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Good news for Evoken fans - the new album is just about ready to see the light of day through Profound Lore. Drummer Vince talks to Comrade Aleks about this latest release and more...

Interview with Evoken.
"Started in 1992 as Funereus, this band was renamed Evoken in 1994, and since then it has regularly, though not frequently, delivered model and uncompromisingly grim Death Doom metal with some Funeral components. Actually, I don't think Evoken needs any introduction to regular visitors of doom-metal.com, and some may remember the interview with Nick Orlando done by Kostas Panagiotou in 2001, or that with Vince Verkay done by Bertrand Marchal in 2010. I guess that I did an interview with Nick, too, in about 2008 for Russian site metallibrary.ru, so this time it's Vince who sheds some light on Evoken news, as well as uncovering a few more facts about the band's past. The crux of the message - the new album is almost in our hands! Thanks to Vince for the time he spent on these answers."


Talking to Aleks today, Evoken drummer Vince Verkay.


Hi Vince! Thanks for your time! How are you? What's going on in Evoken's lair?

I'm doing okay. We just finished recording, mixing and mastering the new album. We're really looking forward to releasing it, as well as performing these songs live.

This year the band celebrates its 25th birthday: do you have some special plans about how to deal with that?

Well, its 25 years since the release of "Shades of Night Descending", but 2019 would be 27 years since the band formed. I'm not one for celebrating past achievements, so nothing is planned. If the rest of the band wanted to do something, I would try and talk them out of it, but if they felt that intense about doing something, then I would go along with it.


Evoken's 2018 recording line-up: David Wagner (Bass), Chris Molinari (Guitars), John Paradiso (Vocals, Guitars), Don Zaros (Keyboards), Vince Verkay (Drums).


How did the Evoken story actually start for you? What formed your vision of the band? What did you have on your mind when you started it?

I joined the band only a couple of weeks after Nick, Rob (1st bassist) and Phil (1st lead guitarist) started the band. At that point in time I was playing in a death metal band very reminiscent of Incantation, with Bill Venner (Disma). Songs were written, but we never did anything outside of recording rehearsals. Nick, asked if I would be interested in helping them out. There were drummers who, for the lack of a better word, auditioned, but were unable to keep a disciplined steady/slow tempo. Think of it as Michael J Fox, playing darts. The first couple would hit the dartboard, but after 3 shots, darts are flying all over the place. In any case, I listened to a rehearsal on cassette, came down to their practice space and the rest is history.

There really wasn't any "vision", just an idea to write the heaviest most extreme doom. Since Rob was heavily into Black Metal, we started to include his influence into the songs. We were kids who simply wanted to play extreme music with sonic impact.

Is there a chance that Evoken may gather on stage in the original lineup? Are you in touch still with ex-bandmates?

That's highly unlikely. Everyone is scattered so far apart making anything like that impossible. A few years after they left, I did speak with Phil, briefly. Rob, I believe he still lives in Alaska. Which I think is absolute genius because I loathe the heat. Nick was in the band until moving in 2010, I think. I don't recall what year. I haven't spoken to him in quite a while, but that's only because he has his life, as do I, so it makes it difficult to keep in touch. Nick will always be a brother to me, no matter how many years have passed between conversations. Nick and I kept the band going during the VERY chaotic early years. Finding other like-minded-musicians was proving to be difficult, nearly impossible. We discussed just letting the band die. That kind of thinking lasted a few hours, but at the same time, it motivated us. This form of extreme doom was very underground and we liked it that way.

Evoken - 'Into Aphotic Devastation' (2012):


The band's debut album 'Embrace The Emptiness' was born twenty years ago. Do you remember that recording session? How did you work on this record?

I remember it quite well. I remember the excitement we felt because we had a keyboardist. It felt as if Dario had been in the band for years. He knew exactly how to enhance a riff, yet even better at coming up with incredible songs. I have the fond memory of listening back to the rehearsal tapes, with this added atmosphere. There are so many incredible memories. Finding the proper studio to record was daunting. Lucky for us, it led us to Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, who not only produced and recorded the next 3 records, but became a great friend. EtE allowed us to try different sounds, different arrangements. I remember laying on the studio floor with headphones on, listening back with this amazement that we actually created these songs.I felt a sense of accomplishment for the first time in my life.

Peaceville has done 'Antithesis Of Light' and 'Quietus' reissues, does this fact warm your heart? By the way, do you see Evoken as an influential band?

Oh definitely, we always asked each other how killer it would be to see our next record on Peaceville Records. To be on a label with so many incredible bands that influenced us and countless others. Unfortunately, it was a brief, "what if". It was brief because we sent Peaceville a recorded rehearsal demo, bio etc. etc.. After a few weeks, we received a very professionally written letter essentially telling us, your music is generic and has been done before. Thank you for submitting your material etc.. As you can imagine, we thought that door was sealed shut. To our amazement and many years later here we are. I never really thought of us as being a influential band. For anyone to consider us as their influence blows my mind. If anything they should listen to the bands that influenced us.

