Evo Evans, founding member of WARFARE, is back with a new album which features the first new WARFARE material in 25 years and sees him collaborating with such notable names as Fast Eddie Clarke of MOTÖRHEAD fame and Lips from ANVIL, who guest on the new WARFARE album along with some other musicians. The new material takes the listener back to the raw rough and ready Metal Punk days of the legendary "Metal Anarchy" album full of hunger and punked up passion. We caught up with Evo about the new album and take a retrospective look back on the history of WARFARE…
First of all let’s go right back to the beginning. Tell us about your pre – WARFARE musical years, what were you doing? How you initially got involved with bands and the music scene? What and who inspired you to pick up a musical instrument and become active in the first place?
"I left school when I was 16, having absolutely hated every moment of it and I vowed never to do 9 to 5 again. I started in local crappy bands as you do, but was always too ambitious and full on for them. They were quite happy going to work in the mundane jobs and wouldn’t take it seriously but never the one to be deterred. I went for an audition with the biggest name band in our area who were looking for a drummer to complete their British tour with CHELSEA. The band in question were MAJOR ACCIDENT. I then went on to record two singles and a live album with them. It was at that point I got very pissed off as we were offered second on the bill to HAWKWIND at the Stonehenge festival, but at that point it was customary in MAJOR ACCIDENT’s town (Darlington) that on a bank holiday Monday they all went on the piss, so they wouldn’t do the show. Yet again I got completely disillusioned with their attitude, so I packed my bags and headed down to London. At that time the next new thing was about to happen with management for Gary Bushel major label interest. The act in question were South London outfit THE BLOOD. It was at this point the idea of fronting and forming the most over the top noisiest concept was brewing in my mind. I recorded the classic album with them, "False Gestures For A Devious Public", which went to number 62 in the charts, but in-house squabbling and egos got in the way and at that point I had heard on the grapevine that the ANGELIC UPSTARTS were looking for a drummer… They were the early years, and the rest is history."
When did the initial idea for WARFARE happen? What instigated the formation of the band? Why the band name?
"I got the idea and many more whist serving my apprenticeship with the above. I like one named band titles and WARFARE definitely fitted into the genre I was about to create."
Did you have a clear musical concept in mind when forming WARFARE? Did you purposely set out to mix Punk and Metal together or did the music come out naturally raw and punked up due to your pre – WARFARE Punk background?
"I wanted to merge Punk and Metal like it had never been done or heard before so it was so loud that it went over the threshold of pain."
How did people initially react to your pioneering crossover sound at that time? What kind of responses did you receive from both Punks and Metalheads?
"The response was overwhelming as this was pre – Thrash days and it was a breath of fresh air. The Punks and Metalheads loved it."
Would you say WARFARE helped to bridge the divisions that existed between Punks and Metalheads at that time? If so, why?
"Certainly WARFARE are credited as being the very first true Punk / Metal band and it was great to see the kids both headbanging and pogoing at the same time, job done."
How did the long lasting partnership with Neat Records come about? Are you satisfied with what the label did, looking back now? Or do you feel some things could have been done differently.
"I was very happy with Neat Records and had some great times working with them, the music really went to a limited audience because of the cacophony of it all, but Neat sold the arse off it and indeed made that audience much larger and got the albums all over the world, the fan mail was overwhelming."
2 singles and the "Noise Filth And Fury" EP were the real beginning of the WARFARE sound, how did it initially feel to record something with a band you could fully call your own? Where did you record that very early material? ‘Burn The Kings Road’ and ‘New Age Of Total Warfare’ became legendary and iconic songs… What was the inspiration for those songs lyrically as well as musically? What shaped and fuelled the initial writing for WARFARE?
"It felt great. I was young fuelled with ambition and creativity full of alcohol. The very first EP was produced by my goodself and recorded at Impulse studios. Jeff "Mantas" Dunn played the guitars. ‘Burn The Kings Road’ was written on my long walks around London and about the corruption of the music industry. ‘New Age Of Total Warfare’ was about the first full on crossover concept “aim those frets between your eyes”. What more can be said, turn it up and fuck off!!"
Your debut album was the "Pure Filth" album in 1984, tell us about this in your own words. It was produced by Algy Ward of TANK, how did he become involved? Did you know him prior? How was he to work with and what do you feel he brought to the recording? What songs stand out to you on the album and how do you feel about it as a debut, looking back on it?
