Detroit band Eva Under Fire released a great album called “Love, Drugs & Misery” through Better Noise Music on 23rd September. I’ve had a copy of the album for about nine months and have been playing tracks by the band regularly for some time. With the album finally getting released I thought it would be good to have a chat with singer Eva Marie (Amanda Marie) about the band and the album. We chatted on 28th September and you can hear that interview on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 30th September. We also play four tracks from the album plus their excellent cover of “Separate Ways”.
That Show is now available on our MixCloud page - https://www.mixcloud.com/NIRocks/interview-with-eva-marie-from-eva-under-fire-on-the-friday-ni-rocks-30th-sept-2022-show/
Eva Under Fire formed in Detroit in 2015 and self-released an album called “Anchors” that same year. That was followed by a seven track EP called “War” in 2016 and another seven track EP called “Heavy on the Heart” in 2018. The band then signed to Better Noise Music and commenced work on what was to become “Love, Drugs & Misery”.
Eva Under Fire is vocalist Eva Marie, guitarists Rob Lyberg and Chris Slapnik, drummer Corey Newsome and bass player Ed Joseph.
Playlist for the Show –
THE ANSWER – Spectacular
FEMME FATALE – Falling In & Out Of Love
DORO – Metal Tango
HALESTORM – Back From The Dead
EVA UNDER FIRE – Coming for Blood (ft From Ashes To New)
Interview with EVA MARIE from EVA UNDER FIRE Part 1 (6 min)
EVA UNDER FIRE – Separate Ways
Interview with EVA MARIE from EVA UNDER FIRE Part 2 (7 min)
EVA UNDER FIRE – Blow (ft Spencer Charnas)
Interview with EVA MARIE from EVA UNDER FIRE Part 3 (5 min)
EVA UNDER FIRE – Comatose (ft Ego Kill Talent’s Jonathan Dorr)
Interview with EVA MARIE from EVA UNDER FIRE Part 4 (6 min)
EVA UNDER FIRE – The Strong
KINGS OF MERCIA – Humankind
ENEMY EYES – Peace and Glory
THE FORGED HEARTS – Eyes Shut
DOKKEN – Dream Warriors
SHADOW TRAIN – Fallen
SWEET & LYNCH – Dying Rose
LEATHER – We Take Back Control
WARKINGS – To The King
BALEFUL CREED – The Phoenix
JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR – Just No Getting Over You
NICK BARKER – Hell Sux
RORY GALLAGHER – In Your Town (Alternate Take 3)
MEAT LOAF – Bat Out of Hell
Website - https://www.evaunderfire.com/
NI ROCKS – Hi Eva, thanks for taking some time to talk to Rock Radio NI. The new album “Love, Drugs and Misery” was released last week and we just played the latest single “Coming For Blood”. First of all, what can you tell us about that track?
EVA – Man, it was really fun to write that one. It’s just a feisty kind of song and I love that it has that kind of hip-hop bounce to it. And of course our friends From Ashes To New jumped on and knocked it out of the park. It was a very cool, open verse, challenge I suppose (laughs)
NI ROCKS – And a new video for that one as well.
EVA – Yeah
NI ROCKS – (That collaboration with From Ashes to New is one of several on the new album). Did you have a wish list of artists you wanted to work with and how did those come about?
EVA – You know, I did not have any information about who we would be able to work with. We understood that we were new to the label, so we didn’t have rapport or connections just yet. But, we did a really cool movie called “The Retaliators” and Spencer was in that film as well. So, the suits made it happen. It was fun for me to have my reaction – they suggested Spencer, and I was like, is that even possible? Yes, please! (Laughs). We just sort of went from there. All wonderful guys, all wonderful musicians and everybody seemed really excited about what we were doing. It was the best reaction we could have hoped for.
NI ROCKS – The band supported Halestorm recently and you performed on stage with Lzzy. I’m guessing that she would be someone you would love to record with?
EVA – Oh my goodness!!
NI ROCKS - Who else would be on that list, as well as Lzzy?
