Archive for September, 2009

Hammer of the Dogs: Hammer and the Nails Interview

Posted in Interviews on September 23, 2009 by Billy Shears

Rising from Boston harbor like a Godzilla with a shitty east coast attitude, HAMMER AND THE NAILS seem to be a band that everyone is talking about. Rather than a new batch of kids making noise, the ranks of The Nails contain veterans of the Boston scene, and therefore dispense with the pretense of trying to impress. Rather than jump on any existing sound, they choose a plodding attack based on various European and Japanese influences, with a decidedly American point of view, all shrouded in a sense of foreboding.

In the last installment of The PLAY IT LOUD! Interview Series, Saturday Night sits down and picks the brain of the demented.


Saturday Night: To the majority of people in the scene, HATN seemed to spring up out of nowhere; they arrived fully-formed in sound and vision for a seemingly “new” band. But I’d say that’s not exactly the version of events as they happened. If I might be so bold, HATN are new AND old, yeah? Give us a quick story of how this group came to be. Wasn’t overnight, am I right?

Nails: You are correct sir. The concept for the band came to be when one of the guys and I wanted to start an Oi! band on the darker, mid-tempo side like some of our faves.  This was around 2001.  We later approached/confronted our esteemed colleague/vocalist/rhythm guitarist about playing aforementioned tunes for fun and excitement.  Little did he know at the time that he’d be singing as well as playing the rhythm git fiddle.   It was basically the three of us for maybe 6-9 months until our lead noodle/wah technician suggested we recruit our favorite garage band bass player who also happened to be into Stars and Stripes, Boston sports, and was incidentally of Polish descent.

So in that sense, we’re an “old” band, but in another sense, our first gig was last September/October 2008 with Ultimo Asalto, the Glory Boys, and Tommy and the Terrors, so we’re to some people’s eyes neophytes on the Oi! scene, not grizzled veterans of the street(haha).

Saturday: Exactly. Something old, something new…..

Nails: Totally. There’s also borrowed and blue. Borrowed: Buddha from Blood for Blood did a short stint with us between BfB incarnations, but sadly left due to touring commitments. The blue part, well that would be our fucking collars, fellam8.

Saturday: “Fellam8″…nice nice. So you hit upon something I definitely wanted to address – the “darkness” of the band…

Nails: Ah, yes. Well, we’re all into taking the left hand path in life, sorcery, mysticism, etc..wait, oh the MUSIC…

Saturday: I know oi! isn’t by nature the cheeriest of subjects and the canon isn’t wine and roses, but you guys have a tendency to be really NEGATIVE, as in, every song is pretty much pulled from the headlines of “what’s wrong with the world.” Sign of the times? Attitude of band members? All of the above?

Nails: Hmmm, I suppose we aren’t the type of band that writes “working class anfums” or what have you about the glory of Tarzan and the apes. I suppose, and it is probably cliche as hell, we write about what we see and what pisses us off, and try to keep the subject matter as UN-cliche as possible. Maybe taking a cynical stab at people’s attitudes about their positions in life, be it financial, their political stance, or with the archetypal “cop” Oi! song, being about actual events that took place near where one of us grew up.

Annnnnd the piss-poor attitude of the band members.

Saturday: I hear that. As an aside, stuff like “product of this modern age” and “legislation not rehabilitation” are nothing if not non-cliche, delivered in a manner not seen in American oi! in some time.

Nails: I guess, but it’s not like they haven’t been covered in the “world arena” of Oi!…

Saturday: Right but was it important to not tread on any US influences? it doesnt seem like typical US of Oi! sounding stuff.

Nails: Ah, although this could get us in hot water by sensitive types, we tend to dig a lot of the European bands, their sounds, etc.  We all grew up with Hardcore, which is the Jazz of the punk genre(pure Americana in its inception), and a lot of U.S. Oi! bands glean influence from that, or country music, or whatever, to varying success.

And a lot of U.S. Oi! bands, while great, especially in the ’90s, tended to have the whole “Those Unknown”-style sound.  There was them (not saying they invented the sound, but whatever), and then there were a million bands in that fast-mid-tempo to fast-tempo stuff that just all blurred together.

At the band’s conception, we deliberately wanted to play a style that brought together French, Japanese, and some late ’80s early ’90s UK, and yes US, skinhead band sounds, mixed with other influences like Lionel Ritchie and Yanni…

Saturday: “ALL NIGHT LONG”

Nails: Haha, I really do love the Lionel Ritchie. But again, so many bands play fast, it’s just a given.  We take the approach of slow, bludgeoning, and speed it up now and then for dynamics. It seems like there was the US Oi! or skin bands that wanted to be Sheer Terror/Blood For Blood, those who went for more of a gutter punk sound, and then those who just took the word “cliche” to a whole new level with their sound, their lyrics, and the general art direction of their records/tapes.

Saturday: Understood. Let’s talk about some of the gigs you guys have played – not exactly “typical” Oi! gigs. You’ve played with metal bands, more rock-ish bands, regular punk stuff. A plan of some sort? Just how the gigs shaped up? What’s the story?

Nails: Yeah, our most recent gig was with Panzerbastard (Keith from Wrecking Crew’s band– badass) which are like Discharge, Celtic Frost, etc., and then some crazy Black Metal band with robes and makeup, other gigs have been at art spaces with our friends’ bands, some hardcore gigs, and then a couple basic Oi! gigs.  I think we like to keep it interesting, not to mention, why play to a roomful of skins all the time, when you can actually piss people off or maybe get somebody else to come see you again and use that as a springboard to finding out about a whole other slew of bands they hadn’t known about.  I mean, not every gig has been spectacular for us in relation to audience response, but that builds character and helps you as a band.  So fuck ’em if they don’t like it.

Saturday: So, would you say you are actively seeking other scenes out though? Or just play gigs that interest you guys?

