Progressive rock and metal genres aren’t in their golden era, however, nice groups and nice albums are released every day. One group that drew my attention was Evraak from Japan, who gave us its debut album some months ago. Their smart and surprising prog rock sound is more than satisfactory, it is a real treasure for every prog fan! So, we contacted Evraak and talked with Koji Kawashima, who politely gave his answers. These Japanese know how to play prog rock!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
When, where and under which circumstances was Evraak formed? Give us a bio of the band, please.
One day in 2018, Koji Kawashima suddenly got the idea of forming a prog rock band. No reason, just an idea. Hayawo Kanno and Takeshi Yoshida accepted to join this idea quickly. Hayawo already had some piece of prog rock motif and he shaped “Sacrifice” demo immediately. That is our start. After that, Koji, Hayawo and Takeshi went to the rehearsal studio and recorded a demo song, “Sacrifice”. We used that demo tape(this expression is old-fashioned) for members wanted. Then three members gathered. Marina came from avant-garde music. Tengoku came from jazz, Miki came from performing art music. We think this is almost a miracle, because this member composition is very close to the origins of prog rock.
Why did you name the band Evraak? What does this name mean?
Firstly, our band name has not a meaning. Our band name is very unique, because this is a coined word we made. We got the idea from an old PC game, however that game was sold only in Japan, so I think nobody knows it. About the pronunciation of Evraak [íːv lə'ːrk], it appears to be a combination of “Eve” and ”Lurk” or ”Lark”. We're Japanese, so we've never really thought much about pronunciation. So you can read it however you like.
“Evraak I” was released some months ago. How do you see this album now? Would you change something to it, if you had the opportunity?
We think it is well done for a first album. But the sound quality of some of the tracks is unsatisfactory due to the poor recording environment. Especially the drums’ recording.
Where and when was “Evraak I” recorded? Who did the production, the mixing and the mastering? Describe the recording sessions and the production process, please.
Recording took place in 2019-2020, after several sessions and live performances. We did self-recordings in several rehearsal studios, never used a recording studio and an engineer. We used rehearsal studio for drums, vocal and sax tracks recording, other tracks (guitar, bass, piano and synthesizers) are recorded in each member's home. Recording engineering was done by Koji Kawashima. We didn't have good equipment, so the drums sound is a little poor. Especially "Sacrifice" used 4pcs studio mics (maybe Shure SM58), so the sound is not clear. After recording, Koji and Hayawo did the mixing and the mastering.
Which are your music influences? What music do you listen to nowadays?
Marina Seo(vocals): Can, The Stalin (Japanese punk band), Miki Hasegawa(keyboards): Bojan Zulfikarpasic, Yann Tiersen, Takeshi Yoshida (drums): Chick Corea, Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet, Tengoku Imagawa(saxophone): Bob Berg, John Coltrane, Koji Kawashima (bass) : Art & Mestieri, Yes, King Crimson, Hayawo Kanno(guitar): Anekdoten, Deep Purple.
You are a progressive rock band. What new do you have to offer as band to the contemporary prog rock scene?
We think Evraak is not innovative, It is more of a "classical" type of rock band. So we would like to offer the "tradition", the "attitudes" for old rock fan.
How easy or difficult is it be a progressive rock band in Japan nowadays?
There are many ardent prog rock fans in Japan. So, we think it is not difficult to do. Several new prog-rock bands also emerged. However, current listeners' age is high so we want to expansion to listeners range more.
How do you compose the songs of Evraak? Are they the result of improvisation?
About the composition, main composer is Hayawo and Koji. We are using DAW software for composing. Our composing is like a "play catch", Hayawo composed all parts 1~2 minutes and passed to Koji, then Koji listened that parts and added new parts 1~2 minutes. Then repeat this process. There is very little improvisation during the composition step. After finished composing, we went to rehearsal studio and played several times, the band's sound takes shape through improvisations and other performances at that time.
Where do your lyrics refer to? How much important are lyrics for you?
Almost all lyrics were written by Marina. Lyrics are very important. We are Japanese, so we insist on singing in Japanese.
Which song would you recommend to someone, who doesn’t have a clue about Evraak?
Please listen to ”Saethi” first. Then, if you like, please listen to "Asylum Piece" or "Stigma".
If you could collaborate with a famous musician in a song of yours, who would he/she be?
Umm, this is a difficult question, because most of the great musicians I admire have passed away or retired ... If there is an opportunity, I want to collaborate with Steven Wilson.
How did the contract with WormHoleDeath come up?
Actually we already distributed "Evraak I" on some subscription ourselves since 2021. Our music was well received, especially in Italy, and at the beginning of 2022, we were contacted by Mr. Jacopo, publisher of the "Progressive Rock Journal" webzine. Mr. Jacopo suggested we contact WormHoleDeath, we contacted Mr. Carlo at WHD, which led to this contract.
Which are your ambitions for the band?
Our band has just begun, so we want people worldwide to know about us first.
Do you play live in concert? Do you have any tour plans?
We have several gigs scheduled in Japan. Unfortunately, we have no plans for a worldwide tour yet.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you?
Covid-19 had a very big impact on us. I could not see any of the members for a long time. The song "Saethi" is actually an expression of our anger towards Covid-19.
Send your message to the fans!
Thanks for listening to our music, we hope our music will be heard by all music fans, not just prog-rock fans. Enjoy!