Turbo Genova: the birth and rise of Italian Oi band Stiglitz

Looking up the definition of ‘turbo’, a word that first emerged in the early twentieth century, we find multiple meanings, although it usually denotes something that is connected to turbines – e.g. a turbocharger, an aeronautic turboprop, etc. In the 80s, the term entered the lexicon of heavy metal to describe things that are unbelievably powerful – so powerful they may as well be driven by turbines. And so, a thrash band from the Polish People’s Republic simply christened itself TURBO. In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, Judas Priest issued their 1986 album Turbo Lover.

The 90s gave us Turbonegro of course, and more recently, a subgenre dubbed ‘Turbo Oi’ has emerged in Italy. One of the leading lights of the movement are Stiglitz from Genoa – a young group stepping into the illustrious footsteps of Gangland and many other local legends. Genoa, you must know, is one of the most important cities not only for the historical development of the world market, but also for the Italian skinhead scene.

Stiglitz were founded two years ago by Gianluca (vocals), Beppe (vocals), Alberto (guitar), Francesco (bass) and Martino (drums). Following up on their self-titled debut mini-album of 2020, they’ve just published a single called Tempi grammi on Flamingo Records. I’ve no idea if they’ll like hearing this, but the vibe reminds me somewhat of the first Skinkorps single, Une force, un hymne – or a more melodic version of it. Or maybe it’s just a more melodic version of the first Stiglitz album. Whatever the case, Valentina Infrangibile spoke one of their two vocalists, Gianluca.

By the way, 16 December will see the release of their new EP, Deja Vù.

How did the Stiglitz project come about?

Gianluca: The idea came at one of the many punk nights organized by the Adescite crew at the Utopia squat in Genoa, which was unfortunately evacuated in 2019. It was a quite peculiar period, and certainly very different from the world since covid.

Before the pandemic, there could be as many as four gigs in a week, and not only at Utopia, which was in fact the most prolific venue for our kind of music at that time, but also in all the other squatted and self-managed spaces in the city. So, during all this ‘tour de force’ of punk/hardcore that lasted a few years, Stiglitz emerged from the experiences of the band members in this scene.

What does the name mean?

We love Quentin Tarantino’s movies, so we chose one of his characters that we thought fully represented us… [The character they refer to is Hugo Stiglitz from the movie Inglorious Basterds – he’s the rogue German sergeant who kills 13 Gestapo officers and utters the now-famous phrase: “Say ‘auf Wiedersehen’ to your Nazi balls”).

Your line-up with two vocalists is quite unusual. Was this choice inspired some other band?

We were inspired by the band Banda del Rione, an anti-fascist skinhead Oi band from Turin whose music Gianluca admires. But we also just liked the idea of making idiots of ourselves together on stage just as we always did as audience members. Plus, it gives us both some space to breathe and also do more of a call-and-response thing with the audience.

Tell us a bit about your lyrics, which contain quite a few references to your hometown of Genoa.

Our relationship with Genoa is one of eternal love and hate, as is probably the case for anyone who lives here.We write the lyrics together, for example during long sessions at the rehearsal studio. Someone might bring a few words along, someone else will put in the metrics. It sounds easy but it really isn’t. We put extreme care and passion into what we do, and we leave the rest to the audience.

What are the future plans for the band, and what can we expect from your new EP?

In the recent period, having played quite a few dates around Italy and beyond, we decided to take a break and concentrate on the release of the new album that will be published in a turbo format that must remain a secret for now. We can only say that it will be released next year by Flamingo Records – these guys are like brothers to us, and we’re sending them a big hug. We’ll soon be looking for new live dates for the period after the release, so please come forward with any offers. As for “what to expect”, I can only answer “some wholesome Turbo Oi”.

[PS – The release of the new EP, titled Deja Vù, has now been officially announced for 16 December]

Is there any gig that you have particularly fond memories of?

It’s hard to choose one over another. We always had a good time, beginning with the covid-period date at Buridda, a squat in Genoa, which was streamed by the Adescite Crew, to the one in Marseille that we played after very few hours of sleep. The night before Marseille when we played at Zapata, another squat in the city springs to mind, as does that incredible, absurd and wonderful date in Clavesana at the Lui & Lei Bar. Maybe the only ones who can really answer the question are the kids we met at the gigs.

Do the band members have any other projects?

