INTERVIEW: Evil Blizzard | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It’s almost compulsory to refer to Preston/Birmingham bass behemoths Evil Blizzard in derisory – nay, abusive – terms. The trouble is that their imminent second album Everybody Come To Church (out on Louder Than War on 9th October) is really very good. Despite being recorded and written quickly, the album is a real step up from their 2014 debut – more songs, less extended grooves. Side (drums, vocals) agrees. “As a band we don’t really rehearse so many of the debut album’s songs were recorded as they came out which meant they were built around jamming live. On the new album, we decided to take the same ethos but try to make them a little more structured. Of course we still did a lot of jamming which is evident on a song such as Watching. We only again really had about three songs properly worked out and the others took their shape as we played them. We feel that this has given the second album more depth.”

“When we started knocking together ideas for the album all the songs were 10 minutes long, a lot of unstructured improvisation, and we made a conscious decision to try and keep the tracks as succinct as we could,” adds Filthy (one of the band’s four bassists). “We have good ‘pop’ sensibilities in our playing, we know a good hook and each track needed to have something memorable either as a lyric or a riff that would stick in people’s thick heads. The next album will hopefully be the total opposite; we’ve discussed the idea of having just two tracks on it.”

Production on the album was by Richard McNamara from Embrace, which isn’t the most obvious pairing, but Side was clearly impressed. “Rik has worked with Youth and for us any Killing Joke connection is good. He was very hands-on in the studio and brought many ideas to the fore. Even though Embrace are far removed from what we do, he loves hard rocking bands and has a huge array of effects and gizmos that were used throughout the recording. He pushed us hard to get the best out of the playing and for me was really helpful with the singing and phrasing. Rik knows how to put together a hit and even though we are not strictly a singles band, on a song like Laughing Gas it really helped with creating something as near to a sing-along as Blizzard can do. What we feel he has done is captured the chaos of the live gig but given us a more accessible sound to the listener.”

One of the stand-out tracks on the album is Spread The Fear, a deep dub workout. “The band comes from two musical backgrounds, “explains Filthy, “half the band grew up listening to rock/metal and half grew up in the aftermath of punk which included a lot of reggae via The Clash and The Ruts. Me and Stomper are both massive fans of 70s reggae and dub, Steel Pulse, Mad Professor, Lee Perry, early UB40 and such. Spread The Fear was intended to be kind of a Massive Attack vibe; claustrophobic, sparse and paranoid.”

Evil Blizzard gigs were already quite unsettling prospects – four hideously masked and costumed bassists, and the notorious Blizzpig. But now they’ve added Mop Man. Don’t the audience have enough to contend with?

“We met Mop Man at a gig in London,” explains Filthy. “He was the caretaker at the venue and came on to clean the stage during our set. He was very cross at the mess we were making, sweeping up around us and generally getting in the way. We liked his style and smuggled him onto the tour bus, where he actually now lives. He was involved in a chemical disaster that left him horrifically disfigured and with communication issues – he actually talks via his mop in a kind of sign language. Some people get intimidated by his mopping during gigs, but all he is doing is saying hello. But don’t ever try to touch him. Ever.”

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“I think the day people stop slagging us off or taking it seriously will be the day we know we have failed”

Given the endless abuse and refusal the band get – from their fans, their friends and themselves – they seem happy to do without any recognition for their insightful lyrics and carefully constructed songs. Ahem.

“I think the day people stop slagging us off or taking it seriously will be the day we know we have failed.” Says Side. “It’s all good banter, and as Peter Gabriel used to say ‘if you like us, boo us.’”

“I think people just like to show the appreciation in the negative and that’s much more interesting to read than ‘you guys are great’”, adds Filthy. “We don’t like compliments, it’s much more fun when people have a go at you, whether it’s in jest or not.”

The band launch the album with a hometown gig on Halloween but Stockton’s Georgian Theatre will bear the brunt of their performance on Saturday 24th October, setting the scene for a perfect storm of nonsense. “I’m sure the Preston gig will throw up some surprises and we will have plenty of guests joining us”, comments Side.  “We have our own brand of ‘Blizzard Beer’ being produced by a local brewery which will be on sale on the night, which is the ultimate accolade. Hopefully there’ll be fancy dress from the fans to add to the occasion but at the moment designing the Stonehenge set is taking up all our time and energy!”

Evil Blizzard play The Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Saturday 24th October.

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