Vocalist Mario Frasca
Guitarist Jani Hentila
Interview by Luxi Lahtinen
This Myspace thing is actually pretty cool. You can form bands there just like that. Well, that´s almost exactly how this 1/4 American and 3/4 Finnish, brutal thrash act was kicked off - and more than a year later, Evince has recorded their yet-unreleased debut full-length album, titled ABANDON BELIEF.
Mario Frasca (ex-/Speed\Kill/Hate\, ex-Anger on Anger, ex-G/Z/R) and Jani Hentila (Fierce) were keen enough to shed more light on their new incarnation in brutal thrash, Evince, which undoubtedly is ready and armed to conquer its way through to every thrasher´s heart. ABANDON BELIEF, with its 11 songs on it, doesn´t leave any open questions whether they can crush hearts or not.
Evince doesn´t make any compromises either. First they ruthlessly kill you - and then they ask all the necessary questions from you. Got it?
However, this time both Mario and Jani just abided by answering to my polite and sensitive questions... Lucky me!
UNFORGIVING AND BRUTAL THRASH
“Unforgiving, brutal thrash…” That´s how I have seen you calling your stuff - and I pretty much can subscribe yo that description about your music. Your debut album, ABANDON BELIEF, pretty much kicks teeth in, so obviously both of you are really proud of that achievement, correct?
Mario: I am totally proud of ABANDON BELIEF and with everyone who was involved with the process of it all.
Jani: Yes… I’m very proud. It tells pretty much how I feel modern thrash metal should sound. I wanted to make something like new Exodus and Destruction as well as GATHERING era Testament. Abandon Belief is absolutely modern thrash metal album… Not even meant to be another 80’s replica… I have my other band Fierce for something like that ;)
When did you start to shape up an idea about Evince´s realm of thrash for the first time? I mean, how did you guys find each other and find a common language together, which went like: “Ok, let´s make some metal… the brutal way!”
Mario: Jani and I met online though Myspace. At the time I had been writing and recording some ideas determined to create a new band. I was searching for musicians with skills who were into the same brutal sounds of music I liked. I came across Fierce, a thrash band Jani plays in. I listened to their stuff and really liked their sound and riffs. I visited Jani’s Myspace page and noticed he was a fan of /Speed\Kill/Hate\. So I sent him a message saying something like, what’s going on with your band? Are you guys still together. From there we started chatting on MSN Messenger and started passing riffs and ideas to each other. I told him I wanted to do a full album of brutal thrash and he was totally into it. So we started to build. Jani would send me some song ideas and riffs to listen to and I was chopping them up into full songs adding parts, changing parts, re-arranging, programming drums and what not... Once I completed 11 songs in demo form, it was time to record them with a band. Of course you know, Finland has most of the best musicians on the planet. Long story short… Evince was born and ready to brutalize!
Jani: Mario contacted me through Fierce's Myspace. He listened to Fierce songs and liked our music. He asked if I’d be interested in writing some tunes with him. I had like 5-6 songs already written. First we decided to change Fierce's musical direction and hire Mario to do vocals for Fierce but pretty soon it was clear that I (and Fierce guys) wanted to keep Fierce as it is and do something different with Mario.
You all have some history in several bands: Mario is known for his previous bands such as /Speed\Kill/Hate\, Anger on Anger and Geezer; Jussi for Gloomy Grim, Tenebre, Twilight Ophera, etc.; Jani for Fierce; and Rainer for Dead Shape Figure and Spirit Disease. Having some band history behind each individual in Evince has obviously helped you a lot to reach your goals as far as understanding Evince´s stuff is concerned - what Evince should be all about, first and foremost?
Jani: Evince is meant to be fast and brutal modern thrash metal with 21st Century sounds and touch. Like I said before… Not another 80´s old school thrash replica. We’re doing things more old-school with Fierce.
Mario: Evince is all about the music, the passion and the belief in yourself and the band.
