Wanted Shop Reviews Questions & Answers Photos News Links Interviews Gigs Competitions

Interview

Combat 84
02/10/2000
www.combat84.com



Please give a brief history of the band, including current line up.

This is as I remember it, I don't claim to have a great memory, John does have a diary of a lot of the things we did but he is not in the country at the moment, we can always do an update at a later time, so this should be 99% right but don't shoot me if there is the odd mistake, Jim.

The band was the idea of Deptford John and Chubby Chris Originally, I sort of knew Chubby as he was quite well known on the punk scene, he did security for the Damned and Madness, I think the first time I met him he had a mohawk! I met Chubby through some punk mates of mine and he told me about the band and I said I was interested, I then went and met Deptford at the Chelsea Drugstore in the Kings rd and we sort of became a band, I think I got in because I had a Les Paul and a Marshall stack, I had only been playing a few months. The general idea was "Skunk Rock" Punks and Skins unite, I don't think we ever achieved that, but if you look at the old photos I always wore punk shirts as the Pistols was always my favourite band as well as the Oi stuff, but I think Punks had trouble at our gigs as in them days Skins would always start on them, fuck knows why?

As I remember it we first rehearsed at Clink studios near London Bridge, my best mate at the time Jacko played drums as we didn't have anyone else, but he was shit so we eventually got Brownie on drums, this was his nickname as he was a bog cleaner at the time. John came up with the main riff for the first song which was "Combat 84" (what else!) I would say he wrote quite a lot of the lyrics along with Chubby, I wrote a lot more of the stuff as the band developed, anything with any sort of guitar riff was usually me, but I would say all three of us chipped in and it was a pretty good 3 way writing team.

The first gig was supporting The Last Resort at the Walmer Castle in Peckham, I think we had 3 songs and we just used their amps, also about this time we did our first demo, Combat 84 and Soldier I think, Roi Pearce came in and "produced" it but it was a typical dodgy first band demo.

We started getting more songs together and doing any gigs we could get, and pretty quickly a buzz was going around and we got a call from Secret Records, I think we all thought the deal was going ahead but Bushell put the boot in, I heard he fucking shit himself when he heard about the deal, I think he had a problem with Chris and also we were one of the only bands he hadn't made by giving us press etc, I just think he thought he was Lord punk and thought he should have the say on who did what. Eventually we signed for Victory records, this was all set up by Deptford with a guy called Dave Long who set up the label, he managed Splodge when they were big and later on Case, infact I thought he saw us as a quick way of making money so he could launch Case, that's all he ever went on about.We did the first ep in a studio in Hoxton, we replaced Brownie on drums with John Fisher who had a short stint with the Business, I think we pressed 10,000 copies, we did eventually sell them all but seeing the current price of an original I wish I had kept some! I gave all mine away, I still don't have a copy now. It was generally well accepted, Becky Bondage gave it a decent review in Melody Maker as I recall.

We carried on giging, and (this period is a bit vague) we were approached to do the 40 minutes documentary, they wanted 4 skinheads from a band, I didn't like the look of it all so the other 3 did it with our roadie Scotch Eddie, I think the rumours about what the program contained got blown out of proportion and we were seen as total outcasts by the music press and a lot of venues, it was funny though seeing us in the Radio Times etc. This lead to us having problems getting gigs but we did do a tour up North with The 4-Skins which was a fucking laugh but in London we had to do gigs under the name 7th Cavalry as no one would book Combat 84. We just did small out of town pubs and stuff like the Tooting Castle and a small pub in Kingston, but eventually we did get to the 100 club and we pretty much filled it out each time, they were probably our best gigs, except for the last one which was when the band split.

The second ep we did in Alaska studios in Waterloo, the whole "better to be dead" and the drop it label etc. all came from Vietnam posters films and memrobillia, we were a bit like an Apocalypse Now advert which is why I laugh when we get loads of shit for the "better to be dead than fucking red" line in the song, it was all tongue in cheek, I am surprised it upset people, that was just Chubby on a wind up, and people fell for it.

When it came around to doing an album which is all we had signed to do, the band was pretty much finished, I don't think we had anything against each other, we were still talking and drinking together, it was outside forces, a few people had it in for Deptford after what he said in the documentary, I think he was trying to get the band a good name, but we all had our own views and I think people should respect that, we weren't a politicall party with a single view we were just a band, Chubby obviously gave a different opinion but I think we should have stuck together and we could have carried on but there were too many people threatening to kneecap John and it just wasn't worth it, the wierd thing is John has since met quite a few of the people responsible for all the shit over the years and they don't want to know without their mates behind them, what a surprise.

