The Oi! wave that could have been

The sun is setting and the day is late, as they walk over this wasteland of hate. Their music is grimy and raw, just like their natural habitat. But sometimes, they feel the lure of a rather different sound – one that is cool and rational, if somewhat bleak; maybe a bit like the layout of their housing estate. Our guest writer Andrea Napoli, who runs the coldwave label Avant! Records, investigates the missing links between skinhead and post-punk.

When I was 16 or 17, I went through a skinhead phase back in my hometown of Como, a small Northern city in Italy mostly famous for its beautiful lake. However, if you’re into Oi – and I assume you are if you’re reading this – you may also know Como for local bands such as Asociale and Erode.

BLITZ_NEW+AGE-658598cI don’t remember how exactly I got into it, all I know is that I loved all the proper bands and the outfit was there too: cropped hair, Fred Perry polos, Gazelle trainers, oxblood Harrington jacket.

It only lasted one year, this whole full-package thing. I’ve always been kind of reluctant to buy into a full-on look or uniform, mostly because I felt like it didn’t allow for other sides of my personality to come out. How can one be a skinhead and listen to, say, the Gun Club or Pussy Galore, I wondered? Or Joy Division? Continue reading

A one-off statement

We’ve noticed that we have a few racists, nazis, white nationalists, or whatever they call themselves now following our page and leaving comments. Partly that’s a just fact of life: anything skinhead-related will attract these lowlifes. We’re also aware that the history of this subculture has always been complicated, and in fact, we think we’re doing a decent job accounting for this. We have no intention of spinning fairytales about some harmonious ‘spirit of 69’ past that was suddenly upset when Ian Stuart started singing for the National Front. This past never existed: whether in 1968, 1977 or 1982, there were always skinheads who were bigots, and there were always skinheads who weren’t. Continue reading

Skinkorps story: an interview with Philippe Nicolas

Skinkorps – what’s your take on them? Asking Creases Like Knives contributors and friends, I get a broad range of views. “They had a bad reputation”, says one of them, “and some provocative attitudes too, but probably no interest in politics”. – “Ultimately, they were just a regular Oi band, no different to The Last Resort or 4-Skins”, argues another. – “They were one of the dodgier French 80s bands”, counters a friend. And a French acquaintance adds, “We pretty much take for granted that Skinkorps was a right-wing band”.

24b4c26c16a14c93899bb438e87fec42Whatever truth – or untruth – to each of these statements, it’s beyond dispute that Skinkorps from Rouen played some of the most bone-crushing Oi of the 80s. A typical Skinkorps song was mid-tempo to sluggish, featured a loud bassline that carried the tune along and a rough vocal with that arrogant, domineering intonation so characteristic of French bands from the period. The lyrics were often humorous, sarcastic, even cynical – too ambiguously so for some tastes. Continue reading