Interview: LA Thrashers EvilDead Discuss New Album, Toxic Grace

Metal

Photo: Alex Solca

When classic thrash outfit EvilDead released United States of Anarchy in 2020, it had been 29 years since the band’s last proper LP, 1991’s The Underworld. Picking up where they left off four years ago, EvilDead are primed to release new album Toxic Grace tomorrow, so Decibel caught up with guitarist Juan “Juan of the Dead” Garcia to talk about it.

Your first album in 20 years came out four years ago. Did you expect to do another record after United States of Anarchy or were you testing the waters with that?
When we released the EvilDead album U.S.O.A. in 2020 through SPV/Steamhammer, our initial goal was simple at the time: we wanted to unleash new material because we enjoy listening to and performing our style of thrash metal. Some of the songs on the Anarchy record were written years prior, and some were brand new. We weren’t testing the waters; we just wanted to release new music because it felt great to be back and we had support from our fans and the underground metal scene which we are grateful for. It felt right to release new music with no agendas in place.

Your new album, Toxic Grace, pulls influences not just from thrash/speed metal but melodic, doom and trad metal. What does the typical writing process look for you guys? Is there one primary songwriter across the board or do ideas come from everyone?
On this new album, a lot of the initial ideas came from Albert Gonzales (guitarist); he has an arsenal of guitar riffs that he presented, and we went through them and listened closely. It all starts with the initial riff, and from there we build on it. I will add some of my ideas if needed depending on the song. Rob Alaniz (drummer) helps us with the arrangement and drum beats; from there we present a rough demo to our singer Phil Flores and on this new album he wrote about 99 percent of the lyrics. We leave room for our bassist Karlos Medina to add his parts as well; it’s a group effort from start to finish, very organic. Then we will demo it again and we may re-arrange, add/subtract parts, it really depends on the song. We had a good time working on this new album. A lot of the songs were worked on old-school style in a garage and rehearsal room nice and loud. On the new record we also worked with two producers, Rob Hill and Dave Casey, which also gave us a different perspective to the material.

Speaking of incorporating new ideas: do you feel less (or more) pressure as songwriters to live up to a certain standard since reforming as an older, more experienced band?
We didn’t give it a lot of thought, we let it things happen in very spontaneous. We didn’t set limitations to ideas of what it should sound like, it was important for us to really make sure the parts flowed well. We are a thrash metal band so we know our place and what an EvilDead album should sound like. We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to perform a few of these songs live and see how the crowd reacted, so this helped.

The lyrics throughout are critical of politics and society. Are you looking at things from a positive or negative point of view? Do you think we’re fucked or are these songs optimistic that the future can be better?
The lyrics are an observation about life in general, and some are about the mainstream media and the narrative and possible agendas in place; we don’t try to be too critical, positive or negative. We would like for people to think for themselves and make up their own minds. You have to have hope that people will become less complacent and more free-thinking. I’m optimistic that the future will be better.

When EvilDead reunited in 2008, there was no new music recorded, which means there was a roughly 30-year gap between records. Were any of the ideas that became songs on Toxic Grace conceived in the time that you weren’t a band?
I would say a good portion of song ideas on our previous album United States of Anarchy were from the past, especially the song “Greenhouse,” which we wrote around the time of our debut album, Annihilation of Civilization. We just didn’t record it then. On this new record Toxic Grace, the ideas are more current with the exception of “Bathe In Fire,” which we released in 2023 as a single prior to our EvilDead European tour; it was remixed a tad, and remastered for the album version. 

Every member in this incarnation of EvilDead was also a member of the band during your original run. Does writing and recording feel like picking up where you left off, or like a fresh band at this point?
On this new recording we had the same line-up as our previous album, so this helped a lot in the recording process for sure. The new songs feel very fresh and listening to Toxic Grace in its entirety, I’m very proud of everyone’s contribution to the songs. The production is on point, it’s an exciting album, very heavy, moody and lots of EvilDead-style thrash metal riffs to bang thy head to.

Originally Posted Here

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