Evoken took part in Maryland Death Fest literally a few days ago, what are your overall impressions of the festival? Did everything go smoothly enough?

This was our 2nd time playing MDF and we love doing it. The organizers, crew and fans are very supportive. Festivals have come and gone over the years in the U.S, yet MDF keeps plowing ahead. Aside from some monitor issues I experienced, everything went smooth as can be. I was extremely disappointed in my playing, so I hope we can come back soon to redeem ourselves and play songs off this upcoming album. My opinion, if you never attended MDF, make sure you do. Everyone always has fun.


Live in Philadelphia, 2012. Photo DerekBrad Photography.


By the way, can you name the most important or maybe biggest show you ever played with Evoken?

That's a difficult question to answer. If "biggest" means the most attended, then it would be Hellfest. I have one mental picture of looking out from behind the kit and staring at this sea of humanity, it was incredible. There are so many fests we hope to play in support of the new album. I don't think I can pick just on show as being the most important because, for us, they're all important. Its not lost on us.

Your new album should appear on Profound Lore Records in autumn 2018, how much are you ready to reveal?

Yes, Profound Lore will be releasing the next record (our second with them). That's another thing we're very lucky to be a part of. Just look at their entire roster of bands. I don't believe there is a label who has an owner like Chris Bruni, who has a ear for incredible bands. For us, it says a lot when a label like that wants to work with you. At this very moment, there really isn't much I can say with regard to the next album. We have completed the recording, mixing and mastering. Profound Lore has the completed album. The album title and release date will be announced in August. All I can say is it is definitely, Evoken, but it also has some new ideas, complex ideas that I think fans will enjoy. We're extremely excited to release this to the world. Its cliche to say, but its our finest work to date. I 'm not aware of any band saying their new album is a step backwards, sucks and is generic as fuck....hahah

Evoken's previous full-length, 'Atra Mors', was released six years ago: what slowed you down on the way to this next pilgrimage of hate and misery?

We always take the time in making sure the songs feel as complete as possible. After "Atra Mors" was released, the show requests increased. We were playing far more often than in our past. Of course, life gets in the way. Unfortunately, this isn't our career, so we're stuck working in order to keep a roof over our heads. WE never plan how many years between albums. Our entire focus is making sure every song is 100% solid. During the recording of this new album, we were approached about playing 4 festivals we had to play. It would have been insane for us not to play. In addition, it gave us the chance to emerge from the shadows and begin the process of letting people know that Evoken are indeed still alive and a new album coming. We never intended for 6 years to go by before releasing a new album.

Evoken - 'Valorous Consternation' (Live, 2017):


New guitarist Randy Cavanaugh joined the band earlier in 2018, did he manage to take part in the recording of the new album?

No, Randy joined on because Chris could not commit to the live shows we had coming up. John and Randy used to play in a death metal band together, so when we realized Chris couldn't perform, Randy, was the perfect choice. Randy is extremely talented. Of course we had to rehearse as often as possible in order to prep him to play live. Chris is on the album and contributed to the writing. Slowly, Chris will be coming back to Evoken. Randy has been aware Chris had every intention to rejoin the band. What we're doing now is trying to decide if using 3 guitars is beneficial. I say this because we have our clean guitar and keyboards which are a very important element to our live sound. The concern is should we use 3 guitars, will that potentially drown the cleans and keys. In any case, Randy is a member of Evoken, but is not on the new album.

How did this recording session differ from the one you had for... let's say 'A Caress Of The Void'?

Hmm, one pretty substantial difference is the new album is recorded digitally. ACotV was recorded analogue, on tape. Stevie D. has been working with us for 11 years. He knows exactly what this band is based around, so he comes up with some incredible ideas during the recording and mixing. Up until ACotV, we were with Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, but he was about to join GnR, which meant his time was limited. Joining GnR it was safe to say, he wasn't going to be around at all. So, it was our 1st time with SoundSpa Studios, which of course meant becoming familiar with the way Steve did things and vice-versa. AcotV, we did not have a keyboardist, so while in the studio the keyboards were all spontaneous.



I remember that we did an interview with Nick Orlando in 2007, and he described New Jersey as a pretty negative place. Has it changed over these ten years? How much of New Jersey is in your songs?

Not at all. If anything New Jersey has consistantly declined year after year. It's named "The Garden State", but it couldn't be furthest from the truth.

Through all the years, Evoken's slightly changed and developed: how do you see its core, necessary elements that you keep untouched through all these years?

As long as there's honesty in the music we create, that's the most important element. If we didn't enjoy writing and listening to this music, all the clean guitars and keyboards wouldn't make a difference at all. Any idea of progression would be completely uninspired nonsense.


Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.


Visit the Evoken bandpage.

Interviewed on 2018-08-04 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
Aesthetic Death
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