The Serpent's teeth speak out - Ol Drake.
British Thrash Metal has come along way since the early days with the likes of Acid Reign, Toranaga, Sabbat, Xentrix, Re-Animator and now Evile in the new age of British Thrash Metal. Like Toranaga, Acid Reign, Re- Animator all from Yorkshire (UK), Evile are another band hailing the flag for Yorkshire and Thrash Metal alone within the UK and what stir these guys are creating right now. With 3 albums under their belts, the bands debut album 'Enter the Grave' which saw the band receiving some excellent reviews nationally and World-Wide and it wasn't long before the band recorded and toured for their next album 'Infected Nations', with tons of touring with the likes of Destruction and many more... ended in the death of bassist Mike Alexander back in 09. The band pulled together and found bassist Joel Graham ex Rise To Addiction. The band have just released their new 3rd album for Earache titled 'The Serpent's Teeth' which is an awesome UK Thrash album. I managed to have a chat with guitarist Ol about the new album and the past on how the band 1st started out, here is what he had to say.
As this is my 1st interview with the band, could you please tell me how you 1st came to be? Where did you all meet besides your brother?
"Well basically Matt and Ben went to school together and they were in the same year together and they both were into Metallica, the standard metal stuff and they would start jamming after school and when Matt wasn't at home I would always steel his guitar and started to teach myself the guitar . I asked if I could come along to a rehearsal one time and we just jammed some Metallica songs together and we did this until we played live and we looked for a bassist and we found Mike from an ad in Huddersfield and we just went from there playing covers. In the end we got bored with covers and decided to write our own material."
So basically you were a Metallica tribute band then? Which songs did you play?
"Yes we were, we were called 'Metal Militia' and the songs we played were One, Four Horsemen, Battery, all the classic songs form the 1st 5 albums."
Was the 4 of you the basic Evile line-up or were there musician's before the classic line-up?
"Well before we were even a band we had one of Ben's friends called Mitchell just use to come and play bass for us but it really wasn't a band back then we would just jam. When we decided to make it a band we put that ad in the guitar shop and Mike applied to it."
So the name 'Evile', who came up with the name and what other names did you have?
"It is just 'Evil' with 'Vile' but it is just Evil with the 'e' on the end. The 1st name we came up with was 'Exile' but we soon realized there were too many bands called that so we decided to change the name and removing the 'x' with the letter' v' sounded a lot better. Matt came up with the bands name."
So the band have been together now for those who don't already know?
"Well we started the 'Evile' band back in 2003."
What made you want to play your own songs instead of been a Metallica tribute band, you would of been paid pretty well doing that right?
"Well it got to the point were people would applause but they were not applauding us, it was Metallica they were doing it too. We were just a tribute band so we decided to stick one of our songs in the set and they liked it just the same. So in the end we thought why don't we do our own songs."
How long did it take Ol to write your own material for the band?
"Well once we decided I think it took about a few months to get some songs together and 'Killer from the Deep' was one of the 1st songs we wrote. The intro was a rip off of Cannibal Corpse 'Hammer smashed Face' and in a few months we had 5 songs wrote. In the end we went out as 'Evile' as people started to know our own songs."
Was there a pretty big fan base in Huddersfield?
"Yeah it seemed to get bigger, we place some places like 'Halifax' which was our 1st gig as Evile and we played places like Leeds, and we ended up in London to get signed to Earache."
Just how many demos did the band record before the debut album?
"Well we did 1 EP called 'All Hollows Eve' and a demo called 'Hell demo' and we only made a couple of 100 copies of each and I don't think we sent too many out to labels."
Where there many offers from various labels besides Earache?
"No just Earache just after we played Bloodstock in 2006. We got a email a couple of days later from Earache saying they were interested in our band."
How did you feel about signing to the label with them having so many extreme bands like Carcass, Morbid Angel, Napalm Death at that time?
"Well I was a fan of bands like Carcass anyway and they have some of my favorite band anyway and I couldn't believe they were interested is us, so we just jumped at the chance."
Were you apprehensive about singing to the label at 1st with the label been such an extreme label?
"When we 1st talked about it we were wondering why are we on such a label that has so many extreme bands? The boss Digby told us that he really liked us and he wanted to really support our band so we talked about it and in the end it didn't matter if they were an extreme label."
I guess you still happy with the way Earache are looking after the band right?
