From Rising Free fanzine no 4, 1981
The new breed of working class bands has thrown up many new contenders and currently holding pole position are the 4-Skins. Unfortunately this hasn’t brought all the advantages the prime purveyors of street rock would have hoped for. The vicious gutter press tried to associate themselves with the band and the Oi! movement. Naturally the national press soon picked up on this, and as usual got everything out of proportion. Blaming the 4-Skins for the Southall riots, but the band have carried on regardless. A margin of any bands success is it’s ability to cope with problems, judging by the 4-Skins recent troubles there should be nothing stopping them now. With the recent release of their first single on their own “Clockwork Fun” label. It’s only the beginning…
The interview that follows was done dahn the Bridge House with “hard as masonary nails” lead singer Gary Hodges and beefy bass guitarist Hoxton Tom McCourt.
The first question is put to Gary Hodges. The release of “A.C.A.B.” has been long awaited, will it ever see the light of day on vinyl? “If we can, yeah, we’ll smother the charts like Adam and the Ants!”
Gary and Tom are both in full agreement that Oi! has united both punx and skins, but the pair of them are a bit preturbed at the violent elements Oi! has. Gary says “It’s been isolated things but personally speaking we’ve never ‘ad any troubles at our gigs”. “And it doesn’t help matters when you get the prats like Valac Vander Veen from Sounds saying ‘trouble again’, what really happened at that gig (Paisley) was the bouncers steamed some little kids” adds Tom. “So we all dived in. He was trying to build up a violent image around us and Oi!”
What was the real reason for all the Northern and Scottish dates, when you first started gigging? Tom explains: “That was down to our old manager Skully. He was getting us these gigs for 100 pounds, which hardly covered costs. But we did ’em for the publicity and the experience.”
The band, and in particular Gary have expressed some concern in pursuing the band full time, due to monetary problems- Have these eased at all Gary? “We would like to do it full time but we’d have to be able ti live off it. But I’ve got a wife and kid to support. So I’ve gotta have a bit of money to look after them. I wouldn’t worry about myself, as long as they’re alright.” Tom adds he’s getting married soon so he’ll need money. “Yeah you’ve gotta, co’s if you lose this one you ain’t gonna find no one else” chips in Gary sarcastically. Tom isn’t amused.
Do you see any difference between the new breed of working class bands and the old, i.e. Sham and Menace? Gary: “Yeah, but not so much Menace, because they were like you say, a working class band. But Sham I knew personally co’s I used to hang around with them and they all came from round Kingston. They weren’t really a working class band, it was all put on really”. So your more like Menace in attitude? “Yeah, but a lot of the older bands who pretended to be working class were middle class art students anyway. The bands that are around now are the real thing”.
Of the other ‘new’ bands Tom and Gary both like Last Resort. But Gary guiltily admits “Tell you the truth I ain’t heard many. Infa-Riot I don’t like.” Is that musically or on a personal level? Gary: “I don’t like Lee Wilson”. “He slagged us down in the music papers” says Tom, “We were all talking about sticking together and doing our own label and they went and fucked off to Secret Records”. Are you interested in signing to a big label? “Yeah! there’s been the odd tentative enquiry, but nothing definite, we don’t wanna compromise, and that includes not changing our name”.
The band, on the whole have gone down better outside London, because as Gary says “The London kids are spoilt for choice, so when we go outside we’re appreciated a bit more!”
A final message, Gary “We’ll play it by ear and see what ‘appens”.
Well since the interview the 4-Skins have split, perhaps because they didn’t wanna compromise, maybe there were other reasons. The interview now serves as a memory.