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Brassknuckle Interview

08/11/2017

So what is like being in a oi! band in 2017? And do you think you would all have an easier time if you grew your hair to mohicans and played straight ahead punk?

Jonny: It's great being in an Oi! band, well 99% of the time it is, the 1% is when the politics rears its head. We have to defend ourselves even these days & from both sides, we have the left wing calling us Nazis & the right wing calling us reds, as a band we have no political leanings so won't pick a side so we just get shit from both. We have political songs but they're slagging the politicians off, whichever party they're from, for the state of the country rather than supporting one side over the other. Playing gigs is great & as we're getting known a little people are coming to watch us & not just hanging around waiting to see the headline band. The majority of people we meet are great as well, there's still a great scene out there & some great people involved it's just a small fraction who want to spoil it for everyone else, so yeah being in an Oi! band is great. If we all grew mohawks & played straight out punk it probably would be easier, the punk bands don't seem to get the same amount of shit as Oi! bands no matter what they sing about. They also don't have the stigma attached to them that skins do so maybe mohicans is the way forward for us. Saying that the majority of the band couldn't grow them due to our advancing ages & receding hair lines.

You managed to get on Rebellion this year, and for next year. How did this come about, and why do you think you were selected?

Jonny: I guess it came about from me nagging Darren until he finally cracked & gave us a spot. Seriously though, I messaged Darren with a few of our videos & sent him a copy of our album & emailed the application website & we got accepted. I know there were also some people putting in a good word for us & these people get asked & listened to about what bands could be worth giving a shot to. I'm not going to name them as it wouldn't be fair cos they'd then have lots of bands on their case either asking them to put a word in or why they haven't put them forward. We owe these guys a huge thanks & have told them personally how much we appreciate it. As for getting on again for next year I just got in touch with Darren to thank him for the opportunity & how much we'd enjoyed it & he offered us to play again next year so we must have done something right. We really enjoyed the gig, in fact the whole experience & we had a decent number watching us who all seemed to enjoy it so I'm guessing that & some good feedback will have had an influence on us getting asked back. Can I just say how honoured we were to just get asked then the gig was a stormer & getting asked back again is just amazing. There's a lot of people who say playing Rebellion is selling out but we don't see it like that, nothing to do with money we just see it as a way of getting our music out there & pushing the whole Oi! scene a little forward. We were chuffed with the number of other Oi! bands who played this year & that a good number of us have been asked back again. There's some bands who deserve to play but will probably never get asked due the bullshit that is spread about them which we don't agree with but that doesn't mean we should turn down the chance to play what is without a doubt the biggest festival of our type of music out there. We really do believe that we should play where we want with who we want & we very rarely turn down gigs.

Your release Skinhead 82 came out last year (2016, and I believe it is just being repressed. What was the feedback?

Jonny: Yeah Skinhead '82 came out in December 2016, Wouter at Rebellion Records had 300 CDs made to start with then a little later partnered up with Longshot Records from the states to have it pressed on vinyl too. Again, Wouter is someone we owe massively, he heard a few demo tracks from us & wanted to go ahead & put the album out, we're happy to be part of the Rebellion family along with some other great bands such as Top Dog, B Squadron, Crown Court & more. The original pressing has pretty much sold out & Step 1 Music approached Wouter about doing a re-press, we were all happy about it so it went ahead so the albums available again now through Step 1. The feedback for the album was good, we were pleasantly surprised by how well it was received, we liked the sound we had & the tracks we'd recorded but didn't realise just how many people would like what we're doing. We got good feedback from people who bought it either from us at gigs or from the label, guys from other bands who we played with & love what they do told us how much they liked it & that was a huge confidence boost for the band. Some of the reviews we got blew us away with the praise they gave us & the comparisons they made, one that sticks in my mind was by the Oi of America BlogSpot which we were all chuffed to fuck about.

My favourite track on the CD is Proud. What song goes down best when you play live? And do band members have any personal favourite tracks from it?

Jonny: Thanks, it's good to know you have a favourite, it means a lot when people tell us that it shows us we're doing something right. There's a few tracks that go down well live, the title track Skinhead '82 seems to go down well & we even have people singing along to it which is pretty amazing when you hear the crowd singing one of your tracks back to you. Your favourite, Proud, goes down well too, I think it's because it's a catchy tune & that it's about pride in being a skinhead which is the way all skinheads feel. We have different people coming up telling us what their favourite tracks are that they all seem to go down well at gigs. For me personally my favourites are Junkie which I like because it's so bass lead & is the 1 st track we did that is like that, I love playing it & even though it's not massively complicated it pushes me to play it when we do it live. My other favourite is United which we always end our set with, it's pretty fast & furious & a great track to play, me & our drummer Darryn set off at a pace & just let everyone keep up with us. It's a great fun track.

