Nick Orlando(guit) and Rob Robichaud (bass) founded the Doom band EVOKEN under the name Funereus in april 1992. The name Evoken was taken from a Thergothon song. And after listening to their third album „Quientus“ I had to send some interview questions to Nick.
Why did you choose the name Evoken?
We didn’t originally choose Evoken as our name….. we were originally called Funereus. After we had a couple of guys leave, we decided to change our name…we were already sounding much different then we did anyway so it was necessary. After that we were Asmodeus for about a year and a half but we found out there was a Norwegian band of the same name so again, we decided to change our name. My drummer & I both being Thergothon fanatics decided to use the name „Evoken“ which was a song on their 1991 demo. I think it fits rather well as our music is the perfect tool in evoking certain moods and visual imagery whilst being listened to.
What makes your music unique to other doom/death metal bands, what do you think?
As i’ve stated in previous interviews, this question is a bitdifficult to answer since it is more opinion than fact. I personally think there are very few if any modern doom or doom/death bands around today that sound like us. Of course, that is just my point of view– i’d leave it up to the people listening to the CD to form their own judgements and decide for themselves on what makes Evoken different from all the rest.
What are your musical influences? What do you think about bands like Thergothon, Winter, Scepticism, My Dying Bride, Disembowlment, Candlemass, Celtic Frost and Black Sabbath?
All great bands….i’m not influenced directly by Skepticism (still one of the best active doom bands today) but
the others all have been big influences on me….as well as old Paradise Lost, Monumentum, Portishead, Darkthrone, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Swans, Blue Cheer, Lustmord, Dream Death, old Trouble, Funeral, old Cathedral etc…
By whom or what do you also feel influenced (books, films, feelings…)?
I usually enjoy alot of poetry or a good horror story….Baudelaire, Poe, Lovecraft, Rilke, Rimbaud, Mallarme, Cummings, Lautreamont, old Stephen King, Verlaine, Swinburne, Milton, Millay, etc. Any good poem or movie can inspire me to pick up the guitar and write….which is what usually happens when i’m home trying to write riffs. I need some kind of stimulus to get the creative juices flowing.
What means doom metal to you? Could you emagine to play another style?
Doom metal is pure darkness….misery….despair….non-stop soul crushing heaviness. The truest, heartfelt stuff always hits home so much harder because it is real emotions that every person can relate to and has felt sometime in their life. Doom metal has been my life and will continue to be for quite awhile. Evoken would never play another style than what we’re doing right now…..and if for some insane reason we decided to play silly goth rock or weak-kneed fake doom then we would at least have the decency to change our name.
Tell us something about your lyrics in general (on which topics do you concentrate?)? Do you think that the lyrics are as important as the music?
We’ve never really had specific topics to our lyrics……we enjoy being vague and obscure….especially my drummer Vince’s lyrics. The reader can interpret them however they wish– although I think mine have a bit more room for
They give the listener a bit of elusive imagery that plays into the obscure sound of the music and sets the overall vibe of the song. The interplay of the two creates the dark, cryptic style we have crafted and is the desired end result. The music is the main concern here but the lyrics are very important as well.
What do you think about your first (self-released) MCD Shades of night descending and the four encludes songs now? Have you ever had other releases prior to the MCD?
I still appreciate it for what it is….the sound is pretty crude but at the time it was the best we could possibly do so I
still have alot of respect for it. Of course, we’ve gotten infinitely better at writing/composing and have also acquired new, better gear and learned quite a bit along the way about recording and mixing an album. The only other things we had before the MCD was a Funereus rehersal demo from 1992 and a couple of decent sounding rehersals from the Asmodeus days….nothing official.
It was re-released by Adipocere Records with a new cover. Why did you choose to change the cover? How did you get in contact with them? How can the relation between Adipocere and your band be described?
Well, the old cover was an old work of art that we had found in a book and really liked so we used it. Unfortunately, when Adipocere decided to re-release it they needed cover art they had permission to use so they let us pick another cover from a few different paintings that a friend of Christian (Adipocere owner) did. Adipocere was one of the labels we had sent a copy of „Shades… to and immediately they wrote back interested in re-releasing it– the rest is history. Looking back i’d say it was pretty fucked up for the most part but a valueable lesson that we learned the hard way. We were eager and jumped at the first offer to come our way and many times that is a fateful decision. I have slammed them in many old interviews so I don’t want to say too much because this is really old news and trivial to get into at this point in time.
Than you released two demo tapes. Tell us somting about these tapes. I guess you sent these tapes to several labels to get a deal, didn’t you?!