Nails: Nah, we just like to play gigs with our friends sometimes.  If that pisses off people who follow us,  people who follow the other bands on the bill, or anybody else, then good.  It’s not just a “going out and seeing some bands that all sound the same” thing.  The Oi!/Streetpunk scene in Boston isn’t what it used to be, but we’re not trying to latch onto any othe scenes. We’ll play a hardcore gig, a metal gig, an emo gig(well…), etc.  I don’t think as a band we’re REALLY trying to “support the scene” as a raison d’etre, although I DID say something about supporting said scene earlier. But seriously, I think that by default of just attending and setting up gigs we’re doing just that.  At least two of us have our ears to the ground seeking out new bands, grabbing new records, etc.

Saturday: I think you guys have been doing a definite good job of keeping douchebags on their toes. You mentioned cliched art direction earlier. I think that is an extremely valid point – so much of today’s shit is “let’s take a beer bottle logo and put ours on it” or “how about a picture of a skinhead looking tough” and shit like that – you guys seem to think orig art is part of the whole pckage, like the orig oi!/HC bands did. How important is that to you?

Nails: Well yeah, I think that playing within the paramaters we do, we try to be as original as possible with the chord structure, song structure, DEFINITELY with the lyrical content, and to complete the whole package, the artwork. Granted, the cassette version of the demo has a viking and a chick or something a la Heavy Metal magazine, but that was what I believe to have been a joke of sorts. I mean, how many Oi! releases have you seen a giant squid on the front? (that’d be one of the many CD versions of the demo).

The Offending Item!

The Offending Item!

Saturday: Viking and chick artwork a joke? Bullshit! We are your overlords, son! Led Zep! Conan!

Nails: Haha, yeah man.  “Valhalla, I am cominnnnnggggg”

Saturday: Did I tell you I hated Zep until like a year ago? Now cant get enough.

Nails: Yeah man,  congrats. It’s about time!  Keep up in the back, son. Anyway, with that being said, and being the elitists we are, we realize we’re not breaking a lot of new ground. We’re writing tunes that we would want to hear, and trying to make them as high-quality as possible.

Saturday: And doing a damn fine job at that. But let me segue off the METAL comments. Now in grade school/early jr. high, I was weaned on metal like alot of Midwestern kids my age were. I still like certain bands from the genre and I know you do as well but METAL in the oi!….how do you feel about it? I wouldnt say HATN are metal-ish really, but definitely bringing the heaviness.

Nails: Right. I think like any fringe music genre, Oi! has room for metallic influence.  Look at the most cliche Oi! anthem there is, “Violence In Our Minds”.  Even that choon has some heavy metalness to it.  Nowt wrong with it, we just don’t overdo it. Some Oi! and RAC bands take it pretty far with the metal.

Look at, on the Oi! side, RETALIATOR, especially their earlier releases.  Very, very metal in the execution of the songs, if not their chord structure. Or even Condemned 84’s Storming To Power. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  I don’t particularly like much metal, but a lot of NWOBHM really floats my boat.  Those bands had a great punk edge, and are influential on our songwriting.

Saturday: Retaliator were the very band I thought of when mentioning metal. Their early stuff was to me, too much, but they then got REALLY good at the combo. I think the combo of NWOBHM and oi! could be one the Gods listen to myself……

Nails: Haha, that’s awesome “the combo of NWOBHM and oi! could be one the Gods listen to myself…..” but yeah, Retaliator seemed a bit overboard at first and I really couldn’t get into them, but that “When Duty Calls” was fucking mean sounding and tunefully pleasing at the same time. I think the solos got a bit less wanky/aritificial harmonic based. A couple of those guys are in The London Diehards with one Terry Hayes of East End Badoes fame. Hard stuff, but more Oi! than even later Retaliator.

Saturday: Yup. And they (Retaliator) do interesting covers like “A-Bomb in Wardour Street” and “Bed and Breakfast Man” in their own style and KILL it

Nails: Right, exactly.  Nothing wrong with putting your own spin on a classic instead of doing it verbatim.

Saturday: Let’s roll into this, then: Do you guys similarly have any tunes that the band thinks would shine in the HATN style?

Nails: As in cover tunes?

Saturday: Word.

Nails: Well, we were doing Killing Time’s “No More Mr. Nice Guy” in a more rock manner.  Unfortunately the two gigs we played it at weren’t chock full of Killing Time fans.  Also, there’re currently a Slade cover being talked about, an ELO tune, and, Christ, I forget, but some other weird shit in the oven, too.

Saturday: Damn, man. That’s great for us who may possibly get to check them out. Slade and ELO. Awesome. So at this point, and not to get too hard on the jock here but….

Nails: ELO wasn’t my idea, but it could work…

Saturday:…but HATN are currently a band on everyone’s “hot” list. Playing PIL! you have lots of people psyched esp for you guys. Alot of attention pretty quickly once people heard your stuff. Flattered? What does this type of kind of “popularity” mean for you guys’ plans down the road?

Nails: Honored, sure.  Unfortunately when they hear us this inflated hype machine might just shit the bed. Down the road?  Who knows man.  Three of us have kids, we all have very demanding jobs, and want to just keep this fun.  I don’t think there’ll be any touring plans in the future.  Maybe weekends or overseas single gigs in the UK or Europe, but we’re not quitting our day jobs.

Saturday: “We’ll conquer your city for Frankincense.” Hardest motto in oi! right now….but what the fuck does it mean? I think you need to lead w/that on a shirt.  It’s all Biblical-scary, son!

Nails: It’s a euphemism for the insects’ plight in this world supposedly run by man.

Saturday: The wrath of God cometh in the form of the Hammer?

Nails: Hammer of the Dogs. Haha, I don’t know what it actually MEANS, but it does at first sound cool until you consider that we’d rape your horses and ride off on your women just for a fancy incense.  Actually it makes us sound like a bunch of chutney ferrets or something.

