Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Interview with Michel Regueiro of THE EVIL DEAD by Dave Wolff

Interview with Michel Regueiro of THE EVIL DEAD

Since 2006 The Evil Dead has incorporated rock, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and black metal.
It was extremely simple and natural from the get go, just our influences coming out by themselves through the music.

How does the term “Electric Evil Metal” relate to the band and their music?
People are always trying to place us in subgenres and categories that don’t really hit the mark. While we don’t really care about labeling our music we understand the need to describe it, especially for audiences that haven’t heard of us. Electric Evil Metal sums us up pretty well musically and theme-wise. Explosive, dangerous and fun. It conjures our sound and themes rather than putting a million tags on it.

Is there an oversaturation of labels in extreme metal today? How often do bands have to describe their music in new ways?
Definitely. Sometimes you check out a label and you realize it’s only a Bandcamp page that does no physical releases. What the fuck is that? What’s the point? I wouldn’t know about inventing new methods but if you are unknown you sure have to make those promo packs attractive enough to stand out from all the shit they receive daily. Sending tons of promo packs around the world doesn’t come cheap and nowadays bands don’t really have money to throw away.

Do Bandcamp, Soundcloud and  social media sites help bands with limited funds promote?
What I think is a great tool for bands nowadays are lyric videos. They draw you in much more and sometimes they are better than regular music videos.

What lyric videos would you recommend checking out? Does reading lyrics in lyric videos give you more of a feel of what the song is about?
The first that grabbed my attention was In Solitude’s "Serpents Are Rising," but by today’s standards it’s simple. I thought Hyperion’s "Novus Ordo Seclorum" was really good. Slash & The Conspirators’ "World On Fire" is fucking out of this world. It makes you understand more about the song at first glance. I’m not the biggest lyric video watcher out there though’ I barely listen to new music.

The Evil Dead is based in Argentina. What new is happening in the scene there, in terms of print fanzines and webzines? How about the club scene?
It’s a pretty shitty scene that dwells on nostalgia of original bands but nowadays more new bands try to make things change and that is a good thing. I don’t really keep an eye open on the scene anymore. There are lots but I don’t really follow them. Few clubs are up to decent standards for the bands and the crowd. Any day of the week you have bands playing and on the weekends things explode. There is an oversaturation of shows and bands and that reflects badly on the crowds as there are too many to choose from. Bands suffer shitty conditions and pay-to-play deals from so called "promoters" and clubs offer bad facilities and ridiculous prices for drinks which makes the crowd drink outside the venue only to get in to see the band they like the most and then go back outside.

Is there more support or backstabbing among bands in Argentina?
It’s 50/50. There is a lot of backstabbing going on in the scene but not all bands are like that. In fact many of them go out of their way to help others. The biggest backstabbers are most promoters and labels who only care about their own pockets. Thus we all are left to deal with this "dog eat dog" scene where if you don’t watch your back you get fucked.

Pay to play has long been an issue for bands in the U.S. How much has this affected the scene in Argentina?
As far as I know this started in the 90’s here. It has been terrible for the scene because it forces bands to whore themselves to sell tickets at any cost instead of focusing on providing a good live show with original material.

How long have the band been musicians? Were any of you in other bands previously?
I started playing guitar in 1999 and had a black metal band called Satanic Death. I didn’t turn “pro” on the instrument til I started to focus on The Evil Dead as a player and songwriter. The others pretty much started on their instruments around the time of the formation of the band around 2006 and matured fast as you can tell by our discography.

How much youthful enthusiasm have you retained to this day?
When everything sounds right and the band is on fire, be it in the rehearsal room or live, it always sparks that youth like enthusiasm. When working on new songs it happens too; one comes with new riffs and the rest of the band "get it" and jump in. It can feel like playing the Budokan.

Was Satanic Death your first band? Did this band give you the feel of being a musician?
I had a couple of bands in high school that went nowhere, but the first band I recorded with was Nocturnal Evil. We did a rehearsal demo and appeared on the Beherit tribute compilation “Beyond the Gate of Nanna”. Satanic Death started after that. There was no big thinking behind it; it was more like "one band done let’s continue with another". We were all teenagers and eager to go out and do our thing.

