From Rising Free fanzine no 4, 1981.
The Cockney Rejects, the definitive Oi band, working class ‘erberts sprung to fame and notoriety in late 79 with the release of the highly acclaimed Small Wonder EP “Flares and Slippers”. The band soon took to gigging after 15 year old Stinky Turner had finished school, failing all his exams in the process. They quickly built up a huge following and capped their first year in existence with the 5 star “Greatest Hits Volume 1”. Now almost three years later, with 4 albums tucked under their braces, they’re almost at the crossroads. Do they keep on plugging away at the old style, or as the new album suggests, a change in tactics.
Micky: The new album, it’s more of the same sort of thing but refined. We’ve spent £27,000 on it and like £11,000 of it went to the producer (Steve Churchyard, U.F.O, Stranglers) where as before we used to skimp and do 14 tracks in 2 weeks in some poxy studio. We’ve skinted ourselfs doing it, (“YET ANOTHER CASE OF DOING IT FOR THE KIDS!”) but it was worth it ‘cos it’s the best Rejects album.
So it’s more of a natural progression than a change?
Micky: Yeah! it’s not a drastic change.
Has this just happened over a period of time?
Micky: Yeah, well Sticks has come into the band and he’s got more room to develop musically with us than with the Upstarts, so he’s added to the ideas of the band. We didn’t sit down and decide we were gonna change, it’s like you say “a natural progression”.
Do you think success came your way too soon, 2 albums in a year, Top of the Pops and all that, or did you like it coming that way?
Micky: Well we liked it coming that way because we weren’t into slogging it, we were very lucky.
You had a lot of good press in the beginning especially from Garry Bushell?
Micky: Yeah, now he thinks the 4-Skins are the biggest thing since sliced bread.
Do you think he’s gone againts the band by suggesting the Rejects have gone heavy metal?
Micky: You were down at Abbey Road when we did the live album weren’t you?
Micky: What did you think of the set?
It was alright, a bit different in places.
Micky: Yeah right, it was a bit more professional because it was for a live album and you’ve got to give it a bit of beef. You can’t do a strictly punk thing, or you’ll get labelled for ever, anyway all the band can play so why not make the most of it. Later we took Garry down E.M.I and played him the new album and he had to admit it was our best album yet.
Do you think it’s ironic that Sham could never play in London without attracting trouble where as you only found trouble outside London?
Micky: I wouldn’t say that, anyway you better let H (Rejects road manager) answer that.
H: Well I used to follow Sham 69 and the difference was, when trouble started at Sham gigs they used to run of stage crying. But at Rejects gigs we sorted it out ourselves, we don’t wanna be known as a violent band, ‘co’s basically they’re just normal geezers like you or I, and if you get upset you don’t take shit from anyone, right. Our first main London gig was at the Electric Ballroom and we had vowed beforehand if there was any trouble we’d sort it out ourselves, there was trouble, but we sorted it out in five minutes. It might have seem a bit drastic to the onlooker, steaming in and giving them a good pasting, it was nothing to be proud of but needed doing. Afterwards the kids responsible came up to us and said “where are you playing next”, we had gained the crowds respect.
Micky: That was our original philosophy now we’ve got to make money or the bands gonna die. I know it might sound big headed but we’ve done everyone who tried to have a go at us. But the bands gotta settle down and be a winner, a money maker without selling out, we’re 100% into whar we are doing, I listen to our newer stuff more than the older stuff. So if trouble does start we’ve got no alternative bit walk away because promoters wont wanna put us on, people wont write write about us, no one’ll wanna know us. But I can’t see there being anymore, we’ve given enough, we’ve always stood up to ’em, we’ve learnt the hard way. We said to ’em “we’re West Ham, what of it?”. It wasn’t a challenge to them. We always tried to stop the aggro, but if anyone keeps on you’re bound to lose your rag. So you think for yourself “Who are they?”. But we can’t do that now, we don’t take shit, not from anyone.
What do you think of Oi and the way the whole movement is going?
Micky: It hurts me to say this but we’ve disassociated ourselves with the whole movement. I mean when Nina Myskow, the Suns queen of pop says “Oi! the movement, they wear bleached jeans and have tattoos, support football teams and fight”, and all that sort of shit, we don’t do that. We’re satisfied that we started it, we were the first, the originals. The 4-Skins or your Infa-Riot are never gonna touch the Rejects, we were the first fucking ‘erbert band.
So you don’t think Oi! was manufactured by Garry Bushell as many people believe?
Micky: Nah! it was invented by us, you’ve heard the song “Oi! Oi! Oi!”, well Bushell jumped on that.
H: We’ve got an article from Musicians Only which has a review of one of our first gigs at the Leeds F Club, before Oi! was ‘eard of and the geezer that wrote it said “Stinky Turner could only muster three words between each song, …Oi! Oi! Oi!”.
Micky: If anyone wants to get big by riding on the back of Oi!, that’s entirely up to them, good luck to ’em. But we’ll never go back on the bandwagon, because we know we were the originals.
Do you see any future in it for other bands?
No!, says Micky emphatically, You’ve seen what’s happened at Acklam Hall and Southall, Oi! is gonna get a lot of poor bastards ‘eads kicked in.
Why do you think that is?
Micky: It’s just it’s association with football, it’s gonna be brought into it whether you like it or not. Garry says “It’s the vision of all the working class youth sticking together” but you’re never gonna get that. What’s he gonna do, address Britain over the telly?
Stinky said in the Oi! debate, he didn’t respect Rotten, but he must of indirectly influenced you, who if anyone do you respect?
Micky: Apart from our drinking mates who we’ve always hung out with, we mix with the higher rock set, people like U.F.O. Them geezers have been through the whole star bit 60,000 seaters and all that, but they wanna sit down and ‘ave a beer and a chat with us, when they could be in Los Angeles or something. We’ve met more genuine people in the higher rock set, apart from our mates. U.F.O. are really into the Rejects plus they show us a mutual respect.
Now the albums released what are the future plans?
Micky: Plenty of money and beers, as many cracks as we can and keep loyal.
You can’t say fairer than that, but are you now in it for the money?
Micky: No not at all, we wanna get across to as many kids as possible. We’re still one with the audience, we always will be. But there comes a time when you have to start thinking of money, we need it to carry on.
H: The Rejects are trying and to some extent succeeding in doing what no other band has done, and that’s stay together.
So what has the Nigel Woolfe split all about?
Micky: He wasn’t good enough! and let’s face it H, he didn’t fit with the band. He was into Skinhead for the pose, but he was a mod before that. Now we’ve got rock solid Sticks. I read what Mensi said in your last issue and whether it was true or not, it was still out of order. He should have said something to him instead of beefing about it on the sly in print. It’s only fair you’ve let Sticks have his say.
Vince echoed what Micky had said earlier. But the chat I had with Vince was interrupted by our friendly boys in blue carrying out a raid.