They have been cited as the leaders of the Thrash revival and a force that are etching themselves firmly into the the metal landscape. Evile have toured with Megadeth, Kreator and Overkill, and with the release of their third studio album, the band’s legacy is only growing.
Five Serpent’s Teeth, released in late September 2011, is an album that stands for metal in its purest form. Fast, finger-shattering riffs and brain-thumping percussion is the name of the game and Evile are playing hard, proving that thrash is still very much alive. Evile are standing at the peak of a mountain, looking down at the incredible view before them. The path ahead is limitless and these UK thrashers will most certainly be searching for the next mountain to climb.
We managed to catch lead guitarist Ol Drake for a brief Q&A to talk about the new album and his thoughts on where the band will be heading next.
Your latest release Five Serpent’s Teeth has received fantastic reviews. What were the main pressures heading into the studio to record your third album, and how do you feel about the great feedback from fans and publications so far?
Ol Drake: We didn’t really feel or pay attention to any “pressure”. There was the obvious “we have to make a good album” feeling in the air, but when do you NOT want to make a good album? We’d spent the best part of 2 years writing and arranging this album. We were so prepared and had worked so thoroughly on the songs that it was all just comfortable and right. No pressure at all as we were so proud of what we were going to be putting down. The feedback has been amazing. When we were recording the album we knew we had something special; even Russ stated he had a special feeling he’d never had before while making an album.
What was the biggest challenge whilst recording the album?
Ol Drake: The biggest challenge personally was going in for the first time without Mike. Luckily we have Joel, who is a great guy and a great bassist; but it was very strange and difficult going back there where we’d last been with Mike.
FST feels like a more straight forward record than the previous two. Aside from wanting to create another kick-ass addition to the Evile catalog, what was the goal when you sat down to write and record this time around?
Ol Drake: We’ve been through a lot in the past few years, and within those past two years I personally sat back and re-evaluated why we’re doing this. The songs on Grave were written before we were signed when we had a jobs (a guaranteed income) and it was a hobby. We’re on our 3rd now and made the decision for the band to be our job 24/7. We’re in this for the long run, so we’re going to start taking things seriously. We sat down and wanted to make a classic Heavy Metal album. No F-ing around in complex time signatures, no re-living of subjects and styles for the sake of being “retro” – just getting straight to the point with some great Metal. We are not a Retro Thrash band, and this album shows it.
That’s some savage riffing on In Dreams Of Terror. What do you think is the most important aspect of a thrash record?
Ol Drake: I think it’s just as much about attitude and approach as it is speed. I think a good Thrash record needs wide variety. Even if you look back to Kill ‘Em All, a lot of that stuff isn’t even fast, but it’s hailed as starting Thrash Metal. You can hear the attitude, revolution and aggression in the music, even when it’s mid-paced and stomping. “In Dreams of Terror” goes from blistering speed to stomping riffs to big melodic phrases, and I’d still call it Thrash; I’d even just call FST a “METAL” album.
You guys returned to the same studio where you last recorded with Mike [Alexander], for the Dimebag tribute. Was it somewhat surreal returning there this time and recording without him? How has Joel Graham settled in?
Ol Drake: It was definitely bizarre. It was bound to be. Joel has settled in great. His approach is very different to Mike’s; He’s much more groove/classic rock orientated, whereas Mike was a lot more speed orientated.
Tell us a little bit about In Memoriam.
Ol Drake: Memoriam wouldn’t have existed if Mike was still with us. When Mike passed away we had a clean guitar part, which Matt and I would always play, that we decided would fit great in some kind of “tribute” to him. As time went by it grew into its own thing. Not only is it for Mike and his family/friends, but it’s for anyone who’s lost anyone close to them like we have; basically that life is maybe shorter than you think, so make the most of it.
On the lighter side, any amusing studio stories this time around?
Ol Drake: A lot of it is drunkenly documented on YouTube hahaha. Being endorsed by Jagermeister was a great, yet dangerous, thing for the studio. When it got to about 2 a.m. when we were all tired out from working throughout the day we’d just goof around all night, or track stupid parts over the songs we were working on. Russ ended up sleeping in the studio quite a few nights instead of getting home haha.
As a metal band originating from the UK, do you find it challenging to compete with the vast amount of US metal that has been spreading throughout Britain and the rest of Europe?
Ol Drake: Definitely. An America band just seems to have more appeal when travelling through these parts, because they’ve come such a long way; though saying that I got the same great feeling from when we were out in USA/Canada for 5 months last year. There’s just a lot of bands in general to compete with. It’s not like it’s a competition, but people only have so much money for gig tickets, and only so many tours/packages can happen at one time.
You toured with Megadeth in 2008, which itself must feel like a hell of an achievement. What has been your crowning moment so far, and where do you see Evile heading in the coming years?
Ol Drake: There have been so many; it’s been such a rollercoaster. One would have been being able to tour North America for 5 months. We did something like 150 shows with only a few days off; for a British Metal band to do that in this day and age over there is rare. The Megadeth and Exodus tours were highlights. I think a few of the biggest were Sonisphere UK and Download Festival. Great times! I see Evile heading along a tarmac road, for a long, long time.
Where have you enjoyed touring the most?
Ol Drake: To be honest, it is all roughly similar, as you’re doing the exact same thing all the time; it’s just that sometimes the drives are long or you’re more worn out sometimes. You have good and bad shows wherever you go; it’s just great to be out there touring.
Before Evile came to fruition, you played as Metal Militia, a Metallica covers band. Do you miss performing the anthems of such an important band, and what were your favourite tracks to perform?
Ol Drake: No. Not at all. They aren’t our songs, and we got bored doing them. The Kill em All stuff was always fun.
Many recent bands have experienced a lot of member replacements and difficulties concerning record labels. Your only member replacement was due to tragic circumstances and you have been signed with Earache records since your debut album Enter The Grave. How important is the solidarity between band members and labels, and what keeps you all together?
Ol Drake: The solidarity between members is one of the most important things in a band I believe. You are basically married, and a marriage isn’t going to work if you aren’t solid. We have a good relationship with our label. We treat them well and with respect and they do the same for us.
Since the 90’s, thrash has been snowed over by so many sub-genres of metal that it more or less took a back seat to everything else. Who are your biggest influences from classic thrash age and what made them stand out?
Ol Drake: My main influence which started me on Thrash was Sepultura. Beneath the Remains got me into this style of music and I haven’t looked back since. What made Sepultura stand out for me was the brilliant mix of Thrash and Death Metal, perfect drumming, amazing solos and great lyrics/riffs.
The resurfacing of thrash metal is in full swing with bands such as yourself, Municipal Waste andWarbringer on the frontline. Are there any influences you’ve taken from metal bands of recent years?
Ol Drake: Not really. We’re all in the same boat, doing what we all want to do.
Who would you most like to join on tour in the future? Thrash legends or thrash newcomers?
Ol Drake: There’s so many we’d want to join, but we just want to be able to tour and be able to afford it. Fans don’t realize how expensive being in a band is. Just being able to tour is an honour, let alone who it’s with.
I recently caught your reworking of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. Is she a guilty pleasure?
Ol Drake: To an extent. I don’t have GaGa posters and dress up like her or anything, I just admire her a lot in an age of production line pop crap. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks, she writes her own music and has great tastes.
Finally, a handful of quick-fire questions to finish off if you don’t mind?
Ol Drake: Yes I do! No I don’t. Hahaha!
Touring or Recording? Touring
Riffs or Solos? Riffs
Priest or Maiden? Maiden
Chicks or Beer? Beer
Denim or Leather? Denim
Reign In Blood or Master Of Puppets? Puppets