I had the joy of talking to Paul “Evo” Evans, drummer and singer for underground NWOBHM metal favorites WARFARE. And, while I think the interview you’re about to read is pretty damn informative and should give everyone a pretty strong and clear idea of whether they want to jump into the Warfare discography.

I’ll give a brief prepper on what this here Evo character and his Warfare band are all about:

After having played drums in 70s punk holdovers ANGELIC UPSTARTS, along with MAJOR ACCIDENT and THE BLOOD, Evo struck out on his own with Warfare, merging punk and metal into a seamless combination that kinda sorta coincided with thrash, but doesn’t lose the rock ‘n’ roll-y side of things (like that band that Lemmy was in). They released a handful of albums, mostly on the legendary Neat label, and lived the crazy metal anarchist lifestyle before the thing fizzled out in the mid-90s. Evo also played on what I consider to be a pretty darn underrated album with the underground supergroup WARHEAD (Algy from TANK, Wurzel from MOTÖRHEAD) before going on a lengthy hiatus.

But, nearly three decades later, the interest in Warfare is back, and their cult following keeps growing. Incidentally the current iteration of Warfare is just Evo with whoever he chooses to jam with; and boy oh boy, if your musical radar is wide enough to include punk, hard rock, metal, and a cheeky ROBERT PALMER cover, then you’ve gotta hear the new Warfare album, The Songbook of Filth.

This loaded with guest appearance by a who’s-who of the subterranean rock-o-verse.  I mean, you’ve got members of HAWKWIND, Motörhead, SODOM, Tank, THE DAMNED, ANVIL, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, and VENOM on the same album and Pete Way of UFO and Fast Eddie Clarke of Motörhead and FASTWAY on the same song.

Evo explains all this and more…

Revenge of Riff Raff: I appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. It’s evening where you are, right?

Evo: Yes, it’s just turning evening. I’ve got the alcohol in the freezer just cooling down.

RoRR: Aw, nice. So, just to start off, you’ve got this new Warfare album. The new Warfare album is already out, correct?

Evo: It is, yes.

RoRR: And, it’s out through, I think, Cherry Red?

Evo: Yeah, Cherry Red in Europe and in the States, and Ward Records in Japan.

RoRR: I actually ordered myself a copy of it, and from my understanding, the way it’s marketed, is it’s sort of a compilation, but when I looked at the track list, I see a lot of original material on there. 

Evo: Well, no, they’re all different versions. You’ve never, ever heard these versions before, and the new tracks, obviously. There’s four brand new tracks on there as well. 

RoRR: I saw the big one you’re pushing is the one that has Pete Way from UFO and Fast Eddie Clarke from Motörhead. They weren’t on the same track at the same time, were they?

Evo: Yeah! Yeah, which is quite unique, really, because if you remember back in the day, Fast Eddie and Pete were forming Fastway, but then Pete Way left to join OZZY OSBOURNE. So they never actually put anything down commercial. So, it’s quite cool getting the two guys to play together. I’m quite pleased to be honest with you. Because I’m a huge Motörhead aficionado. I knew all the guys, friends with Lemmy and everybody, but then really impressed by Fast Eddie’s guitar playing, always. And Pete Way’s a thunderous bass player. 

RoRR: I can imagine! I just got finished reading his biography, and it was quite a trip. I guess I asked that, because on your Evo solo album, you had the same song, but I don’t believe Pete Way is on that version, or am I mistaken?

Evo: No, that was a completely different version. Paul Gray from The Damned played the bass on that one. 

RoRR: Oh wow! That’s kinda crazy because of the whole punk to metal crossover. You had Algy who was in The Damned and then went to Tank, and you were in the Angelic Upstarts and then started Warfare. What was the compulsion to go from punk to metal? Though, I guess you still were pretty punk in Warfare, but why more rock…

Evo: I like punk rock, but I was always into metal as well. Not so much rock but metal. I used to listen to a lot of metal. I just thought it was unique. Someone actually touched on the punk-metal thing, but not really in the form it should have been. There are some people who said they were punk-metal but played blues and all that shit. So I thought, I’m just gonna be turning the amplifiers up as loud as they’ll go and I’ll use metal riffs and punk lyrics. And the reason I did it was I was bored with just being behind all the time. Back then with Major Accident, I did a little bit of recording and publicity, posing with them, and I then played on The Blood’s album, which should have been a lot bigger actually, ‘cos it’s a really good album. Everything was in place, but nothing seemed to happen. And then I joined the Angelic Upstarts, with whom, to be truthful, it became just a job, and I never wanted a job, and I’ve never had a job, so it was much more exciting forming me own outfit. And, like I said, I did want to blend the metal and punk together in a big way, which I think I succeeded. 

