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...we would not stop playing gigs or take down our website to maintain some kind of "mystical" image

Interview with Evoken.
Evoken Sometimes, one cannot find the proper words to describe the extreme sound of certain underground bands. Evoken is one of those bands that give the ambitious doomologist a hard time. Words like 'dark', 'slow' and 'heavy' seem to become understamements when used in connection with this US ultradoom band. Therefore (as it is always the case with extreme music), Evoken should rather be experienced instead of talked about. We assume that many doom-metal.com visitors have already experienced the soul crushing sounds of Evoken; however, we suddenly  released with our cheeks burning red in shame, that we didn't have yet an interview with this phenomenal band in our doom-metal.com archives. There was only one way to wash away this spiteful sin; thankfully, a -contrary to the sound of his band- sympathetic and open-hearted Nick Orlando, helped us out of our depression by informing us about the past, present and future of Evoken... 

Greetings, Nick and thanks for doing this interview for doom-metal.com! How are things going in the Evoken camp, lately? I read on your site that you are working on new tracks...

"Greetings ...Things are going well for Evoken. At this point in time we have 4 completed songs and one that is in the works, which will probably be finished by next rehearsal. We are going to write another 2-3 songs and by then we'll have more than enough material for the next CD since each song so far is at the 10 minute mark or longer. Hopefully we will have a new design for shirts very soon as well."

I'm wondering what drives some guys from New Jersey to gather together and play such slow, depressive and dark music. Why not just following the latest metal trend? After all, it's easy money and also more appealing to the 'chicks'...

"Well, living in New Jersey is a pretty doomified experience to begin with....crime, overcrowding, over-industrialization, traffic, pollution, etc., etc. I guess we are just products of our own environment. Live and breathe oppression and sooner or later there must be a purging/venting process or you will simply explode or go insane. We thankfully have a medium at our disposal to vent and display our anger and hopelessness and that is Evoken. Sure, it'd be easy to jump on the bandwagon and blend in with whatever latest trend in metal is making the rounds but that would mean money and success! And after all, who would want anything as bad as money and success, haha. Seriously though, we're all too old (or in my case) too fat to be anything "new and trendy"or "appealing to chicks" Besides, we enjoy being obscure and virtually un-marketable! If we were selling 100,000 records we wouldn't be as miserable as we are and well, we like it like that!"

Are you so far satisfied with the reactions on your latest masterpiece 'Quietus?' It seems that the dark metal community is quite enthousiastic about it.

Quietus "I am very satisfied at all the great reviews of "Quietus" we've had so far. There has been a very small amount of bad reviews, so I can safely say overall,  it was a big success for us. Sales could have been better of course, but we understand this isn't Cradle of Filth or Slipknot. We've slowly but surely carved out a small niche in the underground scene and gained a small group of loyal fans over the years-and beyond writing for ourselves because it's simply what we love to do (the main reason why we exist as Evoken) it is these people that we continue to function as a band for. They know now that we will always have the heavy vocals, the dark atmosphere, the heavy sound. We've proven that.  This scene has had many great bands go to complete shit and we will not let that happen with our band."

I know a lot of black metal and other dark metal fans who really dig Evoken. What's in your opinion, Evoken's appeal to those non-doom metal fans? Do you think it has anything to do with the intensity and aggression of your music?

"I would say so. I think the material we put out has just as much intensity as any black metal CD. It's just a different kind of intensity. Obviously we don't play 600mph blast beats or have screechy black metal vocals-the intensity in Evoken's music is slow building and has an underlying presence beneath the more obvious tones of despair and misery. It takes a longer listen and a more focused attention. I think it's most obvious in the vocals...the way they are conveyed is definitely in an aggressive/intense manner. We also never stray too far from keeping the aggression at an even keel. We do balance our music out with quieter, more subtle clean parts but it always goes back to the heaviness and brutality."

Are you satisfied with you coöperation with Avantgarde Records? One thing that has changed for sure with this label, is the fact that your last album is much easier to find than your previous albums. Especially 'Embrace the emptiness' is a true collector's item here in Europe!

Evoken Live "Ehh mixed feelings really. Promotion was really not what  we were expecting. Mind you, the album was released during a period of time when A) Avantgarde's website was down and would be for months to come B) Our American distributor, Dwell Records, had basically folded and no longer existed. So here is this album that was released and just about noone knew about it. If you went to the Dwell site, it would have a tiny "coming soon" mention of our album that was there from months before. And if you went to the Avantgarde site, you would get nothing there as well. As for magazines, I saw one ad for it a few months ago and that was it. It kind of balances itself out though. Being on this label does make it easier to find our CD's without searching every hole in the wall distro for it."

