Interviews > Age of Evil
AGE OF EVIL
Interview by Athena Schaffer

Age of Evil is definitely a band to keep your eyes on! Still in their teens, these guys have musical maturity and finesse that surpasses even some seasoned veterans in the music industry! Judging from their recent EP, Get Dead (Evil Eye Entertainment), the future of Metal is in good hands indeed.

Hailing from Scottsdale, Arizona, Age of Evil is comprised of two sets of brothers –bassist Jacob Goldberg, drummer Garrett Ziff, vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Goldberg, and lead guitarist Jordan Ziff - who have not only known each other from an early age, but have made music together most of their young lives as well. The band already has extensive European and US touring and a full length album, Living A Sick Dream, (on which featured a guest appearance by former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman!) under their belts, and are hard at work on their sophomore full length.

Check out the videos for: “Living A Sick Dream” and “You Can’t Change Me”.

You guys have obviously been playing for awhile, but you’re so young! How did Age of Evil get started?

It all started at a very young age. We’ve all known each other since we were 3, 4, 5 years old. I’m sure you know we’re two sets of brothers. Basically, Garrett and Jordan started playing their instruments. Jordan started playing guitar at 7; Garrett was a drummer by the time he was 10.

Because all four of us were best friends, it was only natural that me and my brother would pick up instruments also, then we started the band. It’s always been a dream of ours when we were really young. I would have to say that one thing that comes to mind that inspired us was the movie That Thing You Do; they got all these girls and played these huge concerts and stuff. That’s what we wanted to do. We started jamming in Garrett’s bedroom with these little amps.

Then we started working with this guy who really whipped us into shape when we were probably around 12 years old. He taught us a lot of things about how to present ourselves, how to perform, stuff like that. That led to a producer, which then led to our first album. A couple of months after that, we were already touring Europe. From there it’s just been going uphill, and our foot is still on the pedal.

Are you talking about the EP?

Well, our first album came out in 2007. That was called Living A Sick Dream. That’s a full length album. Get Dead is a follow up to that. It’s basically a preview of the next full length album.

OK, so when will that come out?

That will hopefully come out this year. We are working on that right now. We probably have 10 to 12 demos of it already. We’re looking to find the right producer that we will deal with. Some of it is like Get Dead in the sense that it’s very heavy and fast. Some of our new material is like that but on steroids, then a lot of the other songs we are writing are more of like a mix of Heavy Metal and Rock ‘N Roll. They’re like Van Halen or Megadeth or something. It’s really cool!

We’re really excited about this new full length album even though the EP just came out. We’re working really hard on the music and ideas and stuff like that. Basically we’re able to do that because the EP has been getting such a great response – it’s a great thing for us that it’s really pumping us up for this next album.

Right! Now, the songs “Eye For An Eye” and “Glimpse of Light” didn’t have any writing credits to them.

Those are actually from our first album. Those are live songs from our first album. The credits for those songs will be on our first album. Our producer John worked with us on both of those. We just took the live songs and put them on there.

You have two cover songs on there?

Yeah. The Judas Priest’s “Electric Eye” is traditional Metal at its finest That song is one of our favorite Priest songs because it’s a classic Priest song but it’s not one of the super-famous popular ones. It’s not one that everyone would think of to do, but it’s also a really great song.

We came up with that. We played it in London about a year ago with Girlschool. We thought we should either do a Priest or Iron Maiden song, and obviously we did the Priest song. The crowd response was great! We knew that with our tone and our edge – everything that goes into what Age of Evil is about – that That song would make a cool recording.

Then “Slave To The Grind”, we were actually in the studio and had one day off. Our engineer said we had another day to still record something. It was actually our only day off that entire summer. We had been touring in Europe for 60 or 70 days, and that was our only day off. It ended up not being a day off because Garrett thought of the song to do. We all agreed because it’s aggressive and was a great Metal vehicle and stuff. I took out my phone (because I had it on there). We learned it by ear off my phone. Then a few hours later, Garrett went in to do drums, and he recorded one take. It was so good he didn’t need to do more. The guitars were recorded all the way through. I was reading the vocals for the first time in a very long time while recording them. Jordan wrote his solo on the spot, sort-of improv. It was very last-minute. It came out really cool!

