Skinhead crusader: A chat with Phil Templar

Without a doubt, New York’s Templars were the greatest Oi band of the 90s, reinjecting grit, bite and danger into a genre that had been threatening to turn into laid-back ‘street rock’. What the Crypt style lo-fi explosion was to 90s punk rock, the Templars were to Oi. Omne Datum Optimum, although more rock ‘n’ roll and less ‘brickwall’ than their previous efforts, is this editor’s favourite 90s skinhead album.

While remaining close to the street, the Templars have forged their own sound and imagery without flogging too many cliches. Although a self-defined ‘anti-political’ band, their lyrics are often ripe with anger, even despair, at forces beyond our control fucking up our lives: just check out songs such as ‘Situation Critical’ or ‘Waiting For the Blood to Flow’. Ultimately, though, the skinhead ethos of fighting instead of claiming victimhood prevails: ‘Victim’ is probably the single most on-point tune about not wanting to be one.

Enough introductory talk, you all know the Templars anyway. I’m passing the mic to Girth, who had a chat with Sir Phil Templar.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Hammering the point home: American Oi without the cliches

Ever wonder what happened to MC Hammer, the famous hip-hop artist ranked #15 ‘Best Rapper Ever’ by Vibe? Well, after a spell as a preacher in a Christian ministry programme, he suffered a serious spiritual crisis. In the end, he thought ‘fuck that’ and went on a crazy drinking binge. It was in an Irish pub in Boston, Massachusetts, that he met a bar-room folk combo named The Nails (actually called The Snails at the time, but the lads were too drunk to pronounce that). They discovered a shared love of Guinness and traditional British Oi music. Many pints later, Hammer and the Nails were formed, and the rest is history…

We sent Girth to interview Matt, drummer and backing vocalist for Hammer and the Nails. Continue reading

Story of a picture: Police chase skinhead in Wood Green, 1981

In 1981, a series of youth riots broke out across Britain, starting in Brixton in April and spreading across the UK in July. Unlike in Southall, which saw the now famous standoff between Asian youths and skinheads, groups of mostly white skins joined the riots in Halifax and Bolton, or – as occurred in Hull and Sheffield – they started their own.

Ditto in the north London district of Wood Green, where according to local Labour MP Reg Race “crowds of 400 to 500 youths – black, white and of Mediterranean origin – roamed around Wood Green High Road”. Fights with the police and looting ensued, resulting in 50 arrests and – according to press reports at least – 26 injured cops.

The picture seen here was shot by photographer David Hoffman on Tuesday, 7th July 1981, when the riots reached both Wood Green and Manchester. The skinhead is being chased down the corner of Alfoxton Avenue and West Green Road in Harringay, which is close to Turnpike Lane tube station. Matt Crombieboy spoke to the photographer. Continue reading

Crophead record roundup #6

Reconquesta: Valors Perduts LP

The eagle has landed. About time too, we’ve been waiting for months on end. Ladies and gentlemen, the second Reconquesta album is here.

“Judges of Oi always bore me”, sneers frontman Romani in ‘Real, dirty and raw’, the album’s sole English-language song. Yet here I am clothed in my righteous robe, a judge of Oi passing verdict. To be honest, ‘Real Dirty and Raw’ had to grow on me when an early version went up on YouTube last June. I get the lyrical sentiment: the band doesn’t like inoffensive pop Oi. But I wasn’t sure the alternative had to sound like early 90s Böhse Onkelz covering ‘High Voltage’ by AC/DC. To my taste, this felt too much like muscle-flexing and not enough like punching.

Reconquesta had the balance between punk, rock ‘n’ roll and romanticism just right on their split EP with Codi de Silenci a few months earlier, and I was hoping the album would not collapse under metal overkill. It’s not that I hate metal, it’s just that nine times out of ten, it pans out very badly when punk or Oi bands try playing it. Continue reading

Anti-skinhead lyrics #1

Inferno hailed from Augsburg, a medium sized city in ultra-conservative Bavaria. Although ‘punk’ in disposition, they were arguably one of the earliest full-on hardcore bands on the European continent, leaving the likes of Discharge in a trail of smoke. Continue reading

Down at the Vortex at midnight

40 years ago today, The Jam’s third album All Mod Cons hit the shelves.

The cover photograph saw Paul Weller sporting a French crop, white button-down shirt with sleeves turned up twice, steel grey cropped Sta Prest, white socks and chestnut brown monkey boots. A look that harked back to 1968 and screamed early skinhead — or ‘hard mod’ if you prefer that term. Continue reading

Suedeheads, sorts and smoothies – a Creases Like Knives night

“Being a suedehead with its loose links appealed to the new Joe Hawkins. He began to study those other young men on the Underground, trying to separate the wolves from the ewes.”

Saturday Nov 10 from 6:30pm

Upstairs at the Wheatsheaf, Rathbone Place, London W1T

An evening of Richard Allen, Skinhead and the New English Library in the West End:

Stewart Home (Pure Mania, Defiant Pose)
Tim Wells (reading from his novel Moonstomp)
DJ Paul Hallam (Old Dog Books, proud purveyors of soulboy/psychobilly pulp)

Presented by Andrew Stevens (Scootering, Dean Street Press)

Followed by book launch for Stewart Home’s Re-Enter The Dragon, his exploration of Brucesploitation for all you Dragon Skins.

All welcome. Entry tax: zero (donations welcome)

1971 london suede

Making Oi! great again – Scotty Violence interviewed

Broken Heroes are one of the original 90s Jersey Oi bands, dating back to 1993. Their sound is raw, old skool, and their lyrics don’t compromise. They’ve gone through a few personnel changes, but their most recent is an all-star American Oi line-up featuring ex Armed Suspects singer Scotty Violence. In a world where some Oi bands are so watered down their piss is almost transparent, bands like Broken Heroes are perhaps more relevant than ever. Girth asked Scotty a few questions over email, and he was more than happy to oblige. What a pleasant chap!

Continue reading

The sign of betrayal

“I love treason, but hate a traitor” – these words are attributed to Julius Caesar. Whether he really uttered them or not, who could disagree? Nobody respects a traitor, even if the information they give you comes in handy, thank you very much. Continue reading

Freedom or a nice image? Codi de Silenci interviewed

cds_logoIt hardly escaped attentive readers that I consider the Catalan skinhead scene one of the most vital right now. Even casual visitors wouldn’t get the impression that it is just a historical re-enactment society: although all styles from the 60s, 70s and 80s through to today’s variations are present, tradition is merged with purpose and meaning firmly located in the now. Catalan nationalism has been a major international news item since last year, and although some Catalan skins I spoke to are more critical of it than others, it’s fair to say that largely, they are among its most passionate supporters.

Like Reconquesta, Rebelion and older groups such as Pilseners, Codi de Silenci are an Oi band that wear their Catalan patriotism on their sleeves. Rather than just being a lyrical feat, I would say this sentiment informs the way their music sounds and feels. And just as Codi de Silenci aren’t the kind of band that constantly rewrites the same songs about boots, booze and bovver, as interview partners they aren’t mediocrities with fuck all to say. Although bassist and prime lyricist Lluís Lacruz stresses that Codi de Silenci are an Oi band rather a political one, he’s offering real opinions and arguments that you’re free to embrace or knock down. Continue reading