Wow, have we got a treat for you today – the debut solo album from ex-Evile guitar virtuoso Ol Drake. It’s not too often these days that a good, pure, guitar-solo centric album falls into our laps, but that’s precisely what Ol delivered with Old Rake.
With a range of influences spanning thrash, prog, death, and shred guitar, Old Rake is a monster of a musician’s album. Shredding the gnar beyond the stars alongside Ol are a number of wet-dream guitarists: Gary Holt of Exodus, James Murphy of ex-Testament/Death, Josh Middleton of Sylosis, and more.
Check out our exclusive stream of the album, which drops tomorrow via Earache Records, below, along with an interview with the man himself:
What’s up Ol! I gotta say, it’s good to hear you making music again man. Your playing was probably my favorite ingredient in Evile, and it’s exciting that you’ve got all these new tunes in the pipeline.
Thanks! It’s always good to hear I/we made a mark!
Let’s talk about your rig. I assume you’re still playing Neal Moser guitars?
I left Moser a few years ago to join BC Rich. My first proper guitar was a BC Rich Jr V before we even formed Evile, so it felt great to go back to that. I’m using a Jr V Icon and a NJ Deluxe V.
If I remember right, you were playing EVH amps towards the end of your time with Evile. Was that amp the main source of your tone on this album? Did you use a variety of amps in the studio?
Since leaving Evile a lot of my brain space has been taken up with other things, so I’m not 100% sure what we used. The EVH 5150III was definitely used, but I’m not sure what for; possibly one guitar’s rhythm tracks and a mixture of another amp. I’m fully obsessed and championing the Kemper Profiling Amp now; amazing bit of gear!
I like how with this album, you’re really not holding back at all. Not just in terms of the sound of the actual music, but also in terms of the aesthetic, including the cover art, and thesongtitles. I gotta say man, it’s refreshing to see you just going for it, especially nowadays when so much music – even more shreddy, techymusic – is buried in layers of irony to protect its creator. What I love about this is album is how punk it is in spirit.
It wasn’t fully intentional, but I wanted each song to be completely different and I think I accomplished that. No two songs are alike. Different genres and approaches. I didn’t want to just be soloing all the time. I wanted to write good songs first, and then work the solos into it; like I did with Evile.
This album is really a proper guitarists’ album – it has the vibe of classic genre albums like Surfing with the Alien or Rising Force, where the emphasis is really on the playing and the ideas as opposed to just the technique, which I think is a rarity these days. What do you think about where this project fits in, or completely stands apart from what’s going on today?
I have no idea to be honest; I just made it. I was obviously influenced by Satch etc. but I’m not a huge fan of constant guitar solos for the sake of it; a lot of the recent “guitar albums” stepped away from playing for the song, instead of playing for the solo.
This album sounds like you, but it sounds to me like you are really exploring some influences that were maybe more in the background of your playing in Evile. Particularly in the actual riffs and song structures. Where did that come from?
After many years of writing in Evile it was very difficult to get out of that frame of mind. Whenever I tried to write a song it would end up going down the same routes as an Evile song would and I’d start to expect to have Matt’s vocal section to come in. It wasn’t working so I had to completely redo my process. I’ve always wanted to branch out creatively (not from Evile; I just mean musically). Thrash is a very limiting genre, and it’s been done the best it can be by the best already, so there are certain “rules” to follow, and that became slightly dull for me. The song “Tomb” I wrote on the Skull album was me trying to branch out musically, especially in the middle section. It was accepted but the album didn’t do too well due to not touring it.
I know you’re a fan of Jeff Waters, and of the thrash guitarists in general, but do you have any guitar influences that people might not expect?
I guess my Prog Rock influences wouldn’t be expected. Gentle Giant are one of my favourite bands to listen to. I also love Jazz like Miles Davis and Bill Evans, Classical like Chopin and Bach, and swing music. I like most music.
You’ve got quite a cast of musicians and guest soloists on this album. It must’ve been really fun to make this record – it sounds like a completely different experience than making the Evile albums.
It was completely different as it was just me. There was no Matt there saying “that’s shit”, there was no one to really bounce my ideas off so I just went in on my own. Recorded it all at home using the Kemper Amp (minus Mike Heller’s drums being done in his dungeon). There was no rehearsing other than me practicing the parts.
Are there any young guitarists or bands out there that you’re digging? What are you chomping on in terms of music these days?
I’m not really up on new bands anymore. Sylosis are great; Josh is a ridiculous guitarist. This week I’ve been listening to Metallica (duh), Yes, KISS, Bryan Adams, and Frank Zappa.