Los Angeles rock and roll band Them Evils are catching the ears of many new listeners with their latest EP Rollin’ Stoned and Livin’ Free. Consisting of Jordan Griffin (vocals/guitar), Jake Massanari (bass) and David Delaney II (drums), the band was formed by Massanari and Griffin in 2013. Having grown up and gone to high school together in Las Vegas, the two decided to make the move to LA that year to pursue their music career, recruiting California native Delaney II on drums to round out the band. Inspired by rock giants such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Queens Of The Stone Age, the band has emerged as a straight up rock and roll band that is continually evolving. The band has been heavily touring over the past few years with bands such as Alter Bridge, Red Sun Rising, The Pretty Reckless and Zakk Sabbath (after being endorsed by Zakk Wilde as being his favorite up-and-coming band), as well as festivals such as Louder Than Life, Aftershock, Welcome To Rockville and Rock On The Range. The band has released 2 prior EPs- their 2015 debut EP Cold Black Love and their 2016 EP Them Evils. In May of 2018, the band released their latest EP, Rollin’ Stoned and Livin’ Free, which was produced by the late Kato Khandwala (The Pretty Reckless/Paramore/My Chemical Romance). With plans to write and record new music, the band has plenty of momentum going forward and have no plans to slow down! They are currently on the road with Pop Evil for a few more dates and are sure to head back out on the road again soon! Make sure to catch them out on tour if you can. They put on a killer live show! Staff writer Emily May interviewed the band recently in Louisville, KY before their show with Pop Evil. You can follow Them Evils and stay up-to-date with the band and all upcoming music and live shows via the following links. Check out their video for “Got Me Rockin'” below.
Jordan and Jake- The two of you grew up in Las Vegas and went to high school and started playing music together. You moved to Southern California in 2013 to pursue music. What were those early days like for you guys with trying to get the band going?
Jordan- Yeah, we were living off of Top Ramen and bottled waters.
Jake- It was tough. We When we moved out there we didn’t know anyone except for one person, our producer Mike. We were just trying out Craigslist drummers and renting studio spaces. We were paying $40 an hour to try out a meth-head Craigslist drummer that we had never met before!
Jordan- Yeah, we would have to go to work just to pay for rehearsal spots!
Jake- It was hectic. We had booked studio time before we even had songs written. We were just forcing ourselves to do it and finally met David, which made our lives a whole lot easier (laughs)!
Did you guys immediately know once David auditioned to be the drummer that he was the right person?
David- It was love at first feel! I knew it was something I wanted to stick with and I’m glad it happened. One of my best friends in high school called me at like 2 or 3:00 in the morning and told me that there was this guy named Jordan that he was working with who was looking for a drummer. I was in the middle of auditioning for bands, so it worked out perfectly!
Jordan and Jake- The two of you moved out to LA with nothing to fall back on and had just decided to make the move. Did you ever have any doubts or “Oh my god, what are we doing?” moment or did you just have faith that it would all work out?
Jordan- It was more so that we had grown up in Las Vegas our whole lives and the weather sucks there. We would wake up in LA and have no luck with drummers for 6 months, but could wake up and go to the beach if we wanted to. It was never something where we were like “Oh, it was a mistake coming out here”. We always wanted to be in California!
Were your families pretty supportive?
Jake- Yeah, super supportive 100% of the time!
Jordan- We don’t really have anything else that we’re good at, so when we told our parents that we wanted to move and make a band happen, they were like “That makes sense. You should do that”.
Your latest CD was recently released and you guys have said that you dug a little deeper as a band into the creative process for this album. You re-wrote some newer songs for the album, but some of your older songs, as well. What made you guys decide to re-work some of your older songs for this EP instead of writing all new songs?
David- We thought it was better because this record was being pushed further, as opposed to our self-released record that had no backing behind it or anything. It was expanded to different countries and territories that we’ve never covered before, with the feeling that they should hear those songs.
Jordan- Yeah, we wanted to give an extra push for the songs that we did like from the previous album and bunch them with some new songs to give them a little more of a push for people who hadn’t heard them previously.
David- It’s almost like a greatest hits sort-of thing, but not really (laughs).
