EvilDead Interview

Alex Solca

Texas thrashers EvilDead have unleashed their latest album Toxic Grace. Guitarist Juan Garcia and drummer Rob Alaniz give us the scoop on the new record, tour plans, the promotion process, the latest on Garcia’s other band Body Count and other topics.

Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Toxic Grace compared to previous albums?
Juan Garcia: On this album we worked with two different producers and we thrived on using a metronome (click track) throughout the recording process on all instruments including the basic tracks; unlike our last album which we did off the grid. I think this extra step helped tighten up our performances with extra attention on the tempos, which made the music flow a lot better. It’s fine not to use a metronome in the recording studio but for us this time around it really helped tremendously on this new record.

Did you write more songs than appear on the album?
Rob Alaniz: Albert and I had two other songs that are about 90 percent done and another rough skeleton. We can always revisit those for the next record if need be. We could have easily finished the other two songs, but we were consciously trying to keep the record under the 40 minute mark. I’m not really a fan of things that overstay their welcome so to speak. Some albums that are longer than 35 or 40 minutes lose me almost immediately.

Juan: Our bassist Karlos Medina has a track that me and him have been working on for some time that didn’t make the new album. We haven’t recorded it yet, only a demo version exists at this time, and it needs vocals as well. I was a bit bummed that it didn’t make the album, but now we have a song in the can for our next release. I also have about 20 minutes of recorded guitar ideas that we haven’t even got to work on. Running out of ideas has not been a problem with EvilDead.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Rob: Other than what I just said, the creation was pretty organic this time. We hashed out most of the songs in Phil’s garage. Old school vibe intact! And I think it shows. For the most part it was a collaborative effort.

Juan: For me, being present when Phil Flores was recording vocals gave me the opportunity to really listen in and I’d like to believe that my contributions helped to his vocal performances. An extra set out of ears along with the producer/engineer is always a good thing.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
Juan: I would say getting everyone to agree on a final mix of a song is difficult. Sometimes people hear mixes a certain way and getting everyone to agree with what’s best for the final mix is no easy task. We let the producer guide the way most of the time. It’s also important to listen back to final mixes in different scenarios like with a car stereo, flatter monitors, headphones. Also another key factor is to compare the mixes to some of your favorite sounding songs to get an idea where everything sits in the song.

How has your sound evolved from United States Of Anarchy?
Rob: I think we have honed in our sound, as we definitely have a formula now. We all improved on our instruments too, so that was a great evolution from the last record. We are more conscious of tempo and seamless riff flow. A total learning experience this time for sure. In and out of the studio.

Juan: I believe we are more confident now than we were four years ago. And like I mentioned working with two different producers seemed to give us a good perspective on the new material; we let things materialize very organically. Working with Rob Hill and Dave Casey on the production of this album was a blessing in disguise. It gave us an unique sound.

What lyrical topics do you cover this time around?
Juan: A bit of everything really, some political stuff, gun violence, social media addiction, suicide, a basic observation of life. In general we have an optimistic point of view, but the way things are going in the world nowadays doom and destruction, chaos and disorder seem to fine it’s way into our lyrics. Phil Flores wrote most if not all the lyrics on Toxic Grace.

The album is being released on vinyl. Are you a collector?
Rob: Yes. While I am not a vinyl connoisseur, I know plenty of people who are and SPV did the right thing by putting out a purple vinyl version of Toxic Grace as well as the standard black.

Juan: I do collect vinyl. I have a decent rock/metal collection of albums. My favorite albums are the early Iron Maiden and Judas Priest releases, along with Scorpions and Motorhead as well.

How was the video shoot for “Subjugated Souls”?
Juan: It was a rather simple shoot. We captured some rehearsal footage the we inserted into the video. We hope to make more music videos moving forward; it’s a great tool to promote our style of music.

What’s most important in successfully promoting an album today: music videos, streaming playlists, something else?
Rob: Although social media presence is now commonplace and key, I think the only way to successfully promote yourself now is live gigs. At the end of the day it’s the only thing that cannot be pirated or resold. Although it is getting harder for bands to tour properly with costs for transportation and booking fees at an all time high. It has become a hindrance so hopefully that will change soon.

