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FlashWounds Interview: PRIME EVIL

PE band crop

PRIME EVIL

 

Just in time for the beginning of our Halloween season (we like to get a jump on things and start it in September), we met an evil band…PRIME EVIL, to be precise, who was up for taking on one of our…How did someone just describe it?  “Hmm.  Ok.  Yeah,  Definitely different, but cool…” interviews.

PE intro


And we’re so glad they were because, certainly not to take away from the primeness of their evil (you’ll get an earful when you click on a couple of links in the interview and visit their FB page), they are a very witty bunch of guys who also happen to know quite a bit about music, and that combo made for a great interview.  That said, I proudly present PRIME EVIL, completely in their own words!

******

Cannibal Corpse, photo by L. Dean for FW

Cannibal Corpse, photo by L. Dean for FW

Which group or artist would you personally like to induct into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame?  And if you were to earn the honor of being inducted next year, whom would you want to induct you?

We have no interest in the “Rock-n-Roll” Hall of Fame. However, hypothetically, we would love to induct one of the bands that we started out with ~ Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, Suffocation, Immolation, Incantation, or Demolition Hammer. We would love to have Alex Webster and Gene Hoglan do the honors for us, but this is all hypothetical.

Which do you find more difficult/intimidating ~ performing for a comparatively small audience (especially one that you know includes family and/or friends) in a more intimate venue or for a huge [faceless/anonymous] crowd at an enormous stadium?

Neither. We love to perform, no matter the size of the venue or audience, we give everything we have to give that night.

Worst injury any of you has ever suffered onstage?

At The Marquee in NYC in 1992, our drummer at the time, Matt Mayfield, sliced his hand open between his fingers on the edge of a cymbal half way through our set, and he bled all over the stage!

Iron Maiden’s “To Tame a Land”

Iron Maiden’s “To Tame a Land”

If you ever decided to do an entire album of covers, which songs would make the cut?

Slayer’s “Evil Has No Boundaries,” Dark Angel’s “Burning of Sodom,” Macabre’s “Serial Killer,” Kreator’s “Take Their Lives,” Carcass’s “Symposium of Sickness,” Motorhead’s “The Chase,” Death’s “Baptized in Blood,” Entombed’s “Abnormally Deceased,” Iron Maiden’s “To Tame A Land,” Napalm Death’s “If The Truth Be Known,” Pestilence’s “Out of The Body,” Terrorizer’s “Fear of Napalm,” Unleashed’s “Midsummer Solstice,”  and Rush’s “The Necromancer”

 

Any musically inclined siblings?

Our vocalist Andy Eichhorn’s brother Chris plays guitar and bass and played with our drummer Billy Wassweiler’s father Bill on drums in a band. Guitarist Mike Usifer’s brother Brian is a classically trained pianist and is also a composer, conductor, and director.

Are there any causes/organizations that are particularly close to your hearts and that you would encourage the public to support?

We support many causes. You should support any that you personally feel close to.

Is your music “for the moment” and for as long as you keep putting it out, or do you think at it more (or equally as much) as your legacy-in-the-making…an accumulated body of work your grandchildren and the general public will enjoy and that future generations of music lovers/musicians will count amongst those “Must Have Albums,” etc.?

PE: We hope our music is currently relevant, but we also feel that everything we release is a collection of the PRIME EVIL legacy, for us. If people dig it, that’s even better!

Do you [pardon the phrase] have the balls to do what the Red Hot Chili Peppers did and perform wearing just tube socks?  And if your answer is yes, are you willing to have your photo taken in those “outfits” and shown to FlashWounds’ readers? For the bands with female members:  Ladies, what is the least amount of clothing you would perform in, and would you be willing to have your photo taken in that state of dress/undress and shown to our readers?

PE: Haha! It’s definitely not a question of having the balls! But does anyone really want to see that??

 
Anyone in the band a true foodie?

Nah. Food is mere fuel for us!

What’s the one local place ~ restaurant, dive, pool hall, tattoo parlor, etc. ~ that you HAVE to visit ever time you’re back home?

It’s not exactly home, but ROCK FANTASY Heavy Metal and Head Shop in Middletown, NY is a must stop.

Prime Evil, Morpheus Descends, Internal Bleeding, and owner Steve Keeler in front of the legendary Rock Fantasy, photo by Frank White

Prime Evil, Morpheus Descends, Internal Bleeding, and owner Steve Keeler in front of the legendary Rock Fantasy, photo by Frank White



Do you figure out your stage moves/patterns in advance or just hope there are no collisions?

Hahahaha! No! We all just rage and let the music take us where it may. We also use wireless systems so we don’t get tangled up.

