While a little forethought is often more productive than rash action, young bands rarely apply the principle without first suffering a few impulsive (and sometimes costly) mistakes; not so for Chilliwack’s prodigious rock apocalypse Medevil, which has been making all the right moves on its path to success. Beginning with participation and a subsequent win at the Vancouver chapter of the Wacken Metal Battle Canada competition (a metal-centric battle of the bands with a coveted slot at Wacken Open-Air Festival in Germany for its grand prize), the band not only impressed local audiences but went on to contend against seasoned competition at the competition finals in Toronto, thereafter landing prestigious local support slots for one of BC’s most prominent metal exports Unleash the Archers, as well as Brazilian thrash legends Sepultura. Having added several notches to its bullet-belt this year, the band is currently preparing for one final live show before a lengthy hiatus to record its debut album. Factory Worker Media recently cornered Medevil members Eric Wesa (bass) and Gary Cordsen (guitar) at Funky Winkerbeans for a brief inquisition.
“The [Toronto] judges, afterwards, they told us it was really hard to decide between the bands, they couldn’t believe how difficult it was”, says Wesa, recounting the band’s Toronto performance at the Wacken Metal Battle Canada finals. Although it was a T.O. act (Vesperia) that won, Wesa reflects, “It’s definitely not negative; you leave feeling kind of disappointed but at the same time we had just started being a band – I think that was the 10-month mark – only 10 months of taking ourselves seriously and we got to Toronto.”
He notes that the current incarnation of the band began after its three founding members – Wesa and Collingwood brothers Liam (vocals) and Ross (drums) – graduated from high school and made a conscious decision to take their music seriously. Cordsen and the band’s other guitarist, Brett Gibbs, responded to a Craigslist ad that the trio had placed seeking a new guitarist; and ultimately both were invited to join. Says Wesa, “Gary is our riffmeister, he’s our shredder. Brett is more of a laid-back approach, rhythmic guy.”
The contrast of styles extends to the band as a whole, with each member bringing something distinct to the table, both in terms of their influences and the execution of ideas: at the fore is Liam Collingwood, whose contribution as vocalist and principal frontman personifies the band’s sound as both melodic and aggressive in a Queen-vs-Metallica capacity, his onstage persona is equally enigmatic and dramatic; brother Ross Collingwood’s percussive influences are unanimously summarized by Wesa and Cordsen: “Foo Fighters.” Says Wesa, “It’s really cool to hear someone who’s influenced by something so drastically different to play percussion. We play a riff, and it could sound like an okay riff, but Ross will drum over it and all of a sudden – Whoa, I didn’t even see this riff in this way!” Wesa’s own role has shifted, from guitarist to bassist and from songwriting partner alongside Liam Collingwood to recent lyrical content now being handled by the vocalist alone; but the Wesa/Collingwood pairing onstage is as dynamic as May/Mercury or Perry/Tyler. Wesa concedes, “[S]ome people say me and him are like dual frontmen; but he’s more the mysterious guy, to me anyway it makes sense he’ll come on stage in a full robe and stuff, and I’m just in your face.”
After all the band’s unexpected success and noteworthy achievements this year, Medevil are ready to withdraw, regroup, and turn their focus to their next goal – the release of their debut full-length, slated for recording at Vancouver’s Rain City Recorders (Baptists, Archspire). Says Wesa, “Our plan is to make everything as big as we possibly can. Of course the main focus is to put the budget into the recording, so the recording is going to sound like we want it to, we don’t want it to sound like Killing is My Business.”
Although plans for a music video are still undecided, the band recently completed a photo shoot that ignited their imagination, in the Othello tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park near Hope, BC. “We were in the caves,” says Wesa, “We had kerosene and flames going on, we weren’t sure if this was okay but we did it…the fire on our torches would go in random directions so we had to get quite a few shots. Some of them were okay, some of them weren’t. It just depended on where the fire went, but we got a lot of cool lighting from that flame.” Despite a potentialy loaded encounter with a park ranger (“He kind of stopped for a second and said, Is this for a film? And we said, no, it’s for photos, and he said, ‘Then I don’t give a shit,’ and he walked away!”), the quintet emerged unscathed, ready to perform one final show prior to their retreat for creative gestation.
To help finance the recording process, the band will be staging a festive merch sale at their Halloween show. Says Wesa, “We think it might be a good opportunity to do a merch discount and sell our shirts for $10 per shirt. Normally they cost $20 or $15.” Their most recent t-shirt design, “Nightwalk” is a timely depiction of a phantasmagorical nocturnal forest by Tom Abel, who Wesa says “ (has) got a very good style, and I think it really captures a lot – it fits.”
Medevil will be performing at Dead Girls Productions’ Devils Night, 30 October, 2015 at Smilin’ Buddha Cafe.