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Rage on – Preston’s Evil Blizzard are back!

Posted on - 14th October, 2023 - 1:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, City Centre, Music, Preston City Centre, Preston News, Things to Do in and around Preston, What's On in Preston
Evil Blizzard are getting set to launch their fourth studio album at Blitz. Pic John Middleham
Evil Blizzard are getting set to launch their fourth studio album at Blitz. Pic John Middleham

Fans travel the length of the country to see them, they’ve graced the cover of the national press, hung out with Mark E Smith, and were the last band to headline The Guild Hall. After a brief hiatus, Evil Blizzard are back! The band’s fourth studio album, Rotting in the Belly of the Whale, has already been described in the music press as their ‘most furious, compelling and diverse album to date.’ To celebrate, the cult band is holding an album launch party at Preston’s Blitz. We went to find out more…

Evil Blizzard have been confusing people for over a decade now, peddling their heavy bass driven mix of punk, psych, and metal across the UK and over to Europe

Following the success of their last album, the Worst Show on Earth, the band from Preston took a year off, which in true Blizzard style, became four years off, as Stoko aka Filthy Dirty explains: “We timed things in a typically awful manner. After the last album, we’d played pretty much constantly for seven years, as well as having full-time jobs and family commitments so we decided to have a year off, which ended in March 2020. Time for us to get the band back together for one rehearsal and then go into lockdown!”

As the band took a break the lineup changed, losing a bass player and gaining a guitarist – yes, the band that was once comprised of four bass players and a singing drummer, is now made up of three bass players, a guitarist, a singing drummer and a man in a pig mask on keys.

Filthy Dirty has swapped his bass for a guitar and the band brought Mr Dibs, of Hawkwind fame, in on bass, creating a new sound, as Stoko outlines: “Kav decided he didn’t want to continue with the band and coincidentally Dibs, aka Fleshcrawl, had just left Hawkwind and had joined Blizzard, so that definitely changed our sound slightly.

“Both musicians operate in the same way, creating sounds more than notes, but they do it in a different manner, which was a great way for us to move on. Kav is completely unique as a musician and totally inimitable, so it was nice for Fleshcrawl to be able to fill that space in a different way.

“The new album is a little different to previous ones; we’ve got more elements of our record collections in there – bits of goth, hardcore punk, electronica, dub; it’s more atmospheric.”

Read more: Preston band release greatest hits album with absolutely nothing on it

“How we describe our sound is probably different to how our audience does,” says Mark Whiteside aka drummer Side. “But for me, it’s a sort of punk, dance, prog, goth, mish-mash of noises. Ask Filthy again, and I’m sure he will leave out the prog bit!

“Of course, we would be the best headliner of any festival. 100,000 people singing ‘Are You Evil?’ would be better than what most of the bands that frequent the big stages around the world offer.”

Whereas the band’s previous albums were recorded over just a couple of days, Rotting in the Belly of the Whale was recorded over three months at Hard Rock Studios in Blackpool as the band poured time into recording and Filthy/Stoko restructured the tracks in his home studio.

Evil Blizzard unveiled their new look at Glastonferret. Pic Michael Porter Photography
Evil Blizzard unveiled their new look at Glastonferret. Pic Michael Porter Photography

As well as working together as Evil Blizzard, four members of the band work on other projects; Pete Brown aka Stomper plays bass for Ginnel, Mr Dibs aka Fleshcrawl is in Hawklords, Stoko aka Filthy Dirty works on solo material as does drummer Mark Whiteside aka Side as One Sided Horse. So, I wondered how Blizzard’s other projects fed into the sound of their new album.

Read more: Preston band Ginnel celebrate debut album release with two gigs in one day

“During lockdown, I did a solo album, mainly out of boredom rather than a desire to do so but doing that gave me loads of ideas and confidence in the studio, which definitely fed into the production of the album,” says Stoko. “I’ve always recorded stuff, for TV themes, adverts, and so on, but never under purely my own instinct and guidance so that gave us a different slant on what sounds we could use in Blizzard.”