Saturday: ‘ard as fook ferrets playing OYE OYE…..

Nails: Right up there with the Midget Protection League

Saturday: So let me just ask this very generic question: Gimmie a dream bill HATN and 4 others – any genre, any time period, anything.

Nails: OK: Us, STRAW DOGS(UK), THE JAM and BULL THE BUFFALOS. That’s it.  The rules are “4 band bills” unless it’s some clockwork pumpkin fest in a baseball bar. And that’s off the top of my head.  Maybe throw MOTT THE HOOPLE in as a headliner.

Saturday: Damn. That might sell out a few Legion halls

Nails: Depends what country.

Saturday: Well, you got anything you wanna get off your chest, sir?

Nails: Yeah..Wait…Nah. I guess that I’m really looking forward to this weekend.  Some quality spinning and good banter on Friday, and some great bands and hopefully great people on Saturday. Brian from the Play It Loud! Committee for Non-Shitty Oi! Fests has put together a great day of quality hard reality rock of several genres and I’m looking to enjoy myself.  That coupled with the fact that the RIFLES are playing Wednesday prior makes this a great fucking week.

Saturday: Yeah, caught Weller and The Rfiles in Chicago. Northern Soul DJ between bands. One of my top gigs of the 2000’s so far. High marks. But yes, PIL! is going to be a great time, the weekend will be excellent and HATN are definitely a big reason for the excitement. That being said, as I have been ending interviews with: The Oasis split. Who the fuck is to blame and how can I do something about it?

Nails:…some brothers get along like, well, brothers, and some hate each others’ guts.  I, having a male sibling, couldn’t pettily hate my brother so much as to not visit his wife and see my 4-year-old nephew/niece.  That’s just cold. My money is more likely on the plausibility that Liam is just a total douchebag with his head stuck up his own bunghole…

Saturday: You say that like I don’t own his Pretty Green hat. So callous

Nails: Oh SNAAAAAAAP! …and then Noel is stubborn as a mule. Bad combo.

Saturday: Ha! I thank you for humoring me, sir. Any closing thoughts?

Nails: Yeah, thanks for the interview and good luck with the bloggadiccio.  I will see you this weekend in Boston. I’m hopeful that Play It Loud! will become an annual Oi!-tastic pilgrimage for da’ kids.

Saturday: Indeed.

Thanks to HAMMER AND THE NAILS for their time, and get out on 9/26 and catch them live! live! live!


An Inside Look At PLAY IT LOUD! B-Lo Tells All…..

Posted in Interviews on September 20, 2009 by Billy Shears

As D-Day for PLAY IT LOUD! fast approaches, SATURDAY NIGHT picks the brain of its creator/chief promoter/head-of-everything, otherwise known as B-Lo. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for lo these many years now, and this is exactly the type of event that results from the fruits of his labors. A top-notch human being, talented musician, and now, Glastonbury-like festival guru.

As PIL! is certainly the finest gathering of bands in the last several years, we take a look at the inside of the event – from the ideas behind the planning, to B-Lo’s views of how bands were selected, to views on why Liam Gallagher  is villain of the year, das guru spills all…..


Saturday Night: So chief, why aren’t you out with David and the lads tonight? (Editor: Dave from Resistance 77. The band had just flown into Boston on the day of the interview for a mini-tour kick-off)

B: I would love to be at TC’s (ed: local Boston tavern) tonight with me Lourde and the Laddies but I had to come home after work and pick up the little ones and whatnot, but it will be fine as I will see them all tomorrow night when Resistance 77 kicks off their US tour in Providence

Saturday: Nice segue but let’s dispense w/pleasantries. You are the brainpower behind PLAY IT LOUD! Why take on something like this? What empty void is it filling for you? I know it’s definitely not being done for monetary gain.

B: That’s a good fucking question. I mean, I’m usually the first one to set something up with Joe Overseas Oi! or whatever band a couple times  a year but this, this is worlds apart. There are two answers really: the waxing philosophical take on things and the practical….

Saturday: I’m digging deep here…..I’d like to hear both

B: So a promoter friend of mine said, after a show I had set up with him and my band, why don’t you do an “oi! fest.” I was like “fuck that, I hate fests,” not to mention, an Oi! (????) fest, c’mon…

Saturday: But let’s stop there a second – what’s your problem with the usual oi! fest these days?

B: It’s been done. It doesn’t need to be done again and it isn’t worth the hassle. And stepping back even further, it’s not so much an “oi! fest” per se, but fests in general have an inate tendency to start out as a good idea and then go down hill really fast. I think people often start with their hearts and minds in the right place but once they start booking bands and ultimately promoting the thing, it starts to slip from their hands and take on a life…a decidedly mediocre and watered down life…all its own.

Saturday: Hang on though, I’d say that arguing this IS an oi! fest would hold up in court, sir.

B: Yes, don’t get me wrong, man. You can call my thing what you want but my point really is that fests in general, across all genres and subgenres, tend to become shitfests

Saturday: Right then…..what makes this different? Please explain.

B: Well, getting back to the practical “what came first” answer…so after dissing the concept altogether, the seed was planted whether i wanted it to be or not. i started thinking well….it could be done. i could resist the temptations that a lot of people give into and ONLY choose the bands i wanted as opposed to saying yes to every tom, dick and punky but the fact is, despite the whole Oi! and street punk thing being extremely splintered right now and, quite frankly, heavilly populated with a lot of crap….there are, after all, a healthy handful of awesome bands…who are either just starting out or still playing after 20 or 30 years. So, shit, why not. Let me see what I can do with this. I mean, I play in two bands who are in said category of rock n roll music…so it can’t be all bad…har har har. So, basically, the very reason(s) I DIDN’T want to do it, became the reason(s) I had to do it. If that makes any sense.

