Tell us the beginnings of Prime Evil.
MIKE: PRIME EVIL started up in January of 1986 out of the ashes of a band that vocalist Andy and I were in. The drummer, Alex Landolina (Demoniac), and bassist, Steve Hanson (Demoniac, Morpheus Descends), answered an ad we placed in a local NY music 'zine. We played a lot of shows and wrote our first songs. A year later, bassist Mary Ciullo (Incantation) and drummer Tad Leger (Toxxik) joined the band and we recorded our first demo. The self-titled demo was raw thrash with hardcore influences. We recorded 4 songs on 16 tracks analog. We played everywhere, including CBGB's, and we got a lot of exposure in fanzines and from tape trading. In 1988 we released our second demo, "The Manifestation", which sold over 3,000 copies. It was another 4 song demo, but this time we used 24 track analog, and the production was much better. The songs on that demo are faster, tighter, and more developed musically than our first demo. The music was more speed metal than thrash, more refined, shorter, and the musicianship was better. We spent the next two years playing live across the Northeast, and in 1990, we recorded four new songs, again on 24 track analog, to shop to record labels. The music, writing, and playing on those songs are again more progressive, more technical, and faster. We garnered a record contract with those songs, and entered negotiations in early 1991. After 6 months of negotiating, we were all ready to sign the contract, when the record company went bankrupt! It was after that when long-time friend, drummer Matt Mayfield (Violent Plague), joined the band. We continued playing live, and in 1992, we released "Terminal Dementia", a limited edition red vinyl 7-inch on Ed Farshtey and Joe Pupo's RAGE Records. It received a lot of air-play on college and independent radio, landing us on the CMJ's LOUD 100 chart. At this time, PRIME EVIL came to a crossroad...the record labels were only signing either pure Death Metal or commercial Thrash, and we were somewhere in-between. We had been a DIY band for 7 years, and being that we were now all out of school, we had more personal responsibilities and bills to pay; so we could no longer financially sustain the band. We decided that we would never change to suit the music industry or to get a record deal - our integrity was much more important to us...so, we decided to disband. In July of 1992, Andy, Mary, Matt, and myself played our last show(at the time) as PRIME EVIL at The Marquee in NYC with Incantation, Brutal Truth, and Pungent Stench. In August, I joined Demolition Hammer and played guitar for them on their 1992 North American Tour supporting Deicide, and up until my last show with them in January 1994 at CBGB's opening for Anthrax. Mary joined Incantation and played bass for them for a little while, and Andy and Tad jammed together in Son's of Celluloid. But, even though we were not a physically active band, we were continuously receiving offers to release our music and re-unite. In 1994, we had 2 songs released on the "History of Things to Come" compilation CD on Growing Deaf Records; and in 2002, we released "UNEARTHED", a full-length CD of all of our studio recordings - as well as some unreleased songs from rehearsal recordings - on King Fowley's Battlezone Records. In 2010, the underground Metal documentary book "GLORIOUS TIMES" was published. PRIME EVIL was included among the bands featured, and when Andy brought us all copies of it, we all decided that we would like to jam together again, and record the songs that we never got the chance to record in a studio, and release a new CD. Once the word got out that we were jamming again, the offers started coming in to play out live. We really didn't want anything to get in the way of recording, so we decided to do only 2 shows; The Webster Underground in Hartford, CT in October 2011 with Warbringer, and the "Metal Suckfest" at the Grammercy in NYC in November, 2011. Some of the members couldn't keep up with the pace that the band was gaining, and had to bow out. That left just Andy and I to record the Ep ourselves. Once we finished the Ep, we were able to use it to pick up some local musicians, and we were able to rehearse, write, and play live shows. In June 2012, Billy joined the band as our permanent drummer, and we signed a deal with INFERNO Records in France to release our "EVILUTION" Ep. The Ep was released worldwide in August, and we did a Northeast Coast Tour in October. In March 2013, Rob joined the band as our permanent bassist, completing our line-up. We played a shit load of shows all year, and we are currently writing the final song for our first-ever full-length studio recording.
