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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A nice image or freedom? 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

To slave or scratch your arse? Menace’s first vinyl outing

On this day 41 years ago, Menace released their debut single, ‘Screwed Up’ b/w ‘Insane Society’.

Menace had formed at North London’s Hope & Anchor in 1976, emerging from the ashes of a pub rock band with the Spinal Tapesque name Stonehenge. They were a bunch of Irish kids who’d grown up in the seedy area around Kings Cross decades before it became gentrified. Like Sham, Sparrer and to some extent Chelsea, they were one of those transitional punk bands whose grittier ‘street’ stance pointed towards Oi. Continue reading

Skinheads in the Hong Kong Garden

On this day 40 years ago, Siouxsie and the Banshees released their debut single, ‘Hong Kong Garden’. Here’s what Siouxsie said about the song in an interview with Uncut magazine in 2005:

hong kong“I’ll never forget, there was a Chinese restaurant in Chislehurst called the ‘Hong Kong Garden’. Me and my friend were really upset that we used to go there and like, occasionally when the skinheads would turn up it would really turn really ugly. These gits would just go in en masse and just terrorise these Chinese people who were working there. We’d try and say ‘Leave them alone’, you know. It was a kind of tribute”. Continue reading

This ugly old world: a chat with IENA

Remember hearing Rixe for the first time? It felt like a lightning bolt instantly pulverising a world of facile pop-punk ‘Oi’ bands – within seconds, any notion that they had a ‘right’ to exist was put to rest.

The debut EP by IENA hit us in a very similar vein. Although not actually a skinhead band, IENA certainly sound like one. That’s partly down to Marco’s vocal delivery, which one may describe as more domineering than punk singing – more “one step closer and you’re dead” than “fuck you, I won’t do my homework”. Continue reading

Crophead Record Roundup #5

Reconquesta & Codi de Silenci: La força de la raó Split EP (Disco Nightmare)

Codi de Silenci and Reconquesta hail from the Lleida and Barcelona regions of Catalonia respectively. Both are skinhead bands of a Catalan separatist persuasion, and just as Catalan separatism has reached boiling point, these bands are on top of their game with their new split-EP, La força de la raó. Continue reading

Paris Violence in our minds: an interview with Flav

It wasn’t so long ago – five years perhaps – that I stumbled upon the name Paris Violence in a blog entry on classic French Oi band Komintern Sect: “Paris Violence should be right up your alley”, was a commenter’s advice to frog-Oi loving Anglo-Saxons.

But then, the sounds I found on YouTube weren’t quite what I had expected. Although the Fred Perry-clad lead singer’s vocal style clearly placed the band in the skinhead camp, and the melancholic overtones evoked Chaos en France-era memories, there was something else going on too. Continue reading

Crophead record roundup #4

Klasse Kriminale: Construito in Italia 7’ EP (Skinhead Sounds)

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Skinhead Sounds is run by Italian skinhead historian Flavio (who we interviewed here) and has just reissued two classic 7-inches. Constriuto in Italia is the 30th-anniversary release of the debut EP by Klasse Kriminale, who in the latter half of the 80s were one of very few Italian Oi bands left. Continue reading

Drinking with the swamp krauts: The Young Ones

Despite their band name, the Young Ones are actually in their thirties like all of us. Unlike most of us, they are a band from the Oi capital of Maastricht, which is run by them and their elder peers in Close Combat (who we interviewed before). They have finally started doing some new music after being out the game for some eight years. Their sound is like sped-up Cockney Rejects with a smattering of Hard Skinesque humour. Girth spoke to their bassist Merijn, whose interest in conspiracy theorist David Icke is second only to ours. Continue reading

Crophead record roundup #3

Bored of playing Ed Sheeran’s new album over and over? Run out of Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa bootlegs to explore? Grown sick of your homemade ‘Beyoncé Ballads’ compilation? Abdul Bleach Boy takes you on a journey through recent crophead releases, not suggesting but telling you what to listen to. Continue reading