Louder Than War’s Hannah McFaull recently caught up with Mark from Oi band Booze & Glory for a chat about football, their soon to be released album and how to get 2.5 millions hits on YouTube.
Louder Than War: Allo son, how are ya?
Mark: Hi Hannah! I’m ok, thanks! Just so busy recently … but coping fine!
After one appalling result after another, from one West Ham fan to another, Big Sam has to go. Right?
Well, I don’t think it’s that easy … Apparently Sam Allardyce is 13th highest paid football manager in the world. Can you imagine how much it will cost to get rid of him? Can West Ham afford it? But even if the owners decide to change the manager – will the team start scoring goals and winning the games? Who’s gonna do it? What player? To be honest I think there’s much more to be done there than “just” sack the manager … of course I agree, and it’s a pretty common practice in England – if you can’t get a good results, you’re out. Especially that we all know he looks completely clueless recently.
We need few new decent players – strikers, two or three of them. We can’t just hope that Andy Carroll will be fit and will score 20 goals for us, cos he won’t. The only thing is, it might be too late now unless we find another Carlos Tevez quickly! They say if you are at the bottom at Christmas you will be relegated in May. We are second from the bottom so there’s hope!
Now on to things only slightly less important than West Ham. How are your new members fitting in?
Yeah, brilliant! Tommy replaced Mario just before end of 2012, but before it happened we checked his skills in Brigade Loco, our Vanilla Muffins tribute side project. Tommy (ex-The Cliches) is a great guy with very good skills – he is one of them drummers you can trust on stage if you know what I mean. Only sometimes I have to shout: “Slow down!” He lives in Sweden and has to fly to London for band practices, recordings etc. Not many drummers can learn 12 new songs over two band rehearsals and record them within one day the following weekend!
We tried few bass players after Bart decided to leave at the beginning of 2013 and Bubbles was one of them. He’s from Greece and he grew up in Rhodes. Liam called him Bubbles (from Bubble & Squeak meaning Greek!) as he couldn’t remember his name, which is Astrenos. He is only young (as we all are!) and moved to England last year. He fitted in the band perfectly and has also done a great job in the studio. If you’ve seen us live recently you know he is all over the stage and is into it 100%. It’s great to have them both on board!
So we now have four different nationalities in the band and if you dig a bit further you ll find another two! Between us we speak four different languages – how good is that!?
Let’s talk about the new single Only Fools Get Caught, is it a good taster for what’s to come from the album?
I think so. The new album is different in my opinion – we’ve done that on purpose. You won’t find any football songs there, you won’t find any “rough” sounding tunes. But don’t worry, it’s still an Oi! album, but full of melodies, vocal harmonies and singalong parts. I’m very proud of this album. It sounds 100% like it should. Only Fools Get Caught is a good taster of the new Booze & Glory sound.
The video is brilliant, there’s so few bands around still making actual music videos, even fewer with a plot line! Did you have fun filming it and whose idea was it?
Thank you, I’m glad you like it! Yeah you’re right; there’s not many bands, especially punk bands, who produce music videos. I don’t know why to be honest. I personally really like good videos. We had so much fun filming it!
You know our first video (for London Skinhead Crew) was like “let’s just do it and see what’ll happen.” But for the new one everything was planned properly. We had the written scenario, step by step, scene by scene, all worked out. From leaving Wormwood Scrubs prison, getting in the black cab, the back home scene, bits in East End pubs, the Job Centre, the Bookies, Pie & Mash, the graveyard, then at the airport, inside the aircraft to Marbella. We wrote the plan at a BBQ party in my back garden.
It was so funny doing the scene outside the prison. I had about 6 / 7 takes before I managed to keep my face straight, as I was laughing my head off!. Just after that we were kicked out by the guards… After smoking that cigarette I had a massive headache for the rest of a day as I don’t smoke! It took us ages to find a London cab driver who let us shoot inside his car – he was actually really helpful. It was a good laugh! We will definitely do it again soon….
Your last video for London Skinhead Crew has a ridiculous amount of views online. How did you actually manage to get all those views on YouTube? Do you get friends and family to just sit there hitting refresh?
Haha! Lots of people have actually been asking about it. To be honest, I have no idea. Over 2.500.000 views for the video of a band like ours is a big achievement and there was no way we expected that when we filmed it. I know that YouTube featured the video after it had been viewed so many times in a short period, which helped to get even more views.
So now when you type “skinhead” or “London” the video will automatically come up. I do believe that it’s also a good tune after all!
You filmed a bit of the video at Oi Oi The Shop, in the Stables Market in Camden. How important to the scene are small businesses like this?