We did the Album in a shitty 8 track studio in some blokes house, the label wanted to save money as we were splitting up and they didn't even put it out, they sold it to rockarama, so I don't think it was ever released in the UK officially. The eps were what we were about, the album I think was shit, we had had enough and I don't think anyone cared anymore, we didn't even mix it, the live bit is our last gig infront of our mates but I would say the 100 club gig was our last "proper" gig.

This is the condensed version of our story but basically that was it, I think we only ever did 16 or so gigs, a large majority of them ended in trouble, but we did have a road crew of about 20, and none of them knew anything about equipment so that may have had something to do with it, we never went out saying we're hard come and have a ruck, I think when there was a bit of bother everyone steamed in and it got out of hand but generally we had a laugh and I don't regret any of it except the way it ended.

Discography.

Well when we were a band:
Orders of the Day EP. Victory Records
Rapist EP. Victory Records
Send in the Marines. Rockarama
Tooled Up EP. 7th Cavalry Records

There have been loads of our stuff on compilations, Step One have released a blue vinyl live album from 2 of our gigs and they have recently put out the whole back catalogue and called it Orders of the day, but we had nothing to do with that.

There is probably other shit we don't know about, but as far as we are concerned that is it.

There seems to be a surge of oi! bands reforming ie Cockeny Recjects, Vicious Rumours and possibly 4-Skins. Why did you reform after all this time?

Well we didn't end it properly and after you read my comments above about the album we did we thought we would do some new shit and make it good seeing as I think some of the stuff with our name on it is crap. I think the old shit has been re-released a few times and I am sure everyone has it, we had been pissing about for a while and came up with some songs, I think we joked about it and it just went on from there and we ended up with the new ep. I am surprised that all these bands are getting back together, I saw an interview with the rejects and they said they are doing it for the money which is fair enough, you can't knock their honesty, if you don't like that don't buy it, I always liked them, and want to hear what they are doing now, it's like the Pistols reforming, we all knew it was for money but I thought after what they gave us they deserve some money, who else should get it? Mclaren?

We were never in the same sort of league as the Rejects to make loads of money, infact I have never made a penny from the band, they were on a major label we were small compared to them, we never got much press and didn't originally sell that many records. The weird thing is how it has all sprung up in the US, I had no idea that there was such a big scene over there, we put up the website and next thing we had 20,000 hits in a week and hundreds of emails, we thought how the fuck do all these people know who we are? I go there a lot and have met some kids at the gigs and they all love the band, the only thing they said was they didn't want us to do what the Business have done and overplay there, this why we are taking our time over doing gigs, I want to do good shows and not just do anything because of the money, I may be an old git but I still have a bit of a punk attitude and this time I want to make sure no one gets ripped off, it seems strange but the kids view us in the same light as the Rejects because we were from the same era, even though at the time they were a shit load bigger and we looked up to them.

We didn't plan anything but now we have seen the interest it's great, out of the hundreds of emails we have recieved we only got 2 negative ones so I suppose we have done it at the right time, we have spent a lot of money doing the EP so unless we do sell a shit load we won't break even let alone make money. I just want to do it, I never made any money in the Subs, I just did it because I liked the music and having a laugh, it's the same now, if we put the records out, do some good gigs and have a laugh that will be good enough for me, if we make some money then great, I can feed the family, especially as we will have to take time off work to tour, if people don't like that, and I'm sure there are some, don't come to the gigs or buy the CD, then there is no problem.

In short, we just sort of fell into it, if you had suggested it last year we would have pissed ourselves laughing!

Describe the sound of the twenty-first century Combat 84? And the what the new songs are about.

The new songs are about the same shit, and we have added a few different points of view on things, on the EP, "We're back", well self explanitory, its like the song "Combat 84" it's who we are and why. "It's kickin' Off" football violence, it happens, it's real, we wrote a song about what goes on. "My Country", it's about fighting for what's yours and questioning what the fucking idiots incharge are doing to the place."Politically Incorrect", a big fuck off to PC bollocks, a piss take on the normal things we do that no one takes offence at but some cunt says it's wrong, it comes from an incident when I opened a door to let a girl go through and she gave me a mouthful about not being a weak female, it's just a view on how out of hand things have got. "Getting the Fear", this is about protecting yourself and your family when things get out of control, I'm sure people will say we are advocating shooting everyone but we are saying we will not take shit and we will protect ourselves and what's ours. I would say there is more to the songs than these quick comments but I think people should read between the lines and they will see what we are singing about.