Saturday: And what of band selection? did you go with who you felt was “top tier” all the way? how was the selection process?

B: I sort of felt like there were 2 or maybe 3 types of fans/dudes/bands or whatever in this world of Oi!, punk, non-PC hardcore, etc. One, those that think that whole thing ended 20 years ago when all their “heroes” stopped playing and, subsequently “moved on” or “grew up.”

And then two, those that did everything above but then said, you know what, I still have that punk rock ethos and I still want to play in a band/go to shows but I want to infuse my adult influences and play/listen to music that was rooted in those classics but had some sweet rock influences from everying like G n R to the Boss to Social Distortion to Bob Dylan.

And finally three, those that were starting to age, start families and reluctantly join society like everyone else but these types still listened to the classics but also felt/feel like the whole Oi!/ street punk etc. etc. etc. thing didn’t necesarilly die….that there were SOME newer bands through the years that were still kicking ass, still staying true to their roots but doing it with style, with heart, and with enough genuine integrity to both grow up AND stay true to the tried and true format (give or take a solo, a bridge or a key change) all at the same time.

Point being, I think our group of friends and bands fall into the latter and a lot of that spirit influenced me to choose the bands the way I did. Does that make ANY sense?I know I’m rambling but, honestly, it’s hard to put your finger on it, let alone put it into words

Saturday: Makes sense; the bands involved are definitely quality. That being said, do you think your personality suits YOU for setting something like this up? knowing you, I know you to be the methodical type that goes from point A to point B with a definite plan. covering every nook and cranny. do you feel your personality lends itself to setting up something like this, versus say…someone like myself? Or does it drive you nuts constantly covering and recovering bases etc?

B: Good question, but let me say before I leave it behind, despite attempting to break people and bands down the way I did…this PLAY IT LOUD! thing is for ALL of the above. I’m excited to show the Woodworkers (as I like to call the people who have given up and faded into the woodwork) that shit didn’t die and that you can still have fun despite being jaded and older. I’m excited to show the second category that it’s not all cookie cutter, fresh cut Oi! out there…that there are some reasonable people playing a new take on a classic sound with finesse, class and a certain amount of maturity, and, I suppose I’m just preaching to the converted with the third category,  but anyway, yeah, I’m methodical and whatnot but I think that’s WHY I can make this shit happen.

People are a bunch of pains in the asses. No one gets back to you. Nothing can be done unless you do it yourself (for the most part) and EVERYONE is running around in a million different directions. So, trying to orchestrate all of those moving, apathetic and chaotic parts takes someone with that personality in my humble opinion. I taught for about a year so I know about pushing people to get the best out of themselves. I have two rugrats and I know that people often mean well but they drag their feet if you don’t nip at their heels, so I’m sure I’ve pissed people off along the way but I’ve also been able to get it to this point

Saturday: Right right. I happen to think your pushy ass is probably the only person in the city that could have brought this to fruition, but that’s me. With the inclusion of the kick-off party, this seems much more like a “weekender” or event than just “here’s a day long fest…..was that the intent? More like a gathering of good folks from across the country, hanging out, being entertained all weekend, than just “here’s the bands, now gimmie my money” type thing

B: That’s a good point, as much as I wanted to keep it a little more low key and less corny, flashy and “all live, all nude” (so to speak) than other like events. I also didn’t want it to be some half assed bore of a weekend. And again, i’m not swinging from the nuts nor am I holding back my opinions but there is certainly a place for the “all live, all nude” stuff but I’m trying to offer an alternative. The party is not a new concept but my reasons for doing it were a bit different I think. I wasn’t like, “what else does thing need? ah yes, we must have disc jockeys, that’s the fab thing to do.”

Saturday: It was a natural fit so go with it….

B: Sure sure, but anyway, this was my thought: whenever I do a show, especially with foreign types, there never seems to be time to actually sit down and hang out with these people who traveled so far….its more like, ok get your gear set up and get the show started and everyone’s off to the races. So I thought we needed some kind of get together the day before to give people a second to catch their breath from traveling and maybe have a beer or nine with each other. Then, add water and some sweet vinyl and good friends spinning it and voila.


Saturday: There it is. Let me ask you this: Tommy and the Terrors. Hammer and the Nails. Both bands you are in. What do each of your own personal projects bring to the table, or is it all egomaniacal? “I set it up. My bands WILL play.”

B: Well, did I give you the two answers…the practical and the philisophic (waxing, that is)

Saturday: You did, but you didn’t tell me much about why YOUR own two bands are worthy. Sell me, you contrary turd. Musically, are your two groups interesting enough to justify inclusion?

B: Ah yes…well, honestly, that’s how I am. I would NOT be in a band I didn’t think was top notch. Call it egomaniacal, call it what you want but with a wife and two kids, crazy job and about two hours to devote to practice and shows a week, I’m not about to do it half assed or with some group of dudes who are “trying to find their sound” or some other such nonsense. So, to put it another way, this is the perfect thing for both bands to play.

I think both bands have played a huge variety of shows from playing with emo/indie bands, to metal stuff, to full on hardcore, garage, etc. etc. so, this, for the first time really, is actually our world. as cheesy as that sounds. Many of the dudes in the other bands are friends of ours and I think many of us are likeminded in terms of that theme I keep hitting on of, getting older, moving on, but still hanging out and trying to make some noise for no real pretencious reason other than doing what we know best for the event (in essence, the two shows on saturday, september 26), I wanted a good variety of straight up Oi!, more varied street punk, hardcore, and a few wildcards to keep it interesting.

