'60s Punk in South Florida

The Montells/EVIL split album Corduroy CORD 027

From the left
Al Banyai(Kneeling) John Doyle, Doug Romanella (on the drum) Stan Kinchen and Larry O'Connell.

Interview with John  Doyle

Hitomi  I:I dig split album of  The Montells and The EVIL on Corduroy Records.How did you start EVIL? Who made the band?

John D:Stan Kinchen, who played lead guitar actually started EVIL, but I named it. One night, at a teen dance in Miami  in the summer of 1965, he and the rhythm guitarist asked me to sing for them, and then there were three. By September we ahd a drummer and a bassist.

H:Where did you take the name from?
JD: We were looking for something dark and scary. We were all into Edgar Allan Poe, almost named the band that, then Raven, then just EVIL! The story is that we named it after the blues tune " Evil Going On" but that was just Bull S**t to end an interview on TV. I made it up in case my Mom was listening.
The name of the band is EVIL, not The Evil, we've been fighting that for 33 years. Everyone, Capitol included, gets that wrong. No Problem!!
H:Is the name just EVIL? or The EVIL?
JD: Just plain EVIL!

H:I see.  Was the name   awful for adult like your Mom at the time?
JD: This country was very conservative in the mid-60's. A name like EVIL was enough to get you banned in many places, let alone our behavior. Mothers were not excited by their sons being in a band called EVIL. We were suspended at times from school for our long hair, or the principal just made up an excuse, and sent us home. I was not allowed to attend my own graduation.
H:Oh it is unlucky. Do you prefer to be long hair than to attend the graduation?
JD:No. If it hadn't been our hair, they would have found another reason.

H:Did  your Mom want you to be neat? How did she feel about long hair? Did you wear tie and jackets at gig or party?
JD: YES!! I had attended prep school in Rhode Island just before coming to Miami. She hated long hair as did most mothers at the time. We wore ties a lot, but anything was appropriate for the stage.on stage

H:Do you know '80s modern band who were deep into '60s punk, the name is Tell Tale Hearts?  Needless to say they took the name from E.A. Poe's short story! Their live album are released on Corduroy too.They really loved Pretty Things, Downliners Sect too.

JD: I'd love to hear them. Sounds like EVIL skipped a generation. I'll ask Nick at Corduroy to send me some of their stuff.

H:Sure.When you heard '70s punk rock , how did you feel about it?
JD: For the most part, it wasn't from the heart. But there were exceptions, like the Sex Pistols.
H:I agree with you so I prefer to listen '60s band !
H:Do you think you were real punk kids?
JD: Not really. I think we spoke our minds, and that wasn't an acceptable practice at the time. But we were actually pretty good guys.

H:Let me know the original line-up.

JD: The original line-up was responsible for everything except "WhatCha Gonna Do About It".
They were:
Stan Kinchen - Lead Guitar
Doug Romanella - Drums
Larry O'Connell - Bass
Al banyai - Rhythm Guitar
John Doyle - Lead Screamer

H:Were you influenced by Montells ? Were they very popular band there?Was EVIL  rawer than them?

JD:Everyone was influenced by the Montells and yes, they were a very popular band. They had a magic that is seldom seen on stage. They were our " OLDER BROTHERS". We tried very hard not to copy the Montells and ended up with a raw sound that was far less "professional". Apparently both roads worked, as we have been forever combined in Rock history. At various times, The Montells and EVIL shared a bass player and luckily for us, we got
drummer Jeff Allen, the heart and soul of both groups. Jeff would go to England and bring back rare and obscure LP's like the Fairies, Downliners Sect and of course, the Pretty Things. The Montells are even mentioned on a Pretty Things album.

H:Was the bassist George Hall? Why didn't he join the recording?

JD: George Hall was a very talented bassist. He left the Montells in the summer of 1966 to go to college. During the transition  of ending with the Montells (June 65) until he left for college(August 65) he filled in with EVIL who lost Larry O'Connell to the Naval Academy. We had recorded all the early demo's before George hall came aboard. After that we had Mike Hughes on bass.

H:Before Jeff quite Montells, did you play with them?
JD: I wish! Their early manager tried to get them to hire me, but it didn't happen. The Montells were all old friends from grade school, EVIL was five guys who never saw each other before the first practice.  The Montells had their internal arguments, EVIL had fist fights on stage over the next song. Different mentality, I guess.

H:Did EVIL base on Miami?
JD:Yes. Most of us( Montells and EVIL) went to the same high school, Southwest
Miami Senior High.

H: Was "Little Black Egg" by Night crawlers  famous  in Florida?
JD: I believe the Night Crawler are from here aren't they?
H:Yep.They were from Daytona Beach.The guitarist  learned guitar from his friend , Duan Allman.
JD:The song was quite famous. EVIL did it as a spoof.
H:Did you parody it??
JD: Well, how do you say it nicely? The song was goofy and slow. Let's just say we made it faster, added fuzz and distortion, and it became goofy BUT FAST!

