Interview with guitarist Juan Garcia
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 24, 2020
Los Angeles thrash metal veterans EvilDead are back from a nearly 30-year hiatus. The band's last album, The Underworld, came out on Steamhammer in 1991 and many believed the band would never release another album, but fortunately we were all proved wrong. The wait will finally be over when the band's third studio album, United $tate$ of Anarchy, sees the light of day on October 30, 2020, also on Steamhammer.The Metal Crypt contacted the band's founding member, guitarist Juan Garcia (also in Body Count) to find out what led the band to record their new album, the story behind the title, how the coronavirus situation has affected their future plans among many other things as well...
How's life in the States at the moment? You seem to have a lot of going on there right now...
Juan: Life is good for the most part; no complaints, I'm staying positive and safe in these difficult times going on in the world. This pandemic had disrupted normal life for everyone, but I'm hanging in there, and very glad we finally got this new EvilDead album finished. It's being released on October 30, 2020 worldwide.
ALBUM NO. 3. - UNITED $TATE$ OF ANARCHY
EvilDead's third album has been long in the making. Now the news is it will be released via Steamhammer this October and it's called United $tate$ of Anarchy. That's a very clever and powerful album title, obviously strongly influenced by politics, people's greed, exploitation of nature's resources, etc. Would you kindly open up about the album's title?
Juan: The original working title was Rise of Evil but to me it sounded a bit generic; about a week before we got the final artwork back from Ed Repka, our drummer Rob asked me what I thought about calling the album United States of Anarchy? What's strange was that I was thinking almost the same thing, and once the final art arrived, United States of Anarchy seemed a more fitting title for the new album. The title of the album is from a lyric on one of the songs called "Without a Cause". There are songs about politics, war, plenty of social issues; it's a very topical album. I'm proud of this new release and thankful for the returning band members from back in the day, and all the hard work and contributions.
What can you tell about the songs on this record? How would you say they compare to your previous works, music-wise?
Juan: It's a very natural progression and collection of songs. Everyone in the band delivered, bringing their best offerings to the music. There are songs about politics, religion, war, and wide variety of social issues. I think it's our best sounding record. I feel the songs are strong and catchy. It's classic EvilDead. Plenty of guitar shredding from Albert Gonzales, solid drums from Rob, Phil stepped up and laid down strong vocal tracks, Karlos contributed as well, and Bill Metoyer did a killer job producing.
How important was it for the band to maintain the same kind of musical approach and style that you had on your two previous albums, Annihilation of Civilization and The Underworld?
Juan: We are a thrash band, and one thing we've learned through the years is to not deviate too much from our style of music. This album is a solid effort with great songs and a good portion of the material was written by Albert Gonzales and Rob Alaniz. We all contributed. We also had lyric contribution from a co-writer friend of ours Bob Rangel, who also supplied lyrics in the past to few songs on our debut album. Phil Flores also wrote very prolific lyrics that tackle a lot of issues in the world at the moment, Karlos contributed heavy riffs as well, and strong bass; I did my thing; everyone was on board with lots of original ideas.
As it's been nearly 30 long years since the band put out The Underworld, did you feel any pressure when you started composing new material for the band's third album?
Juan: Not at all. When we finally decided to get serious about making this album, I already knew we had what would be impactful ideas in the can. Albert and Rob had some old songs from the past, we had old lyrics, we wrote new lyrics, we wrote brand new riffs. It was a matter of putting it all together and recording the songs properly, and thankfully we had been working with Bill Metoyer on new demos, so it seemed very natural for him to work on this album with us.
Did you face any personal challenges when you started coming up with some riffs and stuff for this third album or were you confident right off the bat that the stuff that you had sounded like a continuation from the first two albums?
Juan: It's a very organic sounding collection of songs, not overly produced, a very warm old school thrash album with solid production. Like I mentioned, Albert had a ton of riffs and he and Rob had material accumulated over the years. A few of those songs like "Greenhouse" could have been on the Annihilation of Civilization album since we used to play them back in the day. If anything, we had too many ideas, really. I had a bunch or guitar riffs and ideas that we didn't even get to, or need to use; so now we have guitar riffs to work with moving forward, and from what I understand Albert's already working on new stuff. We wanted to make a solid album; not too long and not too short. Nine songs seemed like the magic number, along with a bonus track cover of "Planet Claire" by The B-52s. This album is closer to our debut Annihilation of Civilization more so than The Underworld it's a very brutal, aggressive, but clever collection of good sounding thrash metal.
How different was making an EvilDead album knowing it's been "awhile" since the previous one, which was released in 1991?
Juan: It was always in the back of my mind, something I wanted to accomplish with these guys, a bit of unfinished business, especially because we went through lineup changes back in the day. It was awesome to have the majority of the lineup be original members.
NO COMPROMISES BUT A GREAT KICK ASS RECORD
Did you feel like everyone in the band was on the same page regarding how you wanted this album to sound?
Juan: The band did not have to make compromises; everyone wanted the same outcome, a great kick-ass record. I mean perhaps, very subtle compromises as far as the final mix of the album since we were a bit behind schedule because of the pandemic, and we wanted this album to come out in 2020 and not later. But for the most part it's a very natural sounding album; it has groove, it flows, and it's heavy, it's EvilDead. It took us a bit longer to accomplish this, and it tested our patience a bit, but at the same we had the luxury to really review the mixes until we were all satisfied with the end result.
