Oi Polloi Interview By Andy Garcia

Jul 17, 2014

When you throw the term “Vegan Anarcho-Syndicalism” around, it’ll suck the fun out of a room. It doesn’t sound like much fun on paper, like it’s too much work and not enough play. Oi, on the other hand, is filled with pogoing, fist pumps, and singalongs. Scotland’s Oi Polloi have managed to seamlessly mesh these two genres and create something powerful, relevant, and most importantly, Fun with a capital “F.” They’ve been going strong for thirty-plus years, and earlier this year did their first WestCoast tour, much to the delight of all the punks and skins.  I spoke to Deek, Zodiac, and Xanadu, after their gig in Santa Ana, California and we discussed Scottish independence, voting, delicious vegan food, and shitty Nazi oi.

Deek: Vocals
Xanadu: Drums (for this tour, normally plays guitar)
Zodiac: Guitar

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Andy: I noticed that you guys played a song in Swedish?

: Finnish. One in Finnish, one in Spanish, and one in Gaelic.

Andy: I know you guys have a few albums and a few songs in Gaelic. Why sing in Finnish and Spanish?

Deek: Well, the… we’ll take them one at a time. [laughter] The Gaelic thing first. We’ve always been interested in human rights campaigns. One of the organizations that we think do a lot of good work is a group called Survival International—they work with a lot of threatened indigenous tribes and people who are trying to keep people away from the very few uncontacted tribes that still haven’t been fucked up by contact with the outside world. They help small tribes where the majority culture—the dominant culture in the particular country where they are—is trying to assimilate them. You know, where kids are taken away from the rest of their community, put through a school system in another language, and where there are fairly horrific punishments to kids. Just a few years after speaking a native language, they’re suddenly put into a different school—say a South American indigenous community—where the kids are forced to speak Spanish. They