EVA – Man!! Brent Smith from Shinedown would definitely be on that list. Obviously Lzzy is on that list. Amy Lee…I mean ‘hi Evanescence’ (laughs). I think that’s probably all of my heavy hitters. I could dream up a whole bunch of things if we started talking about Youngblood or Bring Me The Horizon and went that direction, because I feel that they are lyrical geniuses also. So, I have a really big list apparently – I didn’t know that until just now! (laughs).
NI ROCKS – As I mentioned the new album “Love, Drugs and Misery” was released last week. It was originally due for release in March and then moved to May and later September. What was the reason behind those changes?
EVA – Honestly, we were just scrambling. It was the weird pandemic world, no-one knew what to do with it when we couldn’t tour to support the album. It became this let’s see how this goes kind of process. Now that it is finally out and it debuted at number one in rock n’ metal, I’m like, ok it was worth the wait!
NI ROCKS – I was sent the album months ago, and the release was delayed, so it was a bit frustrating when you can’t put some of the tracks out there. It’s a great album.
EVA – Thank you very much.
NI ROCKS – Where and when was the album actually recorded and who did you work with in terms of production, mixing etc?
EVA – This is a fun story. So, we are from Michigan here in the United States and we recorded with our other friends that we met through music a very long time ago. His name is BJ Perry. We had been playing with this guy in bar gigs before when all of us were just musicians and it turned out that the producer route was more successful for him. He was also the producer of the first I Prevail record “Lifelines”. That was a really cool thing because it just felt that we were in our buddy’s basement, writing cool music. It was a really great time.
NI ROCKS – When was it recorded?
EVA – We actually started recording some of these songs, in their very early iterations, before we even got the record deal. So we’ve been working on it since 2017, maybe 2018.
NI ROCKS – We’ll talk more about the album and the band in a moment, but first we’ll play a track that actually isn’t on the album, but was released in April as part of the “Blow” EP. That, of course, is the band’s excellent cover of “Separate Ways”. What is the story behind that recording?
EVA – We were just trying to keep ourselves busy during the pandemic and learning songs that we had been fans of for years obviously. We were very influenced by – my guitar player loves those Journey solos; they play as vocal melodies, they’re fun to play. So it just came up in the covers sets that we were learning during the pandemic. Our friend had one event that was going on during the pandemic – it was outside, during the summer of 2020, by the Detroit River. She would have food trucks and everything and it was like the only gig in town because no-one was doing anything. So, we would go up and play for four or five hours and jam out a bunch of covers, and Journey just stuck. People loved it and we started including it in the live set and people really lost their minds; so we thought we have to record this. And the rest is history.
NI ROCKS – As you mentioned, the band formed in Detroit; in 2015 I think it was. How did you all get together and did you have a clear idea of the sound that you wanted when you first got together?
EVA – We kinda just fell back in love with music. Many of us had all met each other playing in the bar scenes around town, years prior; so we were all friends and music buddies. No-one was doing anything seriously any more so we got together and said you know what! We were just jamming together; why don’t you guys come over and we’ll write – like old times. Immediately fell back in love and we thought we sound pretty good, we should try this again. We should learn a little bit about how to get ourselves out there and just see what happens. Then we wound up with a wonderful record deal with Better Noise off an unsolicited e-mail; so it can happen (laughs)
NI ROCKS – I was coming to that actually. You released an album and two EPs prior to signing with Better Noise - between 2015 and 2018. How would you compare those earlier releases (“Anchors”, “War” and “Heavy of the Heart”) with the new album?
EVA – Man, those first ones were really a wild child cluster of all kinds of sounds. We had pop punk on there and heavier stuff like a thrash metal beat sometimes. It was all over the place. I think the new album, although it stays true to our roots by the fact that it is an emotional roller coaster – there are many things that we talk about and topics that we visit; but the sound I think is a lot more focused. I think that is a great thing. There are cadences of other styles…..I think you’ll hear some sounds that are almost reminiscent of like a country vibe; and there are pretty rock ballads and there are straight up bangers. So we do explore that on our new record, but the production remains pretty consistent.
