Photos: Sharita Lumpkin
Mike Church -
guitar / vocals
"It was challenging and tedious but we learned a lot...at the same time it was a very easy kind of process."
This is what Evan Willey, bassist for Grand Rapids, Michigan's own Still Remains had to say in reference to the making of the band's Roadrunner debut, Of Love And Lunacy which is promptly due to hit the shelves on May 3rd, 2005. Before the Roadrage 2005 tour, Still Remains created quite a buzz during the latter portion of last year. Being a staple on Music Choice Metal with their song "Recovery" from their Benchmark release EP entitled, If Love Was Born To Die; the band was definitely able to gain a lot of exposure. Now they will gain more considering they amongst the likes of Trivium, 3 Inches of Blood, and The Agony Scene. The aforementioned bands are this years' shining stars on the Roadrage Tour. Just remember this band is destined to go places. In my discussion with Evan, we discuss the band's new album, their first video off the release, he shared his feelings on close friend, Cameron MacIntosh, whom recently departed the band, working with famed producer GGGarth and more. Read on.
Karma: Thanks for doing the interview, Evan!
Evan: No problem.
Karma: Hailing from Grand Rapids, it must be cool to start the RoadRage Tour in your home state. Will you have family & friends here tonight?
Evan: It’s going to be a good night, my wife is here actually! [Smiles]
Karma: Now that’s cool! How do think RR2005 will be for you?
Evan: Yeah, it’s going to be a good tour for us. We recently signed with Roadrunner…
Evan: Thanks! A lot of people will get a chance to see us for the first time… [Unfortunately, the tape goblins claimed this portion of the interview]
Karma: How have the lineup changes affected you greatly with the departures of Cameron [MacIntosh] and T.J.?
Evan: I would say yes overall. Cameron was one of best friends in the band. He was the one that I was closest to. It's almost heartbreaking to have to go through but A.J.'s [Barrette] a great guy and an excellent drummer. For the music that we wrote on this album, I think he fits the style a little better. Actually, we know he does! [Smiles] So it’s definitely been a positive.
Karma: Awesome, awesome! How was it working with producer GGGarth [Rage Against The Machine, Kittie etc.]?
Evan: Incredible, incredible! The guy is amazing. It was challenging and tedious but we learned a lot, and he still made it feel like we were at home you know. We had enough in the down time where he made sure that we forgot about everything; just chill out, relax, and get comfortable with your surroundings. So that it was challenging at the same time it was a very easy kind of process. He definitely made us feel comfortable.
Karma: Are you guys satisfied with the way Of Love And Lunacy turned out?
Evan: [Without an upwards glance] Absolutely! [Smiles] Absolutely! It's an incredible sounding record.
Karma: As far as the cover art for If Love Was Born To Die, what do you want the buyer to walk away with? The image is striking, man extending his dirt latent hands out toward the viewer with a rosary.
Evan: A lot of that, for TJ who wrote the vocals and the lyrics, the album to him was about healing. To show a doctor and the fact that he had possibly just gone through something, with the blood on his hands is a representation of that.
Karma: What’s your favorite song off Of Love & If Love Was Born To Die?
Evan: Off If Love Was Born To Die I would have to say "I Can Revive Him With My Own Hands", that's definitely my favorite song on that [album]. Of Love And Lunacy I particularly like a song called "In Place of Hope"
Karma: Will any of the songs off If Love Was Born To Die appear on Of Love And Lunacy?
Evan: Yeah, we did two of the songs from the EP.
Karma: Which ones?
Evan: "If Love Was Born To Die" and "Recovery"
Karma: That's awesome! I am happy to "Recovery" is going to be on the new album, it is one of my favorite songs.
Evan: Oh good, thanks! [Smiles] Those were the two songs we felt had the strength…[switches gears a bit] some of the songs one If Love Was Born To Die were quite old. Those were some of the first songs we had ever written. We've definitely changed the way we write music and how we think, the process that goes through writing a song. And I really think it shows. If Love Was Born To Die was more a collection of songs and I think we did a really good job of making an album with continuous themes.
Karma: Which song are your releasing as your first video?
Evan: We're shooting, these names are still so new to me…
Karma: Sorry, but I couldn't find them! I normally write them down… [Laughs]
Evan: [Smiles] No, that's okay! I should know these but I'm a little nervous doing interviews.
Karma: Don't be! I don't bite. [Laughs]
Evan: [Smiles] "The Worst Is Yet To Come" is the name of the song.
Karma: When will you shoot it?
Evan: Hopefully we will shoot it sometime when we are on this tour during an afternoon or morning that we're off or something like that.
Karma: Okay, tell me who some of your musical influences were.
Evan: As a band or personally?
Karma: Let's do both.
Evan: Personally I would say my dad. Being he was making music and in band my entire life [for as] long as I can remember. It has definitely helped me get comfortable on a stage. Then there are bands like Faith No More and the Deftones and earlier even, The Cars all really kind of started inspiring me to want to do something myself. Especially with the Deftones, that was the band that really kicked me into gear and said, 'You need to pick up a bass or something'. Yeah, those were the earliest.
