-- Evil Invaders get shredded --

Stijn Daneels
Ah, the Evil Invaders. Certainly one of the hottest Belgian metal bands in recent years. It took me a while before I finally caught a gig with them. Eventually, it became December 3, 2015 in Opwijk that I and the band first met. And as you could’ve already expected, I wasted no time asking the band for an intimate conversation.

And both me and the Evil Invaders had a damn good time talking to each other. Speaking about the impact of the band’s success on their lives, visiting Japan and eating with chopsticks as well as the reason why they've released their first live video performance exclusively on VHS! Yup, things got very interesting that night…

The Evil Invaders from left to right: Max Mayhem (guitars), Joeri van de Schoot (bass), Johannes “Joe” Van Audenhove (lead vocals and guitars), Senne Jacobs (drums).BMS: Hello there, folks! We’ve reached the end of 2015. How did this year go for you?
Joe: So far so good! We did a lot of touring and played about twice the number of shows we did last year. We started 2015 by unleashing our debut full length release called Pulses of Pleasure and playing a sold-out release party in Vosselaar. Right after that awesome gig, we went on tour with Majesty and later with Skullfist. In the summer we played at several festivals like Graspop Metal Meeting. Right now, we’re focusing on writing new material.
BMS: That’s great. 2015 has also been an excellent year for me. I’ve finally obtained my permanent job contract after either been temporarily employed or not employed at all for the past three years. I also started my website and I met plenty of new friends and heard a lot of great metal music these past twelve months.
Joe: What’s your job?
BMS: I work for Katoen Natie in Ghent as a logistics administrator. It’s the best job I’ve had so far and I wouldn’t leave it for the world. I’ve got very friendly colleagues, there’s little professional hierarchy and I can get to work and back in less than an hour.

The Evil Invaders from left to right: Max Mayhem (guitars), Joeri van de Schoot (bass), Johannes “Joe” Van Audenhove (lead vocals and guitars), Senne Jacobs (drums).
BMS: Now, Joe, you were talking about writing new material. Could you already give us a little hint as to what we can expect?
Joe: The new songs are still work in progress so it’s hard to say what they will sound like in the end. We always try to experiment with what we can achieve as a band and since 2 members left last year this new album will sound different than Pulses of Pleasure and our self-titled EP. Of course it will still be the Evil Invaders, so get ready for another threesome of adrenaline fueled speed, thrash and classic heavy metal. But we will be taking our music to new levels for sure!

Joe: We all have our strengths and weaknesses as musicians and we learn from each other’s playing style. In that way I could see some positive sides on the fact that I’ve worked with different musicians in the past. Technically speaking everything will be an improvement to our earlier work and we hope that people will like our new stuff even more compared to our previous iterations.

BMS: I’m confident it will be a worthy successor. So, this year you guys went to Japan for a few gigs. I hope you didn’t you have too much trouble eating with those fancy chopsticks?
Max: Well, for Joeri and me it was our first time visiting the land of the rising sun and as with all westerners we had to get the hang of using those sticks. And after a lot of practice and dropped sushi, we eventually succeeded!
BMS: Joe, you and Senne have already visited Japan before. How did this year’s tour go compared to last year’s?
Joe: Things were a lot more intense during this second run. During our first visit to Japan we played as a supporting act during a sold-out two-day festival supporting At War and Possessed during the first and second day respectively. This year we did two shows as a headlining act. We didn’t know what to expect this year since we had no idea of how popular we were in Japan. Our first concert was in a pretty small venue in Osaka which, to our surprise, was completely packed. Our good friend Mikitoshi even took care of en entire filmcrew to capture this moment on film!

Joe: Our second gig, which took place in Tokyo, was an even bigger blast! The venue was huge and the event itself was also well organized. It was an amazing night for all of us! We also ate dishes we never tried before and even now we still have no clue as to what we had eaten during our stay. But we do know that it had soya in it.