"Algy had been a good friend for many years and he understood the monster I was creating. I don’t have a standout track because when I write I believe in the term all killers no fillers and that’s what you get."
This album also featured guest slots by Abaddon and Cronos from VENOM, how did they become involved and how did you get to know those guys initially?
"I got to know the guys because they were label mates. "Pure Filth" was short of one track for the length. In those days the manager of Neat never used to listen to the songs, he just used to sell the hell out of them, and he said to me, “just record anything, an instrumental, even a ballad”, so with that in mind, as the alcohol was flowing quite nicely, I asked the guys from VENOM did they fancy playing on a ballad with me… Cronos and I on vocals, such a sweet song… ‘Rose Petals Fall From Her Face’… and it serves you all right, so fuck off!"
That recording was followed up by the classic WARFARE album "Metal Anarchy" which many see as the definitive WARFARE album. The title itself sounds like a definete statement of intent. Was it you asserting that the chaotic, raw and no holds barred sound of WARFARE was well and truly here?
"I created everything. The ideas, the concept and the full control. Lemmy was an obvious choice as I don’t believe there is a fan of this kind of music that doesn’t like MOTÖRHEAD. I don’t think it was the definitive WARFARE album as personally and obviously I think they all rate equally."
What were your intentions with that album sound wise and do you think you achieved it? How was the album received by both fans and media?
"The album was received amazingly and sold extremely well. Fuck the media… as for sound, the title says it all…"
What songs on that album are your faves and why?
"All killers no fillers."
You recorded the "Metal Anarchy" album with Lemmy from MOTÖRHEAD, which was released in 1985. How did that collaboration come about? Where was it recorded / mixed? Why did you choose those locations? Any anecdotes you’d like to share from the recording sessions with him? What do you feel he added to that recording?
"I asked Lemmy at Dingwalls in Camden Town would he produce the album and over a Jack Daniels and coke (well several really) he said yes. He brought a great deal to the recording as his experience is renowned. The album was recorded and mixed at Ezee Studios in London, I chose that studio because it was state of the art and only fitting for a guy like Lemmy."
Where did you record the now infamous ‘Metal Anarchy’ video at?
"In a nice quaint church, having told the Bishop we were a Folk band and went on to marvellously blow the fucking roof off. The locals were up in arms, protests in all local papers and TV, saying we were the antichrist, but as with all my ideas, it sold the ass off the new album."
Around the same period you were asked to open for METALLICA at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, but it never happened. Please tell the readers about the legendary story about WARFARE playing outside the venue on the back of a truck… what exactly happened to make such an incident unfold?! Why didn’t you play?
"This has been documented so many times over the years and I’m totally fuckin bored with the question (just google it). It was anarchy, nosebleeds, car crashing, arrests… just total fucking mayhem. A wonderful way to spend a lovely day out, it was marvellous."
You followed up "Metal Anarchy" quite quickly in ’86 with the 3rd full length "Mayhem Fuckin’ Mayhem" which was produced by Cronos. Please tell us about this album in your own words, what are the standout tracks for you and why? This album was definetly a more thrashier affair whilst still remaining punked up and raw… what was your intention with that album musically?
"The inspiration came from the Hammersmith protest as I’ve said many times, they are all killers no fillers. I had sacked the bass player at this point, so my mate Cronos played all the bass, and he and I co-produced it. My intention with the album was to piss as many people off as I could, just another day in the dirt factory!!"
How did he become involved in the recording process? Were you a VENOM fan at the time?
"I was never a VENOM fan and had never heard their music until signing with Neat, and god knows why people associate WARFARE with them. In fact, they are totally the opposite, certainly lyric wise. I would never sing as much shite. That aside, he was a label mate and became a good friend and was a fantastic bass player and we had tremendous fun making that album."
Speaking of VENOM, you also appeared on the Metal City video / documentary together, how did that come about?
"The record company arranged this."
That album was followed a couple years later in 1988 by your most Thrash Metal sounding album to date, "A Conflict Of Hatred". This album was significantly more Metal sounding and less punky than the previous releases. Was that a conscious decision or did the songwriting just naturally take a more thrashier approach?
