In this writer’s opinion, if there’s one area of coverage that we might fall behind on here at Dying Scene, it’s in the oi! movement, particularly overseas. Enter: Booze & Glory. The London-based four-piece are back with a retooled lineup and a brand new full length, As Bold As Brass. Released yesterday (January 28th) in the States via Sailors Grave Records, the album consists of a baker’s dozen of the catchiest, booziest UK oi! tunes this side of the Cockney Rejects.
In anticipation of the release of As Bold As Brass, we caught up with singer/guitarist Mark for a chat about the new lineup, the influence of politics (both fascist and anti-fascist) in the UK oi! and punk scenes, the fact that the video for their track “London Skinhead Crew” has almost three million YouTube views, and what the heck a West Ham is. Oh, and I get scolded on soccer! Check out our full interview below and while you’re at it, check out the band’s newest video, “Only Fools Get Caught” right here. Oi!
Dying Scene (Jay Stone): First and foremost, congratulations on As Bold As Brass. I’ve had it on repeat for the last couple of days. I’d say it gets better with every listen, but it was damn fine right from the start. “Leave The Kids Alone” and “Only Fools Get Caught,” in particular, are catchy as hell. Nice work.
Booze & Glory (Mark): Thanks mate! Im glad you like it!
Sorry to start with a few boring, generic questions. Rest assured that they will get slightly less boring and generic as they go. If you’d be so kind, give our less-informed readers a rundown of the Booze & Glory lineup now. We understand there’s been a bit of turnover in the last year or so…
You are right – The line up changed last year. Firstly we lost the drummer then few months after the bass player. Both of them chose family life and just could not cope with gigging / recording etc… that time we were very busy. Off course we are all friends still and it wasn’t any problems because of this – it was their choice and they’ve been talking about leaving the band for ages..so we all knew it will come. Tommy (Ex The Cliches) replaced Mario on drums and Bubbles replaced Bart on bass. So the current line up is: Me (Mark) vocal/guitar, Liam vocal/guitar, Bubbles bass and Tommy on drums. I keep saying that in every interview but we have 4 different nationalities in the band – Poland, Ireland, Greece and Sweden, but Bubbles and Liam have British passports – Liam was actually born in London. I think its quite interesting coz we speak fluently 4 different languages haha! We are based in London area except of Tommy who lives in Sweden (Stockholm).
You guys have obviously established a reputation as a hard-working, hard-drinking London Oi! band. Give us Westerners who don’t get out much some insight on the state of the UK Oi! scene in 2014 and how it’s changed since you were first introduced to the scene? Is there a particular hub or epicenter that the scene revolves around now?
The scene in the UK has lots of great bands and I’m sure you ‘re not expecting me to list them and you know what bands I’m talking about. The scene in the UK has the biggest punk festival in the world, however comparing to Germany, UK is well behind if we are talking about music events. Big part of the UK scene is fucked up by politics (what else it could be..) Far right wing morons calling themselves “politically incorrect” against antifa, who see fascism everywhere… Well being agaist fascism is obvious and the idea of it is great – same as I cant see nothing wrong to have you own opinions and political views coz at the end of a day we are all free to choose. But to me they both lost the plot and if they bring their political views to the Punk and Oi! shows, this is something I can’t agree with. I remember many years ago we were chasing Nazis along the streets in my home town – It was so funny as they always used to hide at Police stations, and today those people try to be a part of the scene and come to my shows? What the fuck? Piss off!
But answering your question – if you are in London make sure you visit our friends Bill and Sarah at OIOI The Shop, then pop in for a pint to Elephants Head, I’m sure you ll easy find a reggae night somewhere.. London is great town to hang out – especially Camden Town area.. but also there’s punk gigs at Tufnell Park, Watford recently…you definitely wont be bored. Needless to say if you are football fan then you have plenty of choices…
I notice you, like many of us, saw and approved of the recent video of Freddy Madball shouting down some apparently fascist punks who showed up at a Madball show in Austria. How much effort do you guys find yourselves having to put in explaining to people that most people in the oi!/skinhead scene are not, in fact, violent or fascist? Any stories of being in a situation like Freddy’s?
