Evil isn’t so easy to define ⎯⎯ its many faces are unmasked at an exponential rate these days. From Greek mythology through our own deceivingly-magnetizing manifestations, filtered through rose-colored glasses sparkling among the hills of Hollywood, wickedness bleeds into every facet of our glossy, magazine-ripped lifestyles. When it came to one young boy’s life seeing a tragic, bitter end, singer-songwriter Sophia Anita Reyes couldn’t sit idly by. She turned to pen and paper to not only pay the boy proper tribute, but to explore what death really means. Reyes, lead singer of grunge-rock outfit NEW EViL, whose moniker is appropriately eery and relevant for their core mesaging, joined by a ragtime band of musicians Ian Bishop (guitar), Patrick Nagy (drums) and Nate Cohn (bass), carved out a hopeful afterlife tale of power and comfort.
“I originally wrote this song on my keyboard the day they found the young boy’s body in the Los Angeles River next to my house. I was getting off of the freeway at the exact moment they found him,” she tells B-Sides & Badlands about the song, drenched in savage vocal crunches and jagged storytelling. “I saw his family there, before the news trucks even came. I was so overwhelmed with emotion, all I could hear were helicopters and sirens, the only solution I could think of was to write a song about him. I played my keyboard for the first time in almost over a year that night.”
Written from the viewpoint of the young boy, “King of the River” (out today via PLAG Records), zip-tied with taut percussion and unsettling guitar lines, unravels as “a monologue to his friends and his mother about how they should not feel sadness because he is no longer with us,” Reyes explains. “In the afterlife, he got to do everything he ever wanted, and he will always be the King of the river.” Once the verses were locked into place, the singer sent off a piano version to her guitarist Bishop, who then replied with an “engaging riff and chorus,” she notes, “[It was] really unique to anything our band has written before. We brought it to band practice and transitioned it to full a rock n roll song in just a few hours.”
The biting rock band thrive on creating quite the spectacle, their live shows hinging on ghoulish costumes and makeup, and Reyes’ almost militaristic performance style. “King of the River” follows the release of their most recent full-player, A Witch Shall Be Born, an explosive and searing collection of fine-tuned but biting heavy rock narratives.
NEW EViL are slated to perform a Play Like a Girl show at Los Angles’ The Echo on Nov. 25.