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

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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The Press interview, 1989

the pressThe Press were one of the USA’s earliest Oi! bands. Broadly sympathetic to the now thoroughly discredited British Trot-lite cult, the Socialist Workers’ Party (lite on political theory, heavy on bureaucratic maneuvering and building unpopular fronts), The Press didn’t have it easy in NYC’s right-leaning HxC skinhead environment.

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