I’m sitting here together with Evil Drive in the heart of Helsinki. I had never heard of the band before, but word had reached out to me and their promoter asked me if I’d be interested in a great band, that has a lot of potential to grow out to become something bigger.
I support the local band scene quite heavily and was happy to agree to an interview, after checking out the album and writing a review about it. I’m sitting together with Viktoria (vocals), Marko (bass), JP (guitar) and Ville (guitar) and we have quite a fruitful conversation about Evil Drive, their new album “Ragemaker” and their future as a band.
Hi guys! Thank you so much for making time for Tuonela Magazine. When I was approached, I didn’t know much about you, I think here is still too many people out there who are not yet familiar with you or your music. For those readers, could you introduce Evil Drive?
Marko: Evil Drive started out four or five years ago, by Ville and Viktoria, and some other guys. Not everyone who was involved in the beginning are still in Evil Drive. So we have gone through several lineup changes. I joined the band about two years ago. JP jumped in last year. All together the band has been around for 5 years. Ville and our drummer Juho have played in Domination Black for over 10 years.
Viktoria: I also played in melodic death metal bands since I was 14 years old, in Vipuri (Russia). Marko has also quite some experience (laughs)
Marko: Yes! Ville and I also have a common ground, we both played for more than 10 years ago a Kiss cover band, which was called Paul Stanley Boozing Society. Basically the worst band name every, but still it was a great band! (laughs)
You are about to release your new album “Ragemaker” at the end of March. Can you tell us a little bit more about the album? What can we expect from it?
Marko: Have you heard our first album “Land of the Dead”?
JP: If there is people who expected a “Land Of The Dead” part 2, it’s not. The new album “Ragemaker” is going to be quite different.
Viktoria: It’s more melodic than the first one.
Marko: We changed everything within this album. The record label, the management, the booking agency, everything is different. We wanted to go forward as a band, not backwards, so because of that it’s totally different, but in a positive way!
If we elaborate a bit more on “Ragemaker”, how was the creative process behind the album? How did the songwriting go?
Ville: We started writing about one year ago. We wrote almost everything at home, because we don’t have so much stuff to practice in our rehearsal room anymore nowadays. Afterwards we did the demo, we corrected some parts, thinking “this might be better like this, this might work better as that” basically to get one finished package. Marko: The whole new album package took about 6 months to write, we started writing in June and it was finished in December.
Victoria: And it’s quite difficult, because not every member is living close to each other. For example our bass player lives in Helsinki and us three, we live in kotka, so it’s quite difficult.
Ville: And everyone has different jobs.
Marko: We are lucky to have a thing called internet, so we can easily share things and do our work and practice at home.
JP: Basically most of the songs came together, came out of Ville’s ideas. We put them together and we build on that, sorted them out to get a rough skeleton of the song. We then take it to the rehearsal place, show it to the other guys and then we kind of take it from there.
Some weeks ago you released a new single called “Fire Is Her Name”. Can you tell us a bit more about the background of the song?
Viktoria: Fire Is Her Name
Marko: It’s about her (points at Viktoria)
Viktoria: Maybe it’s a little bit (laughs)
Ville: It’s about our singer’s character of fire. (laughs) I hope no one will make her mad.
Marko: It’s about her and her personality, sometimes it can be really peaceful and nice, the next moment it’s fire.
Viktoria: Maybe there is something about my character in there. It’s always difficult to write lyrics for a song, you know, you start digging and thinking what to write about next, but it’s truly much easier to write about yourself. It was Midsummer celebration, the guys were really drunk and doing their own things and I had to write lyrics and I thought about what to write, then it just came to my mind: “About you, darling, you are fire, let’s write about fire”.
Marko: The song itself is quite melodic, it’s speed metal, a heavy metal anthem.
JP: Not really speed metal though, it’s quite a traditional metal song.
Marko: Yeah, maybe, 80s metal.
JP: We decided to choose that song as a single because it is kind of the middle ground of the record. It’s not leaning to the heaviest side of the record, it’s also not the softest song. It was somewhere in between.
Marko: We try to please as many people as possible.
Is that also the reason why you picked Anti-Genocide as the first single?
