Sounds, 11 July, 1981, reports the New Punk Conference.
Skunk Rock ’81
Fifty-seven assorted herberts packed into the ill-publicised New Punk conference in the Conway Hall, Holborn, last Sunday. Not exactly the storming of the Bastille but none the less a small positive step towards uniting the diverse factions of eighties pogoramists.
There they sat, a hairdresser’s nightmare of flaming pinks, crops, spikes and wigs (sorry Tom) – from Cardiff young speed-freaks the Partisans, from Bristol bondaged last rockers Vice Squad, all the way from Wearside a weary and scurvy-infected Olga Toydoll, and up from Herne Bay cyclopic skin hero Roi of Last Resort. Sadly other provincial faves like Blitz, the Strike, the Upstarts, the Exploited et al were either brassic or touring, but London was well-represented in the shape of various 4-Skins, Lee of Infa-Riot, and delegates from Clockwork Rebel, the Business, Angela Rippons Bum, Splodge, Combat 84, the Affected, the Docs, Twisted Moralities, TDA, the Gonads, the Bomb, the Elite and the Urban Dissidents – a veritable xeroxland jamboree.
First off on the subject of gigs, delegates proffered a variety of sympathetic local venues which Business manager Laurie Prior (WHUFC and bar) is currently investigating with a view to organising more Punk/Oi Festivals round the country, and establishing a permanent London punk venue where out of town bands can be sure of a gig. Meanwhile Lee Wilson is working on a Wood Green venue which could well become the Roxy of ’81. And it was felt that bands should stay in as much touch as possible and try and arrange gig ‘swaps’ with each other around the country.
Gary Hitchcock (4-Skins manager) bemoaned the ‘trouble’ tag attached to Oi bands when bands like the 4 Skins/Strike/Business etc had never had a whiff of same. Hoxton Tom reckoned benefit gigs were one way of clearing the band’s names while helping causes they believed in. he recommended the Prisoners Rights Organisation and volunteered to work with them towards organising a festival. Laurie Pryor undertook to contact Anti-Unemployment Organisations as the fight against the dole queues was a cause we all supported even if he/we didn’t agree with the politics of many of those involved in those organisations.
Mark of Barnet’s Clockwork Rebel claimed that much of the supposed antagonism between skins and punks was down to “widespread misunderstanding” and “things were definitely improving.” Later Chris of Combat 84 the propagation of Skunk Rock (Skinhead and punk) while Beki of Vice Squad reckoned that skins and punks got on just fine in Bristol, though Shane of same criticised ‘Strength Thru Oi’ (Too risky – Street Ed) as being “too skinhead orientated.” I agree to an extent and invited Vice Squad to co-star on the third Oi album ‘Carry On Oi’ to redress the balance. It’ll be the definitive punk/skin/Herbert mix coming out on Secret Records in September and I await their answer eagerly.
Gez Lowry was delegated in his absence (only the trusty Charlton-orientated On The Waterfront ‘zine had turned up) to co-ordinate a national network of sympathetic ‘zines. Sadly after a while everything dissolved into a private conflabs – only dodgy incident being the snidey activities of a mysterious and shady looking moustachio’d geezer passing amongst the ranks claiming to represent Secret Records (Secret have disowned him and so should you).
General conclusion seemed to be that punks and skins should work together against the common enemies, kids in every locality should put on their own gigs, form their own labels (or work with trustworthy independents), start their own fanzines, and work with good local causes if there are any – in other words, be active, keep things happening and don’t give up the fight!
And next time we have a Conference it’ll be a bit better organised. Honest.