Who's in the band? What are their roles in the band?
VOCALS: ANDY EICHHORN - founder; main lyric writer; music writer, composer, and arranger; concepts; stage and studio production; promotion; representation; booking; merchandise; public relations; management; transportation; hotels; hair.
GUITARS: MIKE USIFER - founder; main music writer, composer, and arranger; occasional lyric writer; concepts; stage and studio production; promotion; representation; booking; web master; public relations; management; transportation; demo and rehearsal recording, engineering, and production; hate, anger
BASS: ROB BRODERICK - music writer, composer, and arranger; stage and studio production; promotion; booking; rage
DRUMS: BILLY WASSWEILER - music writer, composer, and arranger; stage and studio production; demo engineering and production; blast beats
Talk about your last album.
ANDY: We put out a 3 song Ep in 2012, about a year after we reformed entitled "EVILUTION". We were fairly happy with the results after not being in the studio after 20 plus years. However, we feel strongly that the song writing and production on the forthcoming full length album in 2014 will surpass anything we have done.
MIKE: "EVILUTION" was not just the title of our Ep, but also a musical description of how PRIME EVIL has evolved from 1990 until now. "Crucifixion Aftermath" is a song I originally wrote in 1990, and re-vised in 1995. "Barbarick Rites" has parts of a song I also wrote in 1990, and new parts I actually wrote while we were in the studio to complete it. Lastly, "Evilution Decree" is a new song that Andy and I wrote together in 2011. The Ep is a good representation of us musically before our hiatus, the evilution of our song writing during our hiatus, and a sample of what we are writing now. I feel they are the best songs PRIME EVIL has released to date - until our full-length comes out, of course! The story behind the recording was pivotal to the future of PRIME EVIL. We went into the studio with 5 members to record 5 songs, and when it was over, only Andy and myself were left, with 3 of the best songs we ever wrote. We spent the first day recording the drums; and 8 hours later, we didn't have any usable tracks. The drummer lived 3 and a half hours away, and apparently didn't have enough rehearsals in to have the songs ready. Since we were already in the studio, Dave Powers, the engineer, suggested to program the drums using software with analog recordings of actual drum kits (NOT a drum machine). We were skeptical at first, but we were also without a drummer...Dave offered to do one song, and if we weren't happy with it, we would scrap the project. So, we picked a Sonor drum kit, and gave Dave the demos I recorded using a drum machine for him to follow. We didn't expect much, but when we heard the song, Andy and I were blown away! Dave had emulated the PRIME EVIL style perfectly! However, the remaining 2 other members did not want to record with programmed drums, so they quit, and called it a "drum machine". That just left Andy and I to record the Ep. I stripped all the parts out of "Barbarick Rites" that I didn't write, and wrote all new parts. Dave did all the drum tracks based on my demos, Andy recorded all of the vocal tracks, and I recorded all the guitar and bass tracks. The 3 of us mixed and produced it all, and it came out way better than it would have if the whole band recorded it. The songs were much better now, and they are a TRUE representation of PRIME EVIL.
What are the bands you've toured with?
MIKE: Well, we've only done 1 tour, the "ENTER THE EVILUTION" Northeast Coast tour with Midnite Hellion in October 2012 in support of the Ep. However, we have played many shows and are good friends with Immolation, Malevolent Creation, Incantation, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Demolition Hammer, Death, Dark Angel, Sepultura, Deceased, Obituary, Ripping Corpse, Revenant, Mortician, Morpheus Descends...we've also done one-offs with Carcass, Pestilence, Deicide, Vital Remains, Morbid Angel, Brutal Truth, Devastation, Warbringer, Sacred Reich, Cynic, Death Angel, Forbidden, M.O.D., Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law, Municipal Waste...
When is Prime Evil's next tour?
MIKE: Summer 2014... although, we have some festivals lined up before then - including the NYDM Milwaukee Fest with Possessed in April.
Can you tell me Prime Evil's musical and non- musical influences as a whole?
