Evil Invaders – Speedy Maniacs

Sunday, 8th March 2015

Growing up through the 1980’s metal movement, you got to see the rise and fall of certain trends. Younger musicians naturally wanted to push boundaries, which often meant using faster, more aggressive means to deliver their ideas to the masses. I won’t go all Sam Dunn/Metal Evolution in this intro, but it’s clear to see that the thrash and death genres owe a debt of gratitude and influence on the classic/traditional artists who ruled the day.

Now that a lot of these acts are slowing down their touring ventures and probably in their twilight recording years, it’s natural to see if there will be a new generation of musicians willing to follow in their footsteps. And right now these are thriving times if you are a fan of speed/traditional oriented metal, especially with the wealth of talent coming out of mainland Europe. Evil Invaders from Belgium are one of those ‘buzz’ bands to investigate, beyond embodying the 80’s look of leather, jeans, and high top sneakers as they perform a speedy brand of metal that incorporates a load of classic power and thrash nuances.

After taking in copious amounts of their full-length debut album Pulses of Pleasure, I sought out time on an early Sunday morning to speak with vocalist/guitarist Joe, the lone man standing in this current lineup from their origins in 2007. His excitement is palpable, and you’ll discover through this half hour chat a love of metal that goes back to the early elementary school period – a rarity when most are still busy enjoying GI Joe’s and Legos.

Dead Rhetoric: What was your personal journey like in discovering heavy metal – can you tell us about some of the early bands that captivated you and then provided the impetus to pick up an instrument and play?

Joe: The first time I encountered heavy metal was when I was 6 years old. My older brother had these guys who listened to heavy metal in his class, and he would bring me a tape with Unanimated – Ancient God of Evil on one side and Amon Amarth – Once Sent from the Golden Hall on the other side. He played it to me and said ‘listen to this, it’s such ugly music these guys are playing’ and I was immediately sold. You heard these ripping guitarists and I was blown away, that’s when it all started for me. One year later the first CD I had was Obituary – Back from the Dead and I think this album had a big influence on me too. From there it took me a while to pick up a guitar and play. You know when you are a kid and want to take guitar lessons, the first thing they teach you is like kids songs. So I wasn’t interested in doing that, I tried playing the acoustic guitar a bit in the beginning and I quit immediately because of all these songs I had to learn that didn’t interest me. I went skateboarding from there for a long time while listening to heavy metal music. The interest came back when I was 14, I was really into AC/DC back then, that’s pretty easy to play so my cousin worked with me. It didn’t seem as hard as it sounds, so we started playing “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” and shortly after I had my own guitar. We would jam a lot, then find a drummer and go from there.

Dead Rhetoric: Evil Invaders began in 2007 – tell us about those formative years? Was it an easy or difficult process to find the right musicians, and did you have solid ideas of the speed metal direction you wanted to pursue?

Joe: In the beginning we were just some kids having fun with the music. We started covering stuff like Black Sabbath “Paranoid”, some Saxon, S.O.D., Obituary – jamming on some random stuff. It wasn’t until 2009 that we actually had our first real lineup with a bass player and lined up some real gigs. Then we recorded our demo in May of 2009 and from there on we started playing more shows. The more shows we played the more we improved as musicians, and there were moments where other members didn’t take the band quite so seriously. As a result we had a lot of member changes, right now it’s our fourth bass player already. We are on our second drummer and second guitar player – it wasn’t until the EP release that we had an Evil Invaders band properly.

Dead Rhetoric: I would guess that Canada’s Razor had an impact on your life, beyond the fact that you are named after one of their albums… as well as Agent Steel because of your high pitched oriented melodies and screams. Are there other 80’s predecessors that Evil Invaders looked to as a template for your approach?

Joe: Yeah, definitely. I wouldn’t say that Razor and Agent Steel are our major influences. I started singing like that before I knew Agent Steel actually. It wasn’t until I heard people compare me to John’s voice that I ended up checking them out. Our main influences would be bands like Exciter, Exodus, the old heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, this kind of stuff. Also the more extreme bands in thrash like Overkill. We love a mixture of a lot of 80’s bands, King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, the classic heavy metal stuff. We try to combine heavy metal, speed metal, and thrash metal into one band.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about your D-emokill release in 2009 and the self-titled EP follow up four years later in terms of developing Evil Invaders’ songwriting and capturing your sound in the studio?

