Interview with Ol Drake of Evile
Conducted by: Carlos Llanas
There is no doubt that Thrash Metal has made a defining comeback in recent years. With younger bands like Warbringer and Toxic Holocaust, the Thrash assault is definitely upon us. One band that has made a huge impact on the scene is the mighty Evile. Hailing from Huddersfield, England Evile has been hard at work with tours, writing, recording, you name it. Their dedication and true love for the genre make this band a must see for the fans of modern and old school Thrash. With their new album on the horizon, there is still much left undone for Evile, so expect to see much more of them in the future. I had the opportunity to chat with Ol Drake, and in this interview Ol sheds light on the new album "Five Serpent’s Teeth", the importance of supporting metal, and the passing of a dear friend and ex-Bassist Mike Alexander. Here is Ol to tell you all about it.
Thanks for taking the time to talk metal with us Ol.
Your up coming album "Five Serpent’s Teeth", which will be available for purchase on September 26th, is your third full-length release. What makes this album stand out from the first two?
We’ve changed our approach to how we write the music on this one. I think we wanted to avoid skating around the point in songs and just get straight to it. Do we have a good riff? yes; so let’s just play it. A few confusing time signatures; Just very direct and in your face. I feel we’ve matured a lot on
this album and it is personally my favourite of the three because of it.
You took a very different approach regarding the album cover-art in comparison to "Enter the Grave" and "Infected Nations". The first two were extremely detailed and very colorful. Why the change?
We’ve always wanted to try and do things differently, so Matt had the vision for it. I liked it because it was out of the ordinary; We don’t want to churn out Thrash cliche after Thrash cliche. He wanted more of an eye catching design as opposed to a really colourful, busy piece of art.
It was created by Gustavo Sazes. What drew your attention to Gustavo’s style of art?
Matt saw a piece he recently did for Morbid Angel and it hit him straight away that this was the style he envisioned. He’s done some awesome art!
Not only is your artwork different, the whole album has a different feel than the first two. Yet, it maintains that same Evile sound. What were some of the influences that played part in the making of this new album?
I’m not fully sure. Personally while the album was being written over the course of two years I tried not to listen to music to stop anything from "influencing" it other than what I already knew. I’d listen to some old prog like Gentle Giant, Greenslade and Yes, but other than that I’d only really hear Metallica, Sepultura and Megadeth kind of stuff. Nothing we or I heard made us think, "ooh let’s do something like that". We just wanted to make a full on Heavy Metal album that kept you intrigued from start to finish, and I think we achieved that.
You worked with producer Russ Russel again for the upcoming release. He produced your previous album as-well. Will you continue to work with Russ for future releases?
I’d naturally say yes, but it’s far too early to consider the creation of the 4th album; We’ve got to concentrate on FST and touring the hell out of it. I started writing ideas for the 4th as soon as the 3rd was finished, so it’s already being conceived, but that’s the extent of it.
You also worked with Flemming Rasmussen in your first album. He has done production for such bands like Metallica and Artillery. How was that experience over-all? Did you enjoy working with Flemming?
It was amazing. It was our first time in a proper studio making a big release. On top of that we had Flemming of Metallica fame. The gold discs down the corridor were daunting yet inspiring, his stories of Cliff Burton and company were amazing, and his ability as a producer was great. We did really enjoy it, but we didn’t really know what we were doing. We learned a lot from the experience though, and Flemming is such a cool nice guy. He even used the same idea for clean guitar work as he did for "Sanitarium (Welcome Home)" which was brilliant!
What’s with the Lady Gaga cover of "Born this Way"? It’s a bit strange, but I have to admit, It sounds way better than the original.
It’s just me fooling around. I’m a fan of her (shock! horror!) and what she does and how she does it; I just wanted to incorporate what I love doing into that. If our fans have a problem with it, so be it, but I was Born this Way and don’t really care if anyone thinks less of me for doing something I
want to do. (see what I did there?)
This is also going to be the third album under Earache records. How have you enjoyed your stay with Earache? Are you intending on staying with Earache permanently?
Our work with Earache has been great. I still have nothing bad to say about them, contrary to what people had told us would happen. We get along great and help each other out. They’re great at promoting bands on a personal level; They’re into Twitter, Facebook and all that. They’re fans of music
as-well, not just business men. We have no idea what we’ll do yet; We’re just concentrating on the now.