"Yes we are happy, we even got a few warnings from bands saying watch out for Earache but we haven't seen or heard a anything bad about them yet."
Things were going so well for the band and then tragedy struck with Mike dying, what actually happened to him?
"Well we played a gig in Finland and that night he complained about feeling ill so we didn't expect anything bad so we told him to get some rest and then next day he just collapsed at the venue in Sweden and we took him to the hospital but he didn't make it. It was a blood clot on his lungs and we really didn't expect anything to be so wrong with him, we were in shock and we couldn't believe it at all. We just wanted the band to be us 4, and that is no disrespect to Joel but it was just a huge kicking in the balls."
When Mike died did you have anybody standing in for the band before Joel came into the band for any live shows?
"No we didn't, we were on the Amon Amarth tour and it was a 4 day drive from the top of Sweden to Huddersfield and we had a few months off to get ourselves together and then we had a tour booked for the January. So we just had to audition so we just found Joel and he is a great just like us with the same sense of humor and a really good bassist so it was perfect."
So lets talk about the debut album 'Enter the Grave', who came up with the title for the album?
"I think it was my idea, I remember writing the song and I cant remember how I came up with but I just thought of the cover in a dream I had with a grave and me entering it (laughing). The title had to be that really, and some of them were 'Killer from the Deep' which was a bit too blunt and the title we chose was the only 1 that suited it really."
So who did the art work for that album?
"Well that art work was done by Vitaly S Alexius, we told him what we wanted and he did a great job."
Working with Flemming Rasmussen who did the early Metallica albums must of been a great debut move for the band, was it a pleasure working with him?
"Yeah it was great working with him, although the schedule was very limited we had not enough time to get the perfect sound we wanted. Working in the same studio as Metallica, well at least the same mixing desk as they used was awesome!! It was recorded at Sweet Silence Studios in 07 and there are tons of Metallica gold disc's on the wall it was just incredible to see. He is a really easy going guy and great producer. Working with Russ Russell he gets involved with the creating of the songs, whereas Flemming gets involved with the creation of the sound."
Did you receive some impressive debut reviews for that album?
"Yes I was rather surprised really, most of the songs were written when we did the Metal Militia thing so we didn't have to write the songs, they were actually done before we entered the studio. We knew the songs as having a laugh so we though people would, take the songs as a joke. Kerrang said we were carrying the flag on our shoulders which I thought was really cool. "
So which songs from that album stand out for you and why?
"Well I do like 'We Who Are About to Die' because because we had played that since 2005 and it was great to just get that song recorded finally. I remember we were using s Slayer style of Marshall's set up which sounded a lot like Slayer and it was great fun to record."
So after the release of that album you went onto record 'Infected Nations', your 2nd album, so who came up with the title for this album?
"I think Matt came up with the title for this album and he came up with the concept for the cover as well. He then gave it to Michael Whelan."
Been in a band with your brother is it a god idea? Do you have fun or are there lots of arguments?
"Yes we do argue but it is all productive and we do actually like each other so it won't be like Oasis or anything. We only ever argue about sections of songs which should go a certain way and we disagree and then we just resolve it. It is good to have a brother in the band because you kind of know what each other is thinking and it helps us create music better on the same level most of the time."
So who writes the majority of the songs? Is it you or your brother or the band?
"Well eventually it is the whole band thing, it basically starts with me with a riff and then I will show the song to every one who will then jam it in the room and then we will just build from there really."
So how well did the 2nd album sell for the band compared to the debut sales?
"I think it sold just as well as the debut album, I think it just took a bit longer because we tried to do something different from the debut album. We didn't want to do another part 2 of our debut album. Think with our 1st album we hadn't sat down to write a world wide release album, so this time there was a lot of pressure asking what shall we do and I think we went a bit mental with some ideas. The 3rd one we learnt from our mistakes."
How did the production on the 2nd album produced by Russ Russell compare to that of the 1st album which was recorded by Flemming?
"Well I Think Russ is a lot more of a perfectionist and Flemming is a lot more like if you have a good sound then leave it alone. No disrespect to Flemming but Russ is a lot more of a perfectionist like I already said. He wanted to make sure everything was perfect all the time and he is pretty much in the band."
So what songs from that album did you enjoy writing and playing and why?
