The hardcore rockers of Evandale practice in the basement of a two-story home in the suburbs of northwest Omaha.
A healthy, happy Rottweiler (Bianca) greets visitors at the door. The yard is lovely, and the house is tidy—suburban living at its finest. Once in the basement, however, it’s all business—music business.
Instruments abound. In the practice room, there’s padding on the walls to minimize noise. The décor consists of Denver Broncos memorabilia and several posters from metal bands such as Lamb of God and Disturbed (signed). In another smaller room, there’s a makeshift recording studio.
An Interview at Band Practice
In typical rocker style, one of the members of Evandale is running late to practice. As band members wait for drummer Ryan Lang to arrive from work, the others tune guitars, drink beers, and give scratches to their most loyal groupie (Bianca).
Once gathered, the band rehashes the making of Evandale, which played a debut show at Forte Music Hall in late April 2018.
“I don’t hang out with these guys,” jokes guitarist Eric Whitney, playing into his grumpy-old-man reputation.
In reality, it’s pretty clear they all enjoy hanging out with each other. Their conversation is peppered with inside jokes, and it’s evident that each musician occupies a unique role in the group.
“You know how, even as an adult, you get a little rambunctious at parties and stuff?” vocalist E.J. Petry says before singling out guitarist Chad Riche. “Chad is the guy that’s like, ‘Hey! Hey! Settle down!’” The others agree. Riche is “the band dad,” and he seems fine with that.
“I try to be the band dad, but no one listens,” Lang interjects.
“I’d say Ryan is more like the facilitator…the counselor,” says bassist Cody Du. “E.J. and Eric are like the married couple.” Everyone bursts out laughing, and they start riffing back and forth on the fighting between “Mr. and Mrs. Tanner.”
Petry jumps in. “You know who you are?” he says to Du. “You’re that guy that just walks up to you in public, punches you in the nose, and runs away.”
“I would never do that,” Du protests. Petry goes on, “You just throw your little stabs in there.” Du concedes, “Oh,” without further protest, acknowledging his role as the antagonist of the group.
New Band, Deep Roots
Evandale is a serious band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. But make no mistake, when it comes to making music they are into it. And it’s not their first rodeo.
Whitney and Riche were members of local favorite Venaculas. Du and Lang played together in Shatterproof, and Petry came to the group as a novice to a band that makes original music. Formerly, he sang in the cover band Rukkus.
There’s a lot of band crossovers and a few (funny) tales that could be told about their lives before Evandale. But right now, the band members are looking to the future. Their self-titled EP released in January with songs they describe as “hard-hitting, Southern-flavored” rock music.
They had what Riche describes as a “killer” release party for the EP. The cherry on top of that night? Finding out they won the opportunity to open for Michigan hard-rock band Pop Evil.
“The weird part about it was, we didn’t know until four days beforehand,” Lang says. “It was like, ‘Cool, let’s rearrange our lives for a little bit to make this work.’”
In case anyone doubts the serious power behind this group, their 2019 Omaha & Entertainment Art Awards trophy for “best new artist” should bring them around. The guys say they were surprised, partially because they were not expecting it to be the first award presented that night.
“I don’t think any one of us looked at the pamphlet, ’cuz it had them in order,” Lang admits. “I had to wrangle you guys up.”
Their aspirations for next year include going for “best rock band” and “best album” at the OEAAs.
Until then, they’ll keep busy playing shows across the Midwest, while enjoying the energy and enthusiasm of their hardcore fans.
Petry starts to say it would be nice to get on a big show like…Du interjects, “Ellen?”
Well, Petry was thinking more along the lines of Rockfest or Sturgis. But sure, everyone agrees, Ellen’s talk show would be a pretty sweet gig.
Visit facebook.com/evandaleband for more information.
This article was printed in the May edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.