we try our hardest to write what sounds right to all of us. If we write something we all like, then one person has a problem with one part, we’ll work on that one part until all 4 of us are satisfied with some sort of compromise between parts. Maybe that’s why we take so long on writing… ha-ha! But then again, I’d rather spend a lot of time on one song, than spend no time on four.
Would you claim Evile is a fully democratic group, in which everyone is privileged to bring own ideas into the band, f.ex. as far as the band´s song writing is concerned?
That’s exactly how we are. When we were talking about when say, Metallica’s KILL ‘EM ALL says: “Written by Hetfield, Mustaine” whatever, we realized we could never do that, because there isn’t a single song where everyone hasn’t contributed. Even if I write a whole song myself, I’ll take it to the band, and we’ll play through it, and maybe some bits will sound shite when we actually play them, then everyone gets stuck in. it will just say: “Music by: Evile”. We all even chip in on lyrics.
If you named 5 the most influential albums that have affected the sound of Evile, what albums would they be?
Collectively: Exodus, Metallica, Annihilator, Testament and Slayer.
GETTING INFLUENCED BY MUSICIANS
As you are a guitarist yourself in Evile, do you admire some (Thrash) guitarists that have had some sort of an influence on you how you want to torture your own 6-stringer in the band these days?
My main influences are Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Jeff Waters (Annihilator).What I always loved about Skolnick was he’d always play things you remember, and solos that actually give me goosebumps (SOULS OF BLACK is FULL of the best fucking guitar playing/writing ever). Jeff Waters is another influence because he is the only guitarist I’ve ever actually learnt from. I spent 4 years transcribing every Annihilator song for Jeff and www.annihilatormetal.com, and I picked up so much from his playing/approach to playing, that it taught me everything I needed to know and more.
What kind of touring plans do you have after your debut album is out? Have you already gone through any discussions with your label about possibilities to tour with some more established and known names?
We’ve talked about a few awesome possibilities, but nothing I’d like to say in case nothing happens. But we will definitely be planning to gig non stop, as that’s all we wanna do anyway.
Mike punishing his 4-string shredding machine
THRASH METAL REVIVAL – BE ALL WELCOMED!
As you´ve surely noticed as well, there has been a quite huge sort of, may I say, ´Thrash Metal revival´ in the worldwide metal scene for the last 2-3 years or so. Just look at the list what bands have made their comebacks after being in some sort of a hiatus for years: Exodus, Death Angel, Sadus, Onslaught, Heathen, etc. etc. – and the list goes on. How do you feel about this invasion of old Thrash Metal bands coming back to the scene and making some noise again?
In my opinion, it is fucking brilliant. I love it. I remember a few years ago, I got extremely pissed off I’d never get a chance to see Testament with Skolnick and the original line-up, I was seriously down about that. That’s how much I thought of Skolnick. So how can Testament getting back together be a bad thing? I got to see them at the Koko in London, and again at Bradford Rio up here, Best gigs I’ve ever been to (even if they didn’t do an encore at either).
Do you believe all of them want seriously to make Thrash Metal music again, or just because it seems to be so ´in´ -thing these days, I mean, to play Thrash and even earn some money by playing this kind of music style?
Who knows? I think it’ll be an individual choice. Some people might be doing it because they need to finance their current life (house, wife, children etc), but I think the majority are in it for the love of the music.
What do overall think of the state of Thrash Metal nowadays? Do you think there´s still a place for one more Thrash metal act like Evile?
I hope so. I mean, why not? There´s still people who love thrash metal, still people who love going to Thrash gigs, so I don’t see why not.
Can you name any worth mentioning names of bands from your area people really should keep their eyes out for?
There’s too many bands around this end of England to mention. If you know the scene, you know the bands.
So, what kinds of hopes do you have for 2006 – except this ´getting famous and earning shitloads of money´ -thing by playing Thrash, heh!
I assure you, money doesn’t come into it, how can it? We’re playing Thrash, ha-ha-ha!! Our main hopes are having an album out that people will want to listen to, that will make them come to see us live, and enjoy the live shows with us. We really want to get out on the road and gig like mother fuckers (minus the fucking mothers part).
Ben makes his skins trembling
MIRROR TELLS THE TRUTH
One last question before your torture is over: When you will look at the mirror tomorrow morning as your very 1st thing, do you get a reflection of your own face back that tells about the next internationally successful, highly respected and big thing coming from the English metal scene, commonly known as an English Thrash Metal band called Evile? ;o)
My first thought when looking in the mirror is “What are you looking at you ugly bastard”. My thoughts don’t have anything to do with “I´M GREAT! I´M IN EVILE! WE ARE THE NEXT BIG THING… Blah-blah-blah!!” No point thinking that even if it was true.
I wanna thank you Ol for your time with these questions and wish you all the best with Evile in the future. If you have anything else to say both to your fans and the readers for Metal-Rules.com., may the last words be yours then…
We look forward to kicking you in the face with Metal.