Do you remember the songs on Nocturnal Evil’s rehearsal demo? Can we still acquire copies or is it sold out? How did you hear the people involved in the Beherit tribute were seeking bands?
Must have been two or three at the max. Sadistic Ritual must have been one of them. I don’t really remember as it has been so long, back in 2001. I don’t think we made more than ten copies. I didn’t make the deal for the compilation; the other guy took care of that. I was just happy playing drums. It was a limited release and we only got a copy each. We covered Satanic Chaos from Beherit’s Messe Des Morts EP.

How long was Satanic Death around, did they release anything and why did they disband? How soon after the breakup did The Evil Dead start?
There was one rehearsal demo and one studio demo released by a Swedish label. We were gonna do a mini album for a Japanese label, but everybody lost interest in the project and we wanted to start playing different music so it gradually dissolved. The band was around for two and a half years. It must have taken a year and a half before I could assemble a lineup and start playing again. It was all done for fun in the beginning.

Was The Evil Dead inspired name-wise by the Sam Raimi-directed movie featuring Bruce Campbell?
It was inspired by the movie and we chose it pretty much at the first rehearsal. Looking back it wasn’t a very inspired choice but we stuck by it. In those days we took a lot of stuff from horror movies, but since then our horizons have broadened quite a bit. We are all horror movie fans, especially the Golden classics from the 70s and 80s. The last “new” movie to blow my mind was “The Witch”. I don’t care much for gore or torture porn; atmosphere is my thing.

What was The Witch about and how does it compare to the Golden era?
It’s about a family of English colonists that, after being cast away from the settlement because of the father´s vanity, move to the woods where an evil presence haunts them and they are tormented by their sins. Incredible acting and an atmosphere full of dread make it comparable in my book. The ending is superb.

Did horror movies have more atmosphere in the 70s and 80s? While gore was common during that time, when did it become overdone to the point of gore porn?
The old movies were what it was all about. Few movies have "it” nowadays so we mostly turned to sci fi unless there was something coming on. I think Eli Roth and all those gore and torture porn directors took things to an extreme which made it fucking boring, at least to me. I´d rather watch a chick flick than torture porn. Same thing they did with zombies; they flooded the market and took all the fun and quality out of it.

Besides The Evil Dead, what movies from the 70s and 80s were personal favorites? What about the atmosphere, acting and storylines spoke to you?
We like all kinds of movies, be it Sci-Fi, horror, mystery, comedy or whatever, as long as they’re good. Some personal favourites are all the old John Carpenter movies (Halloween), The Omen, The Amityville Horror, Suspiria and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Atmosphere, acting and storyline are super important. I like a story that can get under my skin and frighten, excite or marvel me.

The atmosphere of those movies were darker than usual and showed an effort to break the mold of moviemaking. Does this account for their remaining in popularity? Do today’s horror movies have storylines as good as those?
The public craves quality material that will evoke a sense of dread and danger akin to childhood fears and not just loud noises, shitty gore and cheap scares. Movies today seem to come from an assembly line. That’s why stuff like Stranger Things had such an incredible success. People will wallow in nostalgia that will bring them good memories from movies and shows they loved as children than the mediocre crap that comes out nowadays.

Do you prefer the original release of The Omen or the 2006 remake?
The original is a stone cold classic. That soundtrack, eerie feelings all around, Gregory fucking Peck. The remake is dog shit even if Julia Stiles is always a pretty face to watch.

I’ve noticed how many horror and gore movies are now circulating on the internet. How difficult is it to find a worthwhile movie among them?
For me it’s impossible. I never download torrents or start checking stuff on their own to see if it measures up. I just listen to what my friends recommend and then I´ll check out a movie or a show.

You released your debut full length Pronounced The Evil Dead in 2012, following the 2008 EP Ex Nun On The Run. How did it represent the band musically and lyrically?
We started the band as something to fool around with and our music and lyrics weren’t very serious. While there was always a darker touch the first songs had a lot of humour in them. In "Pronounced" we toned down the humour and got more serious but there was still a vein of black humour and fun (as the title suggests).

