“Evile” Interview by Christina Thompson
In an interview back in May 2016 you mentioned that you were working on an album to be released for the 2017 booking season. How is the progress going? Will there be any updates announced soon as the New Year draws closer?
Progress is going pretty slow, with each of us having full time jobs and various family things happening it’s hard for us to get together as much as we need to do, but there is progress, we have an album title and song titles ready that have set the tone for the next album. I can already hear it in my head and we have a few half songs here and there that we’ve been working on, it’s looking more likely that by the time we’re anywhere near a release it’s going to be 2018 so this year may be a quiet one for Evile.
On the subject of your new material, are you trying anything new that your fans have not heard before? Are you experimenting with any new techniques? Or want to try something that you wanted to do on your last album ‘Skull’ but didn’t get the chance to? You have described your music as intricate before can you elaborate? What’s a typical process, collectively as a band?
I think we’ll always try and add a few things here and there that people may not expect but the core approach of Evile will never change, we’re a thrash metal band, we may approach thrash metal a bit differently than other thrash bands around us but I’m very proud of what we’ve built and don’t want to see that change drastically.
Having said that, things are bound to change for the next album as my brother Ol was the main music generator, he was mostly responsible for all the riffing, I acted more as his sounding board by telling him what was working and what wasn’t, also what was complete shite. I guided him and threw my own riffs and ideas into the mix of what he was doing. I would then take over full responsibility of vocal melodies and lyrics (with a few rare exceptions). This time writing responsibilities will mostly be handled by me and Piers so we will have to see what happens! If it’s any indication of how things may go, I was the sole writer of Long Live New Flesh, Naked Sun, Plague to End All Plagues and Burned Alive, in my head I want to continue in the direction of Skull but see what happens if we take a different approach with structures, I think it should turn out to be really interesting!
In 2017 are there any particular festivals you would like to be a part of or do you have any supporting gigs booked?
We don’t have many shows this year as we’ve decided to focus more on getting some new material put together, because it’s going to be a slow process we won’t be seen much. 2018 however, is when we would hope to be hitting quite a lot of festivals to get our new stuff out there into people’s brain ears. We are open to absolutely anywhere as we just want to be able to play live, it’s why we do it and we need good new material to be able to continue doing it so we’re taking our time to make sure it’s a worthy follow up to Skull, as I absolutely love what we did with that album, it’s a shame it wasn’t marketed better.
What highlights were there for Evile when you guys supported Testament in Metz, France in 2014. Are there any backstage antics that you could divulge to us? Or in terms of when you’re touring as a support act are you all on your best behaviours? Do you feel relaxed or do you have any fears of screwing up in front of giants like Testament? Even more so, how’s the fears playing in front of 1,000’s of festival goers? Do you have any pre-gig rituals before hitting the stage?
We’re normally on our best behaviour wherever we go; you’re more likely to find us constantly quoting The Simpsons and South Park and tidying up our dressing room than trashing anything. Or me and Joel sat in a corner with a glass of wine discussing Star Wars, oh yeah – wine…… Joel is very likely to drink too much wine and start telling everyone exactly what he thinks about them and everything in the world, good or bad, right or wrong.
As for the Testament show, I don’t remember even bumping into them haha, we spoke to Gene Hoglan for a bit as we’ve played quite a few shows with him, but we hardly saw the rest of them, we’re always too busy concentrating on the task ahead as we generally travel by ourselves, we are our own road crew. I have no fear of playing in front of bigger bands or large crowds, sometimes the bands come and watch us from side of stage just for curiosity, I remember seeing a few people from Megadeth, Kreator, Exodus, Overkill, Destruction watching us, which is nice that they would take the time to do so. We once played AFTER Anthrax and that was strange, being stood side of stage waiting for them to clear their gear off haha.
I have more fear of playing in front of 30 people than I do in front of 3000 people, I don’t feel like I’m being scrutinised as much.
The only pre-show ritual we have is to find Ben as he usually disappears at the very last minute and we panic as the intro starts.
Considering the longevity of Testament who are burgeoning on 35 years together where do you see yourselves in terms of longevity?
Hard to answer, we released 4 albums in 7 years through Earache Records and it feels like we’re at a point where we have a fanbase that know us, they know what we do and what we’re like, it feels like we’re in control of where we go from here, we have no record label, no management, we only have a booking agent so it feels like we can take the time we need to put out a truly great fifth album. As long as we keep our focus on being as good as we can be then I hope we can keep playing shows to people until we’re in nursing homes. It’s hard to imagine ourselves as old men playing thrasher haha but I hope we can!