Are there any younger bands out there that you’ve sort of taken under your wing?

Yeah, definitely. Tortured Existence, BrainDead, Dracaris ~ all great up and coming NYC bands!

PE album 2How difficult is it to come up with album names?

It’s not too difficult for us, we haven’t had to think of many, haha!


When you see a band that was huge in, say, the 80s, and that you really loved, make a bid for a comeback today, do you hope they’ll have kept their original style/playlist or do you want to see more mature band with new material?

A combination of both is preferred. We want to hear the old stuff, but the best thing about a band is watching them mature and grow as musicians ~ as long as they keep the original integrity of the band.

Photo by Ben Cossa

Photo by Ben Cossa

Not sure if you can answer this question objectively, but are bands, especially those that fall under the umbrella of “mega” and those that are well on their way to reaching that status, spoiled and pampered, or is that a misconception you wish the public would stop perpetuating ~ or an accurate assessment but only of a very few bands?

Haha! We don’t know any metal bands that are spoiled or pampered! However, there are individuals who think they are privileged and act spoiled – no matter how big, or not-so-big, their band is.

Which countries have you played?

Unfortunately, we’ve only toured in the US and Canada.

Billy and Rob on the last night of recording the new album at Starr Ridge studios

Billy and Rob on the last night of recording the new album at Starr Ridge studios

Thoughts on the importance of everyone in a band understanding everything about their own instrument ~ including how to repair it ~ and not relying on the one guy in the band/crew who’s a technical genius to take care of anything that goes wrong or needs tweaking?

Know your gear! It’s up to each individual to know how to operate and assess their own gear. You should definitely learn everything about your rig before jamming with anyone else. If you have a friend who knows it, have them teach you, but it’s always a benefit if you can have someone onstage helping you.

Most important lesson you’ve learned from being in the music industry?

Don’t trust anyone.

Most difficult lesson you’ve learned from being in the music industry?

Don’t trust anyone.

For the vocalists ~ or really for any of the band members ~ ever any urge to try your hand at hosting a radio show like Dee Snider does?

No. Not at all.

Most impressive/worthwhile (from your perspective, not the public’s) music industry event (awards show, NAMM, etc.) you’ve ever attended?

We’ve never attended any music awards shows. They all suck!

Where you all come from, musically speaking?  Have you been a musician/in a band since you were a kid?  Did you take lessons or are you self-taught? And is the genre you play now what you started out in/have there been some musical detours along the way?

Our bassist Rob Broderick also plays guitar and drums, and Andy has recently started playing guitar and writing music. Billy plays guitar, bass, and keyboards, and has been playing drums since he was a kid. Mike has been playing guitar since he was 16, and also plays bass and drums. We are all self-taught, and are playing the genre we started out in. Billy and Rob do live session work with different types of music. Andy and Mike have done some different types of genres while PRIME EVIL was on hiatus, but our one true love is Extreme – Death, Speed, Thrash, Black – Metal!

PE NYDM 10th ANNUAL August 172013When there are line-up changes in the band, for whatever reason and even when the outcome is a complete positive, is there a bit of a mourning period because one incarnation of the band has in essence died?

Hah! No, there’s no time to mourn. We’ve had more line-up changes than any band we’ve known! There are many musicians that we’ve never mentioned as official members because they never played any shows or recorded anything with us. To mourn would mean to stop, and this train doesn’t stop!

Is there a code of ethics/conduct amongst professional musicians who are on the same bill…and even in the same band?  Maybe things like always acknowledging the band that played before you and the ones who come later on the bill, making sure to introduce each member of your own band, not touching/moving other bands’ gear, etc.?

No, but “professional” is the operative word. Most bands that we play with that we don’t know are pretty cool. We’re all doing the same thing, so the majority of musicians have a mutual respect for each other. However, you will meet some who are complete assholes as well. We just say fuck ‘em; let them wallow in their own shit. We don’t let that shit bother us.

Are you ever surprised when the track on your album that you assumed would be your fans’ favorite turns out not to be, or have you gotten to the point of no longer trying to second guess what the public’s taste will be?

We don’t write to anyone’s taste but our own. Any band who tries to write to appeal to a specific audience isn’t being true to themselves.

If you could have been involved in the soundtrack to one film, which film would you have chosen?

River’s Edge  

What’s the strangest gift any fan has given…or tried to give…you?

We’ve never had anything strange…we’ve had a fan give us a painting of the demon Amon, and two fans gave us a painting of The Manifestation cover demon on a sheet.

PE at the paper box in brooklyn

Thoughts on technical prowess vs stage presence:

Can a performer possess such an amazing amount of one that it makes up for the lack of the other?