Discuss examples of the black humor of Ex Nun On The Run and Pronounced The Evil Dead.
The title of Ex Nun On The Run is a pun on words. Songs like "Double Trouble" talk of us pretty much getting kicked out of every bar in the neighbourhood. Pronounced (The Evil) Dead has a Skynyrd reference. Perfect Day In Planet Hells is pure black humour and steampunk.

Many bands from the thrash era base lyrics on horror movies. Has The Evil Dead done so?
On Earth Inferno there is a song called "They Live!" but I don’t know if that movie counts as horror. On our first album there is a track entitled "The Blood Monster" about David Berkowitz aka "The Son of Sam". We are much into books . For example the music (not lyrics) on "Forlorn" was inspired by the book "Faerie Tale" by Raymund E. Feist and on our first demo there is a track called "The Burning Of Cairo" inspired by "The Name of the Beast" by Daniel Eastermann.

They Live might be considered sci fi/horror with social commentary. What of that movie did you capture in your song?
I wrote the music around 2010 but we didn’t want to include it on the first album. I´m a big fan of the movie and all of John Carpenter’s scores but I thought I can’t and shouldn’t copy any of his notes for this, and just do my own take. When the day came to write the lyrics I told my brother Alejandro (who hadn’t seen the movie) the basic plot and he said ‘fuck it I´ll come up with something’ and it came out great. The ending mirrors the ending of the movie ~well in my opinion.

Did you have societal observations in mind when writing “They Live!” or was it intended as science fiction?
We wrote in a way that it could be the aliens from the movie or the usual power elite that rule our societies, even though they are same thing at heart. It’s up to the listener to decide.

The movie They Live was based on Ray Nelson’s short story Eight O'Clock In The Morning. Have you read it?
I wasn’t aware of that and will check it out. I’m interested in reading "Who Goes There?" the novel that inspired The Thing but reading in PDF is a bitch so if anyone wants to send me that book, feel more than welcome to.

How did you hear about Who Goes There? Why do you prefer reading books to PDF files?
From the movie trivia of course. I’m not a big technology fan. In fact I don’t even own a cell phone. No matter how convenient a Kindle is, it will never beat the smell of a good book.

The Thing is part of Carpenter’s Apocalypse Trilogy that continued with Prince Of Darkness and In The Mouth Of Madness. Did you see either of those movies?
I saw all three of them. Prince Of Darkness doesn’t come close to the other two in my opinion.

What has always spoken to you about John Carpenter’s method of directing movies?
He just has a special aura about him. He is a rock´n´roll director with a darker edge.

What other movies by John Carpenter would you consider basing a song on?
At one time I had this idea about doing a song about Halloween (1978) which is my favourite movie of all time and name it "The Night He Came Home" but I felt a lot of pressure and dropped it altogether. Perhaps it will resurface in the future but there are no plans for movie songs at the moment.

Was research into David Berkowitz’s serial killings involved in writing The Blood Monster? Did the song center on his killings or his mental state?
We were big into crime library, murderpedia and serial killer documentaries. I can’t recall why we specifically picked Berkowitz instead of Dahmer, Ramirez or Albert Fish but it fit perfectly. The demonic associations, references to blood and overall paranoid delusions made for a good set of lyrics. The song consists of three parts, all inside his head. It features his killing spree, capture and eventually his bullshit "redemption". The whole song is how his story plays in his head, his multiple personalities and the validations for his actions.

Do you watch documentaries about serial killers? What do you look for in a documentary?
This was years ago and it was always on TV. I´m not a serial killer nut that writes to killers in solitary lockdown or something. Sure I find it interesting but not more than that. If the documentary is good then that’s good enough for me, be it about nature, history, world wars, sharks, Nazis, the Illuminati, the Titanic, space exploration, supernovas, music, movies, food, travelling. The last documentary I watched was about Twisted Sister and it was good!

What Twisted Sister documentary did you see? How much insight did it give you into the band’s history?
We Are Twisted Fucking Sister. It is thorough and detailed and it’s amazing how much effort and work was put into that band. They deserved every inch of their success.

