Evoken (en)

For the release of Evoken's fifth full lenght Atra Mors, Vince Verkay drummer of the group since 1994 agreed to answer my questions. It was the opportunity to speak about the current events of the band of course, and also about the place of Doom / about Death in the Metal scene.

Join the dark depths of funeral death....

interview EvokenFirst things first. Hello and thank you for giving some of your time for this interview. Why did you eventually sign to Profund Lore? What was it that made you want this particular label to release your latest album Atra Mors?
It was the easiest decision we’ve made thus far regarding signing to any label since our start. Profound Lore is incredibly sound label, with a fantastic line-up of bands. Before we officially signed with Profound Lore, I had the opportunity to actually meet and speak with Chris at the Maryland Deathfest. Not only was he a really cool guy and easy to talk to, but showed such a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in having Evoken on his label; he is a fan of Evoken. Just look at the track record with his releases. I don’t think you can find one person on this planet that has a negative attitude toward his label.

It was also nice to finally be able to physically meet and speak with the label we were signing with; we haven’t had an opportunity like that since signing with Elegy Records.

Since the famous Shades of Night Descending demo, Evoken’s course of action has not much varied, have you ever considered including more Death Metal elements to your music to make it more brutal, or, on the contrary, considered giving up entirely Death Metal which would precipitate you, body and soul, into the realms of Funeral Doom?

We never consider including any other genre of music into our music. We essentially allow the natural flow of writing decide how a song is eventually completed. At times, there may be moments of black metal or death metal in one of our songs. That’s not a result of planning, but a result of how we felt a song could be improved. With “Atra Mors”, we developed songs incorporating more death metal, not because we discussed doing so, but the songs just called for it.

Who knows, our next release could be entirely Funeral Doom, but on the other hand, we could wind-up writing songs dominated by Death Metal. We believe in keeping our options open, and never painting ourselves into a corner.

The songs (which I find very good) featured on the split record with Beneath The Frozen Soil were recorded since September 2008. Why did you wait two years to produce them to your fans? Was there any “procedural” issues with a record label?

For us, to release anything only 2 years after a previous release is rather quick, so we decided we had to drag things out as long as we could… just kidding.

One major reason why it took so long was the line-up changes we kept running into. While writing the songs for the split, we not only lost our bass player, but we also lost our keyboardist. As a result, we were down to a 3 piece (John, Nick and I). As we were writing, we were also searching for a bass player and a keyboardist. We finally were extremely lucky enough to have Don and his tremendous talent in Evoken. At that point, we had to continue the writing, go back over what we already wrote so Don can work his magic, and then we struck gold again with Dave joining the band. So, we had to go through the same process again.

Once Dave and Don were comfortable enough with the songs, we booked studio time. The recording and mixing process went relatively quick, but we ran into delays in trying to find the right person to create the artwork and layout.

Of course just when we thought things were back on track again, while preparing to record the songs for the split we were hit with the news Nick was moving to North Carolina, therefore leaving Evoken. Instead of being able to focus entirely on the last details of the split, we had to also concentrate of finding a new guitarist, working to find one, then getting acclimated with whoever they would be. Again we were extremely fortunate and welcomed and old friend into the band; Chris.

With the constant changes and distractions, it just further and further delayed the release.

Could you please tell us more about your latest album Atra Mors? How did the recording process go, the songwriting? Are you fully satisfied with the end result? To which previous record of yours would you think it could compare the most?

A. We’re VERY proud of “Atra Mors”, but of course similar to past albums, we always find things wrong after a few weeks of listening to it. Once the songs were completed, we really wanted the end result in sou
interview Evokennd reflect the atmospheres and emotions; which in many ways feels bipolar, going from tranquility to anger in a single moment.

The recording process went unbelievably long; the longest process to date. There were so many delays, most attributed to the studio having other clients coming in to record which limited the days we could use. At one point, the studio forgot to pencil us in one weekend, so we had to wait 2 weeks since the week after was already booked with another client. As usual, it was the mixing process that took the longest. With such gaps in studio time, it started to become quite frustrating.

To be honest, I can’t really compare it to other releases. For us, this is an album that stands on its own. Although, I have read comments from fans comparing it to “Quietus”, which is great since “Quietus”

is held in high regard to a good portion of our fans.

Traditional Doom Metal seems to be today’s trendy genre. Back home, this year, the Hellfest organization set a stage fully dedicated to Traditional Doom Metal for three days while on the other hand there was no Doom Death band to be seen during the festival, making it almost the only genre that wasn't represented this year although this is a big fest. Considering this, do you think this doesn’t benefit you when festival people think more in terms of which more “hype” bands they should invite on stage to guarantee larger audiences?

Well, from a financial aspect, I can somewhat understand the reasoning behind presenting more high-profile bands or genres. After all, it takes money to even put on these festivals. On the other hand, it does present a problem for doom/death bands. Yes, Traditional Doom Metal is currently the flavor of the month. But, in my opinion, I cannot think of any valid reason why they could not invite the extreme doom bands and scatter them on the various stages. Regardless what people may think, doom/death metal does have a decent fan-base. If given the opportunity, the attendance for these bands would be just as impressive. I have seen some of the festivals invite a couple of extreme doom bands, but it appears to me they invite the same bands every year, or every other year. As a fan of extreme doom, seeing the same bands year after year would bore the shit out of me. Let us see someone different, give us the opportunity to see bands that are a rarity to see live.

