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Matt Drake (Evile)

Interview with Matt Drake from Evile
by Grigoris Chronis at 08 October 2007, 5:57 PM

EVILE's music in their Enter The Grave debut album is so exciting that I couldn't keep away from contacting the band for some extra info. These UK Thrash maniacs are rather ordered to kill us with some kick-ass songs and - to tell you the truth - I feel it should be Flemming Rasmussen's honour working with you, not vice versa, right Matt? Please, enter the Metal Temple catacombs, we've been expecting you!

Hello from magazine! We should start up by saying we were thrilled by your debut album, Enter The Grave. This is your debut album, right? Or, you have released something more we should start looking for (laughs)? Really, can you give a brief EVILE bio for our readers?

Yo! Cheers dude! Glad you like the LP, it is indeed our first ful- length adventure. We had previously self-produced two 5-track CDs, All Hallows Eve and The Hell Demo; some tracks from both made it onto the album. We started at school years and years ago, me and Ben used to jam after school/college and then Ol took up guitar and would join us occasionally. He then got really good so we decided to start a band. We got hold of Mike through an advert in a local guitar shop, after I spoke to some guy who wanted to join us saying he had an acoustic guitar and could play three METALLICA songs. We said No! to that guy!

We played as a covers band for a few years and got really bloody bored with it, so we wrote two of our own songs and threw them into the set. They went down as well as the covers so we quit that for a while and wrote loads more new stuff, and then came back as EVILE, a totally new band, and it seems to have been worth it so far!

EVILE hails from the UK. I must I’m rather disappointed from the country’s contribution to the Metal scene the last years. Still, EVILE seems rather capable of raising the Metal flag in the years to come. Well, how do you see the status in Metal music - be it the ’classic’ Heavy, Power/Speed or Thrash/Death/Black genre - in the UK?

The UK is full of bands who want to be KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, they all have silly haircuts and act like arrogant twats. I have no interest in modern Metal, apart from one or two bands like OPETH. Anything past-1992 I’m just not interested in. There isn’t a huge Metal scene in the UK, we’re pretty spread out, but it seems to be gathering pace, more and more people are taking notice of what ourselves and other bands are doing, and I genuinely see this place getting a bit more Metal again. People are getting behind it, because once youre a metaller, thats it, you’re a metaller for life; you support it, you want to see it thrive! Time will tell, I guess!

Talkin’ a little bit bout Enter The Grave: how long have you been writing stuff for the album? And, in addition, how did you come in contact with the Earache label? Were there any other labels eager to ink deal with you?

Some of the album was written 3 years ago, one track from the All Hallows Eve EP made it onto the album, as did three tracks from The Hell Demo. When it came to doing the album, Earache wanted us to have a decent 20 songs to choose from. So, we could have a damn strong debut. There’s a few songs we’ve written which people will most likely never hear, unless we re-work them for future releases. One thing we’ve never done is hunt to be signed, we’ve never ’dreamed’ about it or put our whole lives into being signed, we just simply wanted to write decent songs to satisfy ourselves and gig gig gig!

Playing live is why we are a band, it’s all we want to do! We played at Bloodstock Open Air fest in 2006 and the day after I got an E-mail from Digby at Earache asking if we wanted to be on Earache. He had watched us play the night before and I couldnt fucking believe it, so naturally we said yes. They were the only label that has ever approached us; I sent out about 5 demos to labels a month or so before, and only got one response from Nuclear Blast saying NO, haha.

Enter The Grave sees EVILE performing ass-kicking ’classic’ Thrash Metal music all the way. Was this the style of Metal you wanted to focus on since you were formed?

Yeah, its’ all we’ve ever wanted to do. We don’t listen to modern Metal, no one makes music anymore like we want to hear. We love the classics but we wanted something new, so we took it upon ourselves to do it! We’ve worked hard at it, and it’s gotten harder being signed, and it’s going to keep getting harder as we go, but we can’t fucking wait to be doing it! It’s completely worth it, we’re the first people we need to satisfy, we love nothing more than Thrash and we didn’t want to change it, we’ve just tried to put our own mark on it.

Are the songs penned from the whole band? And what about the lyrics?

Yeah, we all have a go at writing, theres no set formula to how we do things, we might go through a song bit by bit together in the practice room or one of us might come in with a fully completed song. Then we all pick through it and say whats shit and what’s not, and add bits or take bits away. Same goes for the lyrics: we’ve all put work into it. Like Ben wrote the music and lyrics for Man Against Machine, he’s always in debt, so you can see what hes written, haha. Mike wrote Armoured Assault and Killer From The Deep completely, Ol wrote Thrasher completely, I wrote Burned Alive myself and the rest are all songs we worked on together, apart from lyrics.