Do you think stage presence is a gift someone either has or doesn’t?

To be a good live performer, you must have both technical prowess and stage presence. We hate watching bands that just stare at their instruments the whole time. We want to experience a band’s music and energy, but if they’re just going through the motions, it’s not very exciting.  

The making of "Crucifixion Aftermath" performance video

The making of “Crucifixion Aftermath” performance video

Best song title ever…even if you don’t like the song…

“Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”

Is what the band wears a consideration that you discuss as a group (and if so, does one of you have the final say on whether something is inappropriate or just plain freakin’ hideous and likely to pull all focus from your performance)?

Hahahaha! No! We don’t have a fucking stylist, and we all wear what the fuck we want.

Which generally comes first in your songwriting process, lyrics or instrumentals?  Or does it vary so much that there is no “generally?”

Generally, the music is written first, but we do have songs that we write to the lyrics to have a different perspective. The music for “Kill For Me,” “Living in Fear,” “Evilution Decree,” and “Strangulated Decapitation,” a new song from our upcoming album, were all written to the vocal delivery.

As accomplished musicians you don’t just know music, you know what makes for good  lighting, sound, set design, etc. ~ So can you go to a show ~ whether small and local or a huge festival ~ and just enjoy, or do find yourself almost subconsciously looking for flaws in all those elements?

We know each club/venue is different and that it is out of the control of the bands usually. We only concern ourselves with the performances of the bands.

Do you have, for lack of a better word, understudies who could take over for various members of the band in a truly last minute emergency when it’s already too late to cancel a show?  If your bassist breaks his wrist during a set, is the bass tech able to jump in?

No. It’s either the four of us, or nothing.

Now this question has resulted in some pretty serious finger-pointing and name calling ~ Is it cool to wear the T-shirt of a band you’re going to see or is it totally lame…thoughts?

Sure, why not? It shows your support for that band.

Better to burn out than fade away?

Burn it the fuck out!

Did any of you start out as roadies/techies for other bands before your musical careers took off?

No.

Did having a female in the band cause occasional “clashes of the genders,” make for a more creative musical environment due to different perspectives/approaches that each gender brings, or have absolutely no bearing on the creative process?

That never had a bearing on anything band-related while Mary Ciullo played bass with us.

If you had your druthers ~ no need to worry about behind-the-scenes machinations or industry politics ~ and were putting together a headlining tour, how would you choose the bands who would join you?

Since we’re going to be spending a lot of time with them, we would want to tour with bands that we are already friends with. It always makes for a fun tour.

Prime Evil with Malevolent Creation's Philip Fasciana and Ed Farshtey

Prime Evil with Malevolent Creation’s Philip Fasciana and Ed Farshtey

Things go wrong when you play live, that’s just a fact of life.  Have you ever played one of those shows when the “wrong” wasn’t something that only members of the band or other musicians in the audience would notice, but was of the “absolutely no hiding it” kind, like when most of Poison started playing one song and CC DeVille started playing another?

No. The only glaring thing that has happened to us live is when Mike’s guitar stopped working at The Rage of Armageddon Fest in NYC last year with Malevolent Creation and Exumer. We had to cut our set short at that point.

Are any of you artists in other media ~ painting, sculpting…?

PE: We are lesser artists at carving flesh and blood painting.

If you had to choose…One Hit Wonder ~ with the “one” on par with “Stairway to Heaven” ~ or a long but mediocre career?

We are fine with our long and less than mediocre career.

Rob and master engineer/producer Dave Powers listening in at Starr Ridge studios

Rob and master engineer/producer Dave Powers listening in at Starr Ridge studios


How important is the choice of producer for your albums?

EXTREMELY important! The producer guides the project and sound. Because of that, we have produced all of our material.

Aside from a tragic reason like the death or illness of someone you love, is there anything that can happen before a show that will distract you from playing your best?

Getting sick, having a hangover, being drunk, getting cut, smashing a finger, etc.

Tour shirt printed by Brian Varney ~ PE's current inventory of merch is very low, but they'll be restocking soon so keep an eye on their official website!

Tour shirt printed by Brian Varney ~ PE’s current inventory of merch is very low, but they’ll be restocking soon so keep an eye on their official website!

Do you ever wear any of your band’s own merch?

Very rarely. It almost seems vain to do. However, it helps get your merch and your name seen.

Not to get political, but ~ thoughts on music classes being offered in every school?

Music classes should be offered to every child.

The zombie apocalypse is upon us, and civilization is coming to an end. You have the opportunity to put a copy of one of your albums in a time capsule to survive the coming Dark Ages. Which one do you choose?

