Editor’s Note: On October 30th, the legendary thrash metal band EVILDEAD released their latest album entitled “United States of Anarchy” via Steamhammer/SPV Records. The album features the legendary guitarist Juan Garcia of Body Count on it. Evildead has been Juan’s baby for years and years, he just felt that given the Covid-19 pandemic and the civil unrest in the United States that it would be a good idea to unleash Evildead onto the masses. This band has performed in Europe and in “United States of Anarchy”, they’ve unleashed a brilliant cover of “Planet Claire” by The B-52’s. In this mental health conversation with Madness To Creation, Juan Garcia of Body Count/Evildead discusses “United States of Anarchy”, coping with the Covid-19 pandemic and mental health awareness. Fans can find Evildead at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me for Madness To Creation. With you being out of California, how have you been coping with Covid-19, civil unrest and the wildfires in California?
Juan Garcia: Well, things have gotten a little better, it’s been a little chaotic as the news shows, I think for the most part the key is not to focus too much on it, luckily none of us live near the mountains or anything like that, with the civil unrest, that’s just something you just got to kind of deal with, I mean once in a while, the streets get closed off, and people have the right to protest, but sometimes it gets out of hand, but for the most part, Los Angeles is a good city, and things are going okay.
Madness To Creation: Through Evildead, you’ve released “United States of Anarchy” on October 30th via Steamhammer/SPV Records, would you say that the lyrical content of the record is a social commentary of the events that have occurred in 2020?
Juan Garcia: Here is the way that I look at it, when we started making this record, the working title of this album was going to be called “Rise of Evil”, and it just seemed a little generic to me for a title of an album, and when we sent out for the album artwork to Ed Repka, who has worked on the artwork for all of our albums, I gave him a rundown of a concept that I had back in the 90’s about civil unrest and based off of a movie called Soylent Green that came out in the 70’s that starred Charlton Heston, and the idea that I had for the album cover was before the riots and all of that and the band broke up around 1993, and we were influenced a little bit by the L.A. riots, so the artwork was inspired by the movie Soylent Green and the ’92 riots and once we got the artwork back it was like the Nostradamus effect, and we thought a better fitting title would be “United States of Anarchy”, while the concept of the record was based off of Soylent Green, it’s just really strange how it ties into now.
Madness To Creation: Do you see this to be a soundtrack so to speak of a movie like Soylent Green or an apocalyptic-themed type of movie?
Juan Garcia: When we put music together, I always envisioned stuff like that and it inspires me to come up with ideas whether it be a guitar riff or a chorus or a bridge for a song, I always think on those terms, and soundtracks, I always think kind of big like that, but every song is different and it’s weird how “United States of Anarchy” is fitting to what’s going on in the world, mainly in the United States at the moment. I call it the Nostradamus effect.
Madness To Creation: Evildead recently released the lyric video for “Word of God”, take us into that song and what were some of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of creating that song in the studio with Evildead?
Juan Garcia: I like to give credit where credit is due, the song was written by Albert Gonzales, our other guitar player, he’s a phenomenal guitar player, and Rob Alaniz, our drummer, I co-wrote with him on the verse riff on that, it’s kind of a collaboration, the main riffs are from Albert. The only challenging thing about that song, it is very riff-y as far as a lot of notes going on and stuff like that, but we’ve been playing this style of thrash metal for awhile. It comes across live really well, but in the studio, there wasn’t really any challenges, just mainly getting the right guitar tones and making the song groove, so you can play on top of the beat or behind the beat, so it’s just getting the right groove and feel for the track. The song is about an angry God that’s pissed off at the human race, it’s a fun song and it comes across live very well.
Madness To Creation: Speaking of live music, I know that the Covid-19 pandemic has pretty much shut live music down, are you planning on doing a livestream with the band to promote “United States of Anarchy”?