In other words, if I had a classic rock cover band and Tommy & the Terrors, TATT would be the only band of the two playing this thing. But let’s face it, these two bands aren’t worlds apart to most sets of ears. Sure, to some of us who are focused on nuance and every little influence…of course we’re different; the terrors have more of a 90s melodic, at times anthemic American meets English Oi!/street punk sound with some nice touches of classic 70s punk and glam (ha ha, I was a fan of the band LONG before I joined so I feel ok being that verbose about them/us.)

And then you have the darker, more metallic, largely mid-tempo Hammer and the Nails stuff with nods to Japanese, French and tougher Brit Oi! thrown in a blender with lots of wah wah and cowbell

You know, so long story short, I can easily detach myself from being in the bands and judge the fit on the different but similar sounds they bring to the event. But, really, they were just a footnote to me. I asked about 100 bands to play this thing

Saturday: Word. Well, besides selling the show, sell Boston. What else does the city offer the wayward soul who has chosen to attend this event? Besides The Banshee, “Charming” Bob Belmonte, Irish people and Lakers cards in urinals, that is.

B: Ugh, I don’t back any of the above! But, Boston and New England in general are GREAT at this time of year. sure, the city gets a little crowded with all of the returning students but  weather alone and sheer things to do at this time of year make it more than worth your while

Saturday: Second best city in America, son…

B: Specifically, we were lucky to get the kick off party on 9.25 in ecclectic central square, Cambridge. A great place with a lot of bars and different types of food from middle eastern to Italian to Indian to pizza at Hi Fi! And then, after about a million (hyperbole, gotta love it) different venue and area changes, we finally ended up right in the heart of Boston, near Fenway Park (on a day when the Sox are NOT in town, thank God!!) I’m very happy with the venue and the location as the Baseball Tavern has a lot to offer from a nice room for bands to play, to several different bars downstairs, on the main level and up on the roof deck….

Saturday: I can vouch for the main bar and the downstairs. I had no idea it had a roof deck. Last time I was there, for East End Baddoes, Duffy and I walked through a snowstorm to get there….

B: ….and, in that same area there is no shortage of great restaurants and bars to escape to…namely the Tiki Bar at the Ho Jos right across the street!

Saturday: Yeah, the bar is a definite cool spot. “Fully backed” as the kids are fond of saying.

B: But Boston, “scene”-wise, is also a pretty chill place, believe it or not. I know the reputation says otherwise, but at least in our little microcosm people tend to be unflattered by gang and crew shit and much more focused on drinking, hearing good music and  chatting about clothes and other ridiculous shit…or just completely destroying each others’ character in that true sarcastic, asshole way I know people like you in the Midwest and elsewhere just can’t get enough of.

Saturday: Well to be honest, Brian, (and I looked this up today) Midwestern humor tends to be A) full of being a dick to your friends and B) seems to have produced some of the finer comedic talent in America, Harvard Lampoon notwithstanding……so it’s (“taking the piss” style humor) actually not unique to Boston…..but I digress. A few more questions. However we dance around it, the fact is there will be alot of skinhead types around PIL! Did this or does this present any problems? Or will baggage be left behind and you foresee no issues?

B: Well, Geraldo, I don’t see any more problems from these “SKIN HEDS” than I do with any group of heavilly drinking concert goers altogether in one place

Saturday: C’mon. A Motorhead show is different than PIL! I’m gonna need more here

B: Seriously though, take a hardcore show in Boston. There are just as many fights or problems to worry about. It just comes with the territory. My only hope is that the general spirit of this whole thing will trickle down from the bands who have been the COOLEST GROUP OF HUMAN BEINGS throughout the process of planning this whole thing to the people who will be helping me that day (thanks Sean!!!) to the club itself, there’s a generally good vibe going into it so i just hope its infectious. There WILL be bad apples and that’s why you have a goon squad to rectify and I’m fairly certain I have THEE best goon squad, this side of the CT River

Saturday: Sharpened steel combs and Chinese throwing stars. No trouble or else…’ave some!

B: Here are the keys to something like this: NEVER over-serve. And also, squash little skirmishes WAY before they become full on fights or worse. as I hinted at, the rules of engagement, so to speak, come from top down. If the bands act like dicks and call out the crowd, the crowd will respond and rise to the occasion. if the bands and promoters, etc. make it clear that there is a zero tolerance policy for bullshit, bullshit tends to leave with its tail between its legs. In other words, you fuck with the captain and you get fucked with. You dance with Sir Loin and you’ll get danced on, bitches

Saturday: Right, right. Well, everything sounds ready to roll. Bands are tops, venues booked, and the crowds are coming in. Anything you wanna say to close this mutha out?

B: Well, I don’t want to jump the gun, but I THINK this is only the beginning. I don’t want to count my whatevers before they are born but I talked to everyone from Indecent Exposure to Section 5 to T.H.U.G and Marching Orders from Australia, Haircut from France, Superyob, the Wretched Ones and so on and so on and so on….that I think the momentum may be there for another, even better PIL! V. 2.0 . But, enough on that, the focus is on 9.25 and 9.26 and I just thank the army of people who have helped me make it possible. Not to be overly dramatic but it could have come apart at the seams at a few different key points but i had people along the way who stuck there necks out and helped me make shit happen and keep the train on the tracks. KNOCKING THE FUCK ON WOOD NOW!

Saturday: One more thing before we close. Can I get your thoughts on the awful Oasis split, B-Lo?

B: No, no you may not. I can tell you ANYTHING you want to know about the latest Miley Cyrus single though…

Saturday: Bullshit. It’s Liam’s fault and you know it. OASIS FOR PIL! V.3

B: We’ll see…still working on a Straw Dogs reunion!! But, Sean, thanks for helping me get this all off my chest. I may seem stressed at times but it’s all been a pleasure. Thanks for the convo and keep up the great work with the blog. See you at da bah, guy!

Saturday: Alright. That’s a wrap.