You recorded a "metalized" version of The B-52's' "Planet Claire" for the album as a bonus track. Where did you get the idea to pick this particular song for the cover?
Juan: Back in the day, Rob our drummer was a big fan of The B-52's and suggested we cover this song. As you know, we covered Black Flag's "Rise Above" and we used to mess around with other songs as well. Our record label asked us for a bonus track for the vinyl and digital version of the album. Most record companies ask for at least one bonus track these days. I suggested that we revisit this song as a potential cover song. A few years back I saw The B-52's live, and it was fresh in my mind. It was a fun song to record in the studio. I'm sure some people will think it's a strange song to cover, or maybe not... regardless it's a fun song.
ALBUM COVER BEING INSPIRED BY THE MOVIE
Ed Repka did a stunning cover for this album. How easy or difficult was it to persuade him to do the artwork?
Juan: I hadn't communicated with Ed Repka in a long time. We had this cover concept idea for over two decades. The artwork is inspired by the movie "Soylent Green" that came out in the '70s and also a bit of influence from the Los Angeles riots that we all experienced in 1992. The working title to the new album was Rise of Evil, however, we changed it at the last hour to United States of Anarchy.
What made you choose Steamhammer to release the album?
Juan: This part took some time, a lot of back and forth communications. We had interest from a few other labels, but it's nice to be back home with Steamhammer where it all started for EvilDead.
Talking about the promotion of the band, I suppose you have some plans to make a couple of videos to get the word out about the album?
Juan: The record label is creating a few lyric videos to promote the album. The first lyric video for the song "The Descending" is out now (you can find it on YouTube) with the first single also available for download and streaming. There will be a second digital single and lyric video in a few weeks prior to the album release date. We plan on making an official music video at some point this year.
Once this new album is out, do you have any plans to arrange some sort of a live-streaming record release party for it, for the fans of the band around the world? I mean, it's pretty obvious that the world won't fully be open for normal gigging any time soon...
Juan: We've been discussing doing a live stream. We don't feel it's a mandatory thing to do, however it's something that's up for serious consideration. At some point it would be great to do actual normal shows, but we will have to wait for the pandemic to pass. Our form of music is meant to be played live in front of an audience.
STAYING POSITIVE AND BEING CREATIVE THROUGH THE TOUGH TIMES HELPS
It's really tough and frustrating for bands to make any gigging plans nowadays because of this annoying coronavirus situation. How much has EvilDead suffered from this situation? Have you made a decision to not schedule any new gigs with the band until this virus situation has improved?
Juan: It's a bit frustrating to not be able to play live shows, and also not to tour at the moment; all bands are in the same situation and it sucks! We hope to get out and do normal shows in 2021 in support of this new album. In the meantime, it opens up new opportunities to continue work on new music so it's not all bad. It's important to stay creative and positive.
I am curious to know if it is possible to play any live gigs in the States right now? Are there some venues open for bands that allow them to play gigs under some strict safety controls?
Juan: Not that I know of in Los Angeles. I've heard some bands that have attempted to do shows and gotten away with it in the States. We are not that desperate and reckless. We can wait, there are other options like live streams. Like I mentioned, it gives a band more time to rehearse, write, and work on their craft and create something great.
What about you? How optimistic or pessimistic are you about 2021 as far as playing live gigs is concerned?
Juan: I see concerts happening in 2021 but probably not at 100 percent capacity. In parts of Europe they're doing shows at one-third or one-fourth capacity. There are also drive in shows (which is a little weird to me), but hey it's something cool at the moment, I suppose.
2021 will hopefully be a better year for all of us, fingers crossed. Who knows, maybe you will even have a new President leading your country by then, and Mr. Trump can fully concentrate on making his own reality shows/soap operas in 2021 ;o)
Juan: That remains to be seen, right? He's somewhat entertaining, and a reality show is something that he's good at no doubt. We will see how this Presidential race turns out.
WHAT ABOUT ABATTOIR AND MASTERS OF METAL?
Are you tempted to make any new music with Abattoir again?
Juan: I do like the Abattoir music a lot and I'm friends with Mark Caro (original guitarist), we went to school together. I keep in touch with a few of the members but not as much as I would like. I'm busy enough between Body Count and EvilDead.
Is Masters of Metal completely over or would you see there's still a possibility that you might do something in the future with this band again?
Juan: It's on the shelf and I don't see anything happening with that. You are aware that Bernie Versailles sustained a brain injury? It's a sad situation but he's making progress and recovering, I just think it's best to leave that project alone. I have enough to focus on.
My next question may be a tougher one. What kinds of things motivate you going on from one year to another and doing what you do with bands like EvilDead and Body Count? I guess this has all to do with about your passion for music in general right?
Juan: To be honest, this is what I do and what I love to do. Music is my passion. The feeling of playing in front of crowds who are into the music is one of the best feelings in the world. The opportunity to travel the planet and crank loud music to the masses is an honor.
That was it from me, so thanks for your time, Juan, and all the best with the third EvilDead album and everything else for that matter. Anything you'd like to add to this conversation?
Juan: Thank you for your support through the years, and hope to catch up with you on tour. Check out the new EvilDead music and everyone stay safe.
|Other information about Evildead on this site|
|Review: Annihilation of Civilization|
|Review: The Underworld|
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