Evil Blizzard are releasing Rotting in the Belly of the Whale on Cracked Ankles, an independent label set up in Preston by Stoko and his brother as an outlet for Blizzard’s releases.

“Myself and my brother decided to set up our own label, which has been brilliant,” he says. “We’ve gone on to release other bands such as HotWax, TV Face, Hauspoints, Chum, Michael, Krom from Sweden and even a single with King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard.”

So, what does the band think of the music scene in Preston at the moment?

“It’s brilliant,” says Stoko. “There was a period about 10 to 15 years ago where there was loads going on, but then it all seemed to dry up. All the bands had kids, I think! So, there was a fallow period but over the past three years we’ve seen the likes of Sugarstone, Ginnel, Polypores, La French, Whinge, Hauspoints, Uhr, Powder and The Dead Things all appear who are all excellent bands. Part of that is down to The Ferret being there for new bands; you can’t understate how important places like that are in a place as big as Preston with so few venues left.”

Read more: The Ferret hits £45k fundraising goal thanks to huge community effort

Evil Blizzard combine goth, hardcore punk, electronica and dub. Pic Michael Porter Photography
Evil Blizzard combine goth, hardcore punk, electronica, and dub. Pic Michael Porter Photography

“I would have to agree with Filthy, but then again I hardly listen to much new music,” says Mark. “I rely on my scratched old vinyl that I love. Preston and the surrounding areas offer some great live music and as always it seems it’s the big secret that the industry doesn’t really bother about.”

Over the past 12 years, Evil Blizzard have supported PiL, Killing Joke, The Fall, Hawkwind, Sleaford Mods, Embrace, The Mission, and The Chameleons, amongst many others, and the band already have a number of dates lined up in Manchester, Hebden Bridge, and Lancaster for later this year and into 2024. I wondered if they had any tales of rock n roll excess.

“What happens on the road stays on the road, apart from sitting in a dressing room or being thrown out of our own gigs it’s pretty un-rock and roll,” says Mark. “Well, that’s what we tell our wives and girlfriends.”

“We’ve had our moments of debauchery,” says Stoko. “But there’s nothing more tedious than bands talking about how wasted they got – he says trying not to incriminate himself. However, there’s been some marvellous moments. For me personally playing with CJ Ramone was a buzz as a lifelong Ramones’ obsessive. We’re all big Killing Joke fans, so seeing their drummer wearing one of our t-shirts was a good one. But many of those bands you mention were important to us growing up, playing with The Mission was a dream come true for me.”

Back to the Blizzard live experience, those who are new to the band often come away wondering what on earth they have witnessed. More often than not the band takes to the stage to a cacophony boos. It happens so regularly that it completely took the band back when they recently played in Cardiff and the crowd started cheering. Newcomers expect to hear a racket and are surprised that the band can actually play.

“It’s a messy and unsavoury affair in general,” says Stoko. “Right from the early days, there’s been a sense of celebration and pantomime about gigs. People travel from Edinburgh to Southampton, and they’ve all got to know each other so it’s become a really social event.”

Some of the fans dress up, as Mark explains: “There are plenty of Bliddiots such as The Pink Poodle, Len, The White Rabbit and The Cardinal. Many just come along in whatever leftover fancy dress they can find in a skip I think!”

Evil Blizzard launch their album at Blitz on Saturday 4 November.

“We’ve got Hauspoints supporting,” says Stoko. “They’re pretty new and really, really good. If Television, The Fall, and Can formed a band and lived in Chorley, that’s how they’d sound.” 

“People should come,” says Mark. “It’ll be a great party. We’re offstage by 10pm so there’s plenty of time for last trains and the venue is open until the early hours for a good old sesh. Support local bands, venues, and all that – just as Filthy has said.”

We’ll see you there.

Purchase tickets for the Evil Blizzard album launch on Saturday 4 November at Blitz on the Skiddle website.

Pre-order Evil Blizzard’s Rotting in the Belly of the Whale via the Bandcamp website.

You can follow Evil Blizzard on Facebook and join the Evil Blizzard Fan Page.

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