ANDY: When we first started musically I would say Sabbath, Priest, old Slayer, Plasmatics, DRI....Vocally would be Tom Araya, Rob Halford, Paul D'ianno, Bruce Dickenson, Ronnie James Dio.... Non Musical - Current events, history, daily observation of mans futile existence......
MIKE: My musical influences include on guitar: Randy Rhoads, early Eddie Van Halen, Al DiMeola, Robin Trower, and Jesse Pintado. My musical influences as a songwriter and fan are Dark Angel, Carcass, Black Sabbath, Atheist, Entombed, Goatwhore, Macabre, Napalm Death, Psyopus, Watchtower, Rush, old Celtic Frost, Autopsy, Fear Factory, old Artillery, Pestilence, C.O.C., old D.R.I., Agnostic Font, Motorhead, Slayer... My non-musical influences are hate, anger, violence, revenge, murder, chaos, rebellion, Hell, demonic possession, psychosis, death, brutality, power, horror...
BILLY: I'm influenced by everything from deathcore to jazz. Sci-fi movies make me wanna write music, and so does metaphysics. Drummers who have influenced me are Matt Halpern, Tomas Haake, and Joey Jordison when I was a kid.
ROB: Influences I would say the usual; Sabbath, etc. The non-musical influences are just as important. I think it would be very hard to write or perform as Prime Evil without a certain amount of anger at larger as well as more personal immediate things.
When will Prime Evil be going back to the studio?
MIKE: We are putting the finishing touches on the songs now, and we still have to demo 5 of the songs, so once we're done with pre-production, we'll be able to start the recording process.
Who writes the songs in Prime Evil? Is there a general theme to the lyrics?
ANDY: I write most of the lyrics and themes. I generally deal with the true evil on earth....the human race. - Illustrating mans innate corruption and sick, violent nature. Mike has written a majority of the music throughout the years. The forthcoming album will also have musical contributions from all current members on several songs.
MIKE: Before Billy and Rob joined the band, I wrote all the music and about one-third of the lyrics...now, all of us write the music together, including Andy. For the first time, everyone has equal parts in the songwriting, composing, and arranging. It's made us a balanced band. We've had dozens of personnel changes along the years, but, Andy and I are the only 2 members that have NEVER quit. We've gone from being a four-piece to a five-piece, back to a four-piece band half a dozen times; but this line-up is the TRUEST to the PRIME EVIL sound, musicianship, attitude, drive, commitment, involvement, and professionalism. Andy writes almost all of the lyrics now, but all the lyrics I write are autobiographical - sex, violence, death, demonic possession, homicide...
How do you guys promote the band and shows?
ANDY: Of course we have a FB page and web site. In addition the promoters who book us in the Northeast US are very good at spreading the word and matching up bands that promote electronically and with word of mouth.
MIKE: Most of our promotion is on-line; our official web site - www.primeevil.net - as well as Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Reverbnation, Google+, Sound Cloud, iTunes, Bands in Town, etc. We also have postcards made with our show dates that we hand out when we go to shows. There's also radio, internet radio, fanzines, webzines, and web blogs.
ANDY: Very cloudy outlook. We are definitely in a major transition period that has yet to settle on a future modelWhat's your outlook on the music industry today?
MIKE: My outlook is dismal. I agree with Andy; we have yet to see what the future holds. DIY bands like ourselves will be able to survive anything, until they run out of money. It costs a lot to be in an active band. Bands need to get paid to play. It costs money to travel, to eat, and you also need new strings, sticks, and heads. It has definitely cost us more to tour and play festivals in the last 2 years than we have made.
ROB: The music industry is very different than how it was even 10 years ago and certainly 20 or so. The way artists earn income is very different in the face of file-sharing but it's also easier to be found and shared and kept up with than ever before. The way bands get to labels and what the labels do for them is different now too, especially with the Internet and social media, but they're all tools every artist has available.
BILLY: I think the music industry today is both huge and extremely tight knit at the same time. Social networking allows for almost anyone to promote and spread word, which means both undiscovered prodigies and average Joe's get equal base promotion. Naturally this means that more work is required to move forward as a band, but I don't necessarily mind.