RoRR: Well, you’re not on the Angelic Upstarts studio albums, are you? I didn’t see your credits on those.

Evo: No because the Angelic Upstarts were an older band at my age, and when I played we were on the road and live all the time. They didn’t have a record deal when I was playing with them, and I was too young to play on the studio albums. So, subsequently, they were still pulling massive crowds, but like I said, I just got so tired of it. I had so many ideas going on in me head, and I just wanted to put them down, and everybody was wanting me to do something. Music for Nations wanted to sign me, Neat wanted to sign me, ‘cosI was quite a character down in Soho, but, ya know, everybody wanted to get involved, because everybody was becoming quite a name. I was in three punk bands within a year, or just over a year. And I just figured, I’m moving on all the time, from Accident to the Blood to the Upstarts, I could have just gone on and joined another band. But, I didn’t want to, basically. 

RoRR: Gotcha, ya, the Pure Filth album and all the stuff that Warfare put out is unique in metal in that it’s not exactly thrash because, by the time it came out, you had a lot more of the rigid thrash style, but it’s not exactly the same, it’s its own thing.

Evo: When I actually recorded Pure Filth, there was no term “thrash metal.” It hadn’t been even invented. The term thrash metal, I didn’t even know what it was. So, I was quite ahead of me time with songs like “Breakout” and “Let the Show Go On.” Thrash we hadn’t even known what the term was. So, it was even more unique than what you think. 

RoRR: Did you guys feel a certain kinship with bands like Venom, Tank, and obviously Motörhead? 

Evo: With Tank and Motörhead, certainly. I’d heard of Venom, but I’d never actually listened to them until I was signed to the same label, and I got on famously with the guys. We all became pretty good friends, but their music was not an influence and it didn’t do a great deal for me, to be truthful. I probably like “Bloodlust” and that’s about it pretty much! Yeah, definitely Tank, because it was metal, obviously. And anyone in metal is just lying if they say they’re not influenced by Motörhead. But one of my biggest influences, which is going to shock quite a few people, was THE RAMONES! I heard them in 1977 playing at the Rainbow in London,  and it was just fuckin’ buzz saw! I thought it was just wonderful! 

RoRR: I don’t think a lot of people reading this would be too surprised by that! I think they’d think it’s pretty cool! Do you have a current line-up of Warfare? Because, from my understanding, you had the Evo album, and it’s credited to you, and you had Paul Gray, you had Fast Eddie Clarke, and other guests on those tracks, so is there an official Warfare line-up that you have at this moment?

Evo: No, I mean, the tracks on The Songbook of Filth feature some musicians that did play with me, but no, it’s just me on my own. I’m in a very lucky situation where I can phone people up and I can just use musicians who I like really. And this is why I wanted to do The Songbook of Filth, because they’re all different tracks, and they’re all remastered by myself. I don’t intend to have a band around again. I’ll just pick and choose who I want to ask to play with me. So, no, there isn’t a definitive Warfare, no. 

RoRR: Are you gonna go on tour?

Evo: No (laughs).

RoRR: Well cuz I mean, you know you could call up musicians in different towns and be, like, learn my discography, and then you could hit up every town.

Evo: Yeah, I know, and I’ve been offered loads of gigs, honestly, really big gigs as well. Obviously, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time. But, I mean, people keep trying to persuade me, but at the moment, it’s a no-go, because I’d just get sessions musicians to play for me, and I would just do lead vocals if I was to do it, but at the moment, there’s no one. There’s no band at all.

RoRR: Gotcha. So I wanted to ask about this. This isn’t talked about much, or maybe it is, and I missed it, but what’s the deal with the Warhead project? Because I got the CD, and it’s a stacked line-up; it’s you, it’s Algy, it’s Wurzel from Motörhead, and there’s a lot of people who’ll read that, and they’ll be like, woah, sweet! I have the CD, and I think it’s really good. How did that all come together? 

