Blog author: Alex Stojanovic
This past Wednesday, Evile dropped a bombshell when they announced that frontman Matt Drake had left the band "a while ago". It definitely took all of us Evile fans by surprise, as it was an announcement nobody saw coming.
In the band's statement, they stated that Matt would post a statement regarding his decision to leave. You can see his statement below. It's a very lengthy statement, but his decision has to do with his family and recurring health issues.
There are two main reasons for this decision, firstly there is family. Since starting Evile, I had very few commitments, allowing me to sink as much time as possible into the band, but in the past several years that has changed. I became a stepfather to two young girls around a very traumatic time for them, and very shortly after became a father to my own daughter. The time that I have had available to pursue music has been vastly cut down, and considering the future when live music becomes possible again, the demands of a touring band lifestyle are not as viable and realistic for me anymore, as my duties as a father to three children outweigh anything else. I don’t want to be away from my family for large amounts of time, and outside of my full time employment I don’t want to divide 50% effort and time to the band and 50% to my family as I feel like I would be giving each side half of the time they really deserve, and if I have to choose which one I want to give priority and 100% to, it is my family. I don’t want to go out as a frontman who is only half prepared, half practiced and half ready, as Evile and its wonderful followers deserve better than that - and on the other side of that, I don’t want to be away from home for long periods of time and not be around to help my children grow up, they deserve better than that, and I don’t want to miss out on any part of their lives.
The other reason is my health. I’ve always said that I would do Evile for as long as possible, either until I’m dead or until I can physically no longer manage performing on stage. I have come close to the former, but the latter is now where things are (when compared to the former, a relief). Over the past couple of years I have had a non-stop run of health problems, mostly chest related, including costochondritis, several chest infections, a spontaneous collapsed lung (which I stupidly thought was another chest infection) and then kidney stones and a few other health detours. This all relates to singing, which is something that is nowhere near a natural ability or talent of mine, it’s something that I have had to work incredibly hard on to get to where I managed, which let’s face it, isn’t exactly anywhere spectacular, I’m never going to end up on anybody’s favourite vocalist list (although there is one thing I’ll mention later). But, the amount of upkeep it takes to maintain what vocal range/power/lung capacity I have/had to a usable standard is ridiculous, and my annoying health issues make that obstacle ever harder to overcome, made even more difficult by my limited available time to do so, it comes down to me accepting that I can’t do everything and I certainly can’t do everything and stay healthy. A singing voice is a muscle and I always had the time to spend training it so I could keep it in a decent place for getting through a tour. Now, my health issues of late have destroyed what singing voice I had, and in the past several months of starting vocal training all over again, getting somewhere, getting ill, starting all over again, getting ill, starting all over again, and so on - I have come to realise that I just don’t enjoy singing anymore and I’ve had to be very harsh with myself to realise that truth. I was never the best frontman, or the best singer, and Evile deserve to have a frontman who can give 100% to that craft, and I am fully confident that person is out there and can help take them to that next level where I hope and believe they can go, nothing would make me happier than to see the band be a real success.
For twenty years I have had the great pleasure of writing and performing music with my brother Ol, Ben, Mike, Joel and Piers in Evile. It has taken us to places I never imagined, locations I never thought I would get to visit, let alone go to these places to play music for people who were willing to hear it. I’m proud of the band’s achievements so far, touring with some incredible bands such as Megadeth, Exodus, Kreator, Overkill, Voivod, Sepultura, 3 Inches of Blood, Entombed, Forbidden, Machine Head, Amon Amarth, Satyricon, Gama Bomb, Warbringer, Dr. Living Dead, Lightning Swords of Death, Sanctity, Mutant, Pitiful Reign, Seregon, Onslaught and more, then getting to see pretty much all of America, Canada and a vast majority of Europe, living in Copenhagen for a month recording a debut album with Flemming Rasmussen and using some of the same gear used to record Lightning/Puppets, recording three albums with Russ Russell, releasing four albums with Earache Records, having songs featured on Rock Band, having a song in a Neil Jordan film (Ondine), getting into the UK charts, having original album artwork created by Michael Whelan (did you know the band members are hidden on that cover?), being on the front cover of Terrorizer magazine, playing at some amazing festivals and meeting some incredible people from all walks of life. There are plenty more to mention, plus all the brilliant things I’m grateful to have seen, which I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t in the band, like a small ‘up close and personal’ acoustic Skunk Anansie set in the press tent at Sonisphere (Paranoid and Sunburnt is one of my desert island discs, I had the chance to chat to them after their set but completely bottled it and will forever regret it), but I want to mention just a couple of other things while I have chance to do so.