How did Raymund E. Feist’s “Faerie Tale” inspire “Forlorn”? In what ways do the lyrics differ?
It blew my mind when I read it as a teenager. It has everything: Celtic and Germanic mythology, terror, fantasy and sexuality. To sum it up as I wouldn’t wanna spoil it for others, a family moves into a rural community in New York and begin a quiet, peaceful life. Soon enough strange things start to happen and there are evil things lurking in the surrounding woods. Much of the story is told by the kid’s point of view as kids are always the first to sense the supernatural. When one of the kids is abducted and replaced by a perverted doppelgänger it is up to his twin brother to venture into the lair of the Faerie kingdom and rescue him before the stroke of midnight when the whole Faerie court (good and bad) will depart forever. This latter part is tense and epic as fuck. It’s what gives the song its pace and feel but we couldn’t find a way to write lyrics that worked for it. So the lyrics turned into a tale of a spirit forever trapped in a state of limbo inspired by the lore of Dark Souls video games. This combination of urgency and despair makes the song unique.

What is Daniel Eastermann’s The Name Of The Beast about? What did you seek to capture in The Burning Of Cairo?
It is a novel in the vein of Clancy or Grisham, set up in the Middle East. Islamic fundamentalists are ravaging Europe and transforming their own territories by their old religions, led by their leader Al Qurtubi who may or not be the Antichrist. It has been so long I don’t really remember much. It was written back in 2006 but we might re-record it in the future.

What other books would you recommend? Did basing song lyrics on obscure authors set the band apart?
I would suggest they read The Darksword trilogy by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. Killer books for fans of fantasy. We were always outcasts in the scene be it by the way we sound, think, dress. We never were a very sociable band in that aspect and the scene never really warmed up to us. Most bands just sing about social problems, politics and the usual thrash bullshit.

Talk about the split album you appeared on with Infermal Maniak and Thrashmaniacs, which was released in 2011.
That’s a bootleg and we have nothing to do with it. Fuck those guys. We tried to reason with them but they didn’t even send us a copy.

What subject matter would you write about to stand out from the usual thrash l fare?
Our subject matter is broad and diverse. We will make songs about anything that we like so we don’t limit ourselves to the standard "fuck the cops"/"all politicians are corrupt"/"cops are corrupt"/"the state doesn’t like me"/"this land belongs to the natives"/"people don’t take us seriously because we look like metal heads boohoo"/"let’s drink cheap wine"/"pollution is bad mmkay?" most of the bands here sing about.

How has Witches Brew Records handled Earth Inferno since it was released this year? How is it an improvement from Pronounced The Evil Dead?
They have worked pretty hard on the album and that’s good. There is not a whole lot of money to push the record but what little there is has been invested well. We trust them and they gave us a fair deal which is hard to find nowadays. Hails to them. Production wise-it’s a huge improvement. We really worked hard on the recording and mixing and the songwriting is not that different but we´ve became more experienced.

What are the social or societal topics you are considering for future songs? How many are you currently working on?
None at the moment. We don’t usually do social commentary and we are not thinking of lyrics. The third album is in an early stage. Actually some of these tunes/riffs I tried out with the drummer back in 2013/2014 when we were rehearsing to record Earth Inferno and then I developed them on my own.

Do you have titles in mind for the next full length? Where do you plan to record and are you considering any studios?
We have an album title and working song titles but we are keeping things close to us now; no point in spoiling things beforehand. For the moment I came up with all this stuff; we´ll see if the rest brings something more to the table. It’s early to even think about it but we worked really well on the last studio. Perhaps we could record and mix there again, or somewhere in Europe.

If the band did have a chance to record in Europe, in what studio would you want to record and with who producing?
We would love to work with Flemming Rasmussen (whom we met in Copenhagen some years ago), Olof Wikstrand who is a marvelous sound engineer and gets amazing sounds and last but not least the legendary Tico Tico studio in Finland! Any of those would be fantastic for us.

-Dave Wolff

1 comment:

  1. Another excellent interview conducted by Dave Wolff! I loved many aspects of this interview and the band's closeness with horror films, the connection with John Carpenter films. Huge fan here! The Evil Dead has always been a favorite of mine as well. Rock solid questions and honest answers from a band hell bent on doing things their way! Kudos! I wish you all the best of success!