"I always kept myself totally interested and didn’t want to use the same formula over and over again as that would just bore me, and if you listen carefully you will find each WARFARE album has a very different approach."
How do you feel about this album looking back, what are the standout tracks and why? Where was it recorded?
"The album was recorded at Impulse Studios and mastered at Abbey Road. I feel the same as I have with all my albums, very proud."
Next up in the WARFARE discography was the darkly atmospheric curveball "Hammer Horror" in 1990, a concept album in collaboration with Hammer Films. How did the concept originally come about and how did you end up getting Hammer so closely involved? The music was much more Gothic sounding… What influenced this album musically overall? How was the initial reaction upon its release?
"From being a kid I was obsessed with Hammer horror films so always being one to follow my dreams I went down to the studios at Elstree blagged my way in through the inept security guard and found their offices. I was rude and forward enough to knock on the MD’s door and tell him that I was the leader of a name band and what my idea was, as be it with a bit of luck he informed me that it was the 40th anniversary of Hammer studios and he immediately liked the concept and my ideas. He said he would only get involved as long as it came out on the Hammer banner and created their own label, so I reluctantly left Neat Records, having had some really good times there and great memories and signed to Hammer. Neat were very unhappy and begged me to stay, but by now you will know what I am like. It took me almost a year to record. However on its release the die hard fans of WARFARE didn’t really get what I was trying to do, but now all these years on, it has become a classic to all the film buffs and it has influenced many bands including NIGHTWISH among others."
Where did you record "Hammer Horror" and why the locations?
"The album was recorded in various studios, Trinity Heights, Alexis Corner Studio in London and little bits all over the place that I don’t really remember. As afore mentioned, I only use the best studios."
What are your favourite Hammer Horror movies and why?
"Most of them, but I think my favourite one is "Plague Of The Zombies" as it was extremely atmospheric, and in 1966 was well before its time."
Lyrically, what inspired you to put pen to paper during the 80s WARFARE years? What angered you, what motivated you, what made you want to shout about subjects such as Metal anarchy?
"The world and its shit, my isolation and the fine line between brilliance and insanity. I certainly have never had what they call a normal life."
How active was WARFARE live back then? Any gigs that really stand out to this day? If so, why? Did WARFARE make it over to mainland Europe for any shows / tours?
"The best gig that stands out was at the Dynamo Festival in Holland 1985. The press described WARFARE as making the SEX PISTOLS look like pussies. Guitars were smashed, support bands beaten up, enough alcohol consumed to fill a swimming pool, habitual spitting, stage smashing mayhem, real pig blood throwing, just the usual run of the mill gig all in a days work."
Who designed the now iconic WARFARE logo?
What was your opinion on the local scene of the mid to late 80s? What other local bands did you feel an "affinity" with (if any)?
"I totally had no opinion and certainly no interest in any of it apart from WARFARE."
You did a couple covers in the day (‘Two Tribes’ and ‘You Really Got Me’ by FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD and THE KINKS respectively, why did you choose them?
"To annoy people which I certainly did, fucking glorious."
What caused the initial break up of WARFARE in the early 90s? What made you go "fuck it, that’s it, had enough"?
"I got very bored as it became more of a 9 to 5 job which I vowed never to do. I’d totally run out of new ideas and rather than flogging a dead horse and continuing like a lot of my contemporaries did. Intellectually I thought it was best to go out on top and now 25 years on you have a brand new WARFARE album, which is totally fresh and more over the top than any of the former releases and more relevant today than ever."
When did you know things were coming to an end?
"My boredom growing."
You pursued other things afterwards and disappeared actively from the music scene… what did you turn your attention to instead and did you still write music in the immediate post WARFARE years or did you just put down the instruments full stop for a while?
"As afore mentioned I just stopped, but over the last 25 years I have had so many offers of playing with other names bands, producing, mastering all of which I’ve declined until now."
Did you keep in touch with any ex – WARFARE members? Do you know what Gunner, Falken, Zlaughter are doing thesedays?
"I played with so many musicians and steered the concept which was a creation more than a band, on the whole I am a loner and keep in touch with very few people."
You returned this year with the "Warfare" album, the first new WARFARE music in 25 years… what instigated this album and return to the scene? You sound hungry and full of rejuvinated energy on this album. Please tell us the origins of this album and how it came to be?