I’ve done all of the lyrics for songs like Enter The Grave, First Blood, Schizophrenia, We Who Are About To Die, Bathe In Blood… I absolutely love writing lyrics, I leave them ’till last so I can write them around the music and take most time with them, as they’re just as important, if not more important, than the riffs.

Matt, I couldn’t keep but notice (being a drummer myself) the perfect drumming of Ben. Plus, the guitars work is notable too! Have you been studying music or all this is nothing more but talent and exercise?

Ol is the only one who can read music properly, Ben can pretty good as well, but me and Mike don’t have a fucking clue about theory. I started playing guitar because my dad once made his guitar laugh and I wanted to do that too, haha! That’s how deep I go. It’s all just practice, playing as many hours a day as possible. If you don’t practice you dont get good, and thats a fact. With recording the album we wanted to have a live feel to it, as in we wanted people to hear on the CD exactly what was played! We didn’t want to spend weeks fucking around with protools making sure every hit or note was perfect, we just threw some microphones in front of the cabs and the kit and hit ’record’. And that’s what you hear. And we couldn’t do that without practising our tits off!

What’s the feedback you already have from both Press and the fans? I’d like to focus more on the British Press (rather tough against classic Metal bands in the past). In addition, how ’open’ is the band to criticism? You know, many bands do not ever give a damn for what others will have to say.

The UK press has been fantastic, we couldnt have paid them for better reviews! Kerrang! and Metal Hammer have really been behind us, and that’s amazing! As for getting bad reactions, Mike and Ben are a bit more sensitive than me and Ol. Me and Ol understand that people are going to hate us no matter what we do, it’s part of being in a band and putting yourselves out there, nothing you can do about it as you can’t please everyone! But we will listen to everything people have to say, it’s interesting hearing peoples’ views. But if we get good or bad praise, we aren’t going to change the way we do things or the way we write songs, we do it as we want to, and if people get that and get behind us that’s great, and if they don’t no harm done, it would be pretty boring if everyone liked us. It keeps you grounded when you get slagged off, keeps you fired up to better yourself. All we know is we will always thrash, that will never change.

Old-school Thrash seems to be kinda old-fashioned for many metalheads (especially the younger ones). How do you feel towards current Metal (or so-called Metal) genres? Do you keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the Metal world?

Quick answer for this (haha) NO!. As for all this metalcore/emo/whatevercore I couldnt care less, I’m not a fan of it, you can’t fault some bands’ success, they’re talented as hell and work hard, but the music doesnt rattle my balls the way SLAYER does. I don’t understand mixing brutality and melody, it just sounds shit.

Back to Enter The Grave: who’s responsible for the great cover artwork?

A cool guy, called Vitaly S. Alexius! Ol came up with the concept, I drew a sketch and sent it to him, and he came back to us within two weeks with the cover art! It went through a few changes, but we ended up with exactty what we envisioned for it. I recommend anyone to go to his site and check his work out, he’s very bloody good!

I was happy to see you’ll be offering a free 7 single for UK metallers. Is this correct? Is there unreleased stuff featured in this bonus disc? Not to forget, are there any plans to release Enter The Grave in LP format, too?

I am PRAYING for a vinyl release of the album, the cover artwork is begging for a vinyl release! One day it might happen, but it will be a limited run of maybe 1,000 copies worldwide. I want to make sure it happens, I’ll be proud to see our hard work on vinyl. It means a hell of a lot more than a CD. Yeah, theres a 7 vinyl with 2 demo tracks of songs that didnt make it onto the album, they nearly did though, but other songs were better. We might re-work them for the next album. Not too sure what to do with them really!

Based in the UK, I cannot help but asking if you ever were fans of the NWOBHM movement? You (and we) were young enough back then - plus I did notice such an influence in Enter The Grave (at least, not in the first place) - but I’d like to hear your opinion as British men.

Nah, we missed out on the New Wave, I was born in 1981 and spent my childhood years listening to Hendrix and QUEEN, I didn’t get into heavier stuff until I was 10 and got the Guns N Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums. Then, when I was 14, Ben lent me Master Of Puppets: as soon as I heard Battery that was it for me; I was ’Metal’, nothing else! The only stuff I know of New Wave was what METALLICA covered, from there I got a DIAMOND HEAD album or two but I was too busy discovering Thrash to care about much else!

