Interview: Evil Blizzard
We were all sat there having a beer; but the ‘band’ was still playing – we actually finished the last 5 minutes of an Evil Blizzard gig with no members of the band actually playing. Brilliant chaos. The ultimate franchise.
With the release of Evil Blizzard’s third album The Worst Show on Earth on Cracked Ankles Records, sees the sonic crusaders up the ante on all levels. With a batch of live dates already announced, Filthy Dirty and Stomper inform Echoes and Dusr how a ‘A total lack of ideas’, ‘countless basslines’, ‘techno keyboards’, helped shape and produce their finest offering yet. Also, they explain how the fan base – The Blizzheads – have indeed ‘become part of the act’.
E&D: You had a couple of songs already penned before going into the studio to record The Worst Show on Earth. Did they help form further ideas about where the sound of the album may lead?
Filthy Dirty: We had ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ using almost techno keyboards and ‘Unleash The Misery’ being a bit ‘Adam And The Ants/glam rock’ and so we wanted each track to have a different ‘vibe’, as opposed to the previous albums where we pressed record and made a racket.
We actually panicked about a total lack of ideas before we went in the studio – for the first two albums we had a bank of riffs to try out that we’d played live over the years but for this one we had as you say two songs and a few scraps. To be honest we expected it to be a wash out but as soon as we hit ‘record’ it all snapped into place.
Stomper: I don’t think any of us had any idea as to where the sound of the album may lead. I think we just needed to get our ideas out there. As you may have already heard we never rehearse but we individually have countless bass lines recorded into sound recorder on mobile phones.
E&D: Do you all go in with a bag of ideas or just jam around and then work on what sounded good and then add the additional instrumentation of cello, piano, samples etc. after?
Stomper: We have beats and bass lines with minimal lyrics. Me and Side play in the main live room whilst Prowler Kav and Filthy Dirty play in the control room. Filthy Dirty barks orders as to when and where he thinks a verse may end or a chorus starts… it’s pretty chaotic to be truthful as it’s a right racket listening through the cans.
Filthy Dirty: Even though we don’t rehearse we don’t ‘jam’ – I hate that. We’ll plan it out first – ‘Use ‘this’ riff for a bit, then go to ‘this other’ riff, then play til someone spills a can.
We record all together ‘live’ with me doing often ad libbed vocals. Then Side does the vocals properly afterwards; with real words, in time and in tune! For this one we sat back and listened to each track afterwards and thought what ‘theme’ or ‘gimmick’ could we add to make each track different, usually involving keyboard lines, guitar overdubs, strings or percussion.
E&D: Are the lyrics already written prior to the studio time?
Stomper: Side and Filthy Dirty write all the lyrics. There’s a couple of tracks on The Worst Show on Earth that have quite in depth lyrics especially ‘Unleash The Misery’. So certain lyrics are obviously pre written but as we’ve been playing ‘Unleash The Misery’ for a few years they’ve kinda evolved into what you hear today.
E&D: Can you tell us about the excellent album cover?
Filthy Dirty: We had the album title and initially I was working with clichéd ‘circus’ themes. All poor. We used Mothmeister for the previous album but wanted to use a different style on the new album, but I was struggling with an image with a deadline approaching. Then one morning I got an email from Mothmeister just to say they had an exhibition in London and sent a couple of new images, the first of which was what became the album cover. I opened the email, stared at the screen, smiled and thought ‘job done’. Perfect
E&D: The German artist Arne Wald appears on the title track contributing a spoken word. How did this collaboration materialise?
Filthy Dirty: Arne has been a long-time associate of the band since before our first album came out – he’s a Fall fan and saw us supporting them when we first started. A few years ago, I was chatting to him about how the German language is, to English ears, so percussive, so consonant heavy it sounds almost aggressive! So, I asked Arne to record himself talking, then I cut it up, pasted it at random working purely on the sound of the words rather than the meanings. He’s just talking about a normal day – ‘I brush my teeth, I walk to the bus stop’ – but the German language is so beautiful it sounds like poetry, quite musical.
The piano intro I did at home, I recorded the guitar parts badly; it was just a little folly I was working on. But as I say we were stuck for material so I played it to the lads and we did the whole track properly in one take, no overdubs, nothing. An onslaught. Magnificently melancholy.