Jordan- Kato remixed the older ones. We got the stems and stuff and added a few guitar tracks and everything, but we wanted the album to sound like an album. All of the songs were recorded at one time. Mike actually recorded the original version of “She Got Nothin’” and “Have One On Me”.
Do you think you have evolved as songwriters over the years?
Jake- Oh Yeah!
Jordan- I think it’s getting harder to write songs. We’re in a market where we have to compete with bigger acts, you know? We’re not just competing with local bands anymore. We’re not a local band. We’re competing, you know, with Five Finger Death Punch and all of the big shots. It was time to write real music , not just shit that you can show your friends and be like “Look at this cool riff”.
Jake- I will say that the new shit we’ve written is a lot more musical and thought out then anything we’ve done before.
David- It’s more like learning as you go.
I did read that you guys are taking things in a different direction.
Jake- Yeah, for sure.
David- Not too different.
Jake- More listener friendly!
Jordan- A little variety.
Jake- We want everyone to like our band, not just one specific little group of people.
Jake- You’ve mentioned that as a band these days, it’s important to stay relevant and sound modern. How have you guys approached that and tried to stand apart as a band, considering there are always a ton of new bands coming onto the scene?
David- That’s a good question.
Jordan- Social media.
Jake- Yeah, social media…I can’t stress it enough! It’s so tedious and annoying. I run all of that stuff for our band. It’s just like you have to do it, you know? I think that’s one of the biggest components of being relevant as a band these days. Also, just being cool dudes to our fans and stuff. We’ve heard so many stories, and I’ve met people that I look up to any they’ve been kind-of a dick and it kind-of burns your biscuit (laughs)! We try to be, like, as cool as possible and hang out with and meet everyone we can.
David- It’s not that hard to do!
Jordan- It’s harder to be a dick then it is to be nice.
Jake- Yeah. Just creating an experience for people, because songs are obviously what’s going to keep you going and get you to bigger places, but creating an experience for people at a show is what will bring them back. You can give them a good show, but if you make it more personal and, like, go out into the crowd every night…like, we gave a shout out to a little kid in the front row last night…they’re going to remember that stuff and come back next time. I think that’s a big part of it.
I always love it when I see kids in the front row with their headphones/earplugs on and rockin’ out!
Jake- Yeah! Exactly!
Jordan- I remember one time we were doing an “Ace Of Spades” cover and there was a little boy in the front row and he knew every single word to that song!
David- His parents did a great job!
Jake- I was singing along to Kumbaya when I was growing up, so… (laughs)!
You guys were endorsed by Zakk Wilde in 2017 and and had the opportunity to tour with Zakk Sabbath. What was that experience like for you? It sounds like things have really taken off for you since then! Would you say that was your first big break?
Jordan- I think The Pretty Reckless was one of our first big breaks, but as a guitar player and reading Guitar World Magazine since I was 12 years old, touring with Zakk Wilde…I was like “Oh My God!”. He was the dude that I listened to. One of my first albums was, like, the Ozzy Anthology or something and there were songs called “Crazy Babies” and “No More Tears”. Those were my favorite riffs in songs and it was Zakk Wilde. And then I got to tour with them and hang out and talk to him every day and just watch him play. Then he released that article saying “Those dudes know how to riff” and I was like “Zakk Wilde likes my riffs!”.
Jake- And the article was in a different language. Right after we toured with them, they did a South American tour. I was getting tagged on Facebook and all I could see was Them Evils…blah, blah, blah…Zakk Wilde…! I was confused, but thankfully you can translate it on the internet now and it was, like, “Zakk Wilde loves this band…they’re his favorite up and coming band”, and we’re just like “WHAT? That’s insane”!
David- Aside from just Zakk…
Jordan- It’s like a supergroup almost…a supergroup cover band!
David- Like me to Joey Castillo and Jake to Blasko…all of them are people we’ve looked up to throughout our careers.
Jake- My band when I was 12 or 13 went out to play a show in LA and had a meeting with Blasko at his office. I have a picture I showed him on tour and he was like “No fuckin’ way!”. He was giving me advice and pulled up our band’s Myspace page and I remember he was like “This is wrong and this is wrong and you’re doing this wrong and you need to do this” and I thought alright, I’m going to write all of that down. To get to that point where I could show him that and say “See dude, we figured it out” was awesome (laughs)!
