After releasing and touring behind three CDs on his Spill Records label, singer/songwriter and guitarist Evren Goknar named his rock band Evil Maria for his fourth release. Their new CD, ‘Evil Maria’ contains eleven radio-ready songs, often in brooding minor keys, about ironic observations, character profiles, and Los Angeles/Hollywood urban life. Their sound evolved into what Evren describes as neo-sixties garage pop, infusing edgy rock elements with pop and early new wave. Bands such as Elvis Costello and The Attractions, The Kinks, The Pixies, and Nirvana exist among their influences. The combination of wry lyrics, abundant hooks and melodies, and the “dirty pop” sound of Evil Maria establishes them as a stand out contender in the frothy Los Angeles music scene.
Evil Maria morphed out of Evren and drummer “Pistol” Pete Finestone playing on Evren’s solo tours together. Finestone, formerly of Bad Religion, played on Evren’s solo CD Boxes as well as classic BR albums such as ’Suffer’ and ‘How Could Hell Be Any Worse’. Performing with Pete in gritty dive bars and clubs along the west coast reminded Evren that a band would represent his more aggressive material best, and the concept for Evil Maria began. They enlisted bassist June “Paul Jones” Kato for his alternately flowing or aggressive bass lines. June infuses the music with a grind here, a cadence there, underscoring the dynamic nature of the Evil Maria sound. June’s low-end melodies bring a sophistication to Maria that aesthetically suits Evren’s guitar “chang” and Finestone’s raw rhythmic sensibilities.
Evren’s three previous albums, ‘Burning The Tulips’ (1998), ‘Flux’ (2001), and ‘Boxes (2004), form a progression in songwriting, vibe, and production that lead directly to the quality of the Evil Maria album. Beginning with ‘Flux’ the recordings include the retro sounding Farfisa organ, which imparts a certain “B horror film vibe” to the songs. Finestone adds, “Evren’s Turkish heritage subconsciously adds an x-factor to the sound of Evil Maria. In his penchant for minor or diminished chords, or the plaintive timbre of his voice, there exists a darkness which contrasts with the pop module of the band”. June explains, “We bridge musical genres, fusing styles to discover a new voice. In listening to each other musically, spiritually and intellectually, we create the sound of Evil Maria”.
The songs on ‘Evil Maria’ tackle a range of subjects including the Hollywood dream machine, illegal immigration, love lost and broken, and profiles of compelling characters. For example, “Along the Way” explores the machinations and remorse of a serial killer, “California” is a story about the hopes that drive an immigrant to risk his life, “Hand of God” examines the Hollywood myth of life transformation from ordinary to celebrity, “Kiss Your Scars” suggests that we let go of past pains and press on amidst life’s constant changes.
When asked why he named the band Evil Maria, Evren says, “It is a reference to the 1927 Fritz Lang film ‘Metropolis’. The heroine in the film is named Maria and she is the voice of workers who toil underground, below the metropolis to keep it running for the king. As the workers become rebellious, the king conspires with a scientist to make a cyborg version of Maria to deceive the workers and thwart a revolt. I refer to the cyborg as Evil Maria. To me, independent musicians are like those workers, toiling to be true to one Maria (our artistic vision), while avoiding the misleading temptations of a false one.”
In the course of promoting his albums, Evren has performed at SXSW, EAT’M, The Philadelphia Music Conference, and The TAXI Road Rally. He was also selected to be one of fifteen songwriters in one of ASCAP’s Lester Sill Songwriting Workshops in Los Angeles. Evil Maria excitedly anticipates promoting their new album, touring, and further exposing their garage pop to the masses.