Our upcoming release Blood Curse Resurrection

PE album


Can you attend concerts anonymously like most people do ~ ordering tix, waiting in line, heading into the venue with the masses, or is there always an element of celebrity involved ~ comped tickets, early, secured arrival and entrance into the venue, always winding up backstage, dealing with your own fans who recognize you and want autographs, VIP treatment, etc.?

It all depends if we’re friends with the bands who are playing, and the venue we’re attending.

Prime moreHow did the band come together?  Was there an audition process?  Did you all already know each other or each other’s work in previous bands?  Were there some early line-up changes before everything finally clicked?

There were early, mid, and late line-up changes in PRIME EVIL, whether things clicked or not! We’ve never had luck keeping band members. The only two constants in the band have been Mike and Andy, and this band couldn’t happen without the both of them. The band originally came together in June of 1984 when Andy’s brother Chris suggested to Mike that he jam with drummer Guy Ferdico. They jammed a bunch of Sabbath and Maiden, and that was the first time things clicked. They added Phil Familio on vocals and bass and a three-piece was formed. Shortly after, we added a second guitarist and started playing shows and writing songs. Within a few months, we started swapping out the Maiden and Sabbath covers for Slayer, Motorhead, and Celtic Frost. We needed a vocalist who could handle those songs, and Chris suggested his brother Andy. Andy auditioned for us in 1985 and he immediately blew us away. Things clicked for a second time, and we started writing heavier and faster songs. In January of 1986, Andy penned the name PRIME EVIL, and it’s been our moniker ever since. The band has really come together though since Billy joined in 2012 and Rob in 2013. This is the best line-up PRIME EVIL has ever had!  


Any of your songs that you think would be perfect for a TV commercial ~ and for what product/service/etc.?

Haha! Fuck yeah! Why not?! How about “Terminal Dementia” for Zoloft!

 

Is there any non-music industry person who’d render you completely starstruck if you met him or her?

Satan

Anyone get their start performing with roles in high school musical theatre?

Haha! No!

 
Any pattern to whether your favorite tracks on an album wind up being the most popular with the public as well?

Our favorite songs are usually the ones that we enjoy playing the most, or the ones that we enjoyed writing the most, or ones that have special meaning to us.

PE 4

Who chooses the order the tracks are in on an album?

It’s pretty much a band effort. Andy usually has everything mapped out and then the rest of us input our ideas until we come to a common preference.

For those of you who are part of more than one band, what kind of “mindset change” to you need to go through before performing/recording with each?  And has the transition gotten easier with time to the point where it’s almost a mental toggle switch?

For any of us, it is usually the band and the music that will dictate the mindset naturally. As long as you like what you are doing, there’s no need to psyche yourself up. If anything, it might be a different style than you are used to; so you would have to acclimate yourself to it. That is probably the most difficult thing to do.

Recording process ~ long, torturous hours that are a necessary means to an end or something that you enjoy/treat as a learning experience each time, no matter how many albums you’ve recorded?

Mike and Andy's  final rehearsal of the album tracks before the first day of recording at Starr Ridge studios

Mike and Andy’s final rehearsal of the album tracks before the first day of recording at Starr Ridge studios

The recording process is definitely a learning experience each time, and it is something that we enjoy. The recording is the finalization of our songs, so we approach each step with that finalization in mind. We want to have a finished product that we can be proud of.

When the band tours, should audiences expect slightly different versions of the songs from what’s on the album or do you try to duplicate the sound of the album as closely as possible?

We consider ourselves a live band first, so our songs are written with that in mind. Being a live band, we tend to make slight changes spontaneously, so occasionally there might be slight or subtle differences in some of the songs.

Bassists, guitarists, drummers…many have endorsement deals with big companies for their respective instruments.  As a singer, have you ever been approached to endorse a mic?  I don’t think I’ve heard of an instance of “mic” endorsement, but you would know better than I!

Andy has not yet been asked to endorse a mic, but there are mic endorsements as well as instruments.

Do you listen to an album once it’s done and been released to the world and completely out of your hands/unchangeable?

Of course. It would make the whole process futile if you can’t enjoy your finished product.

Did you keep the first bass/guitar/kit/mic you ever had, even if it was from childhood, and have you kept all subsequent instruments from over the years?

No, we would always sell what we had to upgrade to the next instrument. Only now that we have the instruments we want do we keep them.

A few of Mike's weapons

A few of Mike’s weapons

Mallika from Abnormality. photo by Laura Vanselow.

Mallika from Abnormality. photo by Laura Vanselow.

