You like your daily dose of Death Metal completely rotten and ultra heavy? Bands like AUTOPSY, Finland’s ABHORRENCE, old CARCASS and Denmark’s UNDERGANG belong to your alltime faves? Then Oakland, California based five-piece EVULSE is for you! So far these guys only released two demo tapes, “Call Of The Void” (2018) and “Pustulant Spawn” (2020), but both are of such high quality that Poland’s Godz Ov War Productions also released them on CD. We hooked up with the band for the following interview to find out a bit more about them…
All members of EVULSE have already been involved in a lot of bands before, so what made you start EVULSE, how did you guys all get together and are you still involved in any of your previous bands as well?
“You are right, we have all been in several bands before, all of our other bands used to play together quite a bit, and since we are all friends, it made sense for us to create music with each other. More than half of EVULSE has lived together for years as well, so we work together, live together and we play together. We are all still involved in our other bands as well, in fact the circle has gotten closer as we are now playing together in several bands with one another beyond EVULSE. Each band scratches an itch that we are after, none of our affiliated bands sound alike, so it keeps things interesting for us as creators.”
Which bands or releases could you collectively all agree on when it comes to musical preferences? Would you say that all those also pretty much shaped the EVULSE style and sound?
“Musical preference, well for bands that we all love, it’s predominately the classics from the 90s be it Death Metal, Black Metal or Grunge, anything from AUTOPSY, to DARKTHRONE to ALICE IN CHAINS. As far as bands that inspired EVULSE, from the United States, you got bands like DEATH, MORBID ANGEL, IMMOLATION, INCANTATION, CANNIBAL CORPSE, DEICIDE, VIOGRESSION and ACCIDENTAL SUICIDE, and a lot of bands from Finland like DEPRAVITY, DEMILICH, CONVULSE, DEMIGOD, ABHORRENCE, PURTENANCE, the real CARTILAGE and RIPPIKOULU.”
How long have you guys been together as EVULSE when you recorded your debut demo “Call Of The Void” and have those four songs been the only songs that you had finished at the time or did you just consider them the strongest you had at the time?
“We had been jamming for about a year before we put out “Call Of The Void”. Half of the songs on “Pustulant Spawn” are actually the oldest songs we created together. We had more songs at the time we recorded, but we all grew up loving bands demos and the idea of just putting out a full length right out of the gate instead of demoing wasn’t something we wanted to do. We wanted to release both demos back to back, but when we put out “Call Of The Void” people seemed to dig it and we got offers for multiple formats for it to come out on and we decided to give space and time to the release and labels and put emphasis on that release on its own instead of suffocating people with another release right behind it.”
Tell us a bit about the recordings of “Call Of The Void”… Did you record the material in a real studio or was it a “home recording”? Who is Jacob Lee, who was responsible for the recordings, mix and mastering?
“Yes and no, we recorded in a real studio, the studio happens to be the place where we jam. Jacob Lee is a friend of ours that has recorded a few other bands that some of us have done like FIEND, ENSEPULCHER and ATONE, so it is someone we are comfortable with. He has a studio setup that he is able to travel with, so we paid him to come drive a few hours to come and record us here in Oakland, and then we drove out to his apartment to do some overdubs and record vocals. Jacob Lee also plays in some pretty killer heavy bands that are worth checking out if you like Sludge / Doom called HELLISH FORM and KEEPER.”
Is the cover artwork meant to be an hommage to CARNAGE’s “Infestation Of Evil” demo or is it just coincidence that it ended up looking in a similar way? Who came up with the idea for it? Was it someone in the band or did you just ask the artist Joe “Ravager” Romero to come up with something on his own?
“While some of us enjoy that demo, it’d be a lie to say we modelled the art after it. Joe finished the art before we recorded and we grabbed it for the release because we liked it. In fact we thought the art looked like a weird fucked up take on “Altars Of Madness”, but even then it doesn’t look the same, we have used Joe Ravager Romero art for several things we have done in the past, so it was cool to get to push more of his art into the world.”
“Call Of The Void” first of all was released on limited cassettes and digitally through your vocalist Jimmy’s label Transylvanian Tapes… but it seems it must have gained a lot of attention very quickly since a vinyl 7″ via Dawnbreed Records and CD edition via Godz Ov War Productions followed shortly after. Tell us a bit about the response you got on the songs in general and how you hooked up with Dawnbreed and Godz Ov War for those other editions.
“Yeah, it was pretty surprising to see the response this band has gotten. This might be the lowest effort we have put into any project, that is not to say we don’t practice our asses off, but just that we have all spent years playing in bands and none of our bands has gotten this sort of immediate response. Godz Ov War Productions came to fruition because they had put out another band that our singer Jimmy did called GRAVE COVEN and Dawnbreed put out a Sludge band that Jimmy did that Jacob Lee recorded called ATONE and Dawnbreed also put out MORTUOUS, so they were immediately on board to help out. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with both labels.”
Did you play many shows in support of “Call Of The Void” already? With which bands did you share the stage and what other songs made it into your setlist at that point?
“Not a lot of shows, we’ve played probably like 20-30 shows so far, we’ve done a couple small runs playing shows across the west coast. Our first show was with NECROT and OF FEATHER AND BONE, we’ve been able to play alongside RUIN, SKULLCRUSH, DEFECRATOR, OSSUARIUM, PIGS BLOOD, MAGGOT COLONY, ENSEPULCHER, TORTURE RACK, CADAVERIC INCUBATOR, DENUNCIATION, NEKRO DRUNKZ, DEARTH, MORTAL WOUND, CYSTIC, DIPYGUS and some other pretty killer acts. Since we are a fairly new band, we have tried to cut the fat and just keep a short and concise set of 20 minutes, except when we are on the road, on our first run of shows out of state we added a DEPRAVITY cover to our set and were working on an AMORPHIS cover, but we have 8 recorded songs, so we try to stick with those for the time being.”