NI ROCKS – You mentioned an e-mail to Better Noise Music. Is that how you approached them and when did you actually sign with them?
EVA – (Laughs) Yeah. So, we were new and had this new music that we felt very confident about, so we did our own really cool music video for the song “Misery”. That was the one that we were shopping around. What we were recommended to do – our producers were also dabbling in artist development – so they suggested to us that we go onto the websites of the companies that we thought might be a good fit if you worked with them. They all have public contact information, so see how many e-mails you can gather up! We just happened to be very, very good at that. So much so that everybody at Better Noise almost, got this introduction e-mail and they were like ‘who is this band and why do all of us have this e-mail?’ So we pestered them into it, absolutely! And it worked! I don’t feel bad about it. (Laughs)
NI ROCKS – What has it been like, working with them?
EVA – I can’t say enough good things. Obviously, everyone is like ah it’s the label, and you’ve got to make sure you stay true to your artistry. Truly though I feel that this partnership has been great, in the sense that we’ve not felt forced to come out of our comfort zone, we’ve not felt forced to do things that we didn’t thing were necessary. We came to this party having the same goal in mind – of let’s just do this as big as we can. Because the end goal is aligned, I think how we get there is just semantics. And we experienced the pandemic together – no one knew what to do with that. We were a little bit worried that as a new artist we’d maybe get shelved or get forgotten about, but they were continuing to push for us to write with people and meet people via Skype and try to keep us as much in the loop as possible. Truly, we didn’t feel forgotten about, even with the world shutting down and I think that says a lot.
NI ROCKS – You mentioned the film “The Retaliators” there. The track “Blow” features as part of that film and you also appear in alongside Tommy Lee, Cory Marks, Five Finger Death Punch etc. What can you tell us about that film and your involvement in it?
EVA – Yet another random opportunity, which was very cool. I had never considered acting as an offshoot thing that I would do. I really enjoyed music videos, so I guess that’s where my passion came from for that. I got on set and I fell in love, truly. I’d never been on a professional film set, so it was fascinating to me that all these people could work so efficiently with all their different departments. I was very interested in the infrastructure and also Michael Lombardi and I were just best friends and he quickly just took me under his wing. I was able to be there for the Marc Menchaca wrap party after he had finished filming and I got to know a lot of those people and hang out. So it was a really wonderful experience all round. Fast forward to I’d already been on set and we thought we had it, but certain things got jostled around and a lot of the filming was reorganized due to covid; so somebody couldn’t make it out to the set and Michael called me up and said, ‘you know, you were so much fun to have on set, would you come back and just do the full opening scene?’ (Laughs). Yeah! I live a mile from the airport; let’s do this! (Laughs)
NI ROCKS – It premiered last week or the week before? It premiered quite recently didn’t it?
EVA – The big box office, yeah, was just recent. It was really fun for me to go to my home town theatre and see my mug on the screen (Laughs)
NI ROCKS – We’ll play the track “Blow” next. Do you want to tell us something specific about that track?
EVA – Yeah. I mentioned that it was wonderful working with Spencer and that he was an awesome guy. The powers that be organised that because we didn’t know each other before doing this track together. However, not only did he respond excitedly saying this was a great hook and a very catchy song; but why don’t we do the second verse from my character’s perspective in the film? So, he wrote it according to how his character in the film would. Which I thought was a wonderful tie-in and it was super fun to do. I think that elevated it considerably. A year later we met at ‘Welcome to Rockville’. I kinda waved from afar and he came over to me singing the hook, “I’m About to Blow” and I was like ‘You’re Amazing!’ We took a picture – it was great!
NI ROCKS – The band’s bio mentions that you work as a therapist. Is that something that you’re still doing and does that experience influence any of your writing?