Even the “hype” bands, every year I check out the line-ups and it looks like the same bands all the time. That’s why I believe Roadburn Fest is such a success. Not only are they fans of the music, but they also mix things up. They don’t rely on bringing back the same bands every fucking time. They don’t invite every band that you could easily see on tour, or bands that you can see every year at various locations, they make the festival an actual “special” event. Other festivals are extreme metal fests that admit in some ways that certain genres of metal are “too extreme” for them. I can only hope at some point it changes and they give such bands, including Evoken the opportunity.

Have you planned to support the release of your album live on stage in Europe and particularly in France? If yes, could we see you play gigs more in bigger fests like Motocultor or Hellfest, or in more modest venues?

Our past tours in Europe have definitely been fantastic. Right now, we’re in the middle of figuring out when to tour. Ideally, what we are shooting for is to tour Europe during the annual summer festivals. The problem we face is if these fests are willing to have Evoken. It’s not like we have these fests pounding on our door to play. A couple of the festivals have advised us that if we are touring around the time of their fest, they would love to have us. A couple of other festivals have flat out told us no, that Evoken were not something they were looking for. Believe me, if given the opportunity we would love to play all the Summer festivals, so if anyone would like to assist us in doing so, we would gladly do so.

Evoken is an old band with a solid and well established background, but do you still take the time to listen to more recent bands, draw inspiration from them or simply appreciate them? What are your thoughts, for instance, on bands like Colosseum (RIP), Mournful Congregation, Disma, Mar De Grises or Ataraxie?
We always enjoy listening to new bands. I think the notion that any bands
interview Evoken that may have formed several years after a band you are in are not worth listening to OR may inadvertently influence you is complete nonsense. For us, although at times we do experience a subtle influence from newer bands here and there, majority of the time we take the time to simply enjoy the music. We enjoy their creativity and interpretations of their influences.

We enjoy all those bands. We even played with Ataraxie and Mar De Grises some time ago and had a fantastic job. Those bands are writing some really incredible music; writing music that is sincere, which is a breath of fresh air. We really enjoyed playing with Officium Triste, Isole, Ophis and Ataraxie who have a fondness for one of our major influences, dISEMBOWELMENT.

We also had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Mournful Congregation on a VERY memorable night that included Longing for Dawn, Isole, Mourning Beloveth, and Officium Triste. Not only do Mournful Congregation write some of the most dismal, hope-destroying extreme doom, but they have managed to do it for decades now, even with a break in between, they still have conjured some of the highest respect in the underground. They’re really cool guys and excellent musicians. I hope they continue on for another 20 years.

Do you follow news in the Extreme Metal scene, even if a little, or do you feel satisfied with only the classis records of the 80s and 90s? Besides Metal, are there other genres that you really like and that sometimes won't leave your player?

I do follow extreme metal news to an extent. It’s not something I’ll seek out on a daily basis, but maybe once or twice a week I’ll check out Blabbermouth or Bravewords to see what’s going on. Sometimes I see friends who post various pieces of news on their wall that I can read.

Of course, it’s safe to say that I enjoy a wide array of music. I enjoy classic rock, classical, new age, a limited amount of jazz, some of the popular music from the 80’s, ambient, some old-school hip-hop, trance (which I really need to be in the mood for), and some folk.

Since it’s been now 20 years of existence, I can only imagine that you experienced ups and downs in the lives of bands and personal lives of musicians. Have you ever considered splitting up during more negative periods of your personal lives or the band's life? Is the "Evoken" entity bound to last some more?

We DEFINTELY have experienced an incredible amount of ups and downs in our lives regarding the band and personal. As far as the band is concerned, the time period during the writing and recording of “Antithesis of Light” was very difficult. It was the first time we experienced the loss of not just 1 member, but 2 members of the band. We really didn’t have any direction to shoot for when entering the studio. It was just a very difficult time period. Even personally for me since my father passed away during that time period, my mind was definitely not completely into what I was doing.

Other than the absolute VERY beginning of the band, there has never been a time where we thought about laying Evoken to eternal rest. At the very early stage of Evoken, the band only consisted of Nick and I. Both our bass player and guitarist had left the band, so our journey began in finding new members. For several months, we kept coming up empty in our attempts, thus started the self-doubt and frustration, so while Nick and I kept rehearsing we also asked each other if it was worth continuing. It began to feel as if our attempts and enthusiasm were in vain. That’s when John came along, and thankfully Evoken continued on…so in some way, John saved Evoken from the brink.

Unless the world comes to an end, Evoken is bound to continue on for as long as possible.

A few last words to all Evoken fans to finish this?
First, thank you for the interview and taking the time to include Evoken. I don’t believe there are enough words to show our appreciation to our fans, old and new. Year after year they have remained with us and really have shown us we have the most dedicated fans in metal. I know numerous bands have said such things, but we have fans that have traveled by bus for hours, in the middle of the week, having work the next morning just to see us live. I don’t care what people say, we have the absolute best fucking fans on this planet. We hope to see everyone on tour soon, and visit so many additional countries.

Interview done by BEERGRINDER

2 Komentarze

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HeadCrush - 26 Październik 2012: Very bonne interview mister BG, sna srire, elle est top.
Crinn - 26 Październik 2012: Awesome interview, man
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