Interview: Evile Guitarist Ol Drake Discusses the Band's New Album, 'Five Serpent’s Teeth'
Despite recent hardships, including the passing of bassist Mike Alexander, British metal band Evile moves forward, hitting the road with ferocity and looking ahead to October 18, when their third album, Five Serpent’s Teeth, will be unleashed.
As the band gains momentum, lead guitarist Ol Drake takes a moment to offer Guitar World some insight into the thrash-throwback world of Evile.
GUITAR WORLD: What influenced you to start playing guitar?
I think it was a combination of my dad always playing guitar — he’s been playing guitar for like 60 years, and he was in bands throughout the 1970s in our local area, and he’d always just been playing guitar around the house. At one point, my brother had a guitar as well when he was young. He took a few classical lessons, and I just never picked up on it. Seeing them both play and being into Metallica just made me pick up the guitar. It was mainly through my dad and my brother.
What’s it like being in a band with your brother — especially one in which he also plays guitar?
I think it’s more beneficial than a bad thing because we know each other so well and we know what each other is thinking all the time. We get along, and it’s just a really great process. We obviously have arguments now and then and the guitar battles happen a few times, but I always win. It’s more good than bad, really.
How does it feel to continually be compared to [earlier] Metallica?
I think it’s cool. I mean, that’s what we grew up loving and listening to, and if people want to compare us to them it’s nothing but an honor. It’s not something we set out to do. We don’t sit down and say, “All right, let’s sound like Metallica’s third album,” or anything. Especially now, I haven’t really listened to much music over the past year or so to get a natural feel for anything, so anything that I came up with, personally, was just from my DNA of music that just happens to be a lot of growing up on Metallica.
What would you say is a major driving force behind your music?
I think it’s just that we’re honest. We’re not out to make money. We don’t have any gimmicks. We don’t climb up festival rigs or have anything other than the music. We just show up and play. It’s just the music. That’s all I can say. That’s all we know how to do. The fact that we love it as well is just another thing.
Being in the UK, what has been the international response to your music thus far?
It’s always been up and down. When the first album came out, no one had heard of us and people just thought, “Oh, they’re just ripping off thrash,” and then the second album — I think people started like it a bit more. We get a lot of positive responses from America, definitely. There are certain areas in Europe where we get a lot of good reception. It’s just about people who can look past thrash from 1986.
Have you always considered yourself a thrash guitarist?
I think so, yeah. Watching Metallica over the years and other thrash bands like Sepultura, it’s always appealed to me. I mean, I love guitarists like Slash and even old prog guitarists, but thrash and heavy metal have always just appealed to me, basically.
How did it feel to be featured on Rock Band?
[Laughs] Really strange. For Ben and me especially. We grew up just playing video games from the earliest time I can remember, so to have something of ours in something you can play on — it’s just really bizarre. Ben always goes out of his way to really create himself on games and have a band on a game, and to have our song on there is just really great, obviously.
What are some things you do to stay focused while you’re in the studio?
Other than drinking when it gets to be too much? [Laughs] I think it just helps to have a sense of humor about everything. We always joke around and never take ourselves too seriously. The second you start worrying and taking it seriously, you lose some of the fluidity in it.
What was it like working with Russ Russell again?
It was awesome! He’s just perfect. Everything we want — he knows exactly what we want, even if we don’t realize it. On the last album we did, he was good but we didn’t know each other so well, so I could tell he held back on a few things. Because we knew him so well this time, he was free to just say, “No, that’s terrible. We’re not doing that,” and he could just suggest things, and we had a really good back-and-forth. It really paid off on this album. It was like having a fifth member of the band. He’s just perfect for what we need.
What guitar(s) did you use in the studio for Five Serpent’s Teeth?
I used Neal Moser guitars. They called it “Bastard V.” It’s just a Flying V that’s ridiculously shaped and pointy. I also used a Bill Lawrence L500XL bridge pickup, which I found out were also what Dimebag used.
How did the passing of bassist Mike Alexander influence you personally on the new record?
It influenced all of us quite deeply. The thing that comes across in the album personally — it was more of a thing that made me want to do even better, especially for Mike — it was interesting to do a track called “In Memoriam.” It was really hard to get down, but there was just a sense of doing it all for him on this one.
What is your favorite song on FST?
I think it has to be “Xaraya.” It’s a combination of all we can do and what had been leading up to it at this point since 2003. It’s just got big riffs and epic guitar harmonies; the vocals are great, and the mandatory flashy solo section. It has everything I like to play in a song, and it’s great to play live as well.
What has been the most monumental moment in your career with Evile so far?
There are a few, because early on in 2008 we did a tour with Megadeth through Europe for maybe two months. A few of those shows were sold out and just ridiculous and in huge theaters. When we played Download Festival this last year, it’s like the biggest festival in the UK for rock and metal, just being able to play that was one of the biggest honors we’ve had. It was an amazing show as well.
What are your plans until the new album drops on October 18?
We’ll be on tour in the UK when it comes out. Other than that, we are just trying to promote as much as possible. We’re just really proud of this one and hope it’s the one that allows us to keep doing this for a living.
Evile’s Five Serpent’s Teeth is scheduled for release on October 18 via Earache Records.