H:Which band did you listen? Did you love Pretty Things too?
JD: I've seen dozens of groups, the Stones, Who, Procul Harem, Yes, Pink Floyd, etc. I love the Pretty Things. We played quite of few of their songs. The Montells (Jeff Allen) pretty much introduced the Pretties to America as far as I'm concerned. Our split LP has a poster of Viv Prince and Jeff Allen in 1965 in London.

H:Did you wrote "I'm movin' On"? According to the linernots, "The song was written in just a matter of minutes" Is it true?
JD: We won a battle of the bands( 75 bands) in Miami, before we ever played in public. From that we won a few hours of recording time. "I'm Movin' On" had been a couple of cords, and a title, nothing more. On the way to the studio we realized we need another song, and it was written on the way to the studio. I had a terrible cold that day, and that could account for the attitude on it. But yes, it was written in about 5-10 minutes, and you can hear the mistakes in the words as I was reading them. By the way, "I'm Movin' On" and a few others sat in my closet for years as scratchy old demo's until I gave them to Rock Historian Jeff Lemlich to keep in his collection. I never thought they'd be released, honest. I personally was never satisfied with them. Stan Kinchen was the Wizard of EVIL, I was the lead screamer. We just worked well together.

H:It seems EVIL'S original song "I Know I'll Die" is influenced by Zombies. Isn't it?
JD: You know Hitomi, I can't really say. Perhaps, but not intentionally. It was recorded the same day as the others and I had a terrible cold. To capture the moment, it was mostly Doug and I trying to harmonize on a song that again, we had just written. I'm not sure we had ever played it in public before that, and we just went at it. it does sound like the Zombies, and I'm honored to be in that league, but the harmonies were just impromptu and if I hadn't had a cold, we might be compared to Manfred Man or someone else. Just kidding, and I'm not trying to build up our reputation, but we went to that studio session think only of "From a Curbstone". Most of the other stuff was unfinished, and never played in public. Even after that, we rarely played our own stuff.
H:Did you feel you will  die by cold? (just kidding) Is the demo of "From a Curbstone" missing now?
JD: Still Missing.
H:Did you play such  moody songs along with punk? I love both.Who wrote it?
JD:We usually played three or four fast songs, and then a slower, moody if you will song so people could grab their babes. The crowd taught us that. It was usually date night and people wanted to hold one another.
Stan and I wrote it, but Stan wrote the vast majority of it and I added my own words here and there. Again, Stan was the musical genius of the group. I was along for the ride. I was hired because I was about the only long haired guy in SW Miami at the time. No one, including myself, knew if I could sing a note. I was always embarrassed by our demo's and now they're played worldwide. Shows you what I knew, huh?

H: I love '60s punk band with screamin' vocal! Let me know anything about EVIL! Do you recall fab or funny story?
JD:Hitomi, I could fill your next ten issues with stories. We had a good time. One night at a fraternity party in Gainesville Florida, we were playing outside, next door to the  Shadow's of Knight. They had just released "Gloria". They had brand new equipment and EVIL had our customary Fender stuff. They were much louder than us. So, during a break, I went next door, put on a fraternity jacket I found hanging in the hall, walked up to the Shadow's and told them that the fraternity brothers wanted them to turn the music down, and THEY DID!!!!n They caught on later. And sorry, they weren't that good. Both EVIL and the Montells did "Gloria" better, much better.

H:Wow  I wanna be there!
Where did you play? at teen dance party,  frat party , club? or somewhere?
JD: Early on, we had a hard time finding any place to play. We were banned from our school as too wild and dirty. And if an adult was responsible for hiring, we only had a 50% chance of getting hired. Even after we gained local popularity EVIL's reputation kept us out of some venues. But we managed to play all over Florida at clubs, Fraternities( big $$$) and dances. EVIL was essentially a dance band and very proud of it. Although there were times when no one on the floor could keep up with our beat, or stand the volume. Most of us are a little deaf today because of the volume.
H:Did your friends, classmate love your music? or they can't understand such a wild sound?
JD: Again, early on, with the exception of girl friends, no one was wild about EVIL. Miami was a red-neck town at the time and we had a difficult time of it for a while. Later came acceptance and popularity. We played a lot of "Black" music and that was hard to accept for even alot of the kids. We simply didn't care, then or now.

H: Did you play at beach side?(Is this stupid question?)
JD: It might be a stupid question if this wasn't Florida, but we all played the beach now and then.

H:Which bands did you play with ? or opened ?
JD:We usually headlined our own evenings because there were tons of band that didn't want to appear with
us because of the stealing and fighting. But we have been on stage with Cyrkle, Sam and Dave and more. it just wasn't a big deal to us, as long as we played somewhere.

