It's the most wonderful time of the year for a band like Evile Annie, a synthy thrash band with a theatrical, camp-horror stage show. The conceptual backstory is a tale about a creepy porcelain doll named Annie that once possessed the soul of a little girl with psychic powers. A century and a half later, Annie finds herself possessing the spirit of lead singer Christine Nada, who channels Annie's twisted spirit as she belts out lines such as "Come let me play inside your head; I'll make you wish that you were dead!"
After a wax hit and a stiff drink, it might sound a little like Iron Maiden with a girl singer, plus a lot of single-note synthesizer.
Founder/bassist Phillip Almaraz actually based Annie on his ex-wife, who was the lead singer of a band they were both in, Hexxx, in the early 2000s. The idea came to him one night after a gig. "She was a good-looking redhead, and sitting on a table with her hair all fluffed up, she looked just like a doll," Almaraz recalls. "And it came to me: I would love to get this chick and put her on a stage like a Raggedy Ann doll and make her look all horror-like, make her look dead, evil and ugly."
Unfortunately for Almaraz, the other guys in Hexxx weren't into the idea. But with the dissolution of Hexxx and, later, his marriage, he figured it was time to resurrect Annie--but not before taking a musical detour playing the '80s-metal tribute-band circuit. He joined an Alice Cooper tribute band called Nightmare and was the original bassist of True 2 Crue. "It was fun until it became too disorganized," Almaraz says. After a few years, he decided to give up on the tribute thing and focus his efforts on putting Evile Annie together.
Perhaps that sense of discipline is the most admirable thing about a toughened scene veteran such as Almaraz, who doesn't take any shit when it comes to the bands he plays in. Moreover, he crafts their live set and stage aesthetic in response to all the things that annoy him about the local groups he sees. His top five band pet peeves, which he calls "Annie's Turn-Offs," are:
1. Going onstage without a plan.
2. Bands that go out and play the same dumb cover songs.
3. Seeing bands that do not look like the music they play.
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4. Bands that throw a lead person with no personality onstage.
5. Bands that just throw together any old setlist. "Usually a crowd will give you a chance on your first song," he says, "and your last chance on your second."
These are all legitimate gripes in our book. Say what you want about a hesher rock group with a shtick akin to Evile Annie's, but after a summer of watching excruciatingly "real" psych/fuzz/grunge bands on the local scene, surely a pastiche camp-horror concept group is a breath of crisp autumn air this Halloween.