I think what’s cool about the song is that we didn’t put a lot of time into it or overseeing things. We just went in and did it and it came out really cool!

OK. Cruel Intentions and Get Dead sounded better than some bands who have been around for ages! I’m really impressed with the musicianship on those. Any stories behind the songwriting process on those?

Yeah, there is! Basically, both of those songs were written really quickly just because of the fact that when we wrote them for some reason or other we were all feeling very pissed off or on edge. We were not super patient. Certain things when we first started jamming and going to clubs but when we came to play, there was no one there. All kinds of stuff. We were just really pissed off. So we wrote those songs in a few days. They were just a reflection of how we were feeling.

The title track, “Get Dead”, is fast, it’s raw, it’s aggressive. “Cruel Intentions” is similar in that way, but it has a little bit more melody going on. For us, the most important things are the melody, groove, the feeling of a song, the tempo, and the attitude. I think we accomplished those things with these two songs.

“Get Dead” – actually that phrase was kind-of an inside joke between the 4 of us a couple of years ago. The first time I remember seeing it was Jordan wrote on one of his guitar cases something along the lines of, “If you touch my guitar case, you will Get Dead!” We thought it was a funny phrase because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

We all pride ourselves on being professional and taking the band seriously. We also at the same time have to have fun with it. So, we were like, “Get Dead. That could never be an album name or a song name, so let’s do it!” That’s kind-of how it came about.

We thought it was perfect also because the music was aggressive, so it fit lyrically as well.

Who does most of the songwriting for the band?

Most of the songwriting is done by Jordan and myself. Pretty much what Jordan does in his life is play guitar. That’s about it. He doesn’t have a computer, he doesn’t use his cell phone, he doesn’t do pretty much anything but play guitar and listen to classic music and great guitar players. Stuff like that. Some people might not get it, but to him that’s all that really matters.

So, naturally, he’s always writing music and coming up with ideas. At the same time, I’m right there with him. We pretty much write late at night because that’s when your emotions are most heightened. Not like when you wake up in the morning and are all tired.

Basically, me and Jordan write guitar riffs or melodies, then bring that to the rest of the band. Then we play the song and work on it from there and record demos on our computers. Then basically we get the initial stuff to John. It’s pretty much that simple – it starts with a couple people, works its way through the rest of us, then we record it.

Are you doing any videos for any of the songs on Get Dead?

I’m not sure. We would like to. We have a music video for the title track on our first album. It’s on Youtube if you want to check it out. Actually, Marty Friedman of Megadeth played on that song.

I noticed you had a quote from him on your website.

Yeah, there’s a quote from him. That’s basically because the relationship we have with him was because he played on that song, “Living A Sick Dream”. It’s on Youtube. It’s a cool video. Check it out!

But a music video is definitely in our minds. I’m not sure if there will be one for this EP, but most likely there will be one for the full-length album. We’re really excited about the full-length album! I’m sure there will be a ton of songs we can use for videos. The songs on the EP – the lyrics and stuff - are somewhat violent but not necessarily to be taken literally. I’m not sure how well they might come off on a video.

But that’s a healthy way to get out aggression. It’s just like playing video games or whatever.

Yeah, yeah.

Tell me how you hooked up with Marty Friedman. He’s originally from Laurel, Maryland, but now is currently living in Japan.

Yeah, he’s living in Japan. He actually recorded the track in Japan. Basically, we sent him over the song. We got in touch with him because our producer at the time had worked with him on other stuff, on Marty Friedman’s solo project. He thought it would be a great idea to send Marty the song. So we sent Marty the song without really thinking about it, and Marty really, really liked the song, and really liked us as a band, so he said he’d play on it. We sent him the song, he recorded his track in a couple days and sent it back.

We were just totally blown away! I don’t know if you’ve heard the song, but the guitar work that he does is just really unbelievable! It’s some of the best guitar work I’ve heard, and it’s really cool! I will definitely check that out if I were you. Marty is awesome!

