Many moons ago, I remember being pretty impressed by Evisorax. Not only was their brand of grind astoundingly complex, they were nodding to all my personal favourites. I wasn’t the only one dribbling at the possibilities, and with all the attention they were getting in the UK and abroad it seemed Evisorax were poised for big things. But then, seemingly overnight, they just disappeared. Gone. Despaired grinders the country over plastered their faces on milk cartons, flyered squats and gigs, held telethons, and pleaded with the scene police to put out an APB… but it was to no avail. One could only imagine the worst, that Evisorax had been abducted by the paedo of promise, the underground monster who snatches young bands from their beloved fans and tucks them into obscurity, forever.
Fast forward to 2011. All but forgotten, Evisorax emerges from the basement, yes, damaged by the torture of lost progress, but resolute and strong, complete with a new vocalist Chris Grenfell (now replaced by Simon Wright) and drummer Brod, the latter of whom previously played with their Wigan home town heroes Narcosis. ‘Isle Of Dogs’ is the product of this new coalition, mastered by the grind master himself Scott Hull and released on Pig Destroyer bandmate J. Randall’s Grindcore Karaoke, officially subscribing to the idea that if you build it, then give it away, they will come. They’ve settled into a more definitive identity, a more visceral, organic approach without as much death metal schizophrenia, concentrating on their blistering grind bursts without forgetting we can’t always just chew on bones and need catchy, solid hooks to sink our teeth into. Since the beginning of the month they’ve been touring with old buds Wormrot (whose front man Arif provided the artwork to ‘Isle Of Dogs’) and while this lady continues the strenuous training regiment required to get my best Napalm Barney dance ready for OEF, guitarist Dan was kind enough to take some time off his strenuous tour schedule to chat to Zero Tolerance.
ZT: Both Pete and Keith left the band around the same time. Was their departure a shock and why did you chose to continue under the name Evisorax? Was it primarily your project or was it more to do with what you had established under that moniker?
D: Pete departed the ranks shortly after Evisorax played as that line up in 2009, and to be honest it was pretty much internal bullshit. Pete and I had a few choice words with one another and he walked, tensions were pretty high back then. It wasn’t so much of a shock due to the fact he stepped out of the band at the end of 2007 until re-joining for the October tour 2008, none the less it was a harsh blow and left a void that Keith and I didn’t fill.
When Keith departed however it was not only a shock but also utterly devastating to me personally as I always felt an understanding musically between the two of us, a sort of click that I had never found whilst writing/playing with other drummers. Added to which we had been playing together for a long time and been through a lot. It was a pretty difficult position to be in but I couldn’t let the band fall to bits. It is after all my brainchild.
There was no question in regards to continuing as Evisorax, I created and started this band many years ago and even years before I had even heard of Keith and Pete. Although those two leaving was difficult and more so as it was the most solid line up that I had ever had the pleasure of working with to that point, members coming and going over the years is a given and become expected as I have had so many people join and leave since the conception of this band and seeing as Napalm Death have been one of the key influences on my musical aspirations since a young teenager, understanding that members come and go. Many well known grind bands who have any sort of longevity within the scene very rarely have a solid or long standing line-up and generally has only one or two active original members. Obviously after slugging away as Evisorax for so long and obtaining recognition under that name, I was not going to give that up.
ZT: Releases have been a bit slow going with you, even taking in to account the personnel overhaul, with only two EPs and a demo in nearly seven years. Most bands would worry about losing momentum, especially after all the buzz you had with ‘Enclave’. Is this frustrating at all or do you feel like you’ve moved at your own pace? Did touring with Wormrot feel like getting back on your feet?
D: There have been more than two EPs, they were just early and not really vocalised about, learning curves and all that. We would release pretty much prolifically whilst building the profile up to the point of ‘Enclave’. Record label trials and tribulations and internal fracas were the major hold ups. We recorded ‘Enclave’ in May 2007, I was told by a record label that they wanted to sign us straight away but could we hold back on releasing ‘Enclave’ until September 2007. Being naïve and blown away by an actual record label wanting to release us I accepted this. The September release then became a December release, the December release was then pushed back until March 2008! Pete, fed up with the way things were going and being held back as we were in consistent limbo left and at this point I severed all ties with that label.