Evo: It’s just the very last album that I did when I was playing full-time professionally. We’re all friends, and we thought we’d just go in the studio and have a blast. I didn’t think it was very good, to be honest with you. I thought it was a lot of shit. Some thought it was quite good, but everybody was in a situation then when there was no way to get arrested in metal. By the end of 1991, it was fucked. IRON MAIDEN couldn’t get arrested, and you’ve got the biggest band in the world. Grunge took over and that dreadful, dreadful acid house music and all that dance music, and if you remember that Motörhead went from playing the Hammersmith Odeon to the Marquee. And it was just a shit time, and actually doing that record made me decide that I didn’t want to do it anymore. 

RoRR: So, the whole state of metal in the 90s was a big catalyst for you saying that you’re not that interested in continuing on with either Warfare or Warhead?

Evo: That’s right. I had probably squeezed as much out of the project as I could squeeze out of it. You can only drink so much juice out of an orange. I experimented quite a bit with Warfare. We went down the Union Canal in London, and, as simple as this, ‘You three guys should do something together.’ And we were like, no, no, no, but we got together. If you think it’s good, that’s fine. I do think there are some good tracks on there, but there’s some shit as well.

RoRR: I mean, hey, it’s your project, ya know. I was gonna say, if you had waited maybe like five years, you might have seen it come around again, because it seems at the end of the decade a lot of older metal bands were touring a lot more and getting a lot more recognition. 

Evo: It’s just the situation that you’re in. The money runs out. And it’s all very well waiting, but what do you do in the meantime? And I was never one to sit about. I’m very creative, and I just couldn’t… I think a lot of bands at the time, at that sort of level -- Warfare’s level, Tank's level, Raven, whatever -- they just went on and flogged themselves to death. A lot of people just got sick to fuckin’ death of them, and this is why there’s so much interest in Warfare now. Because it’s been 25 years and I’m doing it again. And it’s phenomenal the interest I’m getting. It’s really good. And it’s good that metal has come full circle. It’s doing really well in Europe and the States now. 

RoRR: Was there that thing in Europe where grunge became the thing and took over from metal? I’m looking at it from an American perspective, but was that a big thing in Europe, with grunge taking over the metal scene?

Evo: Yeah, yeah, it was. I mean, even when you go into bands like Warfare, Venom, Raven, Tank, we were getting lots and lots of press. And then, all of a sudden, you’ve got GUNS ‘N’ ROSES, and they just took everything away. The journalists didn’t want to know about bands like us. And, especially when grunge came -- Nirvana and stuff -- it was just a different generation, which is good, because I suppose we had our generation, and you only get X amount of years in the business when you first start. 

RoRR: Yeah, it seems like you had a pretty solid run. I was actually gonna ask, did you ever get into any trouble for some of your lyrics, and I think you may know where I’m going with this. The song “Rape” would now be considered absolutely totally beyond the pale. Did you get shit for stuff like that?

Evo: The record company didn’t like it, but I just told them to fuck off, so… it’s actually not as sinister as what you think it is. I was in a bar, and there was a guy who had been severely scarred in World War II, and he’s sittin’ talkin’, and I had a pint with him, I had a drink with him, and he said it would be lovely to have a girlfriend and 'go back to how I was before me face turned horrendous,' and it just resonated with me, and I was thinking about it, and I thought, I wonder what that poor guy must be going through. Never gonna have sex again, never gonna have anybody to love him, and there was something on the front page of the newspaper, and it said that, “ex-war victim rapes this girl,” and that’s where it came out of. So, yes, it was over the top, but everything Warfare did was over the top. I never got into trouble, because I didn’t really care. So, no, but I know what you’re saying. 

RoRR: Yeah, just ‘coz, you know, with bands like THE MENTORS and stuff like that, I was just wondering if you’ve actually had anyone, like, picketing your shows or whatever for that, or for whatever reason. Because your first album is called Pure Filth, and you’ve got, what is it, the Metal Fucking…

Evo: Mayhem, Fuckin’ Mayhem, the third album…

RoRR: There ya go! Yeah, so I was just wondering if you actually…

Evo: It was one crazy fucking band, I’ll tell ya! We didn’t give a fuck. We used to terrorize our support bands. Anything just to amuse ourselves, really, it was quite boring, so we would often burn tour busses. That was one of the little tricks. Setting fire to tour buses and the like. Just in a day’s work, really! 