Marty always is!

Him and Jason Becker have always been idols of mine and Jordan’s when we were very, very young and just learning how to play the guitar – you know, the cacophony stuff?!

This first album we wrote when we were about 14 or 15 or 16 years old – at that time to have Marty Friedman, one of our biggest idols, play on it and do the things he did….we just didn’t know if it was real or not! It was so unreal but it was so cool! To be on his Rock Fujiyama Show in Japan would be a lot of fun. But it was awesome!

Are you going to be doing another European tour his summer?

It’s definitely in the plans. It just depends on other tours we have opportunities for. Right now and since the end of ’09, so many things have been thrown out – different ideas and different opportunities – that we kind-of have to wait and make sure that we find the right one, the right package. We don’t want to commit to a European tour and all of a sudden we get something better.

We’ve done the European touring pretty much every single year since 2007.

Why start in Europe?

Europe was pretty much the first place we started. The Metal scene over there is very different in some ways. You have people there that are going to festivals and stuff every single weekend. They live, breathe, and eat Heavy Metal! Not that people over here in the ‘States don’t, it’s just that you have some people that only go to a few shows when they’re things like Ozzfest or Titans of Rock or energy drink tours – the big tours. Then you have people who are just going to shows all the time, no matter what. It’s a different market.

In 2007 our first album came out in March. In June of that same year we were asked to play the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany. It was an opportunity that we just couldn’t pass up! It basically opened doors for the band, and basically started our career. Because of that, we knew that we had to keep the ball rolling since we’ve gained fans there. It was a bit of a different market to start out in, then that popularity started to transition back here to the US a little bit. Then we started reaching out and pushing harder here in the US, especially our PR firm, Chipster. That has been going really well! We’re able to play in even more markets.

Aren’t you guys a little young to be playing the club scene in the US, though?

Sometimes. Let me think of one story…..In 2007, right after our first album came out, we were like 15, 16, 17 years old, and we went to L.A. – Sunset Strip – and started playing shows there because we knew that Arizona just wasn’t going to do it for us. We knew that we either had to be in L.A. or New York.

So we went over to L.A. and showed up at this club. It was 21 and over, so the manager comes out and says, “Wait! How old are you guys?” We told him our ages. He said, “Well, you guys can’t play.”

We drove all the way out there with all of our gear! We finally were able to play. We had two sets that night – one at 8:00, one at 11:00. When we were done playing our first set, they kicked us out and put us out on the street into the cold until we could play our second set for a half hour, then they kicked us out again.

Sometimes it can be hard, but now that we’re pretty much close to 21 (Garrett, the oldest, is turning 21 next month, and the youngest guys will be in three years), now that we’re getting close to that age we find it’s easier getting deals. But in early stages of the band it was a bit of a hassle sometimes. But you do what you’ve gotta do.

You guys were probably still in school in the early stages, right?

In the early stages, yes we were. My brother Jacob just finished high school a semester early by finishing a bunch of extra online classes to get it done because he knew that starting in 2010 he was going to be really, really busy on tour, so he was just trying to get it all done.

I am going to college and I’m not going this semester because of the school’s funding and stuff like that. It kind-of works out because we’re probably going to be busy. But because of things like the internet, we can take classes online if we need to.

The majors that I’m in are Graphics and Web Design. That’s pretty much computer based anyway. I do all the graphics and designs for the band. We all have our own goals outside of the music. Mine is graphics and web design. Jacob, my brother, is pretty good in math so he does the booking for the shows and making sure we get paid. Jeremy is the network consultant who makes sure people show up for the shows. Jordan just pretty much plays music. So it’s cool; we all have our own jobs outside of writing and playing music, which I think is really important especially in this day and age because in order to get noticed, you have to pretty much do as much as you can on your own. There’s so much noise out there that sometimes it’s hard to sift through all that.

But if you have the chops, have the motivation, and you know you have a connection with the music and you’re not putting on a gimmick or show, I think if you have all those things, then one day you’re bound to get the recognition and the opportunity to move up to bigger and better things. So far we’ve been doing that.