PAST BANDS, GEEZER RULES
I was relatively surprised also to find out Mario has some history in Geezer Butler´s band named G/Z/R. Obviously it was only a short stint in his band because I couldn´t find any recording history about you in that band… Anyway, I´m curious to know how did you get involved with him, and how was Geezer actually as a person?
Mario: Anger on Anger was the opener for G/Z/R and Korn at this venue here in NJ. After we played that night, Gloria Butler, Geezer’s wife came to talk to me about getting together with Geezer. I was totally into it and later that night I got to hang and chat with Geezer. He sent me some tracks from G/Z/R´S PLASTIC PLANET album with no vocals. I recorded my vocals and sent it back. A week later he then flew me out to his home in St. Louis. I hung out with him for about 10 days and drove him totally nuts!!! I was just blown away that I was hanging in Geezer Butler’s home seeing all his gold records from Black Sabbath everywhere… It was a total trip and an experience I will never forget. Geezer is a totally great guy. We recorded a track called “Outworld” for Mortal Combat (more combat) in a studio somewhere in Chicago, can’t remember the name at the moment. But that’s about it… I was too amp’d up for the Geezer. I have talked to and seen him since and we laugh about it all. Geezer Rules!!!
What kind of things made you to leave /Speed\Kill/Hate\ anyway? I mean, ACTS OF INSANITY was one kickass thrash album, with a very hostile and aggressive vibe raging through it - and it was loved by many thrashers from all around this globe. Did you run into troubles with the other band members, be it the personal or simply business side of things ;ole how /Speed\Kill/Hate\ should have been run in the most ideal way?
Mario: /Speed\Kill/Hate\ was and will always be just a side project band. I was told in the beginning it was not going to be just some sideline band. Dave and I agreed it was going to be something we created together to take to the next level. Just like we did together with Anger on Anger. So I once again focused all my time, attention, passion and skills to make /Speed\Kill/Hate\ something I really loved. Countless hours I spent working on music arrangements, lyrics, graphics, photos, website, CD artwork, videos and so much more. After getting signed and doing the "Metal Crusaders" tour, the band started to gain some ground and things were starting to take shape for /Speed\Kill/Hate\. Dave decided that playing in a glorified cover band was more important then his own band’s future and put /Speed\Kill/Hate\ on hold. That made me realize that /Speed\Kill/Hate\ was just a side project band and hobby for him. I could not deal with that so I quit… End of story. But everything happens for a reason, and fortunately, my leaving /Speed\Kill/Hate\ allowed me to focus all my passion and attention on my new band Evince!
Back to Evince next just because that’s our main course right now…You have said that all of you in Evince get along very well with each other, and the chemistry could hardly be any better in Evince right now. Was this connection between each of you since the first moments you got to know each other, or was it built up piece by piece the more you guys started to know each other better and better?
Jani: To be honest… Chemistry is sometimes good and sometimes not that good. I’m a very impulsive person and want to keep some control of things as well as Mario. That sometimes makes worlds collide. Maybe it’s because Mario takes things more professionally than I do. I’m still that 15 year old kid who wants to drink beer, play music and have fun… Like Tankard does, lol!
I would like to keep things simple… Just write music, play live and have fun. I hate business mambo-jumbo bullshit talk but unfortunately business side is part of this thing called music. If creating music feels like working from 9 till 5 it’s not fun anymore. So far this has been another hobby for me like ice hockey, gym and sports betting. Don’t get me wrong… I’m taking this very seriously and trying to make all things as good as I can but at the same time trying to enjoy everything I’m doing.
Mario: Everyone knows their part they play in this band. We are all adults and seasoned musicians who show respect to the music and each other. It’s just like any other relationship… It grows and develops over time.
Do you see it as an obvious advantage (or disadvantage?) to have a multinational line-up in Evince? I guess some certain cultural differences between Finland and America won´t restrict you guys to work as a solid unit so that each of you could be able to give your best contribution for this band?