I have the impression that your music tends to become heavier and heavier with each release. Is this coincidence, or is it a path that you follow deliberately? If yes, then I guess that we should expect a true earthquake with your next album...

"Yes it has gotten heavier. It's only because we've gained experience along the way and we now own a lot better equipment than we previously did. When we recorded "Shades Of Night Descending" back in 1994, we were very inexperienced with the recording process. Other than John, none of us had ever been in a recording studio. Since it was self-financed as well, we could only afford a very small amount of time to work with.  With 'Embrace the Emptiness', we had a bit more knowledge of what we wanted to sound like...but we didn't have the right equipment. At the time, we thought that the rigs we had were the holy grail, but they didn't give us the sound we wanted when it came to getting it on tape. We did the absolute best we could with what we had though and I'm still proud of that album to this day. When it came time to record 'Quietus', we had our engineer who knew what we were looking for, because he had already worked with us a few times. We also had much better equipment and a lot of studio experience coming into this one. I can tell you now to prepare yourself for the next album, because it will be a milestone in dark, heavy sounds. Pure audio desolation and coming apocalypse!"

Aarrrgghhh, I can't wait to hear it! Speaking of this intensity, I think that an Evoken gig must be a true earthshaking experience...however, the Europeans (including myself) can only know if you come and play here...any plans to do so? Did anyone show any interest in inviting Evoken to play some gigs in the 'old continent?'

Evoken Live "Yes, an Evoken gig is something to be experienced, indeed. More than once we have caused some structural damage to the club we've performed at. We would really love to come to Europe and play some shows-It has been our main goal for years now. We've spoken with Avantgarde about the possibility of this and right now it's pretty dim-but who knows what will happen with the next album. All I can tell you is that we will continue to strive to get there somehow...someway."

Doom albums seem to come very sporadic, while most doom bands don't even seem to be interested in establishing a name in the dark metal scene. F.i. Dolorian don't play any gigs, do only a few interviews and they don't even have a website. Do you think that this is an advantage, since this 'apathetic' attitude distinguishes the doom scene from the other metal scenes, or is doom rather destined to shrink and eventually disappear like the incredible shrinking man because of its own apathy?

Visit the Evoken webpage "Well, some doom bands like to keep a bit of mystery about them. I guess it goes along with their whole presentation of who they are (or who they aren't in this case). In this day and age though, having no website is a real killer. People interested in your band have nowhere to go to find out information about your band. I don't know the intentions of Dolorian as I have never been in contact with them....but in our case, you could say we are a bit out of the spotlight as well. Although, we would not stop playing gigs or take down our website to maintain some kind of "mystical" image. If there are specific reasons why bands do that, then all well and good...but it doesn't make sense to hinder the progress of you're own band just to make a statement about how misanthropic you are.

The doom scene is always destined to shrink to various degrees of undergroundness throughout the years. There are many reasons for this, so I don't ponder this as much as I once did. It's best to just keep doing what your doing and try not to take the Paradise Lost route. That can only help strengthen the scene."

How do you see the doom scene as an insider? Is there any coherence and support among the bands, or is it basically everyone on his own?

"It seems to have gotten better over the last year or so. I know a couple of people from various doom bands have signed our guestbook with kind words about Evoken. We try to return the favor as often as we can. We definitely appreciate that. It makes it all the more appreciated when they are people whose bands you enjoy on a personal level. Being that the scene is so spread out over various countries, I don't think the cohesiveness will ever be as extensive as in other scenes. You realize the great gigs you could be setting up with other doom bands, but the reality of it is that they live 3-4,000 miles away and it would be a very hard thing to do. Not to say the US doesn't have any good bands, but being that it is so vast here, it could make it almost as hard to set something up here. I think there need to be more people turned on to doom who will support it and buy the CD's & come to shows. Once that happens, I think the doom scene will find it easier to be a more cohesive scene than it is now."

I would like to end this interview with a 'reaction time experiment'. Can you write down the first reaction that comes to your mind while being confronted with any of the following words:

Darkness: "The greatest inspiration"
Hope: "What keeps us breathing"
Depression: "Listening to "remnants of a deeper purity" by Black Tape For A Blue Girl on a cloudy, rainy day."
Heaviness: "Esoteric--The Pernicious Enigma"
Winter: "Pure oppression. Awesome lyrics"
Thergothon: "The absolute gods. Lovecraft put to music. Cosmic horror"
Stoner: "Sleep's Holy Mountain"
Sabbath: "Godfathers of Doom"
Doom: "Something I could not exist without"
Evoken: My life

Thanx a lot for this interview, Nick. We at doom-metal.com wish you all the best with Evoken and we are looking forward to hear some new Evoken material!

Visit the Evoken bandpage.

Interviewed on 2001-11-06 by Kostas.
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