Interview with Amanda “Eva Marie” Lyberg – Eva Under Fire

We have that renewed sense of purpose, and I think that's what makes it so much more fun.

Interview and photos: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media

Eva Under Fire is an American rock band from Detroit, Michigan. The band consists of lead vocalist Eva Marie, guitarists Rob Lyberg and Chris Slapnik, bassist Ed Gawlik, and drummer Corey Newsom. They exploded back onto the music scene last year with an e.p. titled ‘Blow’ which included a guest appearance from Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills on the title track, a blistering cover of Journey’s ‘Separate Ways’ and Jonathan Dörr of Ego Kill Talent appearing on ‘Comatose’. 

When we reviewed the EP last year, the immediate thought was “we want more”. The more comes in the form of the band’s latest album, ‘Love, Drugs & Misery’ and delivers exactly what we were hoping for. Hitting the shelves just before the end of 2022, the band have recently been out on tour with Skillet and whilst in the UK, we caught up with Eva Marie to hear about the impact the band is having on the scene at the moment. 

MGM: I have to get this one out of the way because genuinely the album [L,D & M] is a real punch in the face – it really does hit from the off. 

EM: That was the goal. It’s the approach we take when we play live as well.

MGM: If you contrast, what you’ve done with this album to [from 2015] ‘Anchors’,  it’s a completely different sound. You’ve for want of a better description, ‘beefed’ everything up.

EM: Thank you. Yeah, that was the intention. I heard once that Ivan Moody said, he wasn’t selling out when it came to changing styles, he was buying it and as I died laughing, you know, because it’s such a Five Finger Death Punch statement. If you know them, they’re very brass knuckles all the way through but I love the energy in that because I’m thinking ‘that’s so true’. I never really thought about how we’ve always built ourselves up to be a commercial brand. That was always the intention.

MGM: The change with the new material to the debut album is quite striking, that comes across a quite an introverted, personal, relationship, driven, everything that could go wrong did go wrong approach. 

EM: The spectrum now covers feisty, angry, you know, all about the sass. I figured that we should approach this album with all of that. So I think this one did come with a lot more attitude. We’ve got a lot more colour coming back into the world and we need some sass in our music after everything we’ve gone through. We have been doing more to make up for everything that went wrong from 2020 until now. It was a bizarre time. Everything shut down. The whole world falls out of the sky. And then I’m thinking, ‘what did I do?’ Because, blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this, this career path, right? When you want to be a musician, you give a lot to your craft in order to get here for years and years. This has always been the goal and here we are on the precipice of releasing our album and then.. global pandemic.

You can’t, you probably could write this in a book……. Any chance you’re going to write this up for me? [one nod and a smile later..] Thank you!

It was so crazy. I feel now that people are back, it’s like when you’re a kid and you go back to summer camp. All the other campers are back again. It’s made me emotional several times from the stage and even now in just talking about it. We have that renewed sense of purpose, and I think that’s what makes it so much more fun.

MGM: Does it feel a little bit like a rebirth with both the music and the ability to tour again as well?

EM: Well, this material was written before the pandemic. So we still have a lot more to talk about with the next release. I think we’ll continue on that path. The follow-up to what we hope is going to be a successful album is always difficult. It’s how do you match your output in your sophomore year? And I was going on record and saying this sophomore year for us is going to be just as killer I think. We just can’t go through something like what we’ve been through as an artsy creative person and not write about it. Not just the whirlwind chaos of it all, but even some of the softer things. I feel like a lot of people reconnected with friends, family or whatever mattered to them.

Isolation was so hard for me because it was forced. I didn’t elect to go home and recharge. I had to stay there for safety. And it was that context that was such a game changer. I think a lot of people were into forced into this kind of game.

MGM: For people that don’t know your music, coming from Detroit, you aren’t exactly a typical Detroit band sound. Detroit albums are usually about the area and an undying love of muscle cars. 

EM: Hah! well, Detroit Rock City, maybe was the quintessential album about the place. When the fans hear that you’re from there they know it’s a good thing. I’ve been playing the clubs there for I don’t know 10 or 15 years, since I was a kid. And then the first year that we came through the US on tour with Eva Under Fire, we played in the city of Detroit, and people were like ‘where are you guys from?’ & ‘I’ve never heard of you’,  yet I’d been playing down the street for years at that point. But that’s okay, that’s alright. I know I feel like we still have a lot of Detroit love. Now I just think the culture surrounding music, that’s very different than what it may have been. I’ve made it my personal goal to bring back Detroit, Rock City. I can’t help the sports teams but we can fix the music!

MGM: What is next for Eva Under Fire? Aside from the UK dates with Skillet are you travelling with them? 

EM: My hope is that they’ll take us back to the States and we’ll do this again. But we’ve toured with Skillet before in the States. And I don’t know if it’ll be with them, or with others but we have some more tours in the works. I would love to just stay and hang out with my friends all day, but we’ve got to make new friends too. So anybody that’ll let me on their tour we’re like yeah, let’s do that. We do have some cool festivals coming up so I’m really excited for that. So we’ve got we’re playing some different ones this year. We’ve got Blue Ridge Rock Festival [Thu, 7 Sept 2023 – Sun, 10 Sept 2023] , we’ve got Inkcarceration [Thu, Jul 13, 2023 – Sun, Jul 16, 2023], we’ve got Upheaval [July 14 – 15, 2023]. So it’s really cool because we get to do this whole European run and then go home and play killer sets for all these big festivals.

We close with a quick chat about Lzzy Hale. There’s no denying, when you hear Eva’s album that comparisons to Lzzy will be made and Eva Marie is all too happy to take it in her stride and sees it as a compliment.

EM: I hear that, like an amazing amount and I love that. She’s definitely an inspiration. We played with them before and when we covered Separate Ways, she and Joe were standing side-stage watching us play. And then afterwards, she Instagram messaged mean and she’s like “Babe, you did my favorite karaoke. If I’d known you were going to play it I would have crashed your set, but it was killer!”

I told her, “First of all, you have a permanent invite to crash my set, always.” I love to sing Rock Show one of my favorite Halestorm songs. So maybe there is a possibility if we meet up at festivals or in the future. I’m sure something will happen eventually.

To close, in case you’re wondering if it’s Amanda or Eva Marie, then read on… 

EM: It’s so funny. Eva is actually a song reference I started as a songwriter. Because we hang out the at the merch booth, everybody started calling me Eva. All the people that will come to our shows, I get “Can I take a picture Eva?”. they would ask if my name is Eva and then I would have to explain this whole big long story. So eventually this short answer is just Yes, I’m Amanda and Eva. The fans named me. It came from a reference. It is like a cool, cool thing. I just roll with it.

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