Mario: It doesn’t matter where we live. It’s all about creating music we love to listen to and play. Thanks to the Internet; it’s like we live next door, lol!
Jani: I don’t think about multinational thing that much. Of course there are some cultural differences how we think about things in music and life. Music speaks the same language no matter where you come from. At least we have singer who can pronounce English lyrics, lol!
EVERY THRASH BAND SOUNDS LIKE SLAYER
When listening to ABANDON BELIEF, one can tell right away that a band like Slayer has undoubtedly been a huge influence to Evince because at least many of Jani´s riffs have a lot to do with the King/Hanneman riff department. Do you fully subscribe to this statement? Also, I happen to know that Jussi has always been a big fan of Slayer…
Jani: Is there some thrash band not influenced by Slayer? I’ve listened Slayer so long that I just can’t avoid sometimes sounding like them. Slayer is absolutely most brutal and evil sounding band…They can beat the hell out of every death/black/extreme metal band out there. Additionally to King/Hanneman riffs, they have best thrash drummer ever.
Mario: Of course Slayer is an influence to every thrash band on the planet. But I don’t sit and say "Hey, let´s sound like Slayer…!". Any thrash band will sound somewhat like Slayer in some way or another which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Thrash forever! S-L-A-Y-E-R...!!!!
If we were talking specifically about some certain metal albums that could be mentioned as those biggest influences for Evince´s sound, what albums would they be in both of your opinion?
Mario: Personally, I don’t really jam to cover songs. I do listen to a lot of different music besides metal. I just love music in general and I love creating it.
Jani: Exodus (TEMPO OF THE DAMNED and SHOVEL HEADED KILL MACHINE), Testament (GATHERING), Destruction´s latest 5 albums, Legion Of The Damned and Slayer.
The actual recording sessions of ABANDON BELIEF took place at 2 different studios - whilst the mixing was done at one other studio and mastering another. Eh, this actually doesn´t sound like the optimal way for any band to put together an album in so many different places like a big puzzle, so do you hope to record your next album fully at one studio next time, and possibly take care of the mastering and mixing process at some other studio in order to save yourselves from too much pain, if I can use that word to describe the making of ABANDOIN BELIEF this way...
Mario: To me it doesn’t matter if it’s 50 different studios as long as we are very happy with the final result. Two Dogs Studios, D-Studio, Audiohammer Studios, Finnvox Studios… I’d do it all over, again and again, because I love the whole process. I’ll travel to the other side of the world to create music if need be. No pain - no gain! But really, it was no pain at all. The people we were fortunate enough to work with are some of the best at what they do.
Jani: It wasn’t that hard to record in different places but there were absolutely some problems with the mixing at the beginning because none of us were there in Florida. Fortunately Mark Lewis did a good job.
ABANDOIN BELIEF was mastered by Mika Jussila at Finnvox Studios in Helsinki, Finland. Was Mika pretty much the only suitable guy to take care of the mastering, or did you have some other options in mind when leaving the final outcome of your recording sessions for Mika´s professional mastering process?
Mario: We were going to have it mastered in the States by someone well known but he refused to give us a sample before we paid in full. Mika, did give us samples and also worked closely with us on how it should sound. Mika was a totally awesome guy and totally professional. We are very happy with the results.
Jani: Yep, there was some guy in States but Mika and Finnvox is the best place available for mastering metal album. It’s hard or even impossible to find guy with Mika’s experience.
As Mario is still located in the States - and the rest of the guys in Evince live in Finland, it´s a crude reality that you guys cannot rehearse - each 4 of you, together like once in a week. Is that, however, about to change in the coming months as Mario might re-locate to Finland so that rehearsing with the rest of the band members at least once in a week, could become possible?
Mario: No plans on moving to Finland anytime soon. I love my home and the USA. We will rehearse when we need to like before a tour or any event we play. No worries there.