JP: I think Anti-Genocide was separated from the rest of the album, because it was done pretty much before the recording of the album actually started.
Ville: Anti-Genocide was actually re-recorded for “Ragemaker”.
Marko: Anti-Genocide was kind of a lost child. We recorded it in between the two albums. At that time we didn’t have a record deal yet. We just recorded it, put it out, so we keep our name alive. Now we indeed re-recorded it for the new album.
So if we dive deeper into Anti-Genocide, can you tell us a bit about the story behind the song?
Viktoria: Anti-Genocide is about Native Americans. About the war that they started because they escaped to America.
Ville: I think Viktoria thinks she was the last living Native American
Ville: She was wearing a headdress in the video.
Marko: I always thought you wanted to be an eskimo. (laughs)
Marko: Anti-Genocide came out in the middle of changes. JP had just joined the band, there was a new guy in the band and we wanted to have some new material out. We wanted to go forward and do something new.
Viktoria: Something new and something different and fresh.
Marko: But at the same we also wanted to change. We started to change our image, because we wanted to get rid of the old one. We’re not…
Marko: Yeah, we didn’t want to be “the war band” anymore. We wanted to change.
So you say that you wanted to have a different direction in terms of style and perception from others. Would you say that the new album thus has different themes?
Marko: For starters it’s not a concept album, it’s a collection of songs from different areas. Of course if you check out the lyrics, it’s mostly about different problems we have in the society, the politics and so on and there’s still that element to it, you know, we are up-to-date on what’s happening in the world, you know.
Viktoria: It’s all about our lives now.
JP: Some lyrics are maybe not that concrete, they are a little bit more abstract, for example about people who are going through difficult times, what goes through their heads and so on.
Marko: We have also dedicated a song to our heroes: Fallen Heroes. It’s about the deaths of for example Lemmy and Ronny James Dio. We wrote a ballad for that, a memory out of respect. It has many levels to it.
Ville: But then for example there’s also a really violent song on the album, the title track “Ragemaker”. We wrote about what we would do to rapists and warmakers.
Marko: There’s lots of different emotions on “Ragemaker”.
When we talk about your music in general, where do you get the inspiration from as musicians?
Viktoria: From our lives!
Marko: From the news (laughs)
Viktoria: News is one thing, but our lives also.
JP: Music-wise, I would say mostly from the eighties (laughs)
Ville: Kreator, Iron Maiden, Slayer, old Metallica, Sepultura.
Viktoria: Lots of different genres. I cannot say that we play melodic death metal, because it is not.
Ville: I don’t care about genre, if something sounds like a Scorpion ballad, and something else doesn’t, so what… A good song is a good song.
Marko: It’s funny, because some of the earlier reviews of our album said that we have a 90s Gothenburg sound like for example In Flames or Dark Tranquility. It’s fine. It’s okay.
JP: A bit surprising though.
Marko: It is. But at the same time what those bands have been listening to is also Iron Maiden and Slayer, so we basically have the same roots. We never listen to In Flames or Dark Tranquility. I personally prefer the 80s bands.
Well talking about different genres, I usually end up having discussions with bands about it. It’s often very difficult to place bands into different boxes and label them. How do you feel about people labeling your band as something? What would you say your genre is?
JP: When we listened to “Ragemaker” for the first time after it was finished, we heard also all the different things we put into it. It was funny to think just about how difficult it is to put it into a box. Because there is so many different things to it. More than on the previous one.
Marko: What do you think about it? How would you describe it?
Personally I find it very tricky. I have honestly no idea. there is so many different sounds in there, influences.
Marko: so we were right
Ville: Something has been done right (laughs)
I hear usually influences that aren’t even there. (laughs) But more in general, nowadays I think it’s always difficult to put things into a box, sometimes you have to do it though, even if you wouldn’t want to. I personally don’t like it that much.
Marko: You know when we first started out, all the reviews kept saying that we were a B-version of Arch Enemy. They kept comparing us and said we didn’t have a good enough sound to be like Arch Enemy and blabla this and that. But so far, no one has mentioned Arch Enemy, so we really have done something right this time around, because we in the first place never had the intention to sound like Arch Enemy at all.
Hold that thought. If you think about the first album and “Ragemaker”. How did you grow?