Juan Garcia: Well, I did a live stream with Body Count for “Rockin’ Worldwide”, they had to do the live stream since they weren’t able to do the Wacken Open Air Festival this year, so Body Count did a livestream at the Whisky, it was streamed worldwide. It’s cool, it’s a way to still connect with your fans, I’m glad Body Count got the opportunity to do that, because the tour in Europe got cancelled this year, or postponed, however you want to look at it due to Covid. That is one avenue that we’ve been exploring as far as Evildead, how are we going to promote this record, we should at least do one livestream or two, you know? I think that these livestream shows, or drive-in shows, I think that they’re cool if they’re done correctly and the sound is right and if it’s professionally done, I think it’s a good way to let your audience know that you’re still alive and kicking and we miss playing live music. Once this pandemic is over, I think that there will be a whole new admiration for live music, we all just can’t wait to get back on stage.
Madness To Creation: What’s the one thing that you miss the most about being on stage?
Juan Garcia: What I miss the most about live music is the magic really, every show is different, you don’t know how one audience is going to react in comparison to another. I miss the festivals, those were always fun, it’s just the whole atmosphere, the sense of the excitement of the crowd and just plugging into an amplifier and just letting it roar and letting those chords roar, now that you’ve got me thinking about it, I miss a lot of it actually. I also miss the travel, some people don’t like to travel, I like to travel, I like to experience new continents, new towns and meet new fans, the aspect of traveling is one thing that I do miss, and people don’t realize that we are on lockdown as far as traveling worldwide, we can’t go anywhere really at the moment. It’s just horrible man. 2020 has been a very strange year, no doubt!
Madness To Creation: What has 2020 taught you as a person?
Juan Garcia: 2020 has really opened my eyes as far as being more patient, making the right decisions, I really pay a lot more attention to detail, and how important it is as a band to be all on the same page and have common goals, really that’s the first things that come to mind, and just being more patient with decisions and moving forward in a positive direction.
Madness To Creation: Back to your album, I’m curious about the decision behind covering “Planet Claire” by The B-52’s, why that song?
Juan Garcia: When we did our debut album back in ’89, we had a three song EP with a cover song called “Rise Above” by Black Flag, we played around with covers at rehearsals, we used to mess around with “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix, and we would mess around with “Planet Claire”, we wouldn’t play the whole song, but we would play parts of it, so we totally forgot about all of that, and we were going into the studio for this new studio record, and our label wanted a bonus track, and we thought, “why don’t we give them a cover”, and I remember a few years back seeing The B-52’s live at a Grammy event at a convention center in Los Angeles, and they just sounded so cool, with their guitars not being very distorted and stuff, and it kind of reminded me of the song, and when we went in and I brought it up thinking about revisiting this, as we were fans of The B-52’s back in the day, so we gave it a shot, I think that it came out really cool, Albert Gonzales rips amazing solos over the song, our singer Phil Flores did a great job, it’s a fun song and it’s fitting with the times.
Madness To Creation: Fun question for you, it came out in the news that Miley Cyrus is going to release an album of Metallica covers, let’s switch the roles, if Evildead had to cover a pop artist, from the past or present, who would it be?
Juan Garcia: I would say Michael Jackson, mainly with the passing of Eddie Van Halen, I was listening to the solo of Eddie Van Halen on the Michael Jackson song “Beat It”, it’s actually a really good song, I was just really admiring not just the guitar work, but the arrangement of the song, I think that it’s a song that could be made really heavy. I think Michael Jackson with his pop artist work, would be really cool to cover.
Madness To Creation: How much influence did Eddie Van Halen play on your guitar work?
Juan Garcia: For me, I was more influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal like K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton, and believe it or not, the band Saxon and Iron Maiden of course, but I remember when I got the first Van Halen record and listening to songs like “Jamie’s Cryin'”, “Eruption”, it was just out of this world. When you’re learning guitar, it just sets the bar that is kind of untouchable, it definitely influenced me into wanting to practice listening to Eddie Van Halen.
Madness To Creation: I’ve been a fan of your body of work in Body Count, what role do you feel you contribute in that band?
Juan Garcia: In Body Count, Ernie T. mainly does the solo work, whereas I do the rhythm work, but in the “Carnivore” record, I did do some solo work, but 90% of it is all of his solos. I’m the new guy in Body Count, I joined in 2014, but I’ve been a fan of the band since the first album.
