Riding the crest of a wave of popularity since the release of their third full length album 'Five Serpents Teeth', Ross Baker sat down with Evile's guitarist Olly Drake and drummer Ben Carter backstage at the HMV sponsored Next Big Thing Festival, under the canopy of the Ritz Ballroom in Manchester.
“This is the biggest show we have done so far and the audience has been really responsive.” Olly Drake notes over a can of Red Stripe. “Since the release of the record we got a couple of people criticise us for making a couple of more melodic songs but I think most people get it.
“The song we wrote about Mike, ‘In Memoriam’, divided opinion a bit but I think most of our audience see how important it is to us. We are playing it live for the first time on this tour so we will see!” Drake says referring to his dearly departed friend, bass player Mike Alexander who tragically passed away in 2009. While Evile have been touched by painful events, they have risen from them, like the proverbial phoenix, to soar to greater heights than ever, playing a glut of American dates and European festivals including a mighty set at last year’s Download Festival. “That was a great day for us.” Ben Carter recalls. “We played the Pepsi stage in the tent but the crowd were going mental! Everyone was moshing and people knew the words to the new songs already! We played ‘Cult’ for the first time live that day and it was amazing. We hope to be able to do Download, Sonisphere or Bloodstock this year depending on what we are offered. Bloodstock has been really supportive of our band especially!”
Indeed the band dedicated their track ‘Centurion’ to Bloodstock Festival in tribute to the festival’s commitment to the metal scene, something which the band feel is stronger than ever. “It’s a great time to be a metal band at the moment. There are so many events that are much more open to bands like us. We are lucky we have a supportive label that pushes us to the public and we hope to play a lot of new countries like Japan and South American on this tour.”
Apropos then that 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of pioneering extreme metal imprint Earache Records, and how do Evile feel about the anniversary? “When we got the call from them saying they wanted to sign us we couldn’t believe it! I remember saying ‘Our name is going to be on the list of artists next to Carcass!’ It was a dream come true. We are quite cynical people sometimes but we were thrilled.” Drake tells VF.
“They have done loads of smashing records. I think ‘Heartwork’ by Carcass has to be my favourite!” Carter muses. “The drum sound was incredible. I remember being sat in a pub in Huddersfield and someone put ‘Buried Dreams’ on and I couldn’t stop air drumming! Ken Owen’s playing is amazing and the album has a great mix of melody and aggression!”
Drake chimes in: “For me it’s got to be ‘Altars Of Madness’, Morbid Angel are great songwriters and some of the arrangements and the riffs on there are so incredible. They redefined death metal. They were unstoppable!”
Considering the band’s popularity has been a slow grower rather than overnight success how does being touted as the ‘Next Big Thing’ now go down with them? “Well it certainly isn’t us!” Drake says, grinning. “It’s great to be playing this event but obviously we aren’t that new anymore. ‘Five Serpents Teeth’ has helped us step up to bigger venues. When we played in Manchester at the end of last year we were playing the small room upstairs and now we are playing here which is surprising but we are enjoying it!”
“I’ve spent many a year rolling around the floor drunk here.” Carter says deadpanned. “I told the lads. You really have to see how big it is as a concert venue. We aren’t that bothered about venue size as long as the crowd is up for it but it’s nice to have more room onstage so we aren’t stepping on each other’s guitar leads. It does mean there does have to be more of a performance aspect, however. I think fans expect more from acts when they play bigger venues, you have to command their attention. There has to be more stage presence for you to carry it off!”
Quite clearly touring will be the focus for much of 2012 for the Huddersfield born lads. Does that mean the band wouldn’t be thinking about new material? “We have a couple of ideas written actually. Not full songs, just a few riffs here and there that we record while on tour then take back to the practice room to refine and arrange. They are quite brutal and heavy. We have been listening to a lot of extreme bands recently so we hope show some of that on the next album while expanding upon the sound of Serpents. We have no plans for recording anything yet but things are starting to come together!”
Click here to read a review of Evile’s HMV Next Big Thing 2012 show at the HMV Ritz, Manchester.
For more information and tour details for Evile visit their website.