A lot of bands are approved by Fenriz, others are Oliver Weinsheimer-approved. Oliver who? you might ask, if you’re not familiar with the main guy behind the Keep It True-festival. Over at the highly recommended German message board, “Sacred Metal”, he recently vented his enthusiasm for EVIL INVADERS, a Belgian newcomer performing old school speed metal. I hooked up with members Joe (vocals and guitars) and Alain (bass) to learn more about this band who just put out a self titled EP, following up a demo released about four years ago.
First, give us a little insight into the history of the band. Is EVIL INVADERS the first band for all members?
Joe: – I’m the founder of the band and started off with a complete different line-up. Alain was the first one from the present line-up to join the band. Later on Sam replaced our former guitarist and Senne our former drummer. From the moment Alain joined the band, things started to get more serious, because he’s an amazing musician and his energy affected everyone in the band! Me and Alain never played in a different band than EVIL INVADERS, but Sam played in a thrash metal band called Fallout and Senne played in a cover band named Vintage. I believe the present line-up is really strong. We all have a good bond together and we have or minds set in the same direction.
Is your inspiration mainly found in the speed metal-scene of the eighties, or are there one or two newer bands that have also influenced the sound of EVIL INVADERS?
Joe: – We get our inspiration from many things, not only speed metal. It’s hard to say which bands influence us particularly, I would just say that we’re influenced by all metal created in the 80’s and the older stuff like Black Sabbath of course! This doesn’t mean that we’re not open for any new bands, though.
Alain: – Actually more the 70’s and early 80’s bands: Sabbath, Priest, Motörhead, Maiden, Accept… After that came bands like Megadeth, Exciter, Helloween, Overkill and these days also W.A.S.P, Savatage, Crimson Glory… stuff like that. Me and Joe always had lots of energy and adrenaline rushes, we always get excited at rehearsals. We started to play faster and faster, that’s how it went. It’s never been planned, really. About new bands, I don’t really think new bands have a big influence on our music. I’d say they kind of influence us when we see them go on tour and play, the fact that they have fans around the world and that they are doing the things we want to do as well. It’s great to see that this is all still possible nowadays and that’s a huge inspiration for us. We’re really dying to get there too!
Do you see EVIL INVADERS as an out and out speed metal-band that wants to pursue this direction to 100 percent, or are you open for more thrash- or heavy metal-oriented material as well?
Joe: – If you ask me, our music can grow in lots of directions. We listen to a lot of different stuff and this influences the way we write music. I think EVIL INVADERS will most of the time be a combination of heavy, speed, thrash and progressive metal. I always had a passion for 80’s metal bands and the other guys too, so I think our sound will always stick to the roots of this kind of music. Some of the new songs we’re writing have a big heavy metal influence too. It just depends on our mood when we’re writing I guess… but I can assure you… there will always be a certain dose of aggression in the songs haha!
Alain: – Not at all, we do what we want to and what feels right. I never want to follow some hype or to do something just because it’s the “hot” thing to do. At the moment we’re writing very diverse material and we love to mix different styles. We’d never stick to only one genre. We’ll see where time will bring us. I don’t know where we’ll be in five years or so, but I don’t really think about it right now. We just try to make every song as killer as possible without thinking about it too much. A least that’s how I think about it.
While thrash metal had a big revival some years ago, speed metal never made a big comeback. Is this because it was more of an underground genre than thrash, or maybe because only a few bands performed real speed metal to begin with?
Joe: – I’m a big thrash metal fan myself, but I think the main reason why people start being a bit fed up with thrash metal is because a lot of the new thrash metal bands sound pretty much the same compared to the thrash bands you had in the 80’s. And I think another reason could be an overload of bands from this genre. There are loads of young thrash, blackthrash and deaththrash bands and a lot of them, despite their talent, will just drown in this big sea of bands and be forgotten. I wouldn’t say speed metal is more underground than thrash metal. There are just a lot less bands that play this genre. So the ones that play it will get more attention.
Alain: – I think it’s just because of the fact that it’s easier to be in a thrash metal band. You don’t have to be the best singer or the best guitar player. I have all respect for straight forward thrash bands, but I think it’s easier to pick up the guitar and play thrash, than real speed metal. It’s just more technical and it needs more practice. I think speed metal requires more time and practice with all the high singing and guitar soloing and stuff as well. But really, I love thrash metal as well!
Should your band name be viewed as a tribute to Razor, or does the name come from somewhere else and just happens to be the same as an album/song from the Canadians?
Joe: – I always thought EVIL INVADERS just sounded pretty cool. I heard the Razor-album and we were looking for a band name at the time. It’s a kick-ass title and Razor is a great band. I wouldn’t say our music sounds the same as Razor, though.
Tell me a little about the label you’re on, Empire. I guess they must be a pretty new label? So far they have only put out two releases.
Joe: – It’s a brand new label. We’re not signed on the moment but we just had some help from the guy behind the label, because he’s really into our music. We actually released the CD and digital version of the EP on our own. We took care of the artwork, recordings, … everything! He’s just the one who helped us with the first layout of the booklet on the first press of the EP and he does the vinyl edition of the EP. We know a lot of bands that are playing a lot, touring around the globe and all, but they don’t really seem to be happy with the deal they have with their label. We’ve had some offers from different labels, but so far there are no contracts signed. For now, we want to keep our independence as much as possible until the right people will come up with a good deal for both parties.
I have to admit I found your pseudonyms a bit silly, but they might have made more sense if I had known you personally. What do names like Jöe Anus and Pussymagnet Alain say about the persons hiding behind these monickers?
Alain: – I never liked my nickname to be honest. I was just thinking about it the other day and actually I think it’s pretty lame. I absolutely have no idea why people called me that haha.
