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

Roman skingirl: an interview with Lorena Plescia of Fun

How many skingirl vocalists can you think of? There were certainly not very many in the 1980s. But in Italy, Lorena Plescia was singing for the original Roman Oi band FUN as early as in 1982. Our new correspondent Francesca Chiari spoke to her about the early Roman skinhead scene.

This is the first of several articles dedicated to women who have left a mark on the skinhead scene of Italy.

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Street music and football scuffles: a chat with Crown Court’s Trevor Taylor

Do you remember the days of 2014? The international ‘Oi’ music landscape was awash with overproduced pop/rock garbage, but then Crown Court came along with their aptly titled Trouble From London demo, delivering a sudden, well-aimed kick in the nuts. Tunes like ‘Hammer A Nail’ and ‘B.T.P’ delivered Oi music as it should be: raw, gritty, and oozing the grime of inner-city streets.

Subsequent releases easily lived up to the promise. What’s more, they contained beautiful references to Haringey/Tottenham, north London home to both Crown Court’s vocalist Trevor Taylor and Creases Like Knives. There’s ‘No Paradise’ off the English Disease EP, for instance – an ode to Trevor’s stomping ground near Manor House tube station. Or ‘Sammy Skyves’ off the Capital Offence debut album – a worthy monument to the legendary black lad who was a leading Tottenham Hotspurs bootboy in the 60s. Continue reading

The cropped rats of Tilbury: ‘Farming’ revives skinhead movie cliches

Farming is the latest skinhead movie, even if it feels more like one from the 80s or 90s. Based on writer-director Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s youth – very loosely, I should imagine – it tells the tale of a Nigerian boy named Enitan, who is raised by British white working-class foster parents in Tilbury. The friendless Enitan is brutalised by a gang of racist local skinheads. Since he can’t beat them, he joins them. But his ordeal has only just begun, as he becomes both victim and victimiser. While continuously receiving racist abuse, he doles out beatings to other non-whites in a bid to gain acceptance from his ‘friends’. Continue reading

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.

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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