Yes, between „Shades….and „Embrace the Emptiness“ there was a long period of inactivity due to label disinterest. It seemed everyone we sent it to really liked it but could not commit.
Of course, 1994-1998 was the height of the black metal insanity and trendy Cannibal Corpse styled death metal….so times were hard for a slow doom/death band. There really wasn’t any room on any of the label’s rosters for one extreme doom band let alone two for the ones who already had a doom band. This isn’t exactly the best selling type of music to be playing, but we stuck with it and it paid off eventually. The first was from 1996……3 songs; and the second was from 1997 and that was 2 songs.
You also recorded a track for an Iron Maiden- and a Black Sabbath tribute album. What do you think about tribute CDs in general? Why did you choose these two bands? Would you like to take place at another tribute album (which band?)?
I think for the most part tribute albums are silly.
There are a number of bands who really deserve them–Venom, Celtic Frost, Slayer, Bathory, etc but i’ve seen the most useless tribute albums coming out for bands that don’t even deserve a tribute. Instead of wasting time and money on these wastes of time, labels should be out signing underground bands that deserve to have something released and are struggling to even continue existing. We all love Black Sabbath & Iron Maiden so the choice was easy….as well as the added exposure at the time that we desperately needed. It was beneficial in alot of ways– we made some money, got our name out there, and also honed our recording skills.
When and where did you record your debut album ‚Embrace the emptiness‘ and what do you think about the album now (songs, sound, cover… whatever)?
We recorded EtE at Wave Studios in Staten Island, NY. Unfortunately, the studio has since closed down. I believe it was in April/May of 1998. I still enjoy listening to it ever now and then. It is still a bit dated to my ears these days but alot more indicative of what we sound like these days than „Shades….I think the cover is perfect–still as striking as ever. The sound could’ve been better but our budget and our gear were nowhere near what we had for „Quietus“. Overall, I am very proud of that record.
What do think about the work Elegy Records (who released ‚Embrace the emptiness‘) were doing for Evoken?
They helped us out alot by signing us at a time when noone else wanted to. They also gave us a respectable amount to record with as well. Promotion really lacked due to the financial situation at the time so although it was/is still frustrating, i can understand the reasons why. They are an up and coming label and I have only positive experiences during our short time with Elegy Records.
How had been the reactions on your album (and the MCD)?
Up to this point we still get reviews in on EtE & Shades….and 99% of the time they are very positive. They were both received rather well in the underground fortunately.
Are ‚Shades of night descending‘ and ‚Embrace the emptiness‘ still available? Is it possible to get the CDs from you?
Yes, I still have copies of both although supplies are dwindling each day. I have the original version of „Shades…. not the re-release by Adipocere. They should be up on our website along with prices (http://www.evoken.com) Any parties interested should email me or check it out at the website.
How much copies from the MCD and your fist album have been sold?
I couldn’t give you an accurate answer. To this day we’ve never even received a statement on how many we sold. I know we printed up about 550 of the original version and have about 100 left. They were never really sold by us. We printed them up, sent about 10-15 out to labels, and within a month after that we were signed to Adipocere. Everyone who wanted it ordered it from them. Since then, they sat in a box until last year when we got a website up and running and started actually selling them. It has definitely become a cult release.
Lately your second album ‚Quietus‘ was released by Avantgarde Music. Are you satisfied with your label and how did you get in contact with them?
I knew Roberto the owner for awhile. I hadn’t contacted him in a couple of years when one day in 1999 I received an email from him saying how much he enjoyed EtE. From there, we spoke further and he decided that he was going to sign us to his label for 2 releases. I think it has been pretty good so far….they had alot of problems with their website for months and at a
critical time as well–when Quietus had just been released. That kind of hurt us promotion-wise I think. I know they have alot of bands and some are more of a priority then others….I just hope we don’t get buried.
In which way has your music developed during the years (compare the Cds)?
Well, the overall sound has greatly improved first off due to investing in better gear…..and we’ve all become better at our instuments and at composing songs. When the first album came out we were still relatively new to recording and didn’t know how to go about getting „our sound“. Over the years, we’ve gotten better at what we do and we know what it takes in the studio to get it onto CD.
You recorded the ‚Quietus‘ songs at Wave Studios but some additional recordings were done at Den Studios. Which additional recordings (and why)? What can you tell us about the work at the studio?