Sound wise, well, I finally got the guitar sound I wanted after 20 years! It's powerful in your face Oi/Punk, it has all the venom of before but the sound is bigger without resorting to metal, we learnt a lot doing this and I think the Album will be even better. John's vocals are the same style as Chubby but a lot more raw, he has a big fucking gob, which is just what we wanted, I think he gives Gary Hodges a good run for his money.

It seems Combat 84 often were slagged off by certain political extremes - do you think this was fair? Also, do you think politics and music go together?

I can only answer this from my own point of view but I don't think they mix, now that may sound strange considering some of our songs but it always leads to trouble, but having said that it doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. I think most people would say our lyrics are to the right of things but to me it is the opinion of most people I know, we were never a political band singing one thing for a particular party, if you look at Skrewdriver then you know their message and they give you their politics upfront and in your face, if you don't like what they are saying you don't buy their records, having said that I have met loads of people who bought their stuff because of the music even though they didn't agree with what they said, the same on the other side with the Upstarts, their later material has made it clear where they stand.

With us we have never said we are for this or that, I think we stand for the normal bloke down the pub, we sing about things that happen in life, yes there have been things like "Better Dead than Red" "Fuck off CND" apart from we obviously knew it would wind people up I don't think it is extreme to be against these people, lets have it right, they are the fucked up extreme ones making cunts of themselves, most of them only do it because they have their nice rich old man to bail them out, they have never lived on the streets or come from the areas the people who we sing to come from, these people have never had to deal with reality, we are the normal Joe Bloggs as far as I am concerned.

If you talk to people and mention our name they have a pre-concieved idea of us, if anyone with a problem goes and reads our lyrics before judging us they may be surprised, we sing about things like stopping Rapists and Muggers and scum like that, and life in general, if that is wrong this world is fucked up, no one is going to agree with all of it, what a fucking boring world it would be if we all had the same view. We sing about reality, I know that was not fashionable and is even less so these days but lets face it, it is not a nice world and all these people who want to pretend these things don't happen don't like that, I would say we are trying to make people think for themselves instead of being sheep, if that is political then so be it, I always listen first and then form my opinion, not everyone does that. The truth of the matter is we have had shit from the right as well as the left which may surprise some people, people want you to be like this or that to suit them and they can put you in their nice little pigeon holes and because we haven't gone along with that we have been slagged off, we have always had different views within the band and still do.

If you could see any band play live, either of the past or present who would it be?

The pistols at the 100 club, I saw every other punk or Oi band that mattered, but I was a shade too young for the early Pistols gigs, my mum wouldn't let me out!!!

What is the best gig Combat 84 have ever done and who else was on the line-up?

I think the 100 Club, some of the Skunx gigs were ok as well. The line up at that time was Deptford, Chubby, Jim, John Fisher.

Do you think street music will rise again?

Well it seems to have done abroad if I am to believe the emails I am getting and from what I have seen in the Staes, I don't think we will see it in the charts in the UK but I am a big fan of the Internet, I think maybe at last we can take the power away from the 17 year old A+R man and the big labels. I don't know whether we can really compete with them but we can at least have a go, sites like yours can get to 1000's of people all over the world, we never had that before, I hope we can utilise this and keep things growing. If we can do anything to stop the constant boy bands and pop shite it would be good, I think we can get kids to see what else there is and not accept the shit they are fed, if there was ever a time when street music was needed it is now.

I know some people slag off the bands reforming but I hope that these same people are pissed off enough to get up off their arse and do something better instead of sitting at home whinging, if there are loads of old bands getting together it must mean there isn't enough good new stuff about to replace it, nostalgia didn't ever fit in with Punk or Oi, but if we piss of or inspire a load of new bands and they replace us, great, we have had a go lets get some new shit going, but until you do shut the fuck up.

Plans, gigs and releases planned for 2000.

The EP is out on 2nd of October and we have a load of new shirts and stuff coming in the next few weeks.

The Album is on the way but we haven't got a release date untill we get near completion.

Gigs, not till next year, please let people know that, we are being told we are on here there and everywhere, it won't happen till after Christmas, but we are interested in talking to any decent promoters who can put on professional shows or a tour.

Any final comments?

Thanks for the interest, I have regularily looked at your site and think you are doing a grand job, long may you keep up the good work, you are obviously people who care about the whole scene.

I just hope people give us a chance this time, I promise you the music is good and we are not just trying to make a quick buck, believe me I could make more money doing my normal job, and with a lot less hastle, I want to get out there and gig and make a good fucking album, if that is all we ever do I will be happy, I think we owe it to people to give them something decent, lets hope it all ends up better than last time.



Return to interview list

Please note that the opinions expressed by band members does not necessarily reflect the views of this website. Punk & Oi in the UK Limited are in no way liable for comments made by interviewees.