Does the concept of doing a vocal duet appeal to you at all, and if so, which artist does do you think could hold his/her own with you on the mic?

Fuck yeah! A duet with Mallika from Abnormality would be sick!

Do you havea go-to band, current or past, thatyou listen to for musical inspiration?  One that always gets your creative juices flowing?

Dark Angel, Atheist, Carcass, lots of other stuff

What benchmarks should a band/artist planning to release a Greatest Hits Album have to achieve before they are universally mocked for thinking way too highly of themselves?  A certain amount of longevity in the business?  Critical acclaim? FB friends?  A particular number of years together/in the business? A specific number of hit singles, platinum albums, Billboard charters?

A band should have enough hits to put together a full album. Longevity and FB friends have nothing to do with it. However, there’s nothing wrong with putting out a compilation album of songs if you have enough albums.

When you listen to music just for enjoyment in your free time, do you really crank it?

The music is ALWAYS cranking!

If you play a show and it’s just as good as you wanted it to be (nothing specific, just an overall lackluster performance), do you beat yourself up about it or just move on to the next show and make that one killer?

It’s always good to learn from mistakes and make corrections. There’s no point in harping on the past, that just continues the negativity.

Blatantly stealing from James Lipton ~ Pearly gates of heaven or fiery doors of hell, with what words would you like to be welcomed?

WELCOME TO HELL!!!

Is it true what they say about drummers?

Yes!! Absolutely everything!! Haha! We should know, we’ve had plenty of drummers!

PE Drummer

For those of you who are on the mic ~ which term do you prefer: vocalist, singer, or front man?

Vocalist works. There isn’t any singing done here haha!

Ever have to use the dreaded Port-a-Potties during festivals?

Who hasn’t?!

One person you would really like to see you perform?

Satan

Satan crop

Pssst…guys…I think Satan has already seen you perform…every time he turns around on stage…



You all know what you’re like to deal with…would you ever want the job of managing/repping your band ~ or even another?

Hahaha! We already do that!!

 
You’re in a metal band…but can even you keep up with the latest emerging sub-genre or always tell the difference amongst them?  List Post-Melodic Black Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal, Power Metal, Folk Metal, Hair Metal, Gothic Metal, Prog Metal, and Nu Metal and you’re only scratching the surface. And from what you’ve observed, do bands base the genre they consider themselves part of on anything having to do with actual musical composition, or is it all image-driven?

We are Metal fans, so yes it is easy to keep up with. Sometimes bands get labeled a specific genre when they aren’t. It’s been happening forever.

 
Dumbest thing you’ve ever seen (or heard happened) an audience member do during one of your shows?

Nothing. Our fans are of high intelligence.

PEHome CookedMost kickass meal in any town in any country you’ve visited while on tour or not?

None. Nothing beats a home cooked meal!

What would the authorized biography of your band be titled?

PRIME EVIL: That Band from NY

One song that once it gets stuck in your ear stays there for days (aka an ear worm)?

That changes on a daily basis.

 
Why do you think multi band tours don’t close the curtain in between sets (at venues that have them) like theatres do in between acts?  Set/band changes on big tours may be of interest for musicians or techies in the audience but for the general public…? And when something goes wrong and the crew has to get down and dirty and a wee bit panicky, does the audience need to be in on it?  At what if you just want some time at places, knowing that no-one can see you?

That’s always puzzled us as well.

What’s your understanding of a tribute band v a cover band?  And if one or the other has a more positive connotation in your mind, would you be flattered to find out there’s one of your band?

A tribute band plays specifically one band’s songs, a cover band plays songs from more than one band. We don’t really care for either, but of course it would be beyond flattering if there was one doing PRIME EVIL songs.

More at home in the city or the country?

CITY!

 
Any major international festivals that you’re dying to play but haven’t yet had the chance to?

Yeah, all of them!


Best band gimmick of all time?

No gimmicks!

We love you too Mike

 

Thank you Lara… it’s been fun! Keep supporting Metal! Cheers!!  

Prime Evil, my friends, it’s been fun for me as well…and c’mon, stop supporting metal?  Not a chance!

 

 

PRIME EVIL is  Andy Eichhorn – vox, Mike Usifer – guitars, Rob Broderick – bass, and Billy Wassweiler – drums


PE logo

Website  (with links to all their social media accounts)

Facebook 

Soundcloud 

Watch the official video for “Crucifixion Aftermath.”

Full-length album Blood Curse Resurrection to be released any day now!

 

Editor’s note: Mike ~ good to have you back after your spine surgery…very glad it went well and that you’ve been on the road to recovery ever since…and man, that is a scar you can be proud of…damn!

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