The track "In Memoriam" from the upcoming release was written in the memory of your late bass player Mike Alexander. The song takes a different path than the normal Evile tunes. Was the writing process more difficult knowing that you were attempting a different style and sound?
Memoriam was kind of already in the process of being written before we decided to start writing it. The opening bass intro was something Mike would always play to sound check his bass; I asked him one day what it was and he said it was something he made up. I made a mental note to remember it (I always do that with riffs I like). When Mike passed away I wanted to incorporate that somehow into a song and I really think, in this unique situation, that it sets the mood perfectly for the track. Matt had some of the clean parts written as ideas already. When we decided we wanted to pay our respects to Mike via a song, we thought what better way to do it than using them. What we wanted to convey couldn’t be conveyed in an 800 mile per hour Thrash song.
Could you share some of the fondest memories you have of Mike Alexander?
There are so many. Just little things like we used to sing "Winona’s Big Brown Beaver" by Primus together, and incorporate a quote from the Simpsons; We’d just fool around like that all the time. One of my favourite moments was when we played Brixton Academy, London while on tour with the awesome Megadeth. Mike had told me prior to the show that this is where he saw Dimebag, and while queueing outside Dimebag hung out of the dressing room window and poured Jack Daniels down into his mouth. When we played he was on the same side that he watched Dimebag on stage; I looked over and I think that was the happiest I ever saw him. That or Mustaine calling him a fag for
knocking over his drink hahaha.
Is there a tour lined up for the upcoming release? If so, will you be making your return to the U.S.?
We have some things lined up but nothing confirmed, and I’ve learned to not say anything about them, because whenever I do/did they’d always fall through hahah. So yes, we’re going to tour as much of the world as is humanly/financially possible. If you want to see Evile in your country/city/town/area spread the word and support us! you’ve no idea how important it is to support the artists you like these days.
From your experience, how do the European shows differentiate from the shows that you’ve played in the U.S.? Are the fan reactions different from either place?
Essentially the feeling is the same. People being appreciative and crazy over the music you’re playing. The only differences really is how full on people can be. We’ve played shows in the U.S. where people literally stood there making their minds up, and we’ve played shows like that in, say, Germany. But we’ve also had the exact polar opposite in the same places; People going apeshit jumping off things, jumping on the stage and running into us, rendering playing impossible. It’s hard to judge; You might have one amazing show in Hollywood, then your next Hollywood show might be people just standing
there wondering why the headliner isn’t playing yet hahah.
Growing up, what were some of the bands that impacted you and essentially motivated you to form Evile?
Mine and Matt’s parents brought us up on Queen. I think that was the start of our musical endeavour. Matt got me into Guns N Roses early on, and then I picked up Metallica through him. After that I was intrigued to find more and more Metal. I remember buying "Beneath the Remains" and "Tomb of the
Mutilated". I was blown away by this music that I’d never really heard of before. The media and society tends to shun Heavy Metal, so once I was past that "this isn’t the music you should be listening to" bullshit I was taught via school and the media, I really listened to everything. I’d basically say Metallica, Sepultura and Annihilator made me want to do something musical with my life, but there are so many other bands I love/loved that contributed too.
Any new bands out there that have caught your attention? Maybe a band that you would like do a few shows with?
We’re all fans of Warbringer. Such great guys and great live band. Kevill (vox) and I have a Street Fighter 2 rivalry at the moment; He’s Blanka and I’m Ryu (Ryu obviously being superior to some dumb electric brazilian). Other than that Mutant from London are awesome.
What’s next in the agenda for Evile?
We’re looking to make quite a few videos for this next album and I think "Cult" will take priority first. Other than that, just try and get the word out as much as possible and tour the world promoting the album. It’s a very expensive game, and we hope we’re able to carry it on!
Thank you very much for your time Ol. I wish you the best in the future, and congratulations on your new effort to be released on September 26th! Any last words for the fans?
No, Thank you for being interested! I’d just like to say support the bands you are genuienly into. I don’t mean just Evile. These days it is so difficult to be in a Metal band, so do everything you can to help them; Spread the word, pay for the music you like, go to their shows, buy a shirt if you can (the latter alone helps fill the petrol tank to get to the next show). Other than that, Thank you for supporting Evile!