We’re not sure which wave of thrash we’re to now. Fifth wave? Sixth wave? We don’t care so long as Evile are leading the British charge. Hugh Platt shouted as much at their lead guitarist, Ol Drake, over a few beers in the Cro Bar.
Outside the Cro Bar, it’s pissing down with rain. Inside the Cro Bar, some evil sadist appears to have broken the jukebox so it will only play ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen. And Thrash Hits is coughing up our lungs from the tail-end of a case of swine flu. Could there be a more apt forum to discuss the world’s descent into self-destruction with Ol Drake?
The cover was by the legendary Michael Whelan, wasn’t it? What was the brief you gave him to come up with that?
“We didn’t have the title yet; it was just a basic idea. We said it’s basically about society and how there’s really shit people in the world who make the world a shit place to live in for the good people. So we wanted a big evil thing that’s got the world, and all the good people trapped by it. He was like “how about this?” and showed us this thing with evil roots and a big demon thing. Perfect”
Now as far as the balance between good people/shit people in Britain today goes, are the good guys winning or are they on the losing side?
“I think in the long run, it’s the losing side – that’s what [the album] is about. If something isn’t done, it’s going to get shit in 10, 20 years. Kids are bringing up kids now, beating them up – I’ve seen it in my own town – thirteen year-olds bringing up kids, shouting at each other and stuff….”
In a historical sense, you’d think the world would get better – the civil rights movement, women’s right to vote, etc – do you know why society seems to have given up?
“I have no idea to be honest. I just know there seems to be a lot less repsect for…everyone. No-one respects anyone else, everyone is just out for themselves. That’s kinda what I think.”
Thesecond album feels more…focused than your debut. Was that a concerted effort or was that just the way your songwriting naturally flowed?
“When we started to write [Infected Nations], we didn’t want to just write another thrash album that was exactly the same as the first, just to please the ten old skool thrashers that liked the first album. So when we were writing, it was like “what can we do to this riff to make it a bit more interesting to the ear?” We wanted people to think “oh, cool!”, rather than just “huh, Slayer riff. Huh, Metallica riff” and stuff like that”.
When you’re dealing with something like thrash that’s had its ‘rules’ in place for almost 30 years, how do you go about making something new from that?
“It was mainly about finding different chords that sound really…dissolent and clashy. There’s quite a lot in there that’s clashy and doom metal actually. We’re just trying to find all the ways you can make a riff or a chord sound unexpected. I can’t really explain it, but discovering enw ways you can use the guitar in a song.”
Watch Evile mucking about in the woods
It’s interesting you mention Doom. Thrash was the ‘working class’ metal genre of the USA, whereas here we had the Birmingham Doom and the NWOBHM rather than a real Thrash tradition. Yet a lot of the great young Brit bands are thrash through and through. Why is that?
“I think because Megadeth and Metallica have both ‘come back to thrash’, a lot more kids are getting in to older thrash. Especially through bands like Trivium and Bullet [For My Valentine] – because those bands are influenced by Metallica and Iron Maiden, the kids are discovering all the bands through them. Everything comes full circle, and kids are following the older metal trends again. Nu-metal’s gone, and thrash has come back.”
There’s a whole crop of young British bands – Malefice, Trigger The Bloodshed, Sylosis – slaying it right now. Does the UK have it in it to get behind a generation of bands, rather than just a single figurehead act?
“I think at the time bands like Onslaught and Xentrix, when they came out in the 80s, people saw them as Metallica copies if anything. But now the UK’s got a lot more respect for UK bands and is taking them more seriously. When American bands come out to England, they only one UK date, but the UK bands are constantly playing up and down the country. They’re getting quite popular simply by playing so much, whereas the American bands playing one date leave people saying “oh, I wish they’d play the North…”
Speaking of the North, Thrash Hits is mostly made up of wet blanket southerners. How is metal doing up North?
“To be honest, not very well. Whenever we play Leeds there’s quite a lot of people there, but I don’t know any metal fans in Huddesfield [the band’s hometown]. It’s just all chavs and….idiots. When you come to London, the shows are brilliant.”
London bands say exactly the opposite – they all say they have a much better time playing up North.
“Ha! No shit.”
You recorded your debut with Flemming Rasmussen in Denmark, but you recorded Infected Nations in Northampton with Russ Russell – why the change?
“We wanted to use Flemming again, but he couldn’t find the time. A few years before, Russ Russell had said he really wanted to work with us, that he had a vision for us, and we thought “why not?” He had so many ideas to put in, it was almost like he was the fifth member of the band. He helped with some of the writing in the studio. And since it was a lot closer to home, you could almost go back home at the weekend. There was a lot less pressure as we were on English turf.
“We were quite good mates with Russ anyway, so he already had quite an idea of how we felt about metal, and what his tastes were, so when it came to it, he was on the same page as us. We’d come up with an idea, and he’d go “yep, I agree.”
Watch the video to ‘Infected Nation’ by Evile
Now the video shoot for the almost-title track of the new album: what did you do, and where did you do it?
“We were at Shepperton studios where they filmed Alien, so we were all “Argh!” [fanboy-wail]). Basically I was in a cube, and people in black hoods, representing the evils of society, were trying to break in while we were playing. It’ll look a lot more impressive when you see it than my crappy description.”
Did you have a lot of treatments, or was this a long-planned idea?
“We wanted something that kind of represents the cover [of the new album], but we couldn’t really get huge evil roots and a big demon thing….”
During the album’s build-up, you’ve kept on the radar as it were. There’s been studio updates, blogging and all that. Was that a conscious decision to keep yourselves felt, or just a happy accident?
“It’s not that we wanted to keep our presence felt, I just kinda like…when I was just a fan of music…well, I still AM a fan of music, I loved to hear from bands to know what they’re doing. So we thought “why don’t we just keep in touch with our fans as much as possible?” We’re on Facebook and that Twitter bollocks, just so fans can keep up.”
The upcoming tour with Amon Amarth isn’t your first big tour, so you’re not going in green, but how are you preparing for this one?
Well, we are kinda going in green because I have no idea how a Viking Death Metal crowd is going to react to thrash. Are they gonna hate it or love it? We won’t know till we get there, when they’ve got all their axes and swords….it’ll be interesting. Their music seems like the kind that’s open to a lot of different people, taste-wise. It’s not so typically “ROAR!” [throwing The Claw] all the way, it’s got variations to it. It should be cool.”
So what’s the plan for 2010?
“Basically, we’re just gigging. We’ve got a UK and European headlining tour planned for January/February, we’ve had a few offers for some American touring in April and May, and we’re trying to get out to Japan, Canada, and South America – although that’s really hard. We just want to gig and get the record out to as many people as possible.”
A lot of bands fail when it comes to the big tour schedule, but you don’t seem to have ever had that.
“I think we feel more comfortable when we’re on tour, as once we finish a tour and come home it’s just depressing and awful. We just want to stay on the road, setting our gear up, and playing to people. We’ll never complain about being on the road.”
Infected Nations by Evile is out on 21 September on Earache Records – expect a review here on Thrash Hits very soon. The band is touring Europe in support of Amon Amarth from next month – with Entombed on the bill as well during the UK leg, you really don’t want to miss these shows.
Evile Autumn tourdates (supporting Amon Amarth)
22 Cardiff Solus
23 Belfast Spring & Airbrake
24 Dublin Academy
26 Nottingham Rock City
27 Norwich Waterfront
28 Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
29 Newcastle Northumbria University
30 Glasgow Garage
31 Manchester Academy 2
01 London Koko