As for Thrash Metal in The UK: ONSLAUGHT, ACID REIGN, XENTRIX and…EVILE? I think you did a show with ONSLAUGHT and XENTRIX last year, right? How was it?

That was amazing, to share the stage with two British legends of Metal. I’d listened to ONSLAUGHT for years and spent all night grinning like a twat! I think it was James Hinder who we were talking to, and he was telling us how he saw that gig as being a passing of the torch from the old thrashers to the young thrashers, which was incredible to hear, although that statement was rubbished as soon as ONSLAUGHT brought a new album out and started touring again! Haha, they took the torch back!

Matt, for the EVILE gig plans: are there any fixed dates yet?

Yeah, we have a UK tour with SANCTITY starting October 21st for two weeks, then after that theres a few random ones in the UK, next year is when the big plans start happening, we’re hopefully going to be opening for EXDOUS on their European tour which will last 6 weeks, hopefully! And we’re also going to try and get on every festival in the world, we’re also dying to get into Europe and the States; also Australia and Japan, we cant wai’t to thrash foreign peoples tits off!

I was always sceptic towards the Top Thrash bands’ post-80s behaviour. METALLICA is a band I do not anymore wanna occupy myself with, ANTHRAX released some mediocre albums, SLAYER did flirt a lot with the HC stuff, MEGADETH seems rather ’trapped’ in Mr. Mustaine’s confused brain, SEPULTURA decided to go ’tribal’ DESTRUCTION’s recent albums I do not like that much, KREATOR seems to make rather unstable moves (even if their two recent albums were good enough) and…what do you think bout all these mega Thrash Metal bands? Where is the border between development/maturity and ’betrayal’-of-principals/decadence?

Ah, well this is why we started EVILE. Bands weren’t producing the kind of music we wanted to anymore. To SLAYER’s credit though, they did go of course a bit, but the albums were still good, I really enjoyed Diabolus In Musica and Got Hates Us All, and Christ Illusion is like they realised where they had gone and tried to get back on track, they’re still doing really well. METALLICA are without a doubt my favourite band of all time. They had everything, the songs, the image, the personalities, the energy…people who slag the Black Album off are daft; it’s maybe the best produced album of all time! The drum sound is fucking amazing! The songs aren’t as good as in …Puppets or …Justice…, but it’s still a fucking good album, and I like Load and Reload. A lot of people don’t, but I used to listen to Load while playing Tomb Raider and I really enjoyed it. St. Anger was just very very very bad.

I think progressing as an artist must be a very tricky thing to do, because you’re known for doing a certain thing, and as soon as you leave the boundaries of what you’ve done before people are going to say you’ve sold out or lost it, but that kinda comes with being a band, you are known for what you do in the first place and metallers are not forgiving at all, haha! You need to find a way of keeping your identity as an artist, but exploring how far you can go musically without sacrificing what you’ve done in the past. Because if you keep doing the same thing again and again you’ll get boring, and if you stray too far from what you’re known for you lose your fans. It must be incredibly hard to do, and we’ll probably find this out in the years to come.

Do you foresee - if possible - the future of EVILE in the Metal scene, in terms of musicianship? I mean, is EVILE a band of friends playing Thrah Metal music? To tell you the truth, in the era of countless one-off projects, many people seem rather dissatisfied with the lack of bands made by metalheads for metalheads!

Well, we definitely are metalheads playing music for metalheads, no doubts about that! I see a hopeful future for ourselves, if we get our name around and people get behind us. I think we’ll have a place, there aren’t many bands releasing the kind of music we are nowadays, we know you don’t need to be tuned to Z flat to be heavy. We have a solid lineup, we’re all friends, I couldnt see this band functioning with one of us missing. We’ve played together for the past 7/8 years and I dont think it will ever change. We all have the same goals, we want people to have no trouble in mentioning the name EVILE in the same sentence as SEPULTURA or TESTAMENT.

It’s all down to if people get what we’re doing, every band starts somewhere and this is us starting out now, all we need to do is work incredibly hard and do what we do, and thats THRASHING!

Matt, thanks a lot for your time! Anything you’d like to add?

Yeah, you’re the first person I’ve spoken to that’s not asked about Flemming Rasmussen, haha! He’s a fucking DUDE! Thanks Greg! May you Thrash long and fast!


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