RoRR: Ha! Setting fire to tour buses? Did your insurance rates go sky high? 

Evo: I didn’t give a fuck about the insurance. That was the tour peoples’ problem. I didn’t care. I mean, generally, we’re just living it. We didn’t give two fucks. What you hear on record, and what you saw is what you got. I mean, that time we did the protest, the infamous protest at Hammersmith Odeon. We got shot at from bouncers, arrested, we, um, drove a truck into about six cars and smashed them to pieces. It was a protest gig, and we certainly protested! Ya know, a lot of people were horrified, but our third album sold fuckin’ bucketloads because of it. Kids love that, don’t they?

RoRR: Wait, so you said a protest gig? What were you protesting specifically?

Evo: When we’re finished with the interview, just look up "Warfare, Hammersmith Odeon, and METALLICA," and you’ll see exactly what I was protesting against. 

RoRR: Oh okay! All right, yeah, I’ll check that out!

Evo: I thought you would be aware of it, because it’s been well documented over the years now. Yeah, we did a gig ‘cause, um, we were asked to pay on to do a gig with Metallica. The year previous, I got pissed with James and Lars, when they came across for Monsters of Rock at Donington, and we had a great night out. But it wasn’t them. They got taken over by a big manager and all that. At the time, we didn’t know they’d be as big as they turned out. They were doing a show in London, and it was Metallica and ANTHRAX (Sept 21st 1986 Hammersmith Odeon ~ Ed), and they wanted Warfare to go on as well. And I thought this is all right. And then their management come to our management and said there’s a pay on fee of $10,000, which is common practice. Ya know, a lot of support bands pay on to get on tour, to use their profile, light show, gear, and all the rest. And the record company phoned and said, do you want to do it, and I said, fuck right, I’m not giving nobody ten grand! So, he said to me, well, this is a big, big break, ya know? And I said, big break? I said give me X amount, and I’ll show you what kind of “break” I’m gonna do. So, I got a friend’s truck, and we did all the back out with camouflage nets and Marshall rigs, and at about 6:30, when everyone was queuing to get in, we just drove around, backed it up, and just fuckin’ belted out about three songs from Mayhem, Fuckin’ Mayhem. I’ve never seen so much chaos. The kids were running over, flying overhead, they were coming out of the pubs. And we had a huge mosh pit at the back of this lot. They were going crazy! And then the security came out, and they actually had real guns! I mean, fuck ‘em too. We put our foot down, and we were shielded at the side, and they came out the side, and they smashed the lorry windscreen with a crowbar. But the guy who was driving the truck was pretty fucking mean. He jumped out and he punched one on the nose, and smacked him out. Then he got back in his truck and he tried to drive, but he couldn’t see, because the windscreen was knocked in. So he collided into these six cars. Then a security guy tried to do me some damage, but I did him more damage if you can imagine! That evening was just blood and guts and filth, and it was absolutely glorious! It was great, to be honest with you. I got arrested, and I had to go to court and pay the fine. But, ya know, it’s rock ‘n’ roll, man. 

RoRR: Yeah, I feel bad I didn’t know about that story. I’ll have to go and do some research on that. I was totally unaware of that one. 

Evo: Yeah, when you didn’t know about that I was surprised, because everybody asks me to tell me about the Hammersmith protest, and I say, aw, fuck off, I’m done. Yeah, look it up. You’ll have a good giggle. It was good fun! Great fun!

RoRR: I was gonna ask you what a particularly crazy gig was, but it seems like that’s already been answered!