B: (Crew and cast do that relieved clapping thing, hugs ala the end of SNL and lots of big smiles and a few tears)

****Many thanks are owed to B-Lo for organizing this event. Get your asses out of your seats and hit PLAY IT LOUD! No excuses, people.

45 Revolutions Per Minute: The 45 Adapters Interview

Posted in Interviews on September 2, 2009 by Billy Shears

Though we’ve never actually met (many times been at the same shows, but never actually hung out) I’ve long thought Gerrard of Bottom of the Barrel and 45 Adapters fame one of the most interesting people in the scene. Whether it be putting effort into his band, the scene, fanzines or his internet presence, he’s always had a unique and informed take on a variety of subjects. When I heard he had formed a new band, 45 Adapters, I was eager to check them out. The results ran the gamut like the man himself; from Sonics style garage to hard R&B to Oi! Oi!, I’m really diggin’ what I hear from this group.

I was then very pleased to hear they would be putting in a set at PLAY IT LOUD!, hands down the finest gathering of the year.

In conjunction with the PLAY IT LOUD! interview series, I’m psyched to step aside and let Gerrard take the floor in an interview I’m proud to post.

(Dig that Top Ten List, my son!)


SATURDAY NIGHT: Not to get too fanboy from the get go, but the first time I heard 45 AD recordings pop up on MySpace, I was on board. I really dug the….not lo-fi style, but for lack of a better word, that will have to do. I really like(d) the amalgam of influences which seem to be meeting up here. From stuff like The Sonics and garage-y stuff, to bits and pieces of Small Faces/hard R&B to punk and Oi!

GERRARD: You know what, there’s nothing wrong with having enthusiasm for the stuff you like! Everybody is so “too cool for school” now-a-days and that’s really just a copout. I’m glad to hear that people get where we’re coming from and you’ve hit it directly on the head. I worry sometimes that people just want to hear things they are comfortable with, things that fit into a nice little neatly labeled box. We’re not nearly that clean and orderly about our sound. We all listen to so much music that inevitably all kinds of influences work their way into the music we make. I mean, we have lots of love songs so right off the bat a whole lot of people are just not going to be into what we do. That’s cool, too.

SATURDAY: Gerrard, did the band start with you and you alone and then you took it to the streets and recruited shared visionaries? Can you explain the process of how 45 A’s came to be?

GERRARD: I stopped writing songs down for years, but I never stopped writing them. I walk around all day making up songs like little kids do, you know? A few years ago I started recording those tunes on my little computer setup under the name “Pickabar” and I still do that. That’s really fun because I get inspired, work on a tune for a few days and then just throw it on the internet. I highly recommend doing that; it’s a lot of fun. Just not as much fun as being in a real band.

A couple of years ago I was talking to Phil at a reggae night about starting up a real band again and he introduced me to Julio. He was looking to start something too, so we decided to combine forces. My other friend Lucas recommended Pat for drums. I immediately remembered seeing him dancing up a storm at a Melodians gig and I knew he’d be a perfect fit. I met Craig through Phil too…and Lucas new Dave from Arizona.  Now that I think about it we owe our whole band existence to SPQR. I’ve got to remember to buy those guys a round!

SATURDAY: Who are the current members of the group? Have they been in other bands as well? What do the resumes look like?

Is it difficult to go from one man recordings to using an entire band?

GERRARD: Craig is our bassist and was the original bassist of The Traditionals from Pittsburgh. Dave a/k/a Knighthawk is our guitarist and was in the Fatskins for a brief moment at the beginning. Pat is our drummer and was playing in bars before he had facial hair. Julio had some real life stuff to handle, so he’s not a performing member anymore. He’s going to be running our web stuff and doing other behind the scenes stuff. I sing and play guitar and I had a band in high school called BOTB.

The original Pickabar versions of the songs are usually pretty fleshed out, but bringing them to the band practice room takes them to a whole different level. We’ve got a really mean rhythm section and they do a lot to help me polish the feel and arrangements of the songs. Whenever the other guys in the band make up a cool part for one of the songs I just nod my head and pretend that that’s what I was thinking the whole time.

SATURDAY: Taken from your MySpace: “45AD is four friends who dress well, listen to good music, drink licentiously and dance when the mood strikes.” Let’s break it down for the masses: 1. What constitutes dressing well. 2. Gimmie 5 or so examples of what is currently labelled good music. in the 45AD camp 3. Drinking is self-explanatory and 4. Who is the best dancer in the band? The people wanna know!

GERRARD: Everyone has their own style; there are no rules as long as you feel that you’re looking sharp. My general retirement uniform is still Sherman shirt, clean jeans and Sambas. At the soul night it was Bennies, tapered slacks and loafers. You can’t go wrong with the classics. I’ve never understood the whole dressing like you want to be in the army or in a rap group or running with the Hells thing. Nothing against anyone who digs it, but it’s just not my bag. That said I can rock my Biggie t-shirt and cut-off camos and still look like a million bucks.

You know, I saw an old friend Terror when we played with HCS in New Jersey about a month ago. He busted my chops because I was wearing a fresh Bennie. He reminded me that I used to always argue that real skins bought their shirts at Sears for 20 bucks instead of mail order for 40 bucks. Of course, I was pretty broke when I said that. As soon as I had some money in my pocket I was investing in Shermans and Freds. Typical Gerrard hypocrisy!

Now they have stores in the city and the addiction worsens. Actually, they have a Fred Perry store, a Ben Sherman store and an Addidas store within a few blocks. It’s almost not fair.

Hard to list just five, but here are some tunes on heavy rotation right now:

1. Larry Williams – “Slow Down”

2. Life’s Blood – “Never Make A Change”

3. Roy Shirley – “See Through Craze”

4. The Rebels – “This Isn’t Freedom”

5. The Clues – “No Vacancies”

You know what, I can’t do just five:

6. The Equals – “My Life Ain’t Easy”

7. The Clan – “Copycats”

8. Death – “Keep on Knocking”

9. The Rivals – “Rose Of England”

10. Oxblood – “We’re Always Right”

Sorry, mix-tape addict!