Joe: – These names go back a few years. We called Alain “the pussymagnet” before he joined the band. He was coming to our shows all the time and in some way or another… he always got loads of attention from girls. We were always laughing about it and we didn’t take him seriously because at the time we didn’t know him so well… actually it lasted until the day he came for the audition and he blew me away with his talent. I guess the name just stuck but it’s a bit outdated. Currently we’re not using it anymore, and he’s happy with that. My nickname was just the English version of my real name. My friends came up with it at the time ( I think this was even before I started the band…) My real first name is Johannes and they quickly made the link to Joe-Anus haha. But everybody knows me like this, so it would be strange to change it all of a sudden. It’s not like we were thinking about cool nicknames for the band, it just happened.
As far as I understand, you have qualified for the final of Wacken Metal Battle. I guess it’s a big thing for a band to win a chance to participate at Wacken, but do you feel a massive and through and through commercial festival with the same old bands participating every year, is the right setting for a band like EVIL INVADERS?
Alain: – I think that it would do us only good. We always love to play for new people and at new places, because in Belgium we pretty much always play for the same crowd. A very cool crowd, though, but we really want some more exposure. I think that if people will read or hear that you played on Wacken or any other big festival, they certainly will be more interested. Plus if we could win and play at Wacken we also could go to the festival for free haha.
Joe: – Why not? At the moment I just want as much exposure to new fans as possible. Wacken seems like a cool place to make new fans and even if there’s nobody watching us, we’ll have a good time playing on a big stage and partying afterwards. None of us has ever been to Wacken and we’d love to check it out just to see some of our favourite bands. It would be amazing to experience a festival like Wacken… certainly as a musician!
Let’s talk about the material on your EP. Three of the songs also featured on the cassette demo you released back in 2009, and already are some years old. What about the three other songs, are they written around the same time, or more recently?
Joe: -Two of the three songs that were on the demo tape are rewritten and the other three are pretty recent. It just took us a while to get really satisfied with the songs and luckily we had the time to rewrite some songs during the recordings, because we recorded everything at home. Except for the drums of course.
Alain: – When Senne and Sam joined the band I immediately knew we could go so much further in writing songs. We didn’t have to hold back for the other guys anymore, so we just threw away the songs we had written so far and started all over. When EVIL INVADERS released the demo in 2009 I personally wasn’t in the band yet and I always felt that those songs could be way better. It just all happened when we had our new solid lineup.
The EP will also be released on vinyl. Which format do you prefer yourself, vinyl or CD? You’ve got a very cool motive on the cover of the EP, did you know already from the start that the recordings would be released on vinyl?
Alain: – I really love vinyl! It looks way cooler and it sounds way cooler also, because if you listen to a CD or music on your computer, people tend to skip songs more easily. I find that albums sound way better when you listen them from track one until the last one, really as one full album. You really get into the atmosphere of the album and the songs come out way better. There’s no better way to do that than by listening music with vinyl, because it’s also way too much work to skip songs haha.
Joe: – We are definitely vinyl fans! The only problem with new pressed vinyl is that it’s so expensive! We’d rather keep things as cheap as possible for the fans but still in a way that we can grow ourselves too. We were definitely going to look for somebody who would want to release it on vinyl but the CD version just had to be for our concern. But the vinyl version is on its way!I myself would never even buy an album through the internet but as a band living in 2013 you have to keep up with the technology so we even decided to sell the album through iTunes and other online platforms as well.
The next logical step should be a full length release. Do you have the material for such a release? If we look at the
material on the EP it’s pretty much in the same vein. Of course there is the instrumental “Speed Invasion”, but the tempo in this one is also quite high. Will a full-length release be more diverse than the EP?
Joe: – The new songs we wrote so far are more diverse and the lyrics contain a lot more depth than the ones on the EP. We will always deliver a decent amount of speed but we are open to a lot more styles. Right now we’re mainly focusing on writing new songs and playing gigs outside of Belgium before we move on to the next step. We just went to Spain to play at the “Heavy Metal Espectros” festival and we all liked the taste of it! Great festival, great people and loads of fun! We will also be hitting Austria and Italy in the beginning of April for two weeks. We would love to play more in Germany too, though! Hopefully we’ll have the opportunity to play there a lot in the near future! But Of couse we also would like to play in other countries. All across Europe, South America, the US, Australia, Japan! Everywhere!
Alain: – I have a lot of songs which I’m working on, in lots of different styles so I think the next release is going to be slightly different than what we have right now. I know Joe’s lyrics are getting a lot better and that we just keep on growing and growing. I think you can expect that the next record will be the next level.
Belgium produced some great bands during the eighties. Are you influenced by any of them, I am thinking of acts like Acid, Drakkar, Ostrogoth and Cyclone?
Joe: – Cyclone is one of my favourite Belgian bands and since I’ve listend to the “Brutal Destruction” album a lot when I was 16 I can’t say it didn’t influence me. But most of the time I get my inspiration out of bigger bands. What concerns Belgian bands from the 80’s: Steelover, Black Widow, Target, Westfalen and Battlecry are definitely worthy of being checked out by all metal maniacs around the world! But there are also some pretty cool upcoming bands here like Horacle, Prematory and Evil Shepherd.
Alain: – I went to the Metal Legacy festival last year. This year we’ll play on the second edition of the festival. I remember being blown away by Black Widow last year. Also Cyclone and Battlecry are awesome Belgian bands!
While Acid and Ostrogoth remains my personal faves from the country that brought us good things like Duvel and Mousa Dembele I gladly vouch for Battlecry myself. Check out their one and only demo “Cry Of The Warrior”, released back in 1985, but rereleased on CD by Stormspell Records towards the end of 2011. EVIL INVADERS might not be there yet, but this band is certainly the most promising outfit to come out of this country for quite a while.