EVA – Yes, I am still working as a therapist. I want to meaningfully connect with other humans for whatever career path I was able to do. So I could do that either via therapy or music! And the universe laughed at me in 2018 when I got both my Masters degree and a record deal! So, now we’re scrambling, figuring out how all this is supposed to work together, but somehow it is working and I love it very much. So, I still have a handful of clients that I see; remotely via telehealth. Now that telehealth is a thing I feel that it makes it possible for me to stay connected. I’m not currently taking new clients as we’re getting busier and busier, but I feel that eventually I would like to work with or open a non-profit. I could see myself doing lots of public speaking. We’re mental health advocates even in our music, as you’ll hear on tracks like “Heroin(e)”, “Comatose” and “The Strong”. It’s become a really beautiful sort of marriage between my two passions; which I hadn’t expected.
NI ROCKS – In terms of song-writing, who is involved and is there a standard methodology for pulling a song together, or do they all come together in different ways?
EVA – They do come together in different ways and I think that is because we’ve all been friends for years. Someone will bring a riff or someone will say I think it would be cool if we had a song like this or bring some kind of reference to the table. I don’t play unfortunately, but I have melodies that just pop into my brain so sometimes I’ll come with a vocal hook. Just me and a metronome and I’m like, please fill in this gap! (Laughs) So it could be anything.
NI ROCKS – As well as the cover of “Separate Ways” which we played earlier, the band also released a great cover of Destiny Child’s “Survivor”. Why did you pick that track?
EVA – You know what, that was my buddy all the way! We are good friends with Jay, the singer for a band called State of Mind. He’s helped us with so much stuff. Everything on Tik Tok that I’ve learned was from Jay and he has always helped with so many of our music videos; and we try to help him out as much as we can as well, with him organizing his stuff for State of Mind. As we’ve been friends for years we thought that we had to hop onto a track together; we got to figure out a song that we can do together. And Jay and State of Mind have this different release schedule – they do lots of covers.
NI ROCKS – They do! Some great ones.
EVA – Yeah!! Really great ones! I mean “Thunder Rolls”; come on! Right! It was so good! So, he comes to me with this thing and says listen I know they keep pushing your release date back, but what if we can keep people’s interest. Maybe now is the time that we should jump on a song, because I really want to do a cover of Destiny’s Child. And I was shook – like, ‘you’re going to try and make me Beyoncé!’ (Laughs). This is killer. I grew up a 90’s pop kid, so I loved all of these songs and they were like, my summer anthem was “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. So it was really cool for us to finally find a moment where it just worked out for both bands to jump on this track. That was totally Jay’s idea. It was a great one, but it was Jay’s, I got to give him credit.
NI ROCKS – Are we likely to see any more covers from the band and if so is there anything in particular that you would you like to cover?
EVA – I feel that, maybe when the time is right. We’re a band that focuses more on our original music so covers have been something that we’ve done almost out of necessity for the time that we’ve gone through recently in the world. But we do think of covers as go big or go home sort of moment; so you can expect that whatever we do next it’ll probably be a cover of some massive artist and you’ll think holy crap, they’re covering that song!! That’s just how we approach it.
NI ROCKS – This is where you get to pick a track from the album. Do you want to pick a track from the album and tell us something about it?
EVA – The next one we should play is “Comatose”. I know that one has been out for a minute, but I have such a love for that song. I think it is my favourite on the new album and the reason for that is the content – the perspective of someone who is struggling with substance abuse. I felt that it was a very powerful, cathartic experience for me as a writer. But also, this is the song that came together the most easily I guess in the studio. It just naturally fell into our lap. It started with a riff and then we got the vocal stuff that we wanted and then we got the drum stuff that we wanted and everything all fell into place. From the very start of the riff to the end of the track, we just didn’t stop until the song was done – all in one day.
NI ROCKS – The band have played a few shows recently. What else do you have planned for the rest of this year?
EVA – We have some cool stuff coming up. We’re throwing a giant hometown party for the album release and we do have physical copies that will be available; which I know is a kind of archaic thing, but coming from a band that grew up on the bar scene it’s important. And I’m learning too as we’ve been on these tours that a lot of people will ask us for CDs still. Everybody into rock music want to have it….they want it in their hands.