I’m proud of my contributions to Evile’s music, whether it’s riffs or sections here and there, or entire songs (Burned Alive, Plague to End All Plagues, Long Live New Flesh, The Naked Sun) but i’m proudest of the lyrics and vocal lines I contributed, which is roughly half of Enter the Grave, most of Nations, most of Five Serpent’s Teeth (for those two records however, Ol and Russ deserve a lot of credit for guiding me through parts I intended to sing, telling me it was nonsense after I tried it, and helping me find the correct choices, that was invaluable in making the albums as good as they could be) and nearly all of Skull - which is where I want to point back to what I mentioned about singing earlier, as while I acknowledge it isn’t a natural ability and I’m not the strongest or even that impressive of a vocalist, I will always be glad that my performance of Tomb exists on that album, it was a hugely personal thing to perform and record and I’ll be forever proud that I got to do that and do it as well as I possibly could, that is my favourite album of the four I got to be part of. I also want to quickly mention that I’m proud of being connected to Jackson Guitars for so many years, it’s an honour to have been in their catalogue too, I’ve played Jacksons for as long as I’ve been playing guitar, so I would like to thank them for being so kind to me for the 14 years I’ve been associated with them.
This is a lot to read, but I want to get all of this written down as I’m trying to process my twenty years of experiences and thoughts on so many things connected to playing music, into several paragraphs, there’s a lot I would love to say, but I’m not one to outstay my welcome. I want to finish with a couple of things, one of them being a big regret I will have about leaving the band, that I never got to play a show with Metallica, that was my biggest personal goal in playing live music, not fame or anything material, I just wanted to play a show with the band that changed my life. Even just meeting James Hetfield would have been enough for me, but I guess that’s one personal goal I’ll have to live with missing the chance on.
More important than the personal things I’ve just written about though, is one of my main areas of pride, and that is Evile’s fans, I’ve always been so proud to be able to say that Evile has such wonderful and dedicated fans, it has been a pleasure to meet so many of you, to stand on a stage and play music for you, to see and hear you singing lyrics and vocal lines that I’ve written, to see all that headbanging madness, I will truly miss getting on a stage to play those songs, so I would like to say a real thank you to everyone who has spent time listening to these first four albums and come to shows to see us play live while I got the chance to do it, I will miss your headbanging and energy like you wouldn’t believe, but I will never forget it.
Lastly, and very importantly, I want to mention Mike. A person I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for being part of this band, one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met, a true heavy metal soul and a gentleman. This is one of the biggest things I’ve struggled with in my decision, I’m so sorry to him, that I can’t do my bit in continuing his legacy as a part it anymore. It breaks my heart to leave something that he was such a big part of, and that I was a part of with him, something that he was doing when we lost him. My hope is that, as a father himself, he would understand the decision I’m making. I’m taking all of my memories of Mike with me, and every year will always have a glass ready to raise on the day he entered this world, and on the day he left it.
Thank you to everyone for reading this, hopefully I’ve written it well enough so you understand my reasoning. Please continue to support Evile as much as you ever have done, I wish the band all the success possible on their future journey, it’s been twenty years of extreme highs and lows, and everything in-between, I’m proud to be able to say I was part of it and I’ll be following where it goes from here with great interest, as a lifelong fan.
My intention is to still play the Enter the Grave/Mike Alexander tribute show, whenever that may happen, as it would mean a tremendous amount to me to be able to pay tribute to Mike in a proper way, by playing the album he contributed the most to. But as of now, I am no longer part of the band.
Please can I ask that people do not message me directly, I won’t be able to respond. Instead, please leave a comment below if you wish to say anything, positive or negative. The only thing I ask with that, is that you please remain respectful, whatever you want to say, good or bad, as the world has enough problems at the moment, and one of the things it needs is for people to think about what they say and care about how they say it.
Thank you all again for your time in reading this, and thank you all for your time and energy given to Evile while I’ve been part of it. For the penultimate time (the last time will be the Enter the Grave/Mike show)...
I salute you all."
It's incredibly understandable why Matt left. I feel bad for him having to go through all these recurring health issues. When you're working a full-time day job, have a family to raise and recurring health issues, being in a touring band (especially a band of Evile's size where the money is not enough to sustain) no longer becomes a major commitment. As I mentioned before, his voice and Evile's music were a huge part of the soundtrack to my college days from 2010-2013, and I remain just as much of a fan today. Evile have their long-awaited fifth studio album and follow-up to Skull (2013) fully written and ready to be recorded. I'm certainly going to miss hearing Matt's voice on future Evile tunes, but I'm looking forward to hearing how Ol Drake is going to sound vocally on the new album. We wish Matt all the best for the future.