EXCLUSIVE METALSUCKS INTERIVEW: EVILE GUITARIST OL DRAKE
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Evile are sure standouts in the field of thrash, leaning more toward a gritty, Bay Area sound and aesthetic than cartoonish crossover revival. Their most recent Earache release, Five Serpent’s Teeth, continues along these lines, proving that the thrash revival may just be more than a passing trend. The album is especially impressive, given that the band suffered a tragic blow prior to its creation: Original bassist Mike Alexander succumbed to a blood clot in the lungs in October of 2009. Fittingly, Five Serpent’s Teeth includes a tribute to Alexander in the form of a riff he used when warming up before a show.
We recently spoke to lead guitarist Ol Drake about Alexander’s passing, Rock Band, touring with his idols, and the future of the Evile, as well as thrash at large. Read our full chat after the jump!
This is your first album with Joel. How was the songwriting and recording process for the new album different from previous albums?
The processes were pretty similar to how they’ve been before, with the exception of being on the road in the USA for five months last year. For three of those months I’d brought my laptop out and did as much as possible when possible. It’s difficult to write and record when you’re in an RV bouncing around for twenty hours. Joel had just as much input as anyone else, because we prefer it that way. Everyone needs a say, or it just wouldn’t be fun to play the songs for the next X amount of years.
How hard is it to move on after the death of a band member?
It’s still hard, and I don’t think I’ll personally “move on” from it. We all miss him everyday. Joel really helped us though. I’m glad he’s a guy we can get on with first and foremost. I always check his Facebook memorial page for fans’ comments and for photos they post. There’s no point in us wallowing, though. We had to/have to get back out there for ourselves and for Mike.
Is it difficult to integrate a new member? Especially after losing one under such painful circumstances?
It was less difficult than I thought it would be with Joel. Before he even played a note we felt comfortable with him. He has the same humour as us and is from the same area, so it fell into place really well. Ben [Carter, drums] mentions he felt guilty that it WASN’T more difficult, to which I can relate; but I just look at it as us being very lucky in finding Joel and allowing us to go on in a positive manner.
How did you guys get involved with Rock Band?
It started out with our label being in touch with Harmonix and they put the track “Thrasher” up as downloadable content. It was a huge success because of the difficulty. At the time it was THE most difficult song on Rock Band to perfect. When they opened Rock Band Network (a site where you can register and submit your own songs) there were countless insane songs, but I’m proud “Thrasher” was one of the last before RBN! Aafter that, I spent a loooooong time authoring all the tracks to our “Infected Nations” album for RBN.
Can you play your own songs on expert yet?
I can to an extent, but when it comes to the solos I’m completely lost. I don’t understand how it’s possible. I can play some fast stuff on the guitar, but it’s a whole different muscle process to the pushing of buttons.
How different are metal crowds in the US from the UK?
That’s tough to say, as when we first hit the USA, a number of crowds seemed to just be stood there “figuring us out.” When we’d come back around to the same places a month later we’d notice the same people are more into us, or tell us they bought our CDs and love them. There’s always that effect when playing places you haven’t played before, but that being said, we had some absolutely insane shows in the US. Some that spring to mind were the two at Nokia Theatre in New York, the Whisky in Hollywood, the Ramona in California; some brilliant ones. We’ve played in the UK since 1999 (before Evile and since), so the crowds are more used to us, so they really get into it. I think sometimes it’s down to whether or not other people are going insane at shows; if someone sees someone going insane they feel they’re “allowed” sometimes regardless of country.
What’s it like touring with epic old school thrash bands?
It’s insane. To go from growing up listening to Megadeth CDs to having your dressing room next to theirs and Mustaine walking past saying “hey buddy” is just insane. For metal fans it’s other worldly as we’ll always be fans of music. We had a blast with Exodus in ’08 too. We shared a bus with them and had some great times; we were still green and innocent in a way, haha. I remember one night Lee (Altus) and Mike were up late drinking through the night and the trailer got crashed into, jerking the bus forward. The driver ran out in basically nothing to grab the truck driver and everyone jumped out (except me, fully unconscious). Amidst all the shouting Lee and Mike’s complaint was “You spilt our fucking drinks!”
What are some of the newer bands coming up that you like? Stuff our readers might not have heard of yet…
Mutant from London are an excellent thrash band. They’re unsigned, but shouldn’t be. It’s sometimes bizzare, futuristic, crazy Thrash mixed with a style of Kreator. Definitely check it out!
Thanks for speaking with us MetalSucks! Hope everyone likes Five Serpent’s Teeth. And I’d just like to say, support new bands! you’ve no idea how muh new bands need the support of their fans.