NI ROCKS – Yes, I’m a bit older and I like the physical copy, whether it be CD or vinyl.
EVA – Yeah. And that’s the next question we get. ‘When’s the vinyl coming out?’ And we’re like OK! As we get a few of these singles out I think we probably will make, maybe not a full vinyl, but a smaller one that just have the singles on them. I think that would be really cool for people to have. So, we’re throwing this massive hometown party, and then we’ve got ‘Aftershock’ coming up – we’ll be flying to Sacramento for that, I believe October 8th. Then we’re actually, you’ll hear it first here because we haven’t been announced on these shows; if you want to come from Ireland all the way here to see it, I guess you could do that! We’re playing a show with State of Mind in January and that’ll be really rad – at the Machine Shop. So we’ll be doing that and we’ve got lots of big plans for 2023. It should be a very busy year for us.
NI ROCKS – That was my next question. Are there big tour plans for 2023 and is there any chance that you might come to the UK or Europe? Or is it very much North America focused? Or are you not going to tell me? (Laughs)
EVA – (Laughs) Yeah, I can’t say for certain, but what I will tell you is exciting because our new friends – we’ve been meeting lots of new friends; friends like Halestorm, friends like Ice Nine Kills, friends like From Ashes To New, and Nothing More and Atreyu. Oh my god, I can’t believe I’m friends with Atreyu (laughs). But they have all come to the UK before, so we’ve got friends now that come over and see you guys and maybe they might take us with them. (Laughs) Hopefully!
NI ROCKS – That would be good; it’d be great to see you here. There have been quite a big tours recently or planned to feature all female fronted bands playing together and there are a growing number of excellent female fronted bands, both in the USA and here in the UK. Which is great to see. Do you have any personal favourite female fronted band and what do you feel about the growth in that female fronted scene?
EVA – I’ve seen this since about 2004, when Evanescence’s “Fallen” came onto the scene, I started to see this resurgence. There were always these wonderful, iconic women’s voices in rock music from the 80’s; but I didn’t feel that it was my generation until Evanescence, until Paramore, until Halestorm. It was really cool. Then once I saw that as I was growing up in the local scene I found that there was a lot more of us, local unknowns, that were female fronted as well. So, it wasn’t just me; finally, yeaaahh! (Laughs) But I feel that there has been so much more representation and I feel that there’s obviously a lot more work to do. I think Spiritbox is an excellent ad; coming up in the metal scene and having a female fronted, primarily grit vocal, that’s a woman, that’s not like iconic Arch Enemy right, because that was like the only name for a minute. And now having seen Spiritbox and their success and how wonderfully everyone has received them is just fascinating to me and I cheer them on everytime, because I know it’s tough to be a woman in rock n’ roll, but I also can’t imagine, as a primarily grit vocal, not like singer, in the metal scene it might be even harder. So I cheer them on everytime. Spiritbox is definitely a favourite of mine.
NI ROCKS – “Love, Drugs & Misery” has obviously just been released, but has work started on tracks for the next album and what kind of timescale do you think there might be on that?
EVA – No timescale. We’re basking in the glory of all that we have had for this new record; especially because it took so long to get here. So, we’re definitely enjoying the moment. But I can tell you that we’re very all over the place with writing. We’re constantly writing, so we already have ideas for album two. I mean, it just never stops for us; but no timeline right now.
NI ROCKS – That’s actually all the questions that I have, but we’ll finish by playing another track from the new album. Again, you get to pick which one we finish on.
EVA – Let’s finish off with our pretty ballad “The Strong”. I mentioned a lot of our mental health themes that we have and “The Strong" has always been such a favourite of ours. It’s also a wonderful moment live that we can do in the theatres, especially when the lights are dim and we tell everybody to pull out their phones or their lighters. It’s very encouraging to me to play that one.
NI ROCKS – We’ll play that one. Thanks again for taking the time to talk to me.
EVA – Awesome. Thank you so much for having me and appreciate your playing us. Hopefully we’ll be coming over there to see you guys soon.