The reason for the second studio is one I mentioned earlier in the interview. Wave Studios closed down in the middle of our recording and we needed to finish up the album. Our engineer recommended Den Studios since he knew a couple of the engineers there already. Luckily all that was left to be recorded was the cello. After we got all the cello parts down we mixed a couple of songs there and took the rest to our engineer Ron Thal’s house….which we affectionatly called „The Hermit Hole“ and finished up the mixing there. So actually, „Quietus“ was done in 3 places….and after getting all the guitars, bass, vox, drums, and keys recorded in just a couple of days, it turned into one long, expensive, and drawn out affair.
Tell us something about each song at ‚Quietus‘, please.
Well, “ Embrace the Emptiness“ is the oldest song….from our 96 promo. It is also the most epic as well. „Where Ghosts Fall Silent“ was the last song we wrote…and is probably most like what you will hear on the next Evoken CD. We tried to
incorporate some new ideas in that song that you don’t normally hear in other Evoken songs. „Atrementous Journey“ was also one of the last ones written and again, we tried to approach it a bit differently then we usually go about. „In Pestilence, Burning“ is probably one that people say they enjoy the most….pretty memorable with the strong piano/clean hook in the beginning. „Quietus“ was another older song that we re-vamped…put a new beginning and end riff on and brought it back from the scrap heap. „Withering Indignation“ and „Tending the Dire Hatred“ are not really special in any particular way….but they are two of the darkest and heaviest songs on the album.
Who made the cover artwork at why did you choose it? Is there any meaning hidden behind these pictures?
Stephen O’Malley of Descent Zine/Burning Witch fame designed the whole layout for us. There are no specific meaning in the pictures….like I said earlier we enjoy and strive to be obscure and as vague as possible with our true intentions. To me, they
are reflections of the many various moods such as pain, anguish, despair, loneliness, & desolation that you may come across while listening to our album…. a dark collage of deeper perceptions/meanings hidden in what comes across as simple chaos.
How had been the reactions on ‚Quietus‘ until now (press and fans)?
The reactions have really been the best ever. We have never gotten so many kick-ass reviews in such a short time. Of course, we are not above all reproach…there have been the occaisonal bad ones but they are very few and far between. As for the fans, well I think they enjoyed it even more if I may be so bold. We have certainly strived to achieve the perfect balance between progressing in a good way and keeping all the die hard fans we’ve had over the years happy. It has been and always will be what you’ve come to expect from us…heavy, dark, utterly crushing, and we will always have the death vox. That you can quote me on.
Can you remember your best and worst gig?
When someone mentions „best gig“ I find myself always thinking about the My Dying Bride gig in ’97.. That was truly an experience we will never forget. Although our recent gigs these last few months have been outstanding….we’ve played with some real heavyweights like Spirit Caravan, Penance, Mayhem/Ravenous, WarHorse, etc. Worst gig was probably our first….I was so damn nervous I thought I was going to shit my pants. I remember it vaguely and I can’t help but think we were really awful.
Do you have any plans concerning a tour or something like that?
We’d love to tour and are currently trying to make it happen. It has been a long standing goal of ours and we feel it is certainly within our grasp. As of now though, no tours are currently scheduled.
You changed your logo to normal letters, why?
We still have our original logo….if you look closely at the layout you will see pieces of it in there somewhere. It is a great logo but a bit unreadable…..we will have a new one soon–perhaps maybe an icon or a symbol. We’ll see.
Is someone of you involved in other bands/side projects?
I have a death metal side project called Funebrarum that is dormant right now but will start up again when we get the proper members again. My keyboardist Dario also has a side black metal project that he does on his own called Krohm…..totally freezing black metal at its best.
Are you interested in politics, religion, collecting something…or any other hobbies?
My hobbies are simple…..I have my bands/playing guitar & drums as well as writing poetry and spending time with my girlfriend. Those things take up most of my time. Religion and politics I have no use for.
What do you think about your local scene and the U. S. metal scene in general?
The USA has had some great doom bands popping up all over in the last 2 years or so. I think it’s the strongest its been in quite awhile. As for the local NY/NJ scene, it still could be alot better but there are some great bands here and there have been more and more shows as well. I hope this continues to get better as it will only strengthen the underground.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
To make Evoken the best we can possibly be….get on a tour….buy more musical equipment…..stay sane….continue the great relastionship I have now…..lose weight…..get a job.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer to my questions. The last words are yours.
Thank you for the great interview…..your support is greatly appreciated and I wish all the best for Eternity Mag. Anyone
interested please stop by the website www.evoken.com and sign the guestbook while your at it. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next Evoken CD…..the darkest, most soul devouring yet!!
STAY DOOMED !!!!!!!!!!!