Sophie Sparham speaks to one of Evil Blizzard’s many bassists, Michael ‘Stoko’ Stokes, before their fourth appearance at Blackpool’s Rebellion Festival.
Louder Than War: The last time I spoke to you lot, Everybody Come to Church had just come out, what’s been happening since then?
We toured the album and I ended up in hospital. It was a three-month tour and I just fell over at work and found out it was a suspected heart attack. I had the best doctor in the world. He said ‘Don’t stop smoking or drinking’ but he did tell me I was knackered. So they finished the last few gigs without me.
Mark, our singer and drummer has had a side project with the lads from Embrace. So he recorded an album with them which meant Evil Blizzard could relax and not kill ourselves. We regrouped at the beginning of this year and have a single coming out in a couple of months.
LTW: And you’ve set up your own record label?
Yes, we did the first two albums with Louder Than War, we wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for them. When we did the last album we had a few labels sniffing round but in the end we would rather sign with Louder Than War.
John Robb said Louder Than War is just there to get you started, we got told to do it ourselves because our fan base is so big you could release something tomorrow and sell five hundred copies.
The label is called Cracked Ankles Records. It’s me and my brother running it at the minute. He’s a music obsessive and lives in London. We were trying to think of a name for ages but everything was taken.
LTW: So why Cracked Ankles?
When our mum was young she was always pestering for a dog and so one night our grandad came back from the pub, found a stray dog and brought it home. The dog couldn’t walk as it had cracked ankles and that’s what it was called Cracked Ankles Records.
It’s all up and running, we wanted to do it properly. It’s not about having control, we’ve always had control with our work. It’s about giving fans top availability and exposure. The single is recorded and we’re going into the studio in September with the hope of releasing an album early next year.
LTW: You do most of your writing in the studio don’t you? Are you making this album in the same way?
We’re making it the same way we made the first two albums, we had three or four songs written and a few riffs and ideas. We never rehearse because we can’t be bothered, we just play live. So when we play together think we might as well do a gig.
Both albums had two or three songs made up on the spot, will do the same again with this one. We’ve already got four songs completed. The original idea was to not write anything then write one massive song that was forty minutes long. But we thought that was a s**t idea!
LTW: You’ve played Rebellion for the past four years, how do you find the festival?
It’s a great festival! The first time we played I was a bit hesitant about it. I thought it’d be old punks and bands that had just reformed for the weekend, but we got there and it was great. I saw some bands that I loved as a kid and new punk bands, it’s a nice vibe.
I’m a Ramones obsessive and CJ Ramone played after us. My wife knocked on his dressing room door and he recognised me from Evil Blizzard and we had a beer with him. He was great!
LTW: How much do you identify with the punk scene?
There’s five musicians in the band, three have a very metal back ground. Myself and another basist have a punk and post punk background. I’m into bands like The Ruts, Buzzcocks, The Ramones, then after that it was PiL etc. So we basically combine the riffs of Sabbath with nonsense of punks.
Evil Blizzard play Rebellion Festival this weekend.
All words by Sophie Sparham. Read more from her in her Louder Than War author archive.