You took part recently in the Shiprocked Cruise. Was that your first time at all on a concert cruise or just that particular one?
David- Not my first time. I was on the 311 cruise once, which is totally different (laughs)!
Were you performing or did you just go as a fan?
David- No, I just went, so being a band on the cruise was a very different experience!
Jordan- It was wild.
David- It was fun being on the boat, but at the same time it was like how soon can we get off this boat before we kill ourselves for having too good of a time (laughs)!
Did anyone play that you were especially excited to see?
Jake- 68 for me. Monster Truck was badass!
Jordan- Badflower, for sure!
David- I stumbled on Nothing More having never heard their music before and they blew my mind!
Jake- They were insane! They blew my mind!
David- Yeah, their stage production and everything was awesome. Papa Roach was cool. I didn’t really see a band that I wasn’t pleased with, you know? Everyone was just so good!
Jake- Hyro The Hero was dope! They did a cover of “Sabatoge” by The Beastie Boys and the dudes from Wilson came out and sang it with them. It was awesome!
Having toured with so many great and experienced bands over the years, what are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned and best advice you’ve been given about touring and just being a band, especially since you guys do a lot yourselves?
Jake- Don’t shit in the RV (laughs)!
David- Just being respectful to everybody.
Jordan- Just keep your shit straight, you know? This is fun and what we love to do but it’s also really hard work and if you slack, shit will get fucked up. I see a lot of older bands that have their stuff together, that are very successful, and they’re also sober. I mean, we’re not at that point in our career.
Jordan- We like to have fun! That’s something that might happen, but those dudes are just so successful and they have their shit together. They work all day on tour and do VIP Meet and Greets and guitar lessons and make money. It’s their full-time job and they’re not here to mess around anymore. It’s not fun, it’s a job. They have families at home. I mean, there is fun mixed in there but it’s a job.
You’ve said that in touring as much as you guys do that it can be hard to find time to write songs for an album. How have you found that balance between touring and songwriting over the years?
Jake- We just write when we get home.
Jordan- Yeah, we had a lot of time off after our last tour.
David- We did have a fall tour to go out on so we just had 4 or 5 months of writing.
Jake- There’s no time to play your instrument in between shows. We play our show, we sleep and then we drive, load in for the next show, do interviews, get ready for the show, warm up and then play the show . There’s no time to jam and practice. The time we have onstage is the time we have with our instruments.
David- Every now and then a notebook will come out or an idea, but…
Jordan- Like, I’ll hum harmonies and vocal melodies when I’m driving , but that’s about it. That’s the extent of it. And then I’ll go home and revisit it.
What do you do when you aren’t touring?
Jordan- Play guitar.
Jake- Write music and jam all day. We see each other every single day! I can’t get rid of these guys (laughs)!
You are currently touring with Pop Evil. How has the tour been so far?
Jordan- Awesome! Really good.
Jordan- Last night. We jumped on stage with Pop Evil during their encore song “Trenches”! That was really fun. We’re going to do it again tonight hopefully.
David- We’ve never done anything like that before, joined another band onstage. I was behind Hayley’s kit with her, just hitting little things here and there.
Jake- It’s funny. I knew the song after listening to it on tour but never really listened to it. I listened to it like 15 times before we did it and had no idea how they ended the song, so I was looking at Matt the whole time, with my back to the crowd! But, yeah, that was really cool. And they were like “Can we do that every night?”, Don Jameson comes out too and sings with them. It was really cool! It’s just been a lot of camaraderie. Their whole crew has just been really nice and helpful. They fly our banner for us every day. We leave our banner with them at the end of each show and they throw it up for us.
David- Ours is a little tiny banner compared with their giant one (laughs)!
What’s next for you guys? What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
Jordan- We have some cool stuff in the works that we can’t really talk about yet. We’re going to go home and write a record and just keep writing and then get back out on the road.
Jake- Just write, record, tour, repeat!
David- We’re going to try to record in April, hopefully.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me before the show!
David/Jake/Jordan- Thank you so much! Thanks for having us!