Joel Graham, Evile / “Bloodstock 2021 will be gloriously brutal”

Catton Park is set for an exciting day as Bloodstock Open Air 2021 kicks off and Joel Graham, the bassist from Evile, told MetalTalk that they cannot wait to play The Sophie Lancaster stage on Friday.

“We are very much looking forward to this year’s Bloodstock,” Joel says. “It has been a while since we last played, 2012, I think. We have always considered Bloodstock our spiritual home, and it feels really good to be coming back after so long.”

Evile are ready, well-rehearsed, and the excitement level is boiling. “We just love attending Bloodstock,” says Joel, “so we always have a good feeling about it. I have to admit we did have a sense of doubt if it would really happen during the early part of the year, but to see the wheels in motion now we are so close to the event, it all feels great.”

Joel, like many, is very appreciative of the efforts of the festival organisers to get Bloodstock up and running after a challenging year. “It’s a credit to everyone involved in the festival not to throw the towel in and pull it early in 2021 just to be safe,” Joel says. “Instead, they have ridden it out, had faith in the festival happening, a very brave move that I hope everyone attending will be grateful for.”

It is the first gig from Evile for a while, and also, “it is our first show with the new ‘switched about’ lineup of Evile,” Joel says. “We now have Adam on-board on guitar, and Ol on vocals, so I imagine our set will somewhat be a curiosity for some of the Evile fans attending. But that’s our job on the day to thrash the fuck out of anyone who has any doubts about Evile in 2021.”

Evile plays The Sophie Lancaster stage on Friday, with some more festival dates later in the year and a tour in November. Bloodstock is going to be a special moment. “Yeah, playing on The Sophie stage is great for us,” Joel says. “It’s nice to be featured on a day running order that features Shrapnel, Raging Speedhorn, ourselves, Conan and Napalm Death, which is a festival within its self. It will be gloriously brutal.”

While the band may not have played live for a while, they will use past experience to drive the performance for this gig. “We do what we do,” Joel says. “We know what we are good at, we are an experienced live Metal band that plays technical fast Thrash Metal with zero gimmicks, and if you fancy a bit of that, then you know where to find us on the day.”

What can fans expect on the day, and is there the possibility of new songs? “It’s a festival,” says Joel. “You have to be mindful that people will be checking your band out for the first time, so you do have to angle the setlist to the more ‘known’ songs, but yes, we are playing a few new songs too, so a good mix of everything Evile stands for.”

COVID-19 was a different experience for Evile to many bands, given their inactivity in the last few years.

“The lockdown of everything kind of gave us a kick up the arse to get our shit together,” Joel says. “We were just finishing the writing process [for Hell Unleashed] when the pandemic hit, and we utilised that window of time during August and September when things did re-open for a few months to get Hell Unleashed recorded. The biggest downside is not being able to tour the album directly after its release, but we will get that done as soon as we can. UK tour is planned for February 2022, and more dates will be announced.”

Hell Unleashed grabbed great reviews and announced in some style that the band were back and was well received by the fans. “It’s great,” Joel says. “It is always hard to switch a member of a band that has been an integral part of the lineup since the start, so losing Matt last year was a huge blow to us, but Ol’ taking up the vocal duties and playing the guitar the way he does TOGETHER is something that has really blown people away when they first heard Hell Unleashed. It is still clearly an Evile album, even though it has a much more brutal approach, but everything Evile is known for is contained in that album, and the fans seem very pleased with us for it.”

Signing with Napalm Records was great news, and they really supported the band. “As soon as we started talking with them, they were aware of the lineup shift. We sent them over a couple of demos, and they were really impressed with the new material and the harder approach we were projecting,” says Joel.

“We had always planned for this album to be much more in your face. That was decided way back after we released Skull in 2013. We always said that we would strip things back for our ‘next album’, bring in those more Death Metal influences we all have, and even before Matt left, that was the plan for this album.”

Evile’s influences are many and varied. “Ben loves AOR stuff,” Joel says, “I have a serious passion for Zappa and Mr Bungle type of bands, Ol won’t go on tour without a couple of Yes and Gentle Giant albums in the van, and Adam likes newer Metal bands the rest of us have never heard of because we are old. However, we all meet in the middle of the music we play, with Classic Metal and thrash bands being the reference points. Sepultura got name checked many times while making Hell Unleashed, but there is so much in there if you listen closely. Annihilator, Anthrax, Death, Entombed, Megadeth, Metallica Slayer… You know the score.”

And so to Bloodstock, where we fully expect the band to smash it. The future is looking bright, with a UK tour to look forward to in February 2022. “We are hoping to get back into Europe and the US for some shows in support of Hell Unleashed,” Joel says, “and then get another new Evile album out there. But we promise you will not have to wait another fucking eight years for it!!

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