Anticulture records picked us up after that and we toured in June with label mates Gutworm and the Grieving process to promote the ‘Enclave’ record although this was more to put us out on the map after being in limbo. The record was released in October 2008 and we toured again to promote this. We took a break for Christmas and started writing new material in 2009. As mentioned previously Pete left at the beginning of 2009 which threw a spanner in the works and Keith left pretty much immediately after. Everything took it’s toll on us and we pretty much imploded. I had no other people to continue with.
The only other drummer I knew who was interested in listening to grindcore let alone able to play it and to a highly competent level was Brod (formerly of Narcosis/The Ergon Carousel) but growing up in Wigan I idolised Narcosis and it took sometime to pluck up the courage to ask him to write and record with me, at that point playing a gig was way out of the question as he had too many commitments. I also enlisted the help of Chris Grenfell who was doing vocals for The Ergon Carousel at the time after originally asking Simon Bishop who did vocals in Tangaroa but couldn’t commit at the time.
Brod and I wrote material from summer mid/late 2009 but he broke his knee and this put any forward action we were attempting to put into plan on an even longer hiatus! I continued to write material for when Brod was ready to get behind the kit again, in between all this he was playing regular shows with The Ergon Carousel and recording/writing their album! In April 2011 we finally managed to get things sorted and get into the studio to record ‘Isle of Dogs’.
Of course I was deeply worried and infuriated in regards to losing momentum, after the years of hard work previous to that point of standing outside shows in all kinds of weather giving out hundreds of early demo’s for free, relentlessly requesting fans on Myspace and just walking around cities giving them out to anyone who looked into metal. Playing every toilet we could, I wasn’t prepared to just lie down and let it fall away. I can’t deny that it was an awful state to be in and it really affected me personally.
At the start of 2011 everything just seemingly started to fall into place for us, our vocalist at that point Chris, had a studio with a friend of ours called Gavin Collett. He recorded our album, Dobber Beverly of Insect Warfare was visiting Chris at the same time so he came over to the studio and threw in some input. The CD was only ever aimed as a demo for us to assess where we were before we committed to a release. I sent it out to Randall who loved it and released it and as you know Scott Hull of Pig destroyer mastered it. The Wormrot tour towards the end of that year was the finishing touch and placed us firmly back in the undergrind collective!
ZT: ‘Isle Of Dogs’ sounds much less polished than ‘Enclave and I’d say quite the departure musically speaking as well. What have the new guys brought to the table? How have they affected your change in direction and your own personal perception of what Evisorax was going for musically?
D: Agreed, ‘Isle Of Dogs’ has a far less polished sound and is more rough and raw in comparisson to ‘Enclave’. We never desired to achieve the clinical/sterile tone of ‘Enclave’. The only target and objective that was set out with ‘Isle of dogs’ was to record a CD that was raw, violent, volatile and aggressive. Like it just spits in your face, I wanted to transfer the raw energy I get from playing live and writing these songs and transfer it onto CD for the listener. It’s musically is the sound I’ve been trying to craft and achieve with Evisorax for a very long time, as much as I have a place for ‘Enclave’ there are only two tracks on that CD we still play on today’s set list and they were the more pure grinding tracks.
I’ve always wanted to have Evisorax be a full on grind band but I’ve had to grow up, learn my craft and develop it. It comes with time, playing with Brod who is a serious grind head/drummer helped me achieve this with far more ease than the previous line up. That’s not to discredit the line up before but there was a collective range of genres that influenced us. With the current line up we are all writing based on the same influences so it stitches together better as there’s one vision as opposed to 3 different ones. Since the line up that recorded ‘Isle Of Dogs’, Chris has left and been replaced by Simon Wright.
ZT: How did you first come into contact with the dudes from Pig Destroyer? Was it getting Scott Hull on board to master the EP that got J. Randall interested? The other way around?