"Well I do like the title track 'Infected Nations', but I also like 'Metamorphosis' is along song but it is also experimental and at that time it represented us trying something different and it is rather hard to play live. I like every song on the album and we were rushed into the demo process so we had to get the songs into a completed form before the due date of the album. If I could I would go back to make some of the songs shorter but it was were we where at that time."
So the new album 'Five Serpents Teeth', why the title and where there any other titles in mind?
"Well Matt came up with the title of the album, he reads a lot of books and Sci-Fi stuff and he got the ideas from a book called 'The Demolished Man' and Matt is rather guided on things like this and he doesn't like to give too much away. So I guess the best thing for you to do is to read the book."
So what do the songs mean to you from this album or is it all Matt's ideas?
"Well lyrically it's all Matt that does them but I wrote the lyrics for the song 'In Memoriam' which is for Mike, and the album is a combination of all our feels in the past 2 yrs. I think there is a lot of anger and aggression in there because of what happened. We did that song because we couldn't say what we wanted to say in a thrash song. (Ed: It must of been very touching to write that song about Mike?) Yes it was very hard to track it and we have yet to play it live but we will do if we can."
So was the new album recorded at the same studio as the last album?
"Yes the album was recorded at 'Parlour Studios', Kettering. We wanted to do the album there because we felt it had a relaxing atmosphere and we had recorded there with Mike so it was like our 2nd home."
So who did the artwork for this album? Are you happy with the end results?
"Well the album cover was done by Gustavo Sazes and we are happy with the artwork, we spent a long time trying to get the artwork the way we wanted it. We didn't want the typical epic metal cover because we didn't feel that the music sounded like that we wanted more of a designed Oren tainted cover with a cymbal that you would just recognize to associate with the music. We saw one of this covers he did for Morbid Angel and it was just perfect something that we wanted. he did the full artwork for the album."
So when is the album released world-wide?
"Well it will be September 26th here in the UK and Europe, 18th October in the U.S."
So how well has the album been received by the press so far and the fans from what they might of heard?
"Well the reviews have been mind blowing so far and it is a shock because it has been hard for us to put that out especially after Mike's death. The reviews has made us very reassured and to have such great reviews is a nice feeling indeed."
Was it hard having Joel in the studio to record the new album when you could of looked at him and thought this could of been Mike doing the bass parts on the CD?
"Yes it was a little difficult but Joel is a great bass player and he understood the pressure of the recording, in fact there were parts on the CD were it could of been Mike playing the parts, almost like he was there in spirit."
For this album Ol, which songs stand out for you and why?
"Well on this record I would have to say 'In Memoriam' because it is off the wall for us, I also like 'Xaraya' because I think it sums us put at this point with heavy riffs and a lot of aggression and big epic guitar harmonies."
I guess you will be touring after the release of the album, when will the tour start? Also who will be supporting you?
"Well a UK tour will happen in October and we are trying to hit some places where we have not played before. We will be headlining the tour but we don't know who the support acts will be yet."
Are you playing Bloodstock next year? What about other festivals?
"Well I would love to play Bloodstock again, I have spoken to them briefly but it's a long way off yet."
So before we come to an end, how do you see each album as a progression from one another?
"Well I would say that the debut album was juvenile thrash and the 2nd album we had to think about it more as it would be a world-wide release and there were more experimental parts in that album. The new album is a look back at what we do well and what we shouldn't do or learn from and try to take things seriously and get more to the point."
Would you say that your music would be a modern example of 4 UK Thrash metal bands from the 80's and 90's, these been D.A.M., Re-Animator, Xentrix & Slammer?
"Yes I would say so in a way, because I know Xentrix were influenced by the same bands as we were."
Will the band be releasing a promo video or a live DVD for this album, if so you do a promo video for which song?
"Yes we have already filmed a video for the song 'Cult' which should be out on September 12th and as for a live DVD, well we have not done anything yet but we would very much like too."
Well Ol, thanx for taking your time out and doing the interview for my website, do you have anything to add before we finish?
"Yes thanx to our fans for their support, we hope you enjoy the new album when it is released, and please support new bands as there are some really good bands out there. All bands really need their fan support and they don't know how much it means to them to have such a great support from their fans like buying CD's, T Shirts, coming to the shows. Thanx for the interview Jase, pleasure chatting to you.
Thanx to Earache & Ol Drake for the interview & best wishes to Evile.