In March 2023, Cherry Red Records reissued the Warfare Metal Anarchy album in a three-disc box set. The Lemmy Sessions contained a polished-up version of the album proper, a compilation of EPs, and a rare rough mix of the album by Motörhead frontman Lemmy, the album’s producer.
Evo Evans – Warfare
Interview: Alex Eruptor
For the uninitiated, Warfare, together with bands such as Tank and Venom, was part of the mid-1980s Metal/punk crossover scene, which emerged from the wreckage of the NWOBHM and punk’s second wave.
MetalTalk spoke to founder member/lead singer/drummer Paul ‘Evo’ Evans to talk about The Lemmy Sessions box set, his friendship with Motörhead, and Warfare’s own legacy.
It is impressive that the response so far to Metal Anarchy has been excellent. “Yes, it has,” Evo says. “Well, it should be, shouldn’t it? And to be quite honest, I don’t give a fuck whether it is or it isn’t. I think it’s good, so fuck everyone else.”
Evo says the original tape was discovered in his loft. “I’ve got boxes of stuff in the loft,” he says. “I’ve got 27 albums to my credit plus the compilation albums. Somebody in Brazil asked me if I had a copy of Mayhem Fucking Mayhem on cassette which, incredibly, I did! But lo and behold, while I was looking around, there it was: ‘Rough Mixes. Lemmy. 1985.’
“So I put it on, and I thought I could get my teeth into that! So I said to the guy who does all my engineering we had better get it off cassette and onto computer quickly so it doesn’t spew out because there’s only one of these in the world. Nearly 40 years is a long time for a cassette tape to lie in a box. So that’s what we did, and I put it on in the car, and I thought. fuck me, that’s awesome. And Cherry Red put it out.”
It’s a good job Evo found it found while it was still intact. What is exciting is that there is more unreleased material in his archive. “I’ve got tons of incredibly rare stuff lurking in the loft of doom,” Evo says. “But there were already quite a lot of outtakes on the previous release Song Book Of Filth.
“Cherry Red did a good job with that one as well, there’s a cover that folds out, and I wrote information about every song, where it was recorded, where I was in my life at that time, what mood I was in. If you like this new one, you should definitely get Song Book Of Filth. It’s got alternative versions of some of the older stuff, all different solos and structures.
“Its extremely interesting if you are into the band, and there are brand new tracks on there as well. You’ve got Fast Eddie Clarke (Motörhead) playing on that, Algy (The Damned/Tank), Cronos and Mantas (Venom), Lips (Anvil), and Nik Turner (Hawkwind). Everybody’s on the bloody thing!”
Warfare and all of the names Evo mentions were part of a really cool moment in rock and Metal history, that crossover where Metal meets punk. It seemed to be overlooked for a lot of years by the rock media.
“There’s a lot of bands who never got as big as Motörhead but who are amazing,” he says. “I was just listening to Jaguar Axe Crazy the other day. Blitzkrieg, Venom, all these bands that did singles on Neat Records. There’s a massive interest again which I find incredible but strange that sixty-year-olds are showing the kids how to do it properly. The bands like Warfare and Tank had tremendous integrity. They were true to what they believed in. It was for real. It wasn’t as though we were putting it on. What you got was fucking real. It was street. We were real people, we were real musicians, and we were crazy, basically.
“It wasn’t all this bullshit of ‘we’ll make a boy band, or we’ll fabricate something’. I was in The Angelic Upstarts, and I often think of that show with Simon Cowell where the contestants come on and want to thank their mam and dad! Fuck off, your mam and dad. They have to hate your music! It’s there to piss ’em off. What do you want to thank them for? You form a band to get rid of all that bullshit. Can you imagine Simon Cowell’s face if The Angelic Upstarts came on, blasting out Police Oppression? What would he do?”
Also impressive is the legacy of Warfare continues to run and run. “There’s a lot of guys all over the world extremely influenced by Warfare,” Evo says. “There’s a band in Japan called Outrage. They’re signed to Universal, and they did our song Metal Anarchy on a DVD. There are absolutely loads of bands in Brazil. There’s a tribute band in Europe.