D: Totally the other way around dude, I just sent Randall a direct message over Twitter saying I had some tracks that I think may be of interest to him. He loved what he heard and offered to release it straight away, it was him who suggested to have Scott Hull master the CD. He sorted it all out for us, he’s a great guy. Brod and Hull already know one another after the Pig Destroyer UK tour that Narcosis was part of.
ZT: The pay what you want concept behind Grindcore Karaoke is becoming increasingly popular as people try to navigate the modern music industry landscape. What has the “label” and J. Randall’s seal of approval done for the band, if anything?
D: Obviously Randall and Hull are names to be dropped which grasp peoples initial attention perhaps, if you had never heard of us but came across our CD your eyes would be drawn to those names, it would make you more inclined to take an interest in us for sure. Other than that, it’s a great promotional tool to reach out with and maximise awareness of the band and help us reach people we may never have had the chance to have before. It’s invaluable to us. It’s also really great to a be a part of something that is a collective of great music and given out for free to like minded persons.
ZT: What has been the hardest lesson to learn from a music industry standpoint? Do you see yourselves participating in an industry as such or more of a scene?
D: The hardest lesson I’ve got to say I’ve learnt is to not be so naïve and go running into deals or believing promises. Not to bad mouth or take away from things that have come my way over the years with Evisorax regarding the industry but I have incurred a few tribulations that could have been avoided I should say. I believe that comes with age and developing your knowledge and losing the ”getting a record deal is the big goal” because it really is not these days. I’d far rather be unsigned and continue to make waves, keeping the grass roots of self promotion and networking, that’s not to say that having the backing of a label who can wedge a door open with more ease for you isn’t an asset in itself. However you can do it yourself and that’s the point. Live and learn I guess.
I believe especially now it is definably that we are part of a scene or perhaps a better word is collective, that’s to say that as you persevere throughout you make strong connections and bonds with like minded bands and persons that are staples of the particular genre who give you help along the way as you do in turn. Thus giving the scene/collective a far stronger standing point and more vital as it develops, which it will continually. For example both last years UK and Ireland tour with Wormrot and this years European tour was done of our own back and in conjunction with having such great brothers in Wormrot. Same goes for GK, its a site ran by a like minded person who is a staple of the genre and has a plethora of bands of fantastic standard who are putting their music on there to be downloaded for free. Another example is the free Wormrot show in London that happened earlier this month, put on by two dudes from Oblivionzed!
Being a true part of a genre and proactive/support of it is key and it becomes almost like a brotherhood.
ZT: What is your take on the current state of UK grind? Are there any bands who you think are really kicking ass right now?
D: I think that it’s fantastic and gaining strength every second and really becoming a stage for the entire genre. We have fantastic band making real head way both in the UK and throughout the grind airwaves both across the world on stages and CD players such as: The Atrocity Exhibit, Human Cull, Atomck, Oblivionized, The Afternoon Gentlemen, Mechagodzilla, The Day Man Lost, Pine Barrens, Black Mass, to name but a few from the top of my head.
ZT: Obscene Extreme is a pilgrimage of sorts of UK grinders, or at least the ones I know. Have you made the journey? What do you think it is about this festival that makes people willing to travel so far? Who are you looking forward to seeing?
D: I personally have not although it has been on my to do list for some time so this year I’m incredibly lucky to not only be attending the festival and witnessing an outstanding line up of bands but also to be playing the same stage as them! Brod has, he played OEF in 2006 with Narcosis.
As a person who has never been but spoken at great length to many who have, the appeal seems to be the true commitment to extremity in its purist form, no bullshit or egos. Just straight up play and have fun, enjoying being in the company of others who are there for the exact same reason and the fact the festival continually has a fantastic collection of bands spread across the festival. No barriers always seems a plus too! I’ve got to say I’m not only looking forward to seeing particular bands but just taking the entire experience of the festival in!
I’m particuarly looking forward to seeing Nasum, Exhumed, Suffocation, Discharge, Wormrot, Cephalic Carnage, Origin, Coke Bust, Fubar…….this list goes on! Pretty much EVERYONE!
You can catch Evisorax at Obscene Extreme, taking place from July 11-14 in Trutnov, Czech Republic, or touring Europe with Wormrot (dates in photo link below).