As for the dancing, I don’t want to start any intra-band fighting, but everyone knows that I’m deadly with a pair of loafers, decent tunes and some young ladies around for inspiration. I’m undefeated and looking for challengers. DTAWDD!


SATURDAY: If the members all share a common trait, from the outside, it seems like you all have pretty decent backgrounds in the punk/oi! scene. Is that a fair assessment? I’ve always been told that certain people “outgrow” playing punk/oi! in that it’s not always “fun” to play, so people progress and move on. What that a consideration in the 45 AD style, as you guys definitely tip the cap to said scenes, but also branch out, or is it more just “we play what we like” and if what you like falls under style X, Y and Z you will play all three?

GERRARD: That’s definitely a fair assessment, that’s mainly where our roots come from. Oi!, reggae and soul are our common base. That said, we started out with the goal of playing R&B/pub rock/glam type music. I started playing songs for my friends and they would always say, “oh you’re playing Oi!”, so I guess that influence just comes out naturally. The next song I write may be in a Jook mode, a Stax style R&B tune or even a Hardcore song. Our influences inevitably come out, but they are inspiration and not a set of rules about what we’ll play.

For a lot of people Oi! is a rulebook; gruff vocals about one of the prescribed topics, one of two basic drumbeats, mid-tempo pace, etc. Of course, that kind of definition falls apart when you try to apply it to the original bands, doesn’t it? I mean, they had poetry on the original Oi! comps. It was that sort of an eclectic scene. If Cock Sparrer came out today playing “I Need A Witness” there are lots of people that would never give them a chance.

Don’t get me wrong, “Oi! Oi! Bootboy Let’s Get Drunk” stuff can be fun as hell, but it shouldn’t be the only thing in a well balanced musical diet. It’s like only eating breakfast cereal or something. I’ve always dug the bands, like a lot of the French bands, which are willing to stretch out and embrace outside influences.

SATURDAY: Tell me about the obsession with the Mets, and how you guys went about writing the tribute tunes to them.

I understand it’s got some radio airplay? As a diehard Cubs fan, I’ve got much disdain for the Mets thanks to the ’69 season, but can appreciate the passion of a true fan!

GERRARD: I’m just a baseball fanatic. The Mets play 162 games a year and I usually watch at least 155 of those. That’s what I do. Drink a beer, strum the guitar and watch the Mets game. It’s never even been a choice for me, you know? My family has always been a hardcore Mets family and if I ever have children they’ll be Mets fans too. That’s just something we share that lets us express our pride in our city and our history. People from other areas don’t always get it, but in NYC it’s always been about which baseball team you support. My grandmother would have disowned me if I’d turned out as the type of person who would root for the Yankees.

It’s funny, I know the cool scene thing is to be into soccer and lots of my friends are. I dig futbol, don’t get me wrong. I’ve even got some West Ham kit, being a total Cockney Rejects devotee. I just don’t have the kind of roots in it that I have in baseball. You know, a real West Ham fan might have had ancestors that rooted for the original Thames Ironwork team. They might work near Upton Park, or do their shopping nearby. That’s not my life experience.

Whenever Craig and I get drunk enough we start singing the Mets theme song “Meet The Mets”. I was trying to figure the tune out on guitar one day and it wasn’t happening. I was getting really frustrated with my lack of musical ability and then suddenly a whole song popped out of my head. It hasn’t gotten any radio play, but some of the Mets blogs covered it and we got a lot of great feedback. It was awesome getting exposure to people who might otherwise never have listened to a punk band, you know? We play for everyone.

SATURDAY: Speaking of seeing bands on MySpace and the like, Gerrard, you’ve been active on the web for some time now. I remember checking your website back in the Bottom of the Barrel days and thinking it was one of the only eloquent websites out there covering Oi!/punk. What do you think of the ‘Net these days as far as the scene is concerned? It seems to have bred alot of internet warriors, and shit-talking, but at the same time, it has allowed for people who are separated by miles, keep in touch and really germinate friendships. What’s your take on the whole phenom; the good and the bad?

GERRARD: Thanks, I appreciate that. That BOTB website led to lots of great opportunities for me and to some friendships that I’ve maintained to this day (cheers Jarl!). Now it seems like there are hundreds if not thousands of sites that focus on the Oi!/punk scene, but at that point there were probably five. The world has changed! I have to say, sometimes I read some of my old articles and I have to cringe. I was a bit high on my opinions, wasn’t I? The unblinking certainty of youth, I guess. Someone once told me that the site made them feel ok to be into Oi! with out having to pretend to be dumb. That was a pretty nice compliment.

It’s funny, I distinctly remember people making fun of me for putting up that BOTB web site back in the day. At least one of the people who used to say “that ain’t skinhead” is now working in networking!

Like any other tool, the internet has its downsides and it can be used by small minded people to annoy and harass other people. That’s just life. The same fire that you use to heat your food can be used by idiots to burn down your house. At the same time, the positive benefits more than outweigh the negatives.

When I was a kid, learning about anything other than the stuff that large media corporations want to force feed us was pretty difficult. Communicating with people in other countries took writing letters that might not arrive at their destination for weeks. By the time you got a reply you might not even remember what you’d written in the first place! Now I can jot down an email to anybody in the world in five minutes. Most of my early exposure to good music was from third or fourth generation hissy cassettes. Now I can download a decent copy of almost anything I want to hear in a few minutes. People say, oh well it’s too easy for kids now, but that’s nonsense. I think it’s great that any kid from Podunk who is willing to make the effort to explore has a chance to. It used to be all so dependent on who you knew and where you lived. I’m an information junkie, so the internet is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Of course, there are the flame wars and that type of silliness, but that’s not really an issue if you don’t let yourself get involved in it. I actually signed up for a certain online message board without mentioning my real name and within a few days I was getting attacked by people. Someone from NYC also physically threatened me. Over the internet. It’s all very sad, isn’t it? I mean, we’re in the same city and I’m at every show or DJ gig. The old Gerrard would have been indignant and would have posted lots of citations and URLs to back up my points. Maybe an invitation to that certain internet gangster to meet me in the real world. The new Gerrard was smart enough to stop reading the site and go to the beach. No one who is really hard threatens people over the internet.

