fbpx

THE ART OF WARFARE – Warfare founding member Evo talks about how the six-legged metal monster came into being

THE ART OF WARFARE – Warfare founding member Evo talks about how the six-legged metal monster came into being

“In ’82/’83 I joined my first name band, which was Major Accident,” Evo recalls, “and I did two singles and a live album with them. They then became a little lethargic, and I don’t tolerate that.” The first thing of note about the drummer is that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone more driven than him. “If I think I’m going backwards instead of forwards I just say ‘fuck it’ and go onto the next job which was The Blood. The Blood were going to be the next big thing, they had Garry Bushell backing them, they had all sorts going for them, so I moved down to London and recorded the classic album ‘False Gestures For A Devious Public’ with them. I did a couple of singles as well, and then it all kind of fell to bits, but I got offered the job with the Angelic Upstarts which was the next rung up the ladder.”

But Evo’s the sort of guy who’s always thinking one step ahead. “I always had the idea at the back of my mind that I wanted to do something crossover, something that hadn’t been done in that sort of way before. You know, certain bands had touched on it, Motörhead touched on it a little bit but they were still predominantly heavy metal, or that’s what I thought; and The Blood touched on it a little bit but they still didn’t get it right, so that’s when I decided I would form Warfare. I telephoned Neat in February ’84 when I was still living in Croydon, and they gave me the deal over the phone, because of my profile.”

Armed with a bag of 2p pieces, Evo shut himself in a phone box, called Neat Records and asked them to call him back, which Neat’s owner David Wood duly did. “I said ‘I’m going to form the noisiest band on the planet, it’ll merge punk with metal like you’ve never heard it before. I want a deal, and if you don’t do it Music For Nations are going to. It’s up to you.’ And he said, ‘right, you’ve got it.’ And that was it, really. David had heard of me, and he knew he had a possible winner on his hands. Because Neat was based in Newcastle I had to rush back home so I packed up my drum kit and my toothbrush, which was just about all I had really,” he laughs, “and went into Neat’s studios. I didn’t even have a band at that point.

“I’d written the songs in London about a year previously, so I put a three-track EP out which featured Mantas on guitar – he was hanging around the building having a fag so I thought ‘I’ll collar you’ which I did – Algy Ward from Tank, he did some of the bass for me, and I did vocals and drums. I did the vocals because nobody else at the time was around to do them. Originally I was going to get a vocalist but everyone said ‘your voice is fine’ so I ended up doing vocals and drums. The ‘Noise, Filth & Fury’ EP went straight into the metal charts at No.1; the critics hated it, the fans loved it, so Neat signed me for an album and ‘Pure Filth’ was born.”

Evo of Warfare performing at the Marquee, London

Produced by Evo and partner-in-crime Algy Ward, ‘Pure Filth’ was a very different beast to other UK releases at the time. “I always knew where I wanted to go, intellectually, and it used to annoy me when people said I was influenced by Venom. I was never, ever, influenced by Venom. And to be truthful, I’d never heard Venom till I signed to Neat. I was friends with them, but didn’t like their music. My influences were the Ramones and Motörhead; they were the only bands to me. Full stop.” The metal/punk fusion “boasts some of the best death metal ever to come out of the UK,” wrote Bernard Doe at the time in Metal Forces, and the initial pressing came with a bonus 7” single featuring ‘Burn The Kings Road’ and ‘This Machine Kills’.

“I think that was because Cees Wessels of Roadrunner Records wanted more tracks and so the Roadrunner version was different to the Neat version [it has a different cover, too].  There’s a story behind the single. ‘Burn The King’s Road’ is the original demo version, and there are two versions of ‘This Machine Kills’: there’s one with Mantas playing the guitar and one with Algy Ward playing the guitar. If memory serves me right I think the free single was with Mantas, and I think the Algy version went on the European version of the album.”

Next up came Warfare’s demolition of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s No.1 single ‘Two Tribes’. “I said to Neat, ‘I want to do ‘Two Tribes’ while it’s relevant, rather than fucking about and doing it in a year’s time. I need the studio tomorrow.’ And David said, ‘have you rehearsed it?’ And I said ‘have we rehearsed it? Have we fuck! We’re just going to hammer it out! How quickly can you get it pressed?’