Joe: We definitely improved, that’s for sure! The demo is really crappy, man. Our EP was okay for a first release I guess. Of course when I look back at it now I would have done things a little differently, especially sound-wise. These are recordings from that time and that moment in our lives, so we try to keep that pure. It’s not like we are going to re-record stuff from the EP for this album, we didn’t do that. We really made a lot of progress from the EP until now as musicians. The songs off this new record are of a way higher level, especially the lyrics. The lyrics on the EP weren’t really special, they were a bit brainless, you know? Now there is more depth in the music and the lyrics.

Dead Rhetoric: You performed at the infamous German Keep It True festival in 2013 – did this help in attracting label interest for Evil Invaders and eventually signing with Napalm Records?

Joe: I think they had contacted us before then but I’m not sure. It definitely helped us to play this festival and get a bigger name within the underground. We were totally blown away by the amount of people that actually showed up at the show there. That was definitely opening up a lot of doors for us because of Keep It True. I remember we were talking to the guys from Nuclear Blast after the show and they liked it also. To hear from people in the bigger music industry, they see some potential in our band and that’s really cool. We are very satisfied with Napalm Records, they are very supportive and we are really free to do what we want with our music. That’s something we insist on when we are working with people.

Dead Rhetoric: Your debut full length Pulses of Pleasure is another exciting affair of ripping riffs, lead break insanity, blazing tempos, and of course over the top vocal delivery. How were the recording sessions going in, did you feel well prepared and were there any surprises or special circumstances that came up?

Joe: We were working for quite some time on the new songs and we made pre-production demos for every song. I think we were really well prepared before going into the studio. The recording of the drums went really fast- all the drums were done in two days. After that, it was the first time we recorded an album with the amplifier instead of going straight into the computer. The EP we did it ourselves, and we did it with an interface into the computer. This was kind of new for us, we had our sound guy around us help to do the recordings of the album. Everything went really well, we are satisfied with the result. It took us two days though to get the right guitar sound. I remember I had the headphones on playing the guitar and the sound guy was moving the microphones around the amp, and I would say ‘stop- this is the spot!’

We re-wrote songs and lyrics. There would be certain moments where I was recording a solo and some of the guys would look at me and say ‘are you sure this is the solo you really want?’. Maybe I could do better, so it was cool to develop the recording and my guitar playing during the recordings. I would do the solos over and over to make slight adaptations, I was very satisfied with the results.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you work out ahead of time who will take the lead breaks between you and Sam and when to double up for twin harmonies? I love the back and forth work for instance on the Maiden-esque “Stairway to Insanity” as well closer “Master of Illusion”…

Joe: Oh cool, thanks! Yes, we played the rhythms first in our rehearsal place and then we decide which parts each person wants. We want that answer and reply effect, that’s what we do with the back and forth lead breaks. It depends on the song too. “Pulses of Pleasure” for example, my solo is more aggressive and Sam’s solo is more like a heavy metal solo. It also depends on the backing track- if the rhythms are more heavy metal you go more melodic. Most of the time I do more of the melodic lead breaks and he’s the guy that does more of the fast, tremolo action and he’s good with the whammy bar so we try to incorporate that as much as we can within the music.

Dead Rhetoric: Who designed the cover art for Pulses of Pleasure? Do you work back and forth with the artist or do you give them free reign based on the songs at hand?

Joe: We started off with thinking up a concept and we wrote everything down as clearly as we could. The idea of what the album should look like- and we sent the ideas to an artist Mario Lopez from Guatemala. He’s a really talented guy, we had to e-mail things back and forth a couple of times with the sketches and stuff. It’s always hard because you have this perfect image in your head and then you have to try and explain it to the person that has to draw it. He did an amazing job on that one.

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