Madness To Creation: What’s your mindset when you approach the studio with your guitar work, whether it’s for Evildead or Body Count, and what’s the first thing that you would teach a beginner in being a guitarist?
Juan Garcia: First thing you want to do is make sure that the guitar is in tune, believe it or not, a lot of people just want to start jamming out, they always seem to forget, “hey, let’s check your tuning”, I would just check to make sure that your guitar is intonated and that you’ve got some new strings on, they don’t have to be brand new, just make sure that the intonation and the tuning is correct, and it’s important to make sure that the amp is not too noisy, that it has clarity. Those are a few things that I can think of that are really important to me. The first thing that I would teach is to learn your pentatonic scales, those can be applied to any type of music, whether it’s rock or blues or metal, that way you can play in key. It’s the basics.
Madness To Creation: What’s one memory that immediately sticks out to you with Ice T or Ernie T. since you’ve joined Body Count in 2014?
Juan Garcia: Oh man, when we went out to play Wacken Open Air in Germany, it’s a huge festival, we haven’t really rehearsed a lot with some of the guys being on the East Coast, we kind of made the setlist on the way to the show, we just sat around on the tour bus on the way to the show, and we decided to open up with “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead, without ever playing the song live as a band, I’m not even making this up, I’m telling you man, if you want to talk about nerves, this is a song that I’ve been playing for a long time, I’m a big Motorhead fan, we’ve covered that song in the 80’s, it’s one thing to know the song, it’s another thing to play the song with the band, and we’ve never played it with Ice either, if you want to talk about nerve racking, we went up there on the main stage and we went up on that stage and played that song without ever before playing it live as a band, that was hectic. Obviously, we got through the song, but man, my nerves were on the edge a little bit.
Madness To Creation: The number one comment I saw on YouTube based on that video was Ice T paying tribute to Lemmy
Juan Garcia: That’s Ice for you, he likes to keep you on your toes, and he’ll change the setlist on you, you may know all of the songs, you got to be ready, he’ll change stuff on you, Body Count is a lot different than Evildead or other bands that I’ve been in. It’s very free-flowing and freeform as some parts get extended longer live so it sounds different than on the record, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s a well-run machine.
Madness To Creation: What’s one thing that might surprise our readers and listeners about Ice T?
Juan Garcia: He is totally down to earth. That may be in the media already, but that is something that I appreciate, he’s really into metal, he really likes Cannibal Corpse, he likes Lamb of God, Powertrip, he likes a lot of heavy stuff, that’s documented, but he’s a generous and nice person, and I’m very honored and grateful to be in Body Count and being a fan of the band since the early days.
Madness To Creation: How have you grown as a guitarist being in Body Count?
Juan Garcia: It’s definitely had me pay more attention to the notes, not that I didn’t pay attention to the notes before, but it’s made me a lot more focused, I’ve taken the craft a lot more serious, I don’t take anything for granted, whether it’s playing huge shows or smaller club shows or even a television show like Jimmy Fallon, that’s something that I’ll remember forever, it’s just made me more focused, and I just think that it’s important.
Madness To Creation: What’s the first thing that you want to do when this pandemic is over?
Juan Garcia: Besides go to a concert, as a fan I can’t wait to get back in the club to see some shows and as a musician, I can’t wait to go to soundcheck, pretty simple right? I think once this pandemic is over and this thing passes, you’re going to see a big appreciation for live music that we’ve never seen before, I think it’s going to be a great thing.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add?
Juan Garcia: I hope that people give “United States of Anarchy” a fair listen and not judge it by one or two songs that have been released as lyric videos or singles, I think you should dive in there and listen to all nine or ten songs, and just check it out and give it a fair listen, there’s something for everybody in the Evildead music, it’s been a very positive experience for all of us.
And there you have it! Please check out “United States of Anarchy” via Spotify below! Add it to your playlist!https://open.spotify.com/album/4d0NmgvwIFgJYTBZy3s5tD