E&D: Can you tell us more about the making of video to ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ and are there are more plans to do another video for any other songs from the album?
Stomper: We have a video editor friend called John Turner who roped in his director friend Giles Bastow to create ‘Fast Forward Rewind’ for us. We filmed it illegally in the derelict Hulme Playhouse Theatre on what was the coldest day in 2017. We got a load of fans to come down and be cold with us as punishment for liking our music. It was cold but a lot of fun. We also did a video for ‘Hello’, and we’ve just started knocking about ideas for a video for ‘Unleash The Misery’, which is being released on 7” vinyl in September.
E&D: The band already has quite a few gigs lined up for this year including what I believe is going to be your biggest headline show so far, at the Manchester Academy. This must be exciting. How have the live shows evolved over the years?
Stomper: As you may have noticed most of our gigs take place on the weekend as it the only time any of us has free time. Consequently us, and the crowd, are up for a ‘big night out’ which has definitely helped create a sense of occasion and atmosphere at our gigs. The live shows have been very varied over the years. Take Manchester as an example. We’ve gone from Gullivers to The Ducie Bridge, The Deaf Institute to The Ritz and now onto The Academy. The boos appear to be the loudest in Manchester… we think they might like us.
E&D: Do you have any ideas/plans to expand on the live shows antics even further?
Stomper: We’re thinking of getting proper scaffolding set up high above the stage for Kav to climb up and swing down from.
Filthy Dirty: Yeah, once the money starts rolling in from the album sales we can get a revolving sty for the pig. We don’t plan too much in general to be honest; the ‘live show antics’ as you put it are just the result of a load of middle aged men getting pissed at the weekend.
E&D: Do you have any favourite gigs or favourite mad gig moments? What makes a great Evil Blizzard gig for the band?
Stomper: Favourite gigs have to be The Ducie Bridge ones. Proper chaotic with stage invasions and big pile ons by the band themselves. It’s always the fans that make the gigs what they are, especially the pink poodle and the welsh sign makers.
Filthy Dirty: My favourite gig moment was in York. Some of us occasionally handed out our basses for crowd members to play at the end of the set but at that one I handed out my bass and went to the back of the room where there were some seats. Kav soon followed. Then Prowler, then Stomper and eventually Side. We were all sat there having a beer; but the ‘band’ was still playing – we actually finished the last 5 minutes of an Evil Blizzard gig with no members of the band actually playing. Brilliant chaos. The ultimate franchise.
E&D: The rapport with you and the Blizzheads is special and, also play their part in the fun and frolics. How did the affectionate booing between songs came about?
Stomper: I think the booing came from a sign one of the Blizzheads made. They love to hate us which is all part of the fun.
Filthy Dirty: The crowd are in on the act. As mentioned we’ve always played sporadically and so we see the same people coming along and it becomes an ‘occasion’. We like a drink and so do most of them, and so we’ve developed a very blurry, slurred relationship with many of them. And their wallets.
E&D: Have you encountered anyone, inside or outside of the media, who have taken offence from either the bands sense of humour or costumes?
Filthy Dirty: Not as yet; it’s quite cartoon and so inoffensive. I’d love it if we did. Annoying people is one of our favourite past times. When we play festivals a few parents have said they thought their kids may be scared but kids tend to love it. We’re all just kids in big, fat, saggy bodies. Except Kav, who is actually only 13 years old anyway.
E&D: You all have eclectic tastes in music from Swedish classic pop of Abba to NWOBHM legends Iron Maiden via the roots reggae of Steel Pulse. How does the music get selected in the tour van?
Stomper: Music in van basically gets selected by whoever is driving but it tends to be loud rock music. Always what tends to happen on hot days is windows up and heating on full blast just to wind everyone up… especially those in the back. It’s all part of the fun.
Filthy Dirty: Our last van had the same 5 CDs in for 18 months. We kept forgetting to put new ones in so ended up with the same debate in the van: ‘Motörhead, Discharge, Fugazi, Slayer or Northern Soul compilation?’. Which isn’t exactly the worst set of choices. We’d make a great ‘Northern-Soul-playing-Fugazi’ tribute act on the working men’s club scene. I’m sure there’s a massive hole in the market for that.
Check out Evil Blizzards Facebook page for live dates this year.