What should fans look forward to for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
ANDY: Our first full length album ever in 2014 along with a very memorable video to support its release
MIKE: We'll be coming to a city near you in 2014.
What band would Prime Evil love to be on tour with past or present?
ANDY: Slayer....Dark Angel.....Cannibal Corpse (long time old school friends)
MIKE: I think that there is nothing better than playing shows with bands you are friends with. My ultimate tour would be with Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Immolation, Incantation, Malevolent Creation, and Dark Angel. I would also love to tour with Carcass, Napalm Death, Entombed, Atheist, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, and Rush!
ROB: I personally would love to tour with Suffocation, or Cannibal Corpse but anyone that really means what they play and keeps it heavy would be awesome.
How do your new songs differ from your older material?
ANDY: The newer material is more mature, intense and diverse. In addition my vocals have gotten much stronger and forceful over time.
MIKE: Definitely more mature and diverse...also faster, sicker vocals, and heavier. We have a lot more influences now than we did 20 years ago, so our songs have evolved more. Sicker riffing, insane drumming, changing compositions...compared to our older material, the new stuff is like "Terminal Dementia" on steroids and meth!
ROB: I see "EVILUTION" and the new material as obviously being more modern. It's certainly fresh and relevant, but you still definitely know exactly what camp we stand in musically. There's definitely more stretching out and less of a formula and pre-set expectation. It's also the same in many ways though - with songs like "Kill For Me" we say "god can't save you now!" And with EVILUTION you have "no ritual will save you" - the anger is the same, the drive is still the same; so if anything's different, it's even heavier and faster sonically than before.
BILLY: There are no fundamental differences really, it's just a natural progression I suppose.
What are your guy's hobbies? What was the first ever cd you bought? What was your first concert? If you could jam or tour with any musician past or present who would it be?
MIKE: Music. My family and music are my life. I love to write, play, learn, and listen to music. I like going to concerts and shows, and check out local bands. I'm also studying and working on recording engineering and producing. I hope to own my own studio one day. My first CD was Atheist "Piece of Time", my first vinyl was RUSH "2112". When I was a kid, I used to listen to my parents' Beatles and Stones records until I was 11 years old, when my aunt gave me Black Sabbath "Paranoid". That changed my life and musical taste forever! My first concert was Savage Choir, a local band when I was 12. After that, I started going to shows everywhere in the NY tri-state area. If I could jam or tour with any musician(s) past or present...I would have to say, that there isn't anyone I'd rather be jamming with than the 3 guys I'm jamming with now!
ROB: I pretty much stay busy with music. If I'm not listening to something, I'm playing another instrument... but, I can't pass up a good old horror or Sci-fi B movie like Plan 9 from Outer Space. The first album I ever bought for myself was the "Black album" at 13 years old; my first show was a local punk show, and it was a huge piece of my decision to want to make music my life. If I could jam with anyone I'd love to get Piggy D and Wednesday 13 in a room. I'm sure that'd be fun. Touring-wise, there's so many bands, but I'd say Suffocation and us just going town to town with some fire and strobes would be pretty damn fun.
BILLY: I produce music in my spare time, I'm hoping to bump that to full time soon. The first cd I ever bought was Linkin Park's Hybrid theory.
If I could jam with anyone on tour, on drums it would be with Tosin Abasi, Evan Brewer, or Misha Mansoor. On a stringed instrument it would be with Matt Halpern.
ANDY: Video games, sports, travel. Haha. You mean vinyl album. I had every Beatles album given to me by the time I was 8. The first album I actually bought on my own was KISS ALIVE 1. KISS 1977 at Madison Square Garden was my first concert. I would love to jam with IMMORTAL! Every time we get an email, a hand shake or recognized at show...we are so grateful and humbled by the support. The metal community is a family and we are appreciative of every single supporter. HORNS RAISED!!
MIKE: Thank you so much for the opportunity to let us tell you about our band. We are honored to be included. HAILZ!!!
Questions by Heather Williams
Answers by Prime Evil