Do you like the modern promotion process of transparency and interaction, or do you prefer the old school, pre-internet days where there was a lot more mystique around a release?
Rob: Old school is much better as far as I’m concerned. I miss the days of no cellphones and people just living in the moment. There are advantages to today’s social climate, but that does present a catch 22 as the imminent cancellation of people and bands for ridiculous reasons (mostly political) have run rampant. We like to leave any and all politics to be deciphered by the listener as our role is to simply editorialize and not preach. That said, there are definite leanings in our music but you would have to ask Phil about lyrical content.

Juan: I prefer the old school, grassroots approach pre-internet. However, this is only my opinion; to me it seems to create more mystique, and also builds anticipation for new music about to be released. The reality is we are now living in an instant gratification realm which is also fine as well. It just depends on the band and your goals and how you want to promote the music.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Juan: Our goals is to play more live shows, we have an upcoming show on August 16th here in Los Angeles at the Teragram Ballroom that we are really looking forward to performing new material. We will also be performing at the California DeathFest VII in Oakland on October 13th with Sodom. As far as expectations I really don’t pay too much attention to that; we make music for ourselves, we make music we like to listen to.

Rob: I feel we have successfully captured the feel and vibe of our overall style on this record. Great production, not too modernized, heavy as fuck and a lot more dynamic. I love the succinct and deliberate way in which it is all calculated now. Tempos and flow etc. All while wearing our influences on our sleeves. We hope that the fans like what we have to offer them with the new record. I’m confident that people will.

Do you pay attention to reviews?
Rob: Yes, mostly the ones that offer constructive criticism. Although I do enjoy the flat out bagging of our music because if you can’t laugh at yourself in this business, you should quit now. Some of those observations have influenced us directly. “Where’s the thrash bro?”.. Hilarious!

Juan: Speaking for myself not a lot. I do appreciate when people take the time to review our music. It is interesting how listeners interpret our music.

Where haven’t you played live that you’d still like to get to?
Rob: I have my personal bucket list: UK, Australia, Japan and South America. I’m open to anywhere that will have us, obviously if it’s feasible financially.

Juan: I’ve performed in Japan with Agent Steel, but never with EvilDead so that is a place that I’d like the band to visit. Also South America and Australia would be amazing for this band.

What’s the coolest attraction you’ve been able to visit on tour?
Rob: For me probably Norway, Mexico City and places like CBGB’s in NYC. We look forward to going everywhere next year when the opportunity presents itself. I’m excited to play these songs as they all sound great live so far in rehearsals.

Juan: The pyramids in Teotihuacan on the outskirts of Mexico City was an memorable place. There’s also lots of parts of Europe that are super interesting as well.

What’s the status of the next Body Count album?
Juan: It’s recorded. We released a first single “Psychopath” a few days ago. We plan to have the new album Merciless out this year.

Will you also be touring with them this summer?
Juan Garcia: Yes, the tour starts in a few weeks. We had a warm-up show Anaheim, California at the House of Blues and we’re heading for Europe the following week and will be there all of June and into July. I’m really looking forward to touring Europe again.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Rob: I do enjoy running a popup shop with my girlfriend. We sell mostly classic vinyl and music and film related items. Other than that, I like just chilling at home, and watching YouTube and Netflix.

Juan: I like to travel a lot, I also enjoy art, visiting museums, and also reading a lot.

What’s the best thing you’ve binge watched lately?
Rob: Baby Reindeer, Upgrade, The Tourist, Black Mirror, lots of classic ’70s TV movies on YouTube. There are hundreds of things to watch on YouTube. You just need to know what to search for. I’ve been on an A24 studios kick: Hereditary, Beau is Afraid, Midsommer, Pearl, The Men, etc. That studio makes some of the most fucked up content. Love it.

Juan: I’ve been going back and watching movies like The Matrix, and horror classics like Halloween, and also some music documentaries.

What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Juan: Currently listening to the new EvilDead – Toxic Grace, also Body Count – Merciless, Kerry King – From Hell I Rise, Power Trip – Nightmare Logic.

Rob: Van Halen, Opeth, Katatonia, Led Zeppelin, Missing Persons, Black Flag, Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, Radiohead, Loudermilk, Virus (NO), and Mono. Lots of ’70s rock, funk and disco. I really like the new Kerry King record. I think Mark Osegueda’s vocals are amazing, as well as the new Deicide and Judas Priest records.

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Rob: I have a YouTube channel that I upload videos to regularly with all my musical projects. Check it out.
Also my vending.

Juan: Thank you for your interest, check out the new EvilDead – Toxic Grace album.

(interview published May 24, 2024)

Watch EvilDead – “Subjugated Souls” Video

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