Marko: Of course we grew. We have now more experience. Moreover, we have a new lineup, remember, that’s also the main difference.
Ville: We repaired every problem from the first album. We don’t make the same mistake twice.
Viktoria: After “Ragemaker”, our first album, sounds like a demo (laughs), but you know it’s been a great experience for us. We studied a lot since then, and our third album will be even better!
Marko: We will always learn from the past experiences.
So we have already covered quite much about your new album, now what’s the next step in the process. What are your plans for the coming year?
JP: We have a few shows already confirmed. But considering that we changed the record label and our booking agency, we’re a bit late for summer and the festival season. We are concentrating on the fall season.
Marko: We changed everything: the label, our management, booking agency, so we don’t actually even know what’s gonna happen at the moment, but of course we have big hopes for the future!
Viktoria: It’s exciting!
Ville: We think lots of good things will happen, also because it’s a great new record label.
Marko: Yeah, we also have good connections. What we really want to do is go to Europe, or Germany. We have been in some talks about maybe doing a tour in December in all the main cities in finland, so we’ll see.
So we have talked a bit about the past, about the present. But what about the future. Where do you see Evil Drive in five years?
Marko: When we signed the deal, it was actually a three album deal, which means that we basically are committed to do this in five years at least. So i think that gives a basic outline on how it will go for us and we’ll see. The album will come out soon and so far the reviews have been really positive. But no one knows what’s going to happen. We wanna do lots of shows, maybe a tour with some of our childhood heroes, who knows, great festivals. We are committed to do this at least for the next five years, if nothing has happened in five years, then does it still make sense?
Viktoria: Yeah and for me, I’m considering to get out of Finland. There’s too much bands here. They have difficulties to get to a high level. I will maybe move to Europe. In Finland they like more tidy riffs, faster songs. But we are melodic, our place is in Germany.
Marko: I think also that the real market for the music we are playing is in Germany, Western-Europe and maybe Southern-Europe. The most interesting thing is that when I went through our Facebook followers, which is about 10000 of them now, I discovered most of those guys or girls are from USA, which is really surprising, mostly from Florida and New Mexico. So maybe we have to listen to those demands right there.
It’s actually quite interesting what you said about the amount of small bands in Finland and that you feel your place is not in Finland. How do you see the Finnish metal scene in general?
Ville: There’s too much bands.
Viktoria: Too much bands. (agrees)
Ville: There’s a significant amount of bands that have a really good quality. But a lot of those bands, no one will ever find out about.
JP: Yeah, the metal scene in Finland is alive and well. We have a huge number of really good bands, but what’s sad is that from most of those bands probably the big audience will never hear about.
Marko: They are going nowhere, those bands.
JP: And it’s not because of the bands, it’s just because of the huge number of them.
Ville: It’s really difficult to put your nose up there, you must really think about your relations and what you put out there. Everything must be good, everything, everything what you release.
Marko: I think with the new deal and our new partners, we finally have a fair chance to make it bigger. All of us have been involved in this business for enough time to not be doing the same thing. Finland has overall a good reputation, it’s the land of metal. Especially in Germany, they see us as the holy land of heavy metal.
One last question related to the album. The album cover looks quite beautiful. What could you tell us about the album art?
Viktoria: The album cover was done by our friend Jarkko Vanhalakka. We also worked with him for the first album. On this album we gave him a free hand.
Marko: Yes, we basically just gave him the title and told him to imagine what comes to his mind and the result is great.
Viktoria: He is also the guy who did all of our t-shirts, logos.
Marko: All of the art.
Viktoria: He’s our trusty man. (laughs)
Before we wrap this up completely, do you have something to share to our readers still?
Marko: Let’s start from the left
Viktoria: Let’s start from the right?
JP: No let’s start from the middle (laughs)
Viktoria: I can start. Listen to “Ragemaker” and listen to Evil Drive
Ville: If you want to listen to good metal, you must listen to “Ragemaker”.
Marko: We’ll see you guys at the shows. Our new album is “Ragemaker”, go check it out on evildriveband.com. We changed our webpage. Go there, send us some feedback, we’d like to hear your thoughts.
JP: We will see you at the shows!
Watch the highlights here!