Karma: How about the band?
Evan: The band draws from In Flames and Soilwork, the European and Swedish style of metal. We definitely have a lot of pop influences, just song structure wise. The catchiness that we want to incorporate into our songwriting, again, bands like The Cars, The Cure… Actually, The Killers album that came out is something that we listen to a lot on tour. Let's see [stops to ponder] huhmmm…I think that those are the basic influences.
Karma: What are some of your non-musical influences?
Evan: Non-musical influences, I'm not sure how to answer that question. Again, I would have to say my family. To be honest I really don't know how to answer this one.
Karma: Well that's okay, no worries. [Smiles] As far as your Christian contemporaries are concerned, what do you have to say to those that feel you sound like an off spin ofZao? Personally I don't see it but…
Evan: [Scrunches up brow] I haven't heard that.
Karma: It's on the internet…
Evan: Hmm, I mean but they are definitely an influence. I don't mean to leave them out; they've definitely shaped the way other bands do heavy music. I don't have a problem if people want to compare us to other bands, I think we have a bit of our own thumbprint on what we do, incorporating a lot of things that we love and there's no problem with that.
Karma: Who are some of your favorite bands in the scene right now?
Evan: Right now, God Forbid is always one that we listen to… [he then gets the attention of the band's vocalist, Mike Church] "Mike…hey Mike! What was that CD we listened to today?"
Mike Church: [Answering from across the room] Buried Inside.
Evan: [Smiles] Buried Inside is a group that we've just been getting into. Let's see…Children of Bodom, Dragon Force is a band that's been in and out of rotation in the van. Definitely The Killers, Franz Ferdinand… [breaking his concentration a bit, Trivium's "The End Of Everything" starts to blare through the PA] a lot of stuff. It ranges from the most indie rock to pretty commercial stuff.
Karma: Where do you see Still Remains five years from now?
Evan: Obviously still together [pauses] you know growth in our relationships with each other and in our musical capabilities. Playing the biggest and best festivals is something that we would love to do. We just want as many people as possible to hear our music and hope that they respond to it.
Karma: Speaking of your fans, what legacy would you like to leave on your fans?
Evan: Mainly with they type of guys that we are, we like to meet as many people as possible. We really still try to maintain, I mean I used to look up to a lot of bands and just thought the world of them. You know I sort of…put them on a pedestal. I really hope to not give that impression to people that we meet.
Karma: You don't!
Evan: Thanks. We're just, you know like everybody else. We want to make a lot of friends as well.
Karma: And that you will!
Karma: Well here's a quick Speed Round of Questions for you.
Karma: Do you have a mantra?
Evan: I don't. No [Laughs]
Karma: If you could change one thing from the past, what would it be?
Evan: Change one thing in the past? I would have gotten started playing earlier.
Karma: Herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore?
Karma: First musician you met.
Evan: I'd have to say my dad unless it has to be someone famous then I would say Chi from the Deftones.
Karma: How about your favorite quote?
Evan: Oh, I don't have any on my mind right now.
Karma: Okay. What's the most valuable thing you've learned so far in the Industry?
Evan: The most valuable thing that I've learned in the Industry [pause] nothing will make up the difference for actual tour experience.
Karma: Nicknames your friends would give you off the cuff?
Evan: Tron. I go by my last name sometimes, they just call me Wiley. [We both laugh]
Karma: How many times have you failed your Driver’s Test?
Karma: Window or aisle seat?
Karma: If not music then what?
Karma: Any particular subject?
Evan: I don't know or even medicine somehow.
Karma: Your first job?
Evan: My first job was sorting bottles at a local convenience store.
Karma: How many candles did you blow out on your last b-day and on which date?
Evan: I blew out two candles, a number two, and a number seven [laughs] on September 28th.
Karma: Happy Belated Birthday!
Evan: Thank you!!
Karma: If you could commission a band to cover a Still Remains song, which song would you chose and who would cover it?
Evan: One of our songs if I could commission a band, that's interesting!
Karma: Any band ever.
Evan: Any band ever. I would say Led Zeppelin and I would have to say my favorite song again, "In Place Of Hope".
Karma: Whom would you ask these Speed Round Questions of, someone you'd like to learn a little more about.
Evan: Famous or in the group?
Karma: It could be anybody.
Evan: If I could have anybody answer these questions, I guess I've been kind of…[pauses] what do I say? I guess Nora Jones! [Laughs]
Karma: Well that would be awesome to hear her answers. Thank you very much Evan! I appreciate it.
Evan: No problem. [Smiles]
I'd like to thank Dan/Miranda at Roadrunner for setting the interview up and of course Evan and to the rest of the band.
Photo Shoot with Still Remains taken by Kimisha Pierce
All photos Copyright © 2005. Pictures not to be used without written permission by FourteenG
Looking for pix from tonight's show? Click here!