Evo: I mean, many, many, we smashed the Riverside in Newcastle completely. We got fines for that. Our bass player at the time hit the bouncer; hit the security with a bass, Fender bass. Just smashed him, just completely, just knocked him straight out. And I pissed in the amplifiers. Just, just warfare! We did the Dynamo club in Holland, and we’re banned for life! Just fucking banned for life! We had pigs’ blood on the stage, and I was chucking it into the audience. I had to piss into a glass and threw that fucker around. It was just mental! But they loved it! Albums were selling. We were just living our lives full on. Ya know, stinking in alcohol, degerating into alcoholics, which we probably already were. But, well, on the serious side, it was extremely intellectual as well. I mean, what I was doing, ya know, as well as having great fun, as you can see from the lyrics. But, I wanna say I never knew that it would come around again. And people ask me to record again, which was quite a surprise, but I went back in the studio, and it was even more angry than what it was the first time around. 

RoRR: For someone who doesn’t know, what would you say is a really definitive record for them to get?

Evo: Definitive? I would say the new one. If you wanna get into us full style, you’ve got a bit of everything. You’ve got the original demos. You’ve got all the guests on there, every guest that I’ve played with. Conrad, Mantas, Lips from Anvil, ya know, Pete Way. And Nik Turner from Hawkwind just did a version where he’s narrating “Sonic Attack” for the first time ever. And it’s also got stuff from the early bands I played with as well. There’s three tracks on there from Major Accident, the Blood, and the Angelic Upstarts. I drummed with all three of them. It’s straight across everything I did, really, but they’re all different versions. So, it’s a good way of listening and then going back to the original versions to sort of compare them, as it were. 

RoRR: I personally thought it was actually new studio material and demos, and it seems like it’s kinda that and a bunch of stuff from your entire career?

Evo: Yeah, yeah! There’s some pretty rare tracks which is funny. There’s a gig, and I think it comes from the Marquee in London, but I’m not sure, so don’t quote me on that. And I’ve got “New Age of Total Warfare”, really metal, all done off the cuff straight through in one fucking take. And I got it out, and it was on the 12”, and I put it through the stereo and remastered it, and it rips faces off, honestly. It is so heavy! But, then again, we got into trouble in 1987, because of a version of “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer. It only ever came out on a white label. There was only four white labels that were pressed. And I actually found the very first rehearsal we ever did, and I called it “Addicted to Drugs” instead of “Addicted to Love.” Robert Palmer was none too happy about it. So the actual single was injuncted by their company, the old fucking cunt he is. Anyway, he’s dead now, so fuck him. And it’s actually a rehearsal of “Addicted to Drugs”, and it was actually done on a ghetto blaster on top of an amplifier. But then again, you’ve got stuff on the best equipment, right? You’ve got “Black”, which features myself on drums, vocals, and bass and Fred Purser from the Tygers of Pan Tang playing on all the guitars. And it just kicks your ass, big style, ya know? If you look online now, the Hammer Horror record, Cherry Red put that out too to download, and that’s all been remastered. And, if you just google Warfare Hammer Horror, not that shit that came out on Revolver. It’s a brand new version, and if you look for Christopher Lee in the vampire pose, and have a listen to that, and see how heavy that really was back at the time. 

RoRR: Okay, yeah, for sure, and I didn’t know you got Christopher Lee on there too, so that’s…

Evo: Yeah, yeah! At the end, I did a record called Hammer Horror by Warfare, and Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing both wrote the sleeve notes for me! 

RoRR: Like you, I'm a huge Hammer Horror fan, so obviously I think it's awesome that Warfare did a tribute to Hammer. What are your favorite Hammer films?

Evo: Plague of the Zombies and Taste the Blood of Dracula.

RoRR: I see the Warfare reissues and all that kinda stuff, and all the interest in it. 

Evo: Just be very careful, because there’s a company called Dissonance, and they put full albums out, and the first three are just vinyl rips, and I was really annoyed. And the fourth one, Conflict of Hatred, was actually remastered, and that sounds awesome. 

RoRR: Oh, ‘cause those are the ones that I own! Those aren’t authorized? That’s not the real deal? 

Evo: Yes, they are authorized, but I went to Paris, and I was shown that I’d already been advanced for all of four of them. When I got back from Paris, they’re done. And the test pressing were here, and before I had a chance to even listen, they’re dreadful! They jump. They drop out. I was so pissed off, because you say we’ve got a very, very big cult following, but I can’t stand ripping people off. 