H:I read "Savage Lost", frorid garage band's book by Jeffrey M.Lemlich, Is it true that Montells did remarkable live version of "Gloria", so people didn't buy shadows of Knights version there?
JD:The Montells did a wonderful version of "Gloria" that easily beat the Shadows of the Knight. It was their song, as " I'm a Man" was EVIL's.  I'd put the Montells up against any band, the Stones included. As for EVIL, we weren't expected to be 100% professional, like the Montells, we were just expected to rock your ass-off for two hours and then go home.

H: "I'm a Man" is my fave song I wish to listen your version. How did you cover it? Was it a nasty punk version?
JD: The nastiest, punkiest version ever I assure you. We started it out slow, then increased the beat, threw in some Bo Diddley things and left people just standing there. Sorry, but on a good night, EVIL made the Who look like a church choir.

H:Who arranged the nasty punk cover version?
JD:Reefer and Burbon, our tour managers. Stan Kinchen was the musical genius of the group, certainly not me. And John Dalton from "Whatcha Gonna Do About It". John sang the " Whatcha's.......". I had always wished it was me singing back-up and John Dalton singing lead on that. My dream back then was to be a back singer, but it never happened. I must make it clear for John's Mom that John never got high. The rest is Garage Band history.....

H:Which songs did you cover ? British songs?
JD: We liked to cover things that people had never heard or weren't expecting. That ranged from the Move,the Fairies, Downliners,Pretty Things, Dave Dee, Dozy,Beaky, Mick and Tich,the Who, Them, Animals,Stones. We even did a punk version of Blue Suede Shoes and Mother-in-Law. We liked to deal in the obscure.
H:Move! Fairies! Really?
JD:Yep, the Fairies!!! And the Move. And the Poets! Jeff Allen went to England and brought all that stuff back ever summer. Remember" Night of Fear" or " Sorrow?"

H:Dave ,Dozy,Beaky ,Mick and Tich is very popular in Japan. Do you remember which songs did you cover?
JD:Bend It & Hold Tight. Two of the best tunes ever written. I still have the album. Great band. Again, we added our own touch to the music, but you could identify it. You Japanese have excellent taste in music.

H: Do you remember some other cool band there?
JD: There was a musician, Bill Banyai, our first rhythm player's younger brother, who played both left and right handed. He had a custom Fender guitar, two guitars in one, one neck going right, the other neck went left and he could play the hell out of both of them. He ended up working for George Martin, and now I believe Geo. Lucas. Bill was a talent, and if he has any tracks around, there is a gold mine. He tried to get me to go to London in the 70's to rerecord " From a Curbstone" EVIL'S lost acetate demo.
Even by then, I never envisioned that our music would survive.And Frank Milone, a journeyman bassist, who played with EVIL at the end. He played with the Clefs of Lavender Hill, Smack ( left over Montells) and many more. Another unsung hero of the Miami scene. I know you asked for bands, but these guys need mentioning. Thanks Frank and Bill!EVIL45

H:Tell me the reason why the band broken when Capitol released 45 in Oct '67.
JD: VIETNAM!!! And separation anxiety!!! Stan was 17, I was 18, and the draft was going on. You had to marry or go to college to not be drafted. That, and we had never really planned to make it big. We were kids, and this was all new back then. At the first meeting of the Capitol thing, our drummer Jeff Allen, was running late, and some one from management asked "where that f**knuckle was ", I replied " You must have the wrong band, we don't have a f**knuckle in EVIL" and we walked out. That was it. We split up, and now it's 1999. Who knew?

H:Will you teach me EVIL 's discography?
Always Runnin' Around /Whatcha Gonna Do About it (living Legend 108)
JD: Also the same two songs on Capitol 2038 1967
Corduroy split Montells/EVIL 1997
Norton split with those darn Montells: " I'm Movin' On"(EVIL)/ "You Can't Make Me" (Montells). After 33 years we finally got top billing. In another 33 years it may be EVIL & The Montells.

H:Yeah , Now I'm a fan of EVIL! beyond 33 years and Pacific ocean. Did you release another 45s?
JD:Only one on Capitol. They weren't happy when they found out we had borrowed the tune from the Small Faces.

H: Did Capitol release  same version ?
JD:Yes, except Capitol took out a bunch of feedback and distortion from the middle of "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" to make it more "Commercial".Stooges!!!!

H:How do you feel remembering those years ?
JD: I'm somewhat surprised to still be alive. Those years, though few, have added a lifetime of memories. I'm still shocked that our music has an audience today, and in Japan!
H: I love  '60s (not commercial) music because of the innocence!

H:Thank you.Do you have any additional comment?
JD: I thank you for your fine work. Great site.

Related band :Montells

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