We just played in New York and Boston with Hail. That right there was one of the biggest opportunities we’ve had because we got to play with all these guys from all these great bands, and also have tons of press, record labels, and management companies. All those people were out there seeing us. I think that was one of our best opportunities yet.

I think that schooling is important, at least to me and my brother, although the band is our first priority. Now because of other things, it’s possible to do both.

Now, you mentioned you do web design, and I see you’re all over the place online: Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and your website. Do you handle all of that?

Yeah, I do all that. Basically, I’ve always been into art and being creative and stuff like that from a very early age. I’ve always thought that I’ve had an eye for stuff like that. Basically when it came time to designing stuff for the band, we didn’t really have the money to pay anyone to do it. So I just started designing things on my own.

It’s kind-of weird because I became the singer of the band because we didn’t have a singer. I kind-of took on the role. I think it’s definitely paid off so far. Another thing is that I have control over it, too, and I don’t have to rely on someone else. It’s worked out really well and it does take up a lot of my time but I think that’s a really good thing.

I’m 24/7 Age of Evil from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. This is the most important thing that we’re doing. We’re in it for the long run.

So when it came time for it, I designed the logo. We wanted it to reflect longevity. When you think of the Rolling Stones, you think of the tongue. When you think of Van Halen, you think of the wings. So the Age of Evil logo was very important to us. The logo is cool because if you flip it upside down, it’s the exact same thing. I’m sure in the future with animation and stuff like that, we’ll be incorporating the logo into a lot more things.

Very cool! What types of merch do you guys have?

We pretty much have the typical t-shirts. We have hats, we have bandanas, we have long sleeve shirts, we have thongs, we have tank tops, about eight different pins. We’re going to be coming out with picks soon. Some of the stuff is free, like pins and the picks.

Also recently, with me being very graphic, we just released an iPhone/iPod touch application. That is also free. We want all of our fans and listeners to be able to have access to that for free and not have to pay for it. That’s really important to us – just getting our name out there, having people stay connected to us with social media, stuff like that.

Pretty much, people can get the merchandise from Age of Evil.com or at live shows.

When you guys do go out on the road, what do you do with your down time? Do you bring videogames or anything like that with you?

There’s not too much down time, unfortunately. But when we’re traveling in the car…in Europe last year we were going from country to country, sometimes it was a 6 to 9 hour drive in the car. Basically, most of us would just sleep because we didn’t get much of it. Sometimes, yeah, we will play games. I have my iPhone. I have a ton of stuff on there that can keep me busy. But during touring, there’s not a whole lot of down time – at least yet because we’re doing it all ourselves. That requires coordinating everything, making sure everything’s in the right place and everything is working.

When we tour, a lot of bands just show up and play. We’re still earning our way up there, so we don’t have that kind of down time, unfortunately. But sometimes we’ll play games and stuff like that.

So you guys are doing your own roadie-ing now, too?

Yeah. We pretty much do everything. I think that’s important. We do our own roadie-ing, and we have a ton of gear, and it requires like a U-Haul when we play, and it’s not always good for our backs. When we do a show, we tear down everything from the practice room and load it in the van, take it out of the van at the show and load it up onstage, play, take it off the stage and load it back into the van, then take it out of the van at the practice room and set it back up. It’s like an eight-step process, but it gets easier every time. But we’ve got to do it. We’re not going to pay anyone to do it for us, there’s not anyone better than us. We’re teenagers; we shouldn’t have any problem roadie-ing our own gear.

At least you get your work-outs! Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you’d like to tell our readers about Age Of Evil?

I think we’ve covered a ton of stuff! That was pretty thorough! Something that they might not know is that if they contact us on the social sites, that it will be a band member responding to them personally. We don’t have anyone else doing it for us. I think that’s really cool because it lets us have a connection with our fans and communicate with them. It’s not often that a band is able to do that. I think it’s cool that we have the time and appreciate our fans and are able to talk to them online.

So anyone who wants to hit us up, please do on all the socials: Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, all that stuff. I think that’s something everyone would like to know.