After being out of the band for several years, guitarist Ol Drake rejoined Evile. Following the exit of his brother Matt Drake, Ol took over vocal duties for their new album Hell Unleashed. Drake fills us in on all the changes.
Chad Bowar: What led you to rejoin Evile in 2018?
Ol Drake: My replacement (Piers) stopped showing up for rehearsals. I think he was fed up with the lack of new music, so I joked with Matt that if they should ever need a lead guitarist to give me a call. Everything just fell into place with me rejoining, and things made a lot more sense this time around as I’d fully come to terms with the fact that being in a metal band mostly has to be a hobby as people don’t buy music anymore; it has to be worked around a job. It would be great one day if it didn’t have to, though!
How did your newest member, guitarist Adam Smith, come to join the band?
When we decided I’d be singing we were completely stuck as we wanted someone on rhythm who we knew, who could play well, and lived local to us. Ben suggested Adam – who I’d though of but didn’t consider due to his RipTide commitment – but I called him up and asked and after a 5-minute panic he called me back and said yes.
Was there any consideration of him also doing vocals?
No. His style wouldn’t fit the Evile sound. We considered getting a new vocalist but we felt the best route was to have a familiar face on vocals to reduce the “resistance.”
How did the songwriting process for Hell Unleashed compare to previous albums?
It didn’t differ much, to be honest. It was still an initial seed/riff starting a song, and I work on building that idea into a song at home. I send the progress to the band and the direction/ideas are discussed. The music was actually finished mid-2019, but the complications with Matt meant no lyrics/vocals were done for almost a year until it fell to me to do them. The upside to that is it gave us loads of time to perfect the songs.
How was the experience recording an album as lead vocalist in addition to your guitar duties?
It was… interesting. I can sing, and I can shout, but I couldn’t initially do it well. When I recorded the demo vocals I could taste blood and I could feel damage to my throat so I had to stop. Chris Clancy really helped me in the studio, and now Melissa Cross is really helping me do what I do in a healthy manner. But in terms of doing guitar AND vocals, it came to me easier than I expected just from doing backing vocals and playing the guitar for so long.
After working with Matt as your fellow guitarist for so long, what was the biggest adjustment to playing with Adam?
In all honesty we haven’t played together yet because of Covid. We are starting rehearsals very soon, but he’s a great guitarist and great guy so we have no worries.
Did the pandemic affect the recording of the album?
It did to an extent as only really me and Ben could be at the studio; Joel and Adam came by when they could. We were in there for two weeks but we couldn’t go anywhere other than the studio. It was just the right amount of time to not get cabin fever.
How did Brian Posehn’s guest appearance come about?
Brian did backing vocals on our 2011 song “Cult.” Someone sent me a screenshot of him wearing an Enter The Grave shirt on the Sarah Silverman show and we got talking. This time around I emailed asking if he’d like to do backing vocals on “Gore.” He loved the song and said he’d love to. People seem confused thinking that it’s some kind of duet, and we couldn’t get him for the video. But he’s JUST on backing vocals.
How did you come to sign with Napalm Records?
Our contract with Earache ended with our fourth album, and we wanted to try somewhere new. We were talking to quite a few labels, but when Matt quit most of them weren’t interested. Napalm was the only label that still believed in the material regardless of the lineup change. They’re also great people to work with so it’s a win win.
With a new label and eight years since your last release, what are your goals and expectations for the album?
We have high hopes for this one as we have a special feeling we’ve not had before. We’ve loved and labored over every release we’ve done, but we feel we’ve captured something we haven’t before on this one. I think this could be our breakthrough album. Our goal was to release an aggressive musical statement to tell the world we’re back, stronger than ever.
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
I used to pay a lot of attention to them, but not so much anymore. If you pay a lot of attention to the positive ones, the negative ones will affect you. I find it’s best to not let either change your views.
When do you think the band will be able to resume live shows?
As soon as we’re allowed. We have a UK tour scheduled for early 2022, but Brexit is screwing everything up for us entering the EU. It’s currently too expensive for us to even consider it.
Social media is an essential part of promotion these days. Do you like the transparency and interaction, or do you prefer the old days when there was more mystique to an album release?
I kind of prefer the old days. I miss the mystery in music. When I was a kid all you had was the pictures of the band on the CD/Vinyl, music videos, and live shows. But that’s not to say I wouldn’t have been right there if Alex Skolnick was on Twitch when I was 16.
What was the best thing you binge watched during the pandemic?
I finally got around to watching The Walking Dead. I love zombie films and I was dubious about watching it, but I absolutely loved it.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
At the moment I’ve got Sepultura – Beneath the Remains, Rhapsody – Legendary Tales and Deicide – Once Upon the Cross.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
If anyone has liked what they’ve heard of the new Evile material please consider ordering a physical copy of the album (or the digital download). It goes a long way to helping artists on labels! See you on the road!
(interview published April 29, 2021)