Again, we posted that video coz there’s no way fascists will ever be part of our scene. Yes, I think once we had the situation when some twat started sieg-hailing while we were playing – u gotta have a cheek to do it in front of the guy from Poland hahah! But I don’t think we “attract” those kind of people. They have their own bands – “stars from the forest” I call them, J. We always have been against politics from day one and will always stick to it.
In your life as a band, you’ve either already played or are confirmed to play in places like Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, France, Belgium and Russia. Outside the UK, what country seems to show the most support for Booze & Glory so far? Where are you most excited to play this year that you haven’t played yet?
Another hard question. We have a great support in most of those countries I think. We haven’t played in Russia or Switzerland yet but will in a couple months. I think our following is growing more and more and hope this will continue after the new album will be officially on the market. We are always excited when we go on stage – don’t matter where is it to be honest. If we play in the sunny Barcelona or cold Sweden – its always a great night, lots of booze and even more glory haha! We try to book a shows in places we haven’t played yet – like mentioned Russia…we hope to confirm the show in Italy soon, Portugal…Slovakia.. and of course US!
As a follow-up, I know you guys were slated to play that festival in Connecticut that got cancelled last year. When might we see Booze & Glory on the US side of the Atlantic?
Yeah we nearly made it haha! I have no idea when its gonna be…We are receiving lots of messages from our fans in America – they are keep asking the same question! One day it will happen! I hope it will still be in 2014 – even though we are fully booked until September already so the time is running out slowly..
As Bold As Brass will be released by Sailor’s Grave Records on this side of the pond. Seems like a great fit for a working class Oi! band such as yourselves. How’d that relationship come about?
Yes we signed the contract with SGR and they are our American label. So far our relationship is great! They are bombarding us with interviews (I must have done 4 last week!) which means they know what does “promotion” means and they work really hard for us (and make us to work hard also haha!) Hope this will bring a result of our first American tour …Fuck , did I mention tour? I hate tours… hahah!
Your video for “London Skinhead Crew” has amassed well over 2.5 million views on YouTube in just over a year (check it out here). Does that number seem as staggering to you as it does to me? What do you think has made that particular song so successful? Is it the West Ham influence, you think?
Yeah, its unbelievable… For a band like ours it certainly is a massive success and of course none of us expected it. I think its a good tune, catchy chorus, easy words, cliché skinhead song. It’s about London, about West Ham – people like this sort of staff haha! As a first video we thought it will be a good idea to do it this way – show tattoos, drink beer in Camden Town etc… Because the video has so many views in a short time You Tube featured it which also helped to get even more views J.
Speaking of West Ham…explain what it means to be a West Ham fan, particularly for Americans who A)don’t understand what the fuss about soccer is all about and B) may only be familiar with West Ham because of that Green Street movie (or, I guess, The Firm). I don’t we think we have anything comparable to soccer fandom here, though it does look like Lars and the Old Firm Casuals are doing the official song for San Jose’s MLS team.
Well talking about myself… When I moved to London 10 years ago together with lots of other Polish people – when they went to see Big Ben and British Museum – my first trip was to Upton Park. It was a natural choice! Of course I would lie if I say Cock Sparrers and Cockney Rejects history and all those skinhead staff connected to the Hammers wasn’t one of the reasons I went there – of course it was! But then you need to go there and try yourself to understand the whole thing about West Ham… I fucking love this team ! They have a great working class history, even though they haven’t achieved much as a team – they have the best fans in the world! It’s such a shame I can’t be there as much I would like to. We wrote so many songs about the team, fans and the place and will probably write about it again.. Its funny how some people say – “oh…its easy to sing about West Ham…” simply because nobody sing about Man Utd, Spurs or Chelsea lol!
We may not necessarily get too caught up in Premier and Champions league soccer, but those of us of English decent do at least still get into the World Cup. What do you make of England’s chances in Brazil? Group D looks pretty fucking tough…
They have no chance mate.. I believe they will win the group though, but that’s about it … Looking forward to it! Love World Cups! Oh, its called football mate…foot!-ball! – not soccer! Haha!
Congrats again on As Bold As Brass. Stellar fucking job. Hope to catch you in the States before long.
Thank you very much for Your kind words and like you said – hope to catch u down Your end sometime!