Apart from Beppe and Gianluca, we all do. Alberto plays guitar in the Cocks and in the Goones, Francesco used to play drums in 17100 Kids from Savona and currently plays in L.E.I.S.F.A, while Martino has several projects, such as Gazed, Mid Atlantic and I Danza delle Meridiane. Ah, there’s also the Braghe di tela Studio project, but that’s a story for another time.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: most international readers are not familiar with the term ‘Turbo Oi’, but in Italy it has been around for a while now. You can even see t-shirts with the words ‘Turbo Oi Skinheads’ being worn at gigs. Where and when did the term originate, who came up with it and what does it stand for?

On this, we would like to consult two mates, Lobo from Liguria and Stefano from Veneto, who can tell you exactly where the term originated and why we are using it.

Among the Turbo Oi skinheads

Lobo: The term Turbo Oi was invented in the rehearsal room with my old band Clear Cut, because we were looking for a term to define ourselves. We weren’t Oi, let alone Oi-core, so that’s the term that we came up with. Over time it became a kind of slogan, to distance us from certain attitudes in the so-called scene that made us sick: drug use, connivance with the cops (both professionally and mentally), the willingness of some to compromise, the cowardice of others. Turbo Oi stands for a kind of mentality that in our view has gone somewhat lost in certain circles – and we obviously want to convey it without being preachy. Turbo Oi was our way, located somewhere between the serious and the facetious, to say that we were there too but we wanted to convey something different, something constructive: “Turbo Oi is a rope tied between Oi and über-Oi – a rope over an abyss”.

Stiglitz were the second, and have so far been the last band – with the exception of Tigre, who will soon be rotating in your cassette players – to be able to boast the term.

Stefano (Basta Tolleranza and Padua skinheads): Additionally, the slogan “Basta Tolleranza” (no more tolerance) began as a joke in a Chinese bar in Bologna, which then turned into a real crew with people from different regions – and the first rule of Basta Tolleranza is that you don’t talk about Basta Tolleranza.

Gianluca: Well, let’s start with the fact that Turbo Oi is a reality that has been on leaflets for years now. The way we far understand and live it as Stiglitz, Turbo Oi is a genre devoid of the rhetoric of the shaven-headed, boots-and-braces skinhead who complains about his eight hours of work and that his money somehow never lasts till the end of the month – my advice would be: stick your nose in those little packets of white powder less often, apparently it helps. For us, this is linked not only to the attitude Lobo has described, but also to more introspective lyrics, and the fact that we don’t want to be impersonators of the good old days of the movement – kids, there are other problems now, and they’re huge. You could say that we have refined and sharpened the term even further, namely by writing lyrics that strip the genre of all the false rhetoric that started getting on my nerves after a while. That’s what Turbo Oi means for me – you may not like it, but it’s better than cosplaying the 80s. Better to come across as a curmudgeon than be a pathological liar.

Unbelievable power: turbo

What do you think are the main musical trends and developments in Italian Oi today – and which ones do you prefer?

As far as we’re concerned, we are a ‘soup’ of genres. We all listen to a lot of music, but we worship bands such as Dalton, Tacita, Bull Brigade C4 and Klasse Kriminale, all of whom have only released killer stuff in the last few years. And let’s not forget bands such as City 493, Lenders, The Blokes, Barbara Still and Zeman – all of them are dear friends who in our opinion represent the true spirit of punk in Italy.

We’ve been told that one of you has a skinhead father. If that’s true, what does your dad think of the Italian skinhead scene today – does he ever complain to you that it isn’t what it used to be?

We would prefer not to answer that…

Can you explain the importance of Genoa and the surrounding region for the history of the Italian skinhead scene to our international readers?

For the importance of the Genoese and Ligurian scene, just consider for a second group such as Klasse Kriminale, Gangland, Nessun Pudore, Cervelli Stanki, Uguaglianza, 5MDR, Piovono Pietre and many others, not to mention the various crews, such as SHARP ‘Claudio Spagna’, Odiati e Fieri, scooter clubs such as Hold Bastards and Sweet Sensation – just to name a few that were part of the scene in those years. To answer this question would probably require another interview, but why not? Just come to a gig in Genoa and ask around. Our city literally oozes subcultures and street-life for as long as anyone can remember.

[We’d also like to refer readers to our interview with Genoa scene veteran Guendalina Buonavita – Editor]

Thanks for your time guys – got any final message for the kids reading this?

Thank you too, Valentina. As for a message for the kids, well, it’s not like we’re great dispensers of wisdom – but let’s give it a try. Surely, the kids should support – and sometimes endure – all the bands that we have here in the ‘Italian boot’. We must always remember that there’s something wonderful to all we experience – and that, as the covid period has taught us, we should take nothing for granted. A big hug to everybody. And always remember: no more tolerance!

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4 thoughts on “Turbo Genova: the birth and rise of Italian Oi band Stiglitz

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