Also considering how times have changed with music streaming services, the downfall in MP3 sales but the rise in vinyl sales, that have been recently reported, do you have any particular avenues or strategies in place to ensure your music gets out there to the fans but that you also see your cut as well? At the end of the day it’s all about the love of the music and putting it out there, but obviously there has to be some financial input for you to keep producing music? There is a lot of merchandise out there for Evile do you guys see any cuts from those sales? Do any of you have other jobs outside of the band when you’re not touring or recording?
We all work full time jobs, me and Piers work for our local councils, Ben works in a music shop and Joel is the manager of a pub so Evile is more of a very intense hobby. If we could do Evile as a full time effort we would absolutely love to, we would be such a tighter band if could play more. Financially, when we’re out as Evile we do it at a break-even usually, we’ve managed to get to that point and that’s great, if we’re lucky we might see a bit of something to share out at the end which is always nice. Evile merchandise is completely owned by us, anything that isn’t sold by us through our big cartel store isn’t official, the merchandise used to be the difference between being able to get petrol to get to the next show but luckily we’ve managed to get past that point and we can run Evile quite smoothly. We keep things small, as I said before there is no record label, no management, just us four and more often than not our tour manager Tim. It works well for us, the only thing I can see changing as we go forward would be to get a full time sound engineer. Luckily all this enables us to do what we love and that’s playing live, I’m beyond thrilled that we can break-even, anything extra is a bonus. We all work full time to take care of everything in regular life. The real payment is in seeing people wearing our shirts, singing lyrics, not booing us haha.
Four years have passed now since Ol Drake left Evile and Piers Donno Fuller became his replacement on guitar. In that four years, obviously Piers is still a member, and clearly here to stay with the band, but has Piers finally found his own sound that contributes more so to Evile? And often fans can be objective to newer members when founding members leave a band. Has Piers had any animosity from staunch supporters? Taking into consideration bands like Cannibal Corpse when Chris Barnes left and George Fisher joined their fans weren’t too happy.
We’ve had none of that, not that I’ve witnessed anyway. I think our fans and even non-fans were very understanding about what happened with Mike, we couldn’t just stop doing what we all loved doing, we had built something special together so it was a given that to continue we would need someone new. Luckily we found Joel who fit right in, people were really welcoming of him, we couldn’t have begged for anything better. He’s just as lazy as the rest of us!
Piers was much the same, he just jumped out as the right person for the job. He has also found his sound within the band, the sound that we tell him! We must have fired and re-hired him aver 450 times and we called him ‘new-guy’ for at least two months. If anything I think Piers has made us a stronger live band, we feel a bit more ‘serious’ on stage. He’s a great guitarist and an equally great personality, I think you can tell when someone is right for a band and when someone isn’t. I can’t see anyone complaining about Piers, I’m looking forward to seeing what he contributes to writing.
How is your relationship with Earache Records?
We don’t really have one anymore, Skull came out and that was it, contract over. I very recently asked them for a couple of copies of our albums on vinyl as I just got a record player before Christmas and wanted to hear them on vinyl, they very kindly let me have a few for nothing so that was generous of them. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are now if it weren’t for Earache taking an interest in us and doing as much work as they did with the first three albums, they really helped us get out there, I’ll always be grateful for that support.
Final question. So, 2017 and beyond, where to from here for Evile, apart from the new album, but in terms of the bands life, love, family and friendships?
Get to work on time, don’t get hit by a bus, enjoy good beer and good wine, watch Mad Men, look forward to the train wreck that will be Alien: Covenant, avoid arrogant and self-centred people, keep on avoiding Transformers films, listen to a lot of Entombed, Soundgarden, Cardiacs, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wishbone Ash, keep on praising the dark lord satan – may he one day stop James Cameron from making Avatar films and get him back into making something decent.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk with Metalheads Forever Magazine, we wish you all the best in your future endeavors, do you have any closing words to your fans around the world?
Thank you for the questions, I would just like to say that Evile plan to be around a long time, keep your eyes and ears peeled for a new album in the future and we’ll hopefully have a show near you all soon. Also, Jaws is the greatest film ever made – discuss amongst yourselves. Cheers!
Christina Thompson / MHF