When exactly did you part ways with your drummer Matt Thompson and what was the reason for it?
“We parted ways with Matt before we recorded “Pustulant Spawn”, Matt’s purpose on this earth is far greater than the rest of ours, he is actually making a difference in the world. Matt is a rocket scientist that works for NASA so a majority of his time he flies all over, working on super important jobs, so his schedule was just not as flexible as the rest of ours. We tried to set up a couple tours but since his job is so unpredictable, it was just difficult to make happen, they were working on a really important space launch that just keep eating his time, so we had pitched the idea of bringing Johnny in as a live drummer to fill in for Matt when he couldn’t and ultimately Matt bowed out of the band. Like I said earlier, what he is doing is far more important than being in a underground Death Metal band, so we don’t hold it against him, we had a lot of fun times together.”
How long did it take you until you found Johnny Valles as his replacement and was this line-up change maybe also part of the reason why it took you two years to come up with your follow-up demo “Pustulant Spawn”?
“Johnny has been someone we have known for a long time now, and as I mentioned above we had talked to Johnny about learning our songs to be able to tour with us. Johnny had just parted ways with the band he was in, called SKELETAL REMAINS, so he had time to play with us. The reason it took two years for the follow up was because it takes months for vinyl to arrive and we wanted to give space to the first demo. We sat on “Pustulant Spawn” for a year after we recorded it because it didn’t feel right to try and put something out while the world closes down, what was happening across the world was much more important than our band putting out a demo tape, but after almost a year of watching things happening we decided to just put it out.”
Just like your first demo, also “Pustulant Spawn” was self-released (through Transylvanian Tapes) on limited cassettes and digitally first, while Dawnbreed Records did the 7″ EP and Godz Ov War Productions the CD edition again. Will you continue to release your music like that and if possible, also with these labels?
“Godz Ov War Productions and Dawnbreed Records have done right by us, so we have been happy to work with them. For clarification, Dawnbreed and Transylvanian Recordings are joining forces and putting out “Pustulant Spawn” on a 12″. We just approved the test pressing.”
The whole visual presentation (at least of the CD edition) looks pretty similar to the “Call Of The Void” demo… was that done on purpose? Will you continue to use this type of look on future EVULSE releases as well?
“There’s a saying that goes like this, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. What we have planned is for the artwork to continue to get gnarlier and more unsettling, just like we have planned for the music.”
How did you manage to get Travis Ryan from CATTLE DECAPITATION and Phil Demmel from VIO-LENCE to promote EVULSE by posting videos in which they talk about how great you guys are?
“Travis and Phil are old friends of ours, so it was easy to get them to goof around with us to help promote the band and music.”
The EVULSE band logo has been changed at least three times already, if I’m not mistaken. Weren’t you completely satisfied with the logo or do you just like to release your stuff with a different logo each time?
“The first logo that you can see looked kinda sloppy, like some kid drew it in a highschool class on his notebook or something, it was fine for what it was, but we wanted something that looked better. The first real logo we used, that was on “Call Of The Void”, was pretty awesome, the artist that did it for us is named Scott Bryan and he is a legend that is also involved in GWAR, so his style is pretty gnarly. They did several versions for us and ones we haven’t unveiled yet, while they were working on that logo we had showed them some stuff that we wanted him to draw inspiration from and one of the artists we were getting them to draw inspiration from was David Mikkelsen from UNDERGANG. The logo for “Call Of The Void” was drawn by hand and then we scanned it in and we tried to clean it up a bit, but trying to vectorize it was difficult. We had been talking to David about drawing an album cover for us, but what we wanted was pretty extreme and a tall order for anybody to try to tackle, but David really killed it for us with the updated version of our logo. Not only did he add his disgusting flair to it, but he also helped digitize it for us, so we could vectorize it and blow it up for whatever we would want to use it for.”
As you already mentioned, the latest logo version was created by David Mikkelsen from Denmark’s UNDERGANG, a band which also musically is pretty close to what you guys come up with, so I suppose you are also fans of them… Have you ever played shows together?
“Absolutely, we fucking love them. They are probably our favorite current band in Death Metal. EVULSE has not played with them yet, but we have been friends and supporting them since their first US tour. MORTUOUS and BRUXERS have played with UNDERGANG quite a bit, but our first gig with UNDERGANG and EVULSE was supposed to happen in Mexico city but Covid changed that plan.”
What kind of lyrical topics to you cover in your songs? Is it the typical blood, guts and gore type stuff or do you draw your inspirations from elsewhere?
“The human condition and existence is more fucked up than gore and guts and that type of stuff, I think for art that can look cool sometimes, but it’s not really what the lyrics in EVULSE are centered around. More focus is put on mental extremities and psychosis, stuff that we deal with on a daily basis.”
What are you guys currently up to? Have you already received any offers for a full length album from some label or do you plan to release more demos first?
“We have only been able to get together a few times over the last year because of Covid, but now that we are all vaccinated, we are starting to pick up where we left off. We are working on new music. We’ve received some offers, but it’s nothing too serious, we’ve been doing this long enough to know our worth, so we aren’t really hunting for any labels to put our music out because we can do it ourselves. We have talked about the possibly of doing a split or two and working on a full length, but there’s no rush, that is part of the problem with bands in this generation, they take years crafting their first demo or working on their first full length and then they think they have to keep shitting stuff out instead of taking their time and just doing it right and then the quality takes a nosedive. We are taking our time and are just going with the flow.”
Ok, that all for now. Thanks a lot for taking the time. Any closing comments?
“Thanks for giving our band the time of your day or night. You can follow us on social media on FB @Evulsingdeath and on IG @Evulseache.”
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