Luigi: I have a few Skinhead on the Inside, Junkie & Politics but my favourite is Politics I really like the way it sounds, love playing it & am pretty proud of the solo on it.

Darryn: Ska Band is my favourite off the album & to play live, it makes our set a little different. Being an Oi! band & throwing a ska influenced track in there breaks it up a bit.

Danny: Politics is my favourite off the album but Skinhead on the Inside is my favourite to play live, it's been in our set since the start & always seems to go down well.

Chicken: My favourite track is Junkie just cos of the meaning of the lyrics, it's a horrible thing that I witness every day & something that needs to be addressed I also like Skinhead 82 cos it's pretty fast & got great lyrics.


The album title reflects the sound, in the past what bands have you been compared to and what band is each members favourite? 

Jonny: A lot of people say that the title is well suited to the sound & we take it as a compliment, we just went for a sound that we like & is similar to the music we like it just happened to come out as an apparently 80's sound. We've been compared to a few bands mainly the 80's bands & some of them amongst the biggest bands. The review on Oi of America that I mentioned before compared us to Combat 84, The Last Resort & the 4 Skins & we were chuffed to fuck to be compared to them as they're the bands most of us had listened to & still do. For me personally the comparisons to The Last Resort were the biggest compliments anyone could give us they've always been one of my favourites & having the chance to play on the same bill with them for W & H Promotions down in Newcastle under Lyme was amazing. As well as being a great band they're really sound guys who I am proud to say have become mates & have given me some great advice.

Luigi: Yeah being compared to The Last Resort was great.

Darryn: I agree The Last Resort

Chicken: We've been compared to a few of the early bands 4 Skins, The Last Resort, Condemned 84 which are all great but The Last Resort are one of the bands I've always looked up to so to be compared to them was a real honour.

What other bands have members been in, and have Brassknuckle always had the same line-up? Do you always get on?

Jonny: I've not been in any other bands, till Chicken got me to join I'd never played bass or anything else so this is my 1 st venture into this crazy world.

Darryn: The same for me, I've not been in any other bands, I could already drum when Chicken asked if I'd be interested in joining but am glad I did. There's been a couple of side projects with Chicken & Jonny but we've shelved them to concentrate on Brassknuckle.

Luigi: I've been in a couple of bands before & currently play in another Edinburgh based Oi! band called Last Stand.

Chicken: I've been in quite a few bands before, Bombskare who were recently crowned the hardest working band in Britain were a band I formed as an Oi! band that morphed into a ska band, we played the T in the Park festival & I left not long after. I also formed Big Fat Panda, an Edinburgh based ska band who are doing well at the moment. Other bands include The Harringtons with Danny, we were pretty good & played quite a few gigs.

Danny: Yeah, I was in a few of the same bands with Chicken.

Jonny: No, the line up now is not the original, Chicken started the band along with Danny & Darryn & the original bassist Chris. Luigi was a mate of theirs & they got him involved as the lead guitarist, there was also Cockney Paul who was a 2 nd vocalist for a while too. Chris left due to work commitments although we do still see him occasionally & he's still a mate of us all. Paul left for personal reasons & I see him now & again for a few beers, actually saw him at the recent Cock Sparrer gig in Edinburgh. When Chris left Chicken asked me to join on bass, I'd not played before but had a bass in my flat, it actually belonged to my ex-girlfriend, so I joined & Chicken taught me the bass lines for the tracks that we had at the time. We've had this line up for a little over 2 years now so it's pretty settled now & we all know how each other plays. As for always getting on, no we don't, we're like a family & like every family we have disagreements, we try & deal with them pretty quickly so things don't get out of hand. I don't believe any band that says they don't ever argue, spending so much time on a band, practicing, writing, recording, gigging is going to cause problems to appear & none of us is worried about voicing our opinions so yeah we fall out occasionally.

What is the scene like up in Scotland these days? And do you ever get sick of the distance you have to travel to play gigs?

Jonny: The scene up here's pretty good, we get some good bands up here playing gigs, we've played with Control, Section 5, Top Dog & a few others. Cock Sparrer played here in Edinburgh recently & the Rejects are up here playing in Dundee in a few weeks, Control are pretty much based in Scotland now & Iain has got his Punk on the Peninsula mini festival going now. I went along to the last one & had a great time & am hoping to get along again in November as well as to the bigger one next year. There's also a few good local bands about, Luigi's other band Last Stand is one & there's a really good newish band called Half Charge from Glasgow who we've played a few gigs with & have become good mates of ours. There's quite a few decent punk bands up here too, the guys from Panic Attak are really good & we've played with them quite a few times now. The gigs get pretty well attended with a mixture of locals & folk travelling including a fair few coming up from Northern England. The travelling is a bit of a pain in the arse as it means either one of us has to stay sober to drive or we have the expense of staying over somewhere but we love playing live so the travelling is a means to an end. I think a few promoters think that cos we have to travel we're going to want a fortune but they'd be surprised how cheap we are haha. .