Jani: That’s not a problem as long as every knows their parts. We had only 1 full band rehearsal before the first gig and it went pretty well. The Internet makes things easier.
Last time I talked to Jani briefly, you were still searching for a label that could release Evince´s debut full-length, ABANDON BELIEF. So, have you found one already that could be interested in releasing ABANDON BELIEF?
Jani: Unfortunately no. It’s not that easy nowadays as there are tons of metal bands especially in Europe. Many talented kids and everyone have recording equipment at home so it’s easy to make demos. You really need strong songs and good luck to get record deal. We’ll see…
Mario: I have had some meetings with a couple label reps. here in the States. As it turns out, we are still unsigned at the moment. Everything takes time. I truly believe in Evince and the music and will never stop the push.
You have also been streaming the whole album via Myspace for some time already, and as far as I have understood, the response from people from all around the whole world has been pretty darn overwhelming and mind-blowing. I guess you must be very happy how people have welcomed Evince thus far?
Jani: Most of the people have liked our album. Some kids don’t like our music as our thrash doesn’t sound like Sodom or Kreator from ´84. Well… That’s not what we are looking for.
Mario: The response has been absolutely great and very overwhelming. Already over 270,000 profile views on our Myspace page… Blows me away! It’s great to know there are so many supportive metal heads in this world.
Do you think that by streaming the whole album in advance through Myspace, has drastically helped the band to get more name around; new important contacts have been made - and overall the interest toward Evince has increased more than you could have even dreamt of in your wildest and most hopeful expectations?
Jani: Hard to say… At least labels have chance to hear every song we have recorded so far. To get a big picture what’s this all about.
Mario: Yes, the Internet helped us a lot with reaching fans across the world. But either way, we wanted to let everyone hear what we have created because we are so proud of it. We still could use all the help we can get though… lol!
THRASHING GROUNDS IN FINLAND
Talking about doing shows, you have already done a couple of shows here in Finland in the end of October and beginning of November this year. Did both of those two shows go the way you had hoped for, and how was the crowd’s reaction toward Evince in both of them?
Mario: The show at Gloria in Helsinki was cool. We went on pretty late but the people who were there seem to really enjoy it. I had a blast and the staff and all involved were very cool people. It was the best night of my stay in Finland.
Jani: Unfortunately we did only the Gloria show this time. People there seemed to like our music and show. Playing time was too late. People went to drink cheap beer to the Corner Bar, lol!
I suppose once your debut album is out, you already have some serious plans to hit the road in order to support the release of it…?
Mario: For sure. We are ready to tour now! Label support and an official release would be great help to make it all happen faster. Feels good to play this stuff live and that’s what we want to do.
Jani: Yes… As much as we can. I have my 9 till 5 day job and family as well as Jussi. Of course it’s also about scheduling and arranging things. Touring is about money and support which we don’t have…Yet. I don’t like the idea of touring and paying everything by ourselves… And I just can’t afford that.
What´s your take on this new coming of thrash metal that has been going on for the last 3-4 years already? Many new, talented thrash bands have born out of all this (Dekapitator, Merciless Death, Gama Bomb, Evile, etc.) - and also some labels have clearly been mad keen on the resurgence of thrash metal (Earache, Metal Blade, Heavy Artillery, etc.) - and therefore they have also signed many of these bands. No one can claim anymore whether thrash metal wouldn´t have returned among us to stay forever…
Mario: Thrash music will never die. I like most of the newer thrash bands you mentioned. Thrash 4 Life!
Jani: Thrash metal is here… And I hope it will be here forever and not going to be forgotten like mid 90’s. I really like some of those new bands like Violator, Gama Bomb, Evile and Toxic Holocaust. I have THRASHING LIKE A MANIAC LP which includes many new (old-school sounding) thrash bands.