"Believe it or not it all came about in a dream. I awoke the next morning and started penning some lyrics, don’t ask me why? Then I decided to dig out my old fucked up guitar and take it to my mates studio Fred Purser and asked if I could plug it into a Marshall amp. I hit the first cord albeit rusty and shook all the pens off the office desk and then it was back, the noise, filth and fury. I came home and my PR Lucy asked the German record label High Roller Records, who had released some WARFARE albums, if they would be interested in signing me, and they immediately said ‘yes’. I find there is much more of a wealth of inspirational material out there as the world is more fucked up now than it ever was and I fear for the youth, I really do."
What statement did you want to make with this new album / recording?
"There was no statement as such, I just went back to the old days but with a fresh approach and turned it up to number 12 and more, the lyrics are dark and original and speak for themselves buy it from www.hrrecords.de."
How do you feel about it? Did it turn out exactly as planned? What does the new WARFARE album represent to you and mean to you personally?
"I think the album is fantastic, both musically and lyrically. I have lost none of my anger and still fuckin bite like a German sheppard. I would urge everyone to buy a physical copy because the lyrics are just as important as the music, just like they always, were it has deluxe packaging with a gatefold sleeve, collecters red vinyl etc and any fans of WARFARE and the like will love it!"
How does it feel to be creating and recording new music again?
"Fantastic and extremely refreshed, I am so pleased with the brand new material, 25 years and I’ve come back to kick your teeth out."
Please tell us how it was recorded and who played what on it. You also have some guest musicians on it including Fast Eddie Clarke of MOTÖRHEAD fame, how did he become involved?
"Fast Eddie in my opinion is the best guitarist in the world, he has been a friend for a long time from the early MOTÖRHEAD days and his playing is synonymous in the Hardrock genre. Lips from ANVIL was the very first Thrash player ever, just like WARFARE were the first Punk / Metal, and his contribution lifts the song he plays on. I play most of the instruments, Nik Turner is involved because like me he is a lunatic and on the track ‘Doctor Of Insanity’ he narrates for the very first time in poetry form the lyrics to the classic HAWKWIND song ‘Brainstorm’ over a real nasty juggy guitar and bass riff. Paul Gray from THE DAMNED and UFO played some bass for me and it all kicks ass so much."
The album is out on High Roller Records who also put out a few other WARFARE releases recently, please tell us about those and how they and the collaboration initially came about?
"As I have said, I was asked many times over the past 25 years, High Roller approached me and it must have been their lucky day, or fucking unlucky depending on your point of view, poor bastards it’s all their fault!"
Is there any chance of the 80s WARFARE albums being fully reissued by High Roller as well? Is this something you have thought of or discussed?!
"First 4 albums coming out all re-mastered on BMG/Universal early next year."
Anything else you’d like to mention regarding the new album? What can fans expect from it in your opinion?
"Bleeding ears, migraine, deafness in later life, psychosis and intellectual disease. I have come back to show you how it should be done and there are no excuses, just buy the bloody thing if you dare at your own peril! V sign to the World."
What is your opinion on the resurgence of 80s Metal and Punk and the rejuvenated NWOBHM movement?
"Because the 80s musicians could write and play real Rock music really it is pretty sad that the old bastards have come back on demand because of the lack of real talent and manufactured bullshit."
There is a lot of younger bands playing a mixture of Metal and Punk these days (MIDNIGHT, BAT, TOXIC HOLOCAUST, WHIPSTRIKER etc) and crossing over just like WARFARE did all those years ago and citing WARFARE as major influence. How do you feel about that? Are there any new Metal / Punk bands that appeal to you that you’ve heard?
"As said before WARFARE were the first and it’s so cool that all these new bands are influenced by my insanity, and good luck to them all. Turn it up."
Can we expect more music from you now you have a taste for it again? Is this a new age of total warfare? Who knows?
"The future is unwritten and what I am most expecting from the future is life and being able to breathe, the new album is selling very well but I suppose if all you lazy bastards get off your arses and buy 3 copies it will sell better. Don’t download it you greedy cunts! It has been received so well, so yes, if it sells like "Pure Filth" and "Metal Anarchy" there is no reason why I shouldn’t do a follow up depending on how I feel."
Kat "Shevil" Gillham