- by Ian Fraser Release Date: Label:
What’s with the masks oh men of mystery? Slipknot, Kendo Nagasaki, bank robbery?
We don’t want people to realise we’re actually members Travis and the Stereophonics. Plus we like robbing banks.
With four bassists and a drummer you’ve potentially a bass register worthy of a reggae sound system. To misquote from a Monty Python sketch – it’s clear you prefer woody noises to tinny ones…
We just like noise. My favourite recent album is a CD of planes taking off. It’s awesome.
Woody noise. Tinny noise. We like noise. Don’t start getting all noisist on us.
“Everybody Come to Church” is the new album, produced by the guy from Embrace which on the face of things sounds as unlikely as Floyd’s drummer producing the Damned (which he did back in the day). How do you think the arrangement worked?
He saw us supporting Sleaford Mods and loved it. He badgered us into submission, though the promise of free studio time did sway things a little… As you say it is very unlikely and some of us had reservations at first but he was perfect for the job; he knew exactly how to get us sounding in the studio and how to keep us on our toes. He was a metal head as a teenager and so I think he was living out some teenage metal fantasy that he perhaps has to keep under wraps with Embrace!
Great bloke and he did an incredible job; managing to keep the live vibe but still giving the recording the precision and clarity a great album needs.
And also – The Damned’s Music for Pleasure is a really underrated album!
Legend is that the album was recorded during a fag break or something almost as fleeting. How did that help in terms of spontaneity and the album’s visceral sound?
Essential. The last album really WAS live, plug in and play with no second takes, which was good – it was the best we could have done at the time with the talent and money we had. For this one we wanted something more substantial that more closely captured the live vibe and I think we’ve cracked it. We spent an hour or so getting levels and basic sounds and then just fired through it. Some songs, Stupid People, Laughing Gas and Spread The Fear, didn’t exist and were written there and then. Others like Balloon, Watching and Bow Down we had played live in various formats and we just nailed them on the day. We did overdubs the next day; keys, solos and vocals, but apart from that it was a very quick process.
How happy are you with the album in terms of capturing the energy and excitement of Live Blizzard?
See above. Plus we were drinking steadily throughout the day, which ties in with an average Blizzard gig.
To what extent, if any, do you think it represents a departure from or progression on debut album “The Dangers of Evil Blizzard”?
The first album was done just because Mark E Smith gave us a load of cash after some dates we did with the Fall, and we thought we may as well document the moment before we spent the money. It wasn’t intended to be released as such and we were amazed when it was. When we did the album we didn’t really exist as a band; Stomper had only been in the band for a week and we didn’t really know what we wanted to sound like. It’s pretty tame but as I said, it’s the best album we could have done at the time.
When we released the first album we were used to playing to 20 people. When it was released I couldn’t believe we’d sold 50 – wow FIFTY!!!! – copies on the Louder Than War website. The new one sold out of it’s initial pressing in under two hours on release.
While we’re on the subject of releases, your split with Mamuthones on Rocket Recordings. Talk us through how that came about and who was it decided on the “split” (did you get to choose your partners or was it an arranged marriage)?
That was Rocket playing cupid. They wanted to release a demo version of ‘Sacrifice’ which was recorded when the band was just me, Prowler and Side and so we didn’t want to release that. So we recorded a new version that was too long to go on a 7” which was the original idea and we didn’t have enough new songs to fill a 12”. So Rocket hooked us up with Mamuthones and it’s a great EP. Teeth Of The Sea did a remix; we’ve played with TOTS and they’re good lads so we just gave them carte blanche to do what they wanted as a remix to go on it, and they got paid in copies of the single.
You played Liverpool Psych Fest recently and appeared to be equally at home under the heavy psych banner as you are playing the various punk fests. Has psychedelia become so all- encompassing now that there is not difference between music genres and does it matter a damn?
Matters not one iota. I haven’t the faintest what ‘Psyche’ means anyway. Long, looped and monotonous? That’s house. Deep and experimental? That’s Dub. Building and unrelenting? That’s Krautrock. Heavy as Hell? That’s metal. Uncompromising and individual? That’s punk (or rather, what punk should be, Green Day fans).
Chuck them all in a 5p carrier bag, give it a shake and you have Blizzard.
Judging by the size of the queues both before and during your appearance at Liverpool you were sorely under-billed on the small District stage. How pleased were you with the crowd response and indeed with the sound in District, which was a bit hit and miss over the course of the weekend?
The crowd made that gig. We weren’t happy with the sound problems and didn’t really enjoy the gig but the crowd made it a great occasion, not us. As is always the case.
I saw some great bands – I’ve waited 10 years to get to see the Octopus Project who were amazing – and it was a good weekend all round but I think they had a few problems which they’ll hopefully iron out for next year; we'd love to play again.
Talking of live performances you recently supported PiL in Manchester featuring arch-contrarian and agent-provocateur J Lydon. Did you go down well with the PiL-heads and how was John (or was it one of those Rolling Stones arrangements where you don’t actually get to meet the main act)?
We went down amazingly well. We’ve played with some bands that have legendarily partisan/dedicated fans such as Killing Joke, Hawkwind and even Embrace and got away with it with all of them!
As for Lydon, he’s actually really shy and gets terrible stage fright and their tour manager asked us to keep clear before the show but afterwards he was cool; I didn’t speak to him but Mopman and Stomper had a beer and a natter with him, both said he was sound.
You’ve been on the front of the Guardian’s entertainment supplement, luvvies. Any danger of you becoming “mainstream” (a la Marilyn Manson for example) and is that something you’d gladly embrace (ah! That word again)?
We wouldn’t embrace or reject anything in terms of success. If we keep getting good press, brilliant. We won’t go out of our way to get it though. That Guardian front cover was a hell of a shock, seeing my ugly mug on the front cover. We thought it was a small online feature and didn’t know it was going to print let alone the cover.
You seem to be on an upward trajectory. What’s currently cooking and what’s next?
Pot Noodle – Bombay Bad Boy. And next? Who knows. We’re taking a break in the new year as the past two years have been non-stop and, errr, we’re hardly spring chickens! Most of us have kids and long term partners and so the band obviously puts a strain on home life when you’re away a lot and so we’re scaling it down next year. Less gigs, but better gigs.