How would you see Evince´s chances on this current yet kinda vast map of thrash metal nowadays when you really should differ from the masses because that´s what thousands of thrash metal bands are trying to do right now - and only a handful of them manage to get signed before they get frustrated and split up - no matter how talented they could be. A little dose of luck - in the other words, the right timing - being in the right place at the exactly right time, may carry some bands far, and toward an indescribable fame.
Mario: Yeah, it’s not easy being in a thrash band at times and there is usually no fame or chicks at all, lol! But I love the music and creating it. It’s all about the music and passion for it. We play what we like and what feels good to us. Music is forever and what you create today can be heard long after you're dead and gone. That’s why I create music, so I can live forever through it. Evince will stick to its goals and that is to create as much music as we can before our time is up on this planet.
Jani: All I can do is trying to create strong songs and memorable riffs. You can’t ever underestimate the meaning of vocal arrangements in this kind of music.
What is also cool, many of these once dead & buried thrash bands have made their comebacks as well: Exodus, Death Angel, Forbidden, Exumer, Destructor, Whiplash, Heathen, etc. etc. - and the list continues further and further and even further…
Jani: Yes that’s cool they still have the passion to create good music. I still think the best music has been written in 80’s and late 90’s. Old farts can still write very strong albums and songs (Exodus, Testament, Slayer, Metallica, Laaz Rockit, Heathen, Destruction, Sodom, Kreator, etc.) - and they have absolutely something to give to the metal world. It’s also nice that a younger audience has chance to see old legendary bands.
Mario: Once dead? To me, these bands have never been dead or buried (well, I actually meant bands splitting up, and then reforming again ~ Luxi comments back). Like I said before, music is forever. Like a wheel it goes around, where it stops no one knows. But it’s great to see them live again for sure and appealing to a whole new young crowd of thrashers.
THE PROMISED LAND OF HEAVY METAL
Mario, next question goes out especially for you: What do you honestly think of the current Finnish metal scene? How familiar are you with some of the most talented bands in it that belong to this more extreme side of metal - I mean, bands like Impaled Nazarene, Sotajumala, Demigod, Torture Killer, Deathchain, Jumalation, Malicious Death, etc. - just to mention those aforementioned names as examples?
Mario: Finland is all about metal. From old to young, metal is alive and very well there. Finland has some of the best musicians in the world… True talents. At the Gloria Helsinki show I got to watch the International premiere of “Promised Land of Heavy Metal” - the narration by Kimmo Kuusniemi from Sarcofagus, the forefather of Finnish metal and a documentary film maker (http://www.kimmokuusniemi.com). "Promised Land of Heavy Metal" is a documentary about the history and philosophy of Heavy Metal… and what happened to make it such a big thing in a small country called Finland. I was blown away by how metal Finland is, and has been for a very long time. I got to meet and hang out with the forefather of Finnish metal Kimmo who is a super cool dude and he had the first metal band in Finland back in the 70’s. Very friendly - great guy! It was truly an honor. I learned a lot about the metal scene in Finland from the film, how it started and what it meant to the people there. Very very cool film and a must see for all metal heads (http://www.promisedlandofmetal.com).
What do you personally expect from 2009 regarding Evince?
Jani: Don’t know yet, lol! I have already written like 5-6 songs and more to come after the Fierce new E.P. studio session. I really would like to do (especially) some summer festival gigs.
Mario: While I was in Finland I shot a video for the track “Abandon Belief”, which I am editing now and plan to have it done and on the web before the holidays. I plan to produce another album in 2009, hopefully tour as much as we can and stay true to what we believe in… Our music and supporters.
I think that was it, my fellow thrashers in Evince. I wanna thank you for all of your efforts by answering my q´s about the band (hopefully it was well worth it) - and wanna wish you all the best with your future endeavours. Take it easy and thrash on…!
Jani: Thanks Luxi. Keep up the good work for metal scene here in Finland. See you!
Mario: Thanks Luxi and Metal-Rules.com for your support and for all that you do for the metal community. True metal believers! Cheers, MF ~ Evince