What bands would you recommend checking out? And what band has been your favourite to play with?

Jonny: Bands to check out that's a tough ask as there's so many good bands around at the moment, if someone's new to all this I'd advise trying to catch some of the long - established bands The Last Resort etc. We've played a few gigs with a band from Glasgow called Half Charge & I'd highly recommend them, they have a really good sound & are a great set of lads. They are always down the front at our gigs & watch all the bands on the bill. They're starting to get a few gigs now & I think they'll do really well, highly recommend finding them on Facebook & getting hold of their demo CD. Boots n All, B Squadron, Arch Rivals, Tear Up, Top Dog are all really good bands & if people get the chance they should definitely check them out, from up here the punk band I mentioned before Panic Attak well worth checking out & have an EP available, Fat Albert are another band we've played a few gigs with & get over looked. I recently went along to Bri Aldersons Cancer Charity gig in Darlington & caught a band called The Scumbrians who I really rate & could do well. Favourite band to play with? For me there's a few as I said playing with The Last Resort was huge for me & we'll be doing it again come January, played with Boots n All a couple of times & always have a laugh. The 1 st gig we played outside of Scotland was with Top Dog & then we played the charity gig with them the week after & we've played with them numerous times since. I love their sound & energy on stage, they're a great set of lads & we always have a good time whenever we play on the same bill so I'd say they're my favourites.

Chicken: For me The Last Resort without a doubt, they're heroes of mine, it was an honour to share the stage with them & they're great guys too.

Darryn: Like Jonny said Top Dog, great guys who we've probably played with more than anyone else & we always have a laugh with them.

Luigi: Again The Last Resort a real honour to play with them.

Danny: Booze & Glory, we supported them when they came to Edinburgh & I really enjoyed the gig afterwards.

Everyone: Booze & Glory are you serious?

Jonny: I always have fun when we play with Control too, Iain's a great guy who has given me lots of good advice, always thanks the other bands who've played on the bill with them although I always seem to end up really pissed whenever I see him.
Plans, gigs and releases planned for 2017/2018   

•  We've got quite a few plans for next year, we've just recorded a couple of tracks for a compilation coming out on Rebellion Records one of the Oi! Ain't Dead series of albums. This one is basically all the UK bands that are on the label so there's us, Top Dog, B Squadron, Crown Court, Hard Wax, Hostile Minds, City Miles & a track from Clockwork Soldiers & it's due out in February. We're currently working on a split EP with one of the bands I mentioned earlier in the interview, our tracks are all done so once they've done theirs we're hoping it'll be coming out on Rebellion as well. We're also working on stuff for our second album which we're hoping will be as good if not better than Skinhead 82. We've also got a track on a compilation album called British Oi! is Biting back. Gigs wise we've got a few lined up first one is 14 th January in Glasgow, it was going to be with Half Charge but they've had to pull out so I believe it's now with Tear Up which will be great, I love Jamie's cheeky bastard attitude as well as their sound. Then 27 th of January we're off back down to Newcastle to play a gig for Lou from W&H Promotions birthday, we're going to be on the bill with The Last Resort again which we're chuffed about & with the rest of the bill filled with B Squadron, Top Dog & Half Charge it's going to be a cracker. The gig sold out in 3 hours! 3 fucking hours! We were amazed by this, we know it's not due to us but to be part of it is great, plus I get to watch B Squadron again who are a personal favourite. We're going to be playing a gig in February, the 17 th , in Leicester with The Glory which we're stoked about. July we're off down to Hunwick to play Nev's Birthday bash which we have heard so much good stuff about so are really looking forward to plus again it's a cracking line up. August we're off to Blackpool to play the Rebellion Festival again, so already a few gigs sorted but we're looking for more.


Any final comments?

Jonny: Finally, I want to say a few thank you's, Wouter from Rebellion for all he's done for us, Lou & Worm from W&H Promotions for putting us on again, for the great gigs they put on & for all the work they do to keep the Oi! scene going. All the bands we've shared a stage with. Darren for giving us the opportunity to play Rebellion again & all the people who spend their hard-earned cash watching us & buying our CDs & merch. Thanks to you too for the interview & for resurrecting the Punk n Oi! site it's been sorely missed. I've also got a favour to ask, all the people who keep dragging politics into everything please stop before it all gets fucked up again. Stop hounding bands who won't bow down to your political view, this is supposed to be fun not a political rally, some great bands don't get to play due to all the bollocks spread about them so how about you knock it on the head & let's all get on with the music, drinking & fun. Cheers.

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