RoRR: Yeah, I’ve bought a few of their reissues. So, you’re saying those are just vinyl rips, and they’re not very good? I think that’s the problem with the Atomkraft CD! The CD is good, but the sound is just shit!

Evo: The first three aren’t very good. They don’t reflect anything of how the originals were; apart from the fourth one, because we actually remastered that one. Conflict of Hatred, that is awesome. We did that for them at Fred Purser’s studio, and it’s incredible how he’s made it sound. But you should get away from the first three, because it’s not really a reflection of how I wanted them to come out, so... But, sometimes, ya know, when you’re an artist, you have these guys, and they do these things, and sometimes you haven’t got a lot of say in it, ya know? All Dissonance are doing is just cashing in on all them lovely bands, I mean, fucking JAGUAR, I think they’re a great band, and ANGEL WITCH, all they’ve done is rip them off a fuckin’ album! Well, anybody can do that! You’re better off just going to Youtube and putting them on your own CD! 

RoRR: Yeah, it sucks! If I had the “fuck you” money to throw at a project like that, I’d be like, yeah, I’ll take ‘em and give ‘em a proper reissue and put ‘em out on all formats, not just on CD, but on vinyl too. 

Evo: Actually, what is coming after this, and I’ve not told anybody about this, because I just found out this week. Cherry Red Records, who is doing Songbook of Filth, are doing a box set of every Warfare album that ever existed along with a DVD of TV performances and the infamous video we did in the church. And it’s all coming out; you’ve got eight albums all on vinyl and the DVD in a reissue box set, and I’m going to start working on that next year. Everything will be remastered to my standard. So, it’s going to be a big project, but it will be a slow one, but it’s all be gonna done and will kick everyone’s ass. 

RoRR: Is there anyone else you were hanging out with that you’re like, oh, that was pretty cool or fun or anything crazy?

Evo: Yeah! When I produced the second album, Metal Anarchy, I worked with Lemmy for three weeks. That was fantastic fun! And we learned quite a lot as well. You should get Metal Anarchy as well, produced by Lemmy, and we more or less did it live, and Lemmy said, just put it down as you’d put it down. Motörhead used to just put things down and twiddle about with things on top. But we actually did that live, and Lemmy just oversaw that. The bass and the rhythm guitar and the drums were actually all live. Back in fuckin’ ’83, London was just so filthy! And Soho was just a dirty horrible area. And everyone used to go down there and hang out together. And then we used to go down the Grand Union Canal on a Friday afternoon. 

Lemmy spraying beer outside the Carlton Bridge Tavern, Grand Union Canal, Great Western Road, W9, 1985.

There was, Douglas Smith, the manager for TWISTED SISTER, GIRLSCHOOL, Hawkwind, The Damned. And, uh, everyone used to make it down Union Canal, and we used to get Fast Eddie, Lemmy, Pete Way, Girlschool, we all used to get absolutely fucking hammered. And there’s a little pub just next to it now just off, um, Great Western Road. If you Google it, you’ll see. It’s a little bit of a pub, and we used to go all around. It was just a great place, ya know, and ROSE TATTOO came across. They all used to drink with us. But, alas, it all ended, as things do. But yea, Wurzel was also a very good pal of mine as well. And, I did some recording with Wurzel down at the Lexus recording studio. And I took him to the pub. And there was free ale on, and I think we were up to ten pints, and he got up and walked into the fucking wall thinking it was the toilet! And then, when his wife came down, she went crazy with me, “You’re a bad influence!” and all the rest. He got taken home, and I had another four pints of lager! 

RoRR: Yeah, it was a different time…

Evo: This is the problem you see, because we were angry, because we had something to be angry about, because nobody had anything. You know, nowadays everybody has the Hilton Hotel in their bedrooms. You got all this technology. You look back to the 80s; there was no mobile phones, no computers. It was just, you lived the life, or you didn’t live the life. We left school, and we had fuck all, so the only thing you could do was to get a job, which was a no-no to me. I did 9-5 in grammar school, and believe you me, I resolved I would never do 9-5 again. The punk thing out in England, it all came about because people were not only bored, they were hungry. And the only thing you could do to make any money and enjoy yourself was to go into football or to go into rock ‘n’ roll really. And I couldn’t play football. 

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
26th January, 2022

Share on Google Plus


Post a Comment