“Loads of people Facebook me and say, ‘if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be doing this’. The funniest one was a guy in New York who said, ‘I was a church-going boy, very polite until I heard Total Armageddon, and now I drink cider, smoke dope and fucking get pissed all the time’. At least we bred some lunatics as well, which is good!”
We’ve talked about legacy, and earlier, Evo mentioned integrity too. So, what does he think of the 1980s rock acts on the nostalgia circuit who are accused of using backing tapes? For example, the recent accusations against Mötley Crüe? “I don’t like LA Metal,” Evo says. “I haven’t got time for it. The only band to come out of America are the Ramones, as far as I’m concerned.
“Never mind Motörhead starting thrash. The Ramones started it before. If you listen to 1977 Live At The Rainbow, songs like Blitzkrieg Bop, Commando, fucking hell, what a wall of noise. Brilliant. Just pure anger coming out of Marshall and Ampeg amps.
“It’s great when you see four kids from a council estate who make a band. The Upstarts were from a pit town, not me. I was from a railway town, but the rest of the band, their alternative was to go down a hole and dig fucking coal, or you form a band and say ‘fuck you!’. And that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is about, you know.
“It’s not about sitting on a tour bus with a computer… it’s about…intimidating support bands! I was great at that. They used to shit themselves. They didn’t know if I meant it or I didn’t. I didn’t know either, but it was effective because it made me laugh! It was just one blitz of hell, Warfare.
“We went from 1983 ’til 1990. It was manic, full-on, fucking anarchy. Speaking to other people I know who work with young bands today say that the kids are soft as shite. They wouldn’t survive what we went through. You’ve got to think there were no mobile phones. There was nothing.
“I just said to my mam ‘I’m going to London’. She didn’t know where I was. London is one hell of a big place. If you didn’t write them a postcard, they didn’t know where you were, which was even better! You were a free spirit doing what you wanted to do. A different world but a better world, I think. Anyone who witnessed Soho back then down St Moritz or The Ship, it was fantastic. It made the sunset strip look like fucking pussies.”
In London, Evo had Lemmy produce the second album, as presented in the new CD. After Evo had completed the recording did he keep in contact with him and the rest of Motörhead? “Yes, well Würzel had actually played on the Metal Anarchy album, guitar on the title track,” Evo says. “Then the four of them got a house, lived together, and I used to go down to the house and stay. I kept in touch with them all the time. Later, Würzel did an album with me, a thing called Warhead.
“I used to stay at Würzel’s house and get absolutely fuckin’ hammered. He used to live in Islington, and his wife used to be horrified. She used to say ‘How do you do it? Where do you put it?’ I said ‘In me stomach, I drink it’. She said ‘Evo I’ve never known anyone drink like you, do you know how many pints you had last night?’ I said ‘No I don’t count them I just fucking drink them and fall down!’
“I used to meet up with Lemmy all of the time, I used to make a point of going if they were playing in Newcastle, always used to have a drink with him.”
What’s next for Evo, who is still putting out new music? “There is going to be a brand new Warfare album,” he says. “It’s all going to be all new stuff. I’m onto the second track and Tony from Venom Inc, The Demolition Man, he’s going to be on it playing bass for me and Mark Brabbs from Tank’s going to do the drums. It will be the first time ever I’ve let anyone drum on a Warfare album because obviously, I’m a drummer. But I’ve injured my shoulder, so to drum to that intensity is difficult.
“It’ll be interesting though having me on vocals, with Venom Inc’s bass player, and the drummer from Tank, it’ll be good. So that’s what I’m doing but that’s going to be a long time coming. And obviously, there’s the book, Warfare: Dreams, Destiny And Destruction, and that will be out next year.
“Ian Glasper is behind it and Gary Bushell is planning to do the intro for me. It’s extremely interesting, there are all sorts of anecdotes in there, from The Angelic Upstarts, Fast Eddie Clarke, Dave from Neat Records, and Würzel’s widow. It will be a read and a half ‘cos I’ve done things you can only guess at, I can assure you.”