The most important – without a doubt! After Ben Sherman , Fred Perry and Merc became trendy brands for hipsters, places like Oi!Oi!The Shop are the best and only places to go shopping for people in the scene. There aren’t many shops like that about. It’s the best place to hang out in London, you know you meet the people you want to meet, plus this is the only place in town you can buy our merch and records!
So, the new album ‘As Bold As Brass’ is released on January 28th. How many other London nursery rhymes have you pilfered for the new album?
Haha! We may have pilfered a few… About the release date – The album will be released on three different labels and it was very hard to coordinate the same date for all of them. So Sailor’s Grave Rec (USA) will release American version on CD on 28th January and LP version in April. Step 1 Music (UK) will release European version of CD 4th February and Contra Records will have European version of LP on 4th February. All those 4 releases will have slightly different covers as well as European versions will have different bonus tracks than American versions. So it’s a bit complicated haha!
Well, “as bold as brass” is an old idiom meaning “shameless, with lots of confidence, without any politeness” As you know the more successful you are the more you meet people who begrudge you that! We are bold – and don’t care what others say – arrogant bastards and proud of it! We will carry on doing what we’re doing. I’m sure we will prove a few things with this new album!
What are your favorite tracks from the new album?
I like all the songs. It’s the first time actually – I normally have a couple songs which I think are weaker than the other ones and maybe they shouldn’t go on the album – but not this time.
It’s hard to pick my favourites. I normally prefer songs written by Liam! There’s one personal song which I wrote about Bart (ex-Booze & Glory) called “I Hope You Still Remember” – he chose a different life a left the band and the UK. I miss him as a band member but mainly a friend.
Were there any that were a pain in the arse to get right / finish?
Oh yes! Firstly it was a pain to write the songs! As I mentioned with Tommy (drummer) living in Sweden it’s not very easy to practice the songs with him living that far.
Me and Liam wrote all the songs and met with Bubbles in the rehearsal studio a few times and played them with a drum machine. We recorded them on the phone and sent them to Sweden for Tommy to listen. He came over the weekend before recording the drums and only had 2 rehearsals!
He recorded all drums within a day – I couldn’t believe he’d done it! Then we recorded bass lines and guitars and just before we were going to do the vocals I decided that I don’t like my guitar sound, so I had to buy a new amp and record all guitars again. Then obviously solos, lead guitars, main vocals and finally backing vocals.
Tommy had his flight booked to do the backing vocals with us and the flight was cancelled at the last minute, so we had to book another weekend in the studio. We had Watford Jon and Ray from Argy Bargy helping us, Bart and Mario (ex-B&G members) and a few other friends. But now the backing vocals sound really strong!
The final mixes we must have changed around four or five times … there was always something to fix or amend. We thought it cost us so much effort to record it so we might as well mix / master them well and get everything done properly. It was worth it!
Are there any surprises on the new album we should look out for?
Like I mentioned above it’s a slightly different album. Production wise mainly, but also the subjects of the songs are a bit different – there’s no football, no skinheads, and only a bit of drinking haha!
Living in America, I’ve found that the understanding of what a skinhead is varies massively. There are people who look like I’m about to stab them when I talk about being part of the skinhead community. Some would argue that the image of a skinhead will always be tainted with accusations of racism. How has your experience supported (or not) this perception?
Well I can’t really agree with you here. Racist skinheads are a small percentage – they are the loudest though lol! Of course we have that so called “anti PC true skins” (very trendy recently) but they ain’t worth a mention. They have their bands, gigs and internet and let them stick to it.
But the Traditional Skinhead movement is going strong and we are very proud to be part of it. Our experience? We hang out with people from all over the world who work their bollocks off just to get by day by day. We are all united under working class banner. Who cares where are they from? Booze & Glory is the band of immigrants so here’s no place for racism!
You’re heading to Russia for the first time later this year. It’s looking like you’ve got some really interesting shows lined up, with some amazing bands. Any that you’re particularly looking forward to?
Booze & Glory is not a touring band and probably never will be. We all have our full-time jobs and our families and there’s no way we will ever go for a long tour. I don’t think we would survive more than few days on a road. Ideally we would like to play one or two shows a month and this is what we have been doing for the last couple years. We are going on the very short tour in May (3 / 4 gigs) and I have no idea how we’ll cope, haha! Let’s face it, we are not straight edge kids…
We always try to book a few big festivals, but also the smaller shows in places we haven’t played before. You mentioned Russia, we also have a gig in Switzerland confirmed. We are working on our first gigs in Italy, Slovakia, Portugal and others. We are pretty much fully booked until September 2014 and we only have few dates available in Oct/Nov/Dec. It’s gonna be a busy year…