Cutting Through The Bullshit With Throwback Rockers Them Evils
Rock’n’roll can never die. Just ask Neil Young.
…Or Them Evils, for that matter. In a world saturated with countless sub-scenes and micro-genres of music, the California-based trio is keeping things simple with a pure form of rock and roll that should make their ’70s and ’80s idols proud.
With two EPs under their belt, and a third on the way (Rollin’ Stoned and Livin’ Free, due out May 4), the band is one to watch as they headline venues through June, and appear at festivals like Welcome to Rockville, Carolina Rebellion, and Rock On The Range.
After hearing their latest single, Got Me Rockin’ and thinking we had stumbled upon a lost Aerosmith track, we needed to find out why these three young dudes were so enamored of old school, riff-worshipping, melodic rock’n’roll – and what they’re planning next. So we caught up with bassist Jake Massanari by phone in Denver, Colorado, after the band had just completed a two-and-a-half week tour with Red Sun Rising.
You guys are pretty different from Red Sun Rising, who have much more of an alt.rock vibe. How did their crowd react to your show?
It’s always kinda tricky: your goal as an opener is to win over the crowd. Red Sun Rising is a little different in genre [from us], but it’s all in the same realm of rock’n’roll. I think we were received really well, and we got a lot of new fans on this run, so we’re stoked.
On the same note, in the context of so many other sub-genres out there today, you guys are pretty “traditional” rock band. Why do you think there’s an audience for such a sound today, in 2018?
Part of it is that everything popular cycles over and over throughout the years. Things that were cool 30 years ago are cool again. But as ever-changing as music is, one solid and consistent foundation has always been rock. With all of the political stuff going on, rock music is on the rise. I think it’s a nice middle ground for people of all ages to meet. Bands like Greta van Fleet are an easy way to link older people and younger people together.
Don’t some people just not get it, though?
Yeah, there’s always gonna be some of that. You can’t win over everyone, but we’re gonna try.
You guys are from Huntington Beach, CA. That’s interesting because the town is actually known for punk and metal, with bands like Avenged Sevenfold, The Vandals, The Aquabats, and Guttermouth forming there. So how does a band from Huntington Beach become this type of a rock band?
Jordan [vocals/guitar] and I grew up in Las Vegas. We lived out there for most of our lives, for about 20 years. When we started a band out in Vegas, we decided to pick up everything and move to California. Huntington Beach wasn’t much of an influence; that was just the destination. We wanted to be able to incorporate ourselves into the LA scene, but didn’t want to pay to live up there. We ended up meeting our drummer in a neighbouring city.
Them Evils – She Got Nothin’
So growing up in Vegas, what were your direct musical influences?
Jordan and I grew up in the old school metal scene: Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth – the Big Four. And that’s how we became friends: he was the only other kid on the school bus wearing a Metallica shirt. But when we were super-young, my parents showed me AC/DC, Electric Light Orchestra, and classic rock. That’s where the rock roots come from in our music.
You guys basically worked backwards from metal to classic rock.
Totally. I was in a thrash metal band in high school, and then it turned into simplifying it and wanting to appeal to a bigger audience.
So was that something that you consciously thought about? Were you specifically trying to be popular?
Not at all. It was a super-organic thing, the way it all came about. I had just gotten kicked out of a band, and Jordan had just moved back to Vegas. He and I were like, “Let’s jam. It’s been a while.” And we just sat in a room – he had some riffs, I had some lyrics, and we threw some songs together that ended up being straight-up rock’and’roll. A lot of the stuff Jordan had at the time was super-Angus Young, AC/DC-type stuff.
We have to ask: how did you get kicked out of your old band?
(Laughs) I was in two bands at once. I played guitar in one band, and bass in the other. I got kicked out of the first band because I was too committed to the other band. And I got kicked out of the second band because I’m a bass player but I was playing guitar. So I basically wasn’t good enough!
Ah, so nothing scandalous like sleeping with the drummer’s girlfriend, or anything like that?
That would really fit the rockstar image, though…
I wish it was a cooler story than what it was!
Them Evils – Untold
Given the social and political climate of political correctness, do you find it’s more difficult these days to blindly embrace the classic rock’n’roll attitude of “Fuck you, we do what we want”?
I’d like to say that people are a lot more sensitive and touchy about every little thing; people are triggered so easily. But we go up there not really giving a shit about what people think. There’s definitely a line of respect to the fans and human beings in general – but when it comes down to the rock’n’roll aspect… we don’t care if people get offended or thrown off by things that we do. We like to think that we still have that respect layered underneath the rock’and’roll attitude.
So what’s a typical day like for you dudes? What are you guys into these days aside from music?
Aside from music? Uh… man, there’s not much. Seven days out of the week, 24 hours a day, it all revolves around music. But when I have some free time, I like to go camping or hiking, getting in the ocean – just being out in nature.
Does that mean most of your life is on the road?
Yeah, and on tour it’s all business, man. We run a very tight ship, as rock’n’roll as we are, as much as we like to party. We wake up, interviews, log merch numbers, report to our manager. Before the show, it’s loading in gear, restringing, tuning, sound-checking, warming up, playing the show, gong to the merch table, feeding people. It’s a non-stop cycle, man, and we’re not gonna stop until it pays off.
What does “paying off” look like to you guys?
We all see ourselves headlining arenas and being the biggest band of all time. That’s my goal and aspiration: to make it to that level. But “making it”, to me, is being able to fully support myself and my family and be able to do whatever I want solely on the basis of making music.
Any last thing you’d like people to know about the band?
We just want you to know that if you’re looking for a good time and an escape from your hectic work schedule, your day-to-day life, all the political bullshit, or just some reason to smile, come hang out with Them Evils. We’ll get your mind off of things for a little bit.
…Even though your band name could be terrifying.
(Laughs) Yeah. Exactly.
How did you do? Here are all the answers to this month’s Kerrang! Heavy Trivia Quiz, powered by Knotfest and Iowa No. 9
Test your rock and metal knowledge in the second-ever Kerrang! Heavy Trivia Quiz, powered by Knotfest and Iowa No. 9