“I’d just got a brand new drum kit, a Premier, it was the first time I was sponsored, and I got this beautiful new white kit with Paiste cymbals. We miked it up and rehearsed ‘Two Tribes’ and I told the lads to turn the Marshalls up, and I did the ‘wailing’ on the guitar on the wham bar, feedback and everything, and I think it was pressed within a week. It went out and was our biggest selling record ever, bigger than the albums, everything, and the press we got off it was unbelievable. I think Virgin Records in Newcastle did twelve boxes in a weekend, sold out, and they actually had a display in the Virgin in Leeds in the front window. I remember seeing Anvil’s ‘Metal On Metal’ as a window display once and thought ‘one day that’ll be my record’. And it was. Excellent!

Although as a rule Neat only worked with in-house producers, for Warfare’s follow-up album there would be another guest producer sitting behind the desk.

“I was commuting back and forth to London right through the Warfare days because all my friends and contacts were there. I used to hang around The Marquee three nights a week, and [famous Wardour Street musicians’ pub] The Ship, all these kinds of places. It was a very lively scene back then. It was hard financially, but they were good days. Anyway, I was at Dingwalls, in Camden, and Lemmy was there, with his Jack Daniels, propping up the bar. I’ve never been shy, I think if you’ve got the foresight, you have to use it, so I tugged on his leather jacket and said ‘hiya Lemmy, my name’s Evo, I’m in a band called Warfare.’ And as luck would have it he’d heard of Warfare; he was always very clued up with what was happening. So he asked if I’d like a drink, and I asked if I could have a bag of peanuts as well. ‘He wants the world,’ said Lemmy. ‘I want more than the world,’ I said, ‘I want you to produce the next record.’

“I was commuting back and forth to London right through the Warfare days because all my friends and contacts were there. I used to hang around The Marquee three nights a week, and [famous Wardour Street musicians’ pub] The Ship, all these kinds of places. It was a very lively scene back then. It was hard financially, but they were good days. Anyway, I was at Dingwalls, in Camden, and Lemmy was there, with his Jack Daniels, propping up the bar. I’ve never been shy, I think if you’ve got the foresight, you have to use it, so I tugged on his leather jacket and said ‘hiya Lemmy, my name’s Evo, I’m in a band called Warfare.’ And as luck would have it he’d heard of Warfare; he was always very clued up with what was happening. So he asked if I’d like a drink, and I asked if I could have a bag of peanuts as well. ‘He wants the world,’ said Lemmy. ‘I want more than the world,’ I said, ‘I want you to produce the next record.’

“No-one had asked him to produce them before, but he said he liked our music – I was over the moon, as you can imagine – and he agreed to do it. Motörhead’s management sorted the details out with Neat, the deal was sealed, and then I got a call to say ‘can you do it next Wednesday? Lemmy’s got three days in his schedule.’ All the songs were ready to go, so we hired everything we needed and went to Ezee Studios in London. I’d never been into such a studio. Pool room, full restaurant service, it was nothing like what I had been used to!

“So about ten o’clock on the first day we got engineer Guy Bidmead to fire up the desk and we started hammering them out. Lemmy hadn’t even turned up – he was booked for 1 o’clock. I had six tracks down by then – bass, drums and rhythm guitar down. Lemmy wanted different takes, which we did, but I think it was complete in two days, which is why the album is so vibrant. You play it loud and it kicks some ass but it holds its melody as well – as well as being extremely over the top! We came to put the second rhythm track down but we only had one guitar with us and Lemmy said ‘we could do with a Gibson SG for this’. I said I’d get onto the hire company and he said, ‘no, I’ll phone our new guitarist, Wurzel, and he’ll bring some guitars over for us.’

“I’d never met Wurzel before but we hit it off straight away, and he said ‘I’d love to play on that track [‘Metal Anarchy’ itself]. I think it’s wonderful,’ so I said ‘go for it, do the solo if you want to.’ So in he went, and Lemmy said, ‘he’s good; just wait till he starts,’ and he did it in one take. We finished the rhythm tracks on the SG, the lads in the band went back to Newcastle and I stayed down with Guy and Lemmy. I took a back seat to be truthful where I learned so much. I could mess about with a mixing desk, and I’d produced the first single, but Lemmy – who’d not produced before – knew exactly what he was doing. We had a great time, and I learned a lot. It was great working with him.

“‘Metal Anarchy’ came out in a beautiful textured sleeve, with an insert (which I’d insisted upon) and was licensed across the world including America, where it did very well. And then things went a bit quiet for a while.”

The Art Of Warfare continues next month

To buy or stream any of the original four warfare albums or buy the new official Warfare merch, click on the images below:

(Article feature image of Evo © John Tucker)

×
×

Cart