SATURDAY: I am a semi-collector of vinyl myself. I know you share the hobby. How serious is your collection these days? What are you searching out? Any Holy Grails that you’re searching for as we talk? (I love talking record collecting…)

GERRARD: Non-collectors would probably consider my collection serious. Unfortunately, half of the people I hang out with are DJs with amazing collections, so I’m not going to make that kind of statement here! I will say that if you come over for a drink, I’ve got the music handled.

I mainly collect cheap records, to be honest with you. I’ll pick up a record on the street or at a second hand shop for a few bucks and just give it a chance. Until eBay came around I mostly listened to the really good stuff on tapes that I got from other people. Then I went a little crazy buying all of my favorites! That’s right, typical eBay poser. I’ve got some good bootboy stuff, lots of reggae, some Chess blues and I’m even getting a bit more soul stuff lately.

I’d really like a copy of Hot Rod Allstars “Moonhop In London/Moondust” on Torpedo, but it’s out of my price range. Rudy Mills “John Jones” on Bigshot. The Equals “I Can See But You Don’t Know” with the cover. I just got Pioneers “Reggae Fever”, which is kind of the reggae anthem in NYC.

SATURDAY: What about your DJ-ing gigs? What is the set-list like when you’re out around the city DJ-ing?


GERRARD: I’m not a real DJ, I just have friend who’ll let me do guest slots. I’m always looking for opportunities to make people listen to my music! I spin uptown in Manhattan with Legio SPQR semi-regularly and with Milo downtown once in a while. The downtown gig is punk, rock and roll stuff like Rose Tattoo, power pop, that type of guitar driven music. With SPQR we spin early reggae, rocksteady, soul and more dance oriented stuff. I don’t mean to brag, but we’ve got crates. We had the folks from Aggro & Smart France in town a few months back and it was hit after hit for 6+ hours.

SATURDAY: What has 45AD’s experience been like so far as far as playing out live? Best and worst gigs?

GERRARD: We’re still getting our live act really together, but it’s been a whole lot of fun already. We’re really improving with every show we play. We’ve performed at hardcore shows, scooter rallies and even rockabilly shows. We try to operate by the Wretched Ones credo, “play where they let us and drink as much as we can.” It’s been great seeing the responses from all kinds of crowds.

The best and worst gigs were probably the same one. We played with Hub City Stompers (the only ska band I like) at Court Tavern and we were really on our game. The sound was great and I really had fun playing. I was especially pleased because two members of BOTB, Kevin and James, were there. I have a lot of respect for their opinions when it comes to music and they were both into our sound. That show was also our worst gig, because the crowd was not having it! Maybe if they hear us a few more times they’ll get what we’re about. Our recording of “Tiny Bites” from that gig is up on our Myspace page. I cut if off, but in the original recording you can hear that the only person clapping after the song is my girlfriend.

SATURDAY: How is NYC in general these days for shows/gigs/happenings? Any up and coming bands we should know about?

GERRARD: There always seems to be something going on DJ wise, but there aren’t as many cool gigs as there used to be. I go out to see a lot of random bands to be honest, just because I really love live music. One of the few bad things about NYC is that the subculture scene is so big that it’s really fractured. There are so many things going on that everyone kind of keeps to their own little niche. Every time a really big band plays, people come out of the woodworks. If even half of those people made the effort to come out once in a while for a smaller gig or even just to hangout, things would be much better. Jersey seems to have much more of that type of spirit.

I’m not judging anybody; I went through the sit at home on the couch thing for a few years. I’m just saying, come out. I’ll get the first round!

As for bands, I’m psyched to see Ten Pints In for the first time. They’re a good rock and roll band from Long Island. My friend Carlos is in a punk band called Destitute NJ and that whole band is full of great musicians.

SATURDAY: What kind of recordings can we expect in the future? Have you guys chosen any labels to work with (and here I should plug my own label, Rock’n’Roll Disgrace, as we’d dig putting out something by 45AD’s!)

GERRARD: We just recorded for a split with a Mod band called Radio Crimes on May Cause Dizziness Records. We’re also going to be releasing our debut 45 on Longshot Music in the future. That’s actually at the mastering house as we speak. I really dig Aires & Graces and Marching Orders who are also on Longshot, so I’m psyched to have that opportunity. We’re looking to get on some compilations as well. We’ve got a bunch of other tunes ready to record and even more pickabar tunes in the vault. Labels, please do get in touch! We’d love to work with you Sean.

SATURDAY: I’m psyched to see you guys at PLAY IT LOUD! Are you guys looking forward to this? What bands are you looking forward to checking out?

GERRARD: We’re really looking forward to this gig as our first real chance to get our name known to people outside of New York. Getting to be on a bill that’s full of top rate bands and not just every band the organizers could find is really the best part, you know? We’re playing back to back with Pressure 28 and Aires & Graces Friday and Saturday, so it’s going to be an awesome weekend. I’m looking forward to hearing Hammer & The Nails do “Legislation, Not Rehabilitation” live. There’s also some history punk band that I’ve heard is pretty good. We’ll see.

SATURDAY: Anything you’d like to add, feel free! Thank you’s or anything?

GERRARD: If I thank anyone, I’ll forget someone else. So I’ll just say, DTAWDD!