BMS: I myself have been to a Japanese restaurant last weekend with my colleagues from work. The restaurant's interior was designed like an authentic Japanese home and we all wore kimonos and ate with chopsticks. The food was very tasty and I quickly got used to eating with the chopsticks. Some of my coworkers, however, eventually gave up on them and asked for a fork and knife.
BMS: Now, back to the band. What are your plans for next year?
Joe: Tonight is going to be our last Belgian club show for the following twelve months. We do, however, are planning to play at several festivals next year, such as Into the Grave during which we will be supporting Slayer and Exodus. We’ll also be working hard on finishing our newest songs and we’ve also got plans for another tour although the latter is still in its early stages. In March we will be playing in Finland. It’s our first Scandinavian gig and we’re looking forward to playing there.
BMS: Sounds great! Well, your band has become very popular in just a few years time. How do you cope with that success and attention?
Joe: We simply do our own thing. We don’t let other people’s opinions or expectations decide what music we’re going to play. We’re making sure that we, as a band, are 100% satisfied with our work and we’re confident that if we like our stuff, at least some other folks will like it as well. But we’re perfectionists and believe that we can always improve our craft. For the moment, we’re looking to enchance our lightning effects and to get the band’s internal collaboration tighter overall.

Joe: Personally, however, I do feel the effects of the Evil Invaders’ success since I’ve been with the band since the very beginning. Now, when I go to gigs myself, people approach me and talk to me even if I don’t remember seeing that person before. For me, it isn’t easy to consistently remember everybody’s face which is a bit of a shame, but I’ve got used to such sudden random encounters.

BMS: Yeah, I’ve experienced that feeling too during a few gigs I attended in the past few months. People who remember me from previous concerts and greet me despite me trying hard to recall where I first met that person. But I don’t mind a bit of attention, especially not female attention.

BMS: I’d love to know your personal favorite songs to play live.
Senne: Shot in Paradise and Pulses of Pleasure are tunes I love to play in front of a live audience.
Max: Master of Illusion is a definite favorite as well as Fast, Loud N’ Rude. I dig the new tracks a fucking lot!
Joeri: Pulses of Pleasure, as it’s a lighting fast track that gets my blood pumping for some heavy headbanging!
Joe: It’s a really tough question since I’m fully pleased with all songs we’re playing live. But I’ll take Siren as my top pick.

Senne: Shot in Paradise and Pulses of Pleasure are tunes I love to play in front of a live audience.
BMS: Joeri, I remember you from your time with the now defunct metal band Prematory. How did you end up with the Evil Invaders?
Joeri: I’ve known Joe since I was playing with Prematory. Sam, Evil Invaders’ previous guitar player, left the band and Max switched from bass to lead guitar. Around the time Prematory had retired, Joe announced that his band was looking for a new bass player and I applied for the job.

Joeri: Fun fact, I didn’t have any bass playing experience before I joined the Evil Invaders (as I played lead guitar during my time with Prematory) but I bought a bass guitar and learned all the songs from the Evil Invaders’ catalogue. Then we began touring and the other guys were satisfied with my contribution. For me personally, I find Evil Invaders’ playing style to be very suitable for me and when they offered me to play bass with the Evil Invaders full-time I immediately accepted the offer.

BMS: Joe, you’ve been with the Evil Invaders from the get go. Tell me something about the band’s evolution in terms of songwriting and overall attitude within the band.
Joe: In the beginning me and the other founding members of Evil Invaders didn’t take the concept of our band very seriously. We just got together, jammed a bit and that was it. When we did our first concerts, we used to equip ourselves with beer bongs and water guns (which were filled with beer instead of water) and shot away at the audience. So yeah, it was more about partying and playing some crappy stuff rather than actually making a good musical impression.

Joe: We had some member changes in the first couple of years. Senne was the first one from the present line-up to join in. that was in 2011 I think. The more shows we played, the more we noticed that there were people who genuinely enjoyed our music. The major turning point for Evil Invaders was in 2013, when we released our self-titled EP. Its success gave us a lot of exposure in the metal scene and it allowed us to be signed with Napalm Records.

Joe: Since then, we’ve been on a rollercoaster ride! In the two years following our EP’s release, we went on four European tours as well as the gigs in Japan which I already mentioned. In fact, we did our tour with Destruction right in the middle of our recording sessions of our first full length release, Pulses of Pleasure!
BMS: Joe, tell me something about your personal ups and downs with Evil Invaders.
Joe: Lineup changes are always difficult moments for me. You have to look everywhere for a replacement and have to practice all the songs with this new guy. As for the highlights, I’d say the release parties we had for our Pulses of Pleasure album. They were all sold-out and people went batshit crazy during those concerts. And I have many beautiful memories of all the tours I participated in. I was also surprised by how many headbangers showed up during our gig in Graspop. We never expected the Metal Dome to be fully packed.
BMS: Back when you started Evil Invaders, did you already have a clear idea as to what genre of metal you wanted to play?
Joe: Not really, at first, we wanted to play some classic hard rock and metal and began covering songs from the likes of Black Sabbath and Saxon but we also played songs from Obituary and S.O.D. Our main problem, however, was that we couldn’t find a singer. But as we were playing, we gradually began to sound faster and more aggressive and eventually I said: “fuck it, I’ll just yell in this microphone and be done with it!” So I did that and my voice ended up being totally fucked up! So I took vocal lessons and looking back, I believe the vocal part worked out just fine.
BMS: I'm aware that being in a metal band takes a lot of time and dedication, but what are your other individual activities?
Joe: I build my own guitars. I studied the craft of guitar building but it wasn’t easy, as I had to combine touring and playing with studying. I eventually graduated and now I’m looking to start my own company.
Joeri: I’ve recently graduated as an accountant. So I come in handy for dealing with the financial side of the Evil Invaders.

Max: When I’m not writing songs for the Evil Invaders, I write songs for myself. At the moment I’m giving guitar lessons. Basically, my whole life is dedicated towards the beauty of listening to and creating music as well as teaching other people how to make their own tunes.
Senne: I’m a carpenter. I recently built our new rehearsal room and I also take care of the logistic elements on stage.

BMS: It seems you guys are quite some handy men and good at mathematics (two things I really suck at!)
BMS: I recall you guys were playing in the Ancienne Belgique around the moment the Paris attacks happened on Friday 13th November 2015. How did you learn what happened there?
Joe: During our performance that night, some Paris friends from Max were present and someone told us that they suddenly were all shocked and freaked out. At first, we thought like “damn, are we playing that bad?” Unfortunately, we quickly found out that there had been a horrible shootout during a gig in the Bataclan. We were shocked not just by the fact that so many people died that night, but also that such a horrible massacre might as well happen here or anywhere else where people get together to enjoy music.

Senne: I don’t think much about what might happen during a gig. In the end, there’s no place in the entire world that's 100% free of danger. If you think too much about it, you might as well go completely paranoid and spend the rest of your days in a nuclear proof bunker.

BMS: I agree. I heard the news when I returned home from work at about 11.45 PM since I had the evening shift. As always, I checked Facebook and played the Simpsons Tapped Out mobile game before going to bed. As I scrolled the FB news feed I read some comments from friends regarding these attacks. It was only the day after that I read a full coverage about the horrors that had happened in Paris that night. I was shocked but I didn’t remain in my home. The weekend after the attacks, I went to Metal for Angels in Ninove and had an excellent time there despite two bands cancelling their performances and the fact that there were like only twenty or thirty people in attendance.
Joe: Yeah, the week after, we went to see the Scorpions in Antwerp and Judas Priest in Tilburg and this week we came to see Whitesnake in Brussels. And it was all great fun!
BMS: Now for something more positive. Nowadays there are a lot of young Belgian metal bands who all try to get their time in the spotlight. What advice could you give to your peers?
Joe: First of all, believe in your work! Don’t come out and play songs you aren’t fully satisfied with. Practice as much on your songs as necessary until you can nail them perfectly. As a band, it’s very important to be on the same wavelength about the musical direction and to communicate with each other. Be yourself and remain humble, don’t let your ego get the better of you no matter how many people praise your talents.
Senne: And drink a lot of booze!
BMS: Of course! And thanks for giving me a beer, by the way!
Senne: Don’t mention it!
BMS: I noticed that you released your live video exclusively on VHS. What was the problem? Did you guys ran out of DVDs?
Joe: (laughs) No, it was actually kind of a joke. Some of our fans begged us to record a live performance and release it on DVD. Of course, VHS is a rarity in this age of digital recording and Youtube but we just wanted to troll people a bit.
BMS: Well, it would’ve been an even bigger troll if you sold the recording on laserdisc! Or just keep the recording on your digital camera and let people pay rent to watch it!
Joe: Ha, now that would’ve been an idea!
BMS: What other countries would you like to visit?
Joe: Mexico and Brazil are some favorite destinations. We also want to return to Lithuania.
Senne: Belgium would’ve been cool, we’ve got a couple of passionate fans there!

MS: Yeah, like this weirdo here wasting your time with silly questions! But I’ll let you guys prepare for tonight’s show. I look forward to it!

Evil Invaders - Fast, Lound 'n' Rude