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

Two-stroke in your veins and two fingers up at the law – Martin ‘Sticky’ Round

Dubbing yourself a “terrorist” of any sort may not strike many as particularly wise in the current climate, but for the ‘two-stroke terrorists’ of the 80s scooterboy movement, recognition of any kind would be welcome. Former Scootering magazine editor Martin ‘Sticky’ Round has made a living for himself documenting the scooter scene globally since those days. In his book Scooterboys: The Lost Tribe (Carpet Bombing Culture), he has set out to capture the hallmarks of one of Britain’s last truly working class subcultures which defies pigeon-holing on any other level.

Andrew Stevens (Vespa PX125) sat down with Sticky to discuss police harassment, flight jackets and the suedehead roots of 80s cut-down scooters. Continue reading

A Sense of Style: Modzines

Modzines: Fanzine Culture From The Mod Revival, Eddie Piller and Steve Rowland, 2019 (Omnibus)

“The US Army parka, the trilby hat, the Harrington jacket, desert or monkey boots and a Fred Perry t-shirt made up the basic look. Small pockets of adherents sprung up in certain areas, like East London, Paddington and Waterloo, as they grew in number, these new mods began to coalesce into a scene.”

It may read like a casting for Call The Midwife extras, but in 1979 it was a chance meeting of some West Essex schoolkids in the queue for Who documentary The Kids Are Alright outside South Woodford’s ABC cinema which sparked a resurgence in the gospel of scooters, amphetamines, frenetic guitars and the written word, at least on the part of Modzines author Eddie Piller. 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

In memory of Sigaro (1956-2018)

An obituary by Flavio Frezza, author of Italia Skins and editor of Crombie Media

Angelo “Sigaro” Conti was born in Rome in 1956 and became a skinhead in the early 80s. In the mid 80s, after the Italian skinhead scene had split into a far-right and a non-racist wing, he embraced the redskin tendency. 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

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!

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Couldn’t give a fuck, where’s me beer? An Interview with Steve Smith of Red Alert

redalertThe punk rock firmament glowed brighter on Wearside than most other English conurbations during the 1980s, with Red Alert, Red London and the Toy Dolls all sharing beers, band members and basslines on Oi compilations during its heyday. Sharpened by the experience of growing up amid the closure (or “managed decline”) of its shipyards during the Thatcher era, Red Alert saw themselves as Sunderland’s answer to the deserted Docklands’ Cockney Rejects and released a steady stream of EPs on No Future Records, calling it quits after their standout 1983 album We’ve Got The Power. By 1989 the band had reunited, though line-up changes inevitably followed over the years (bringing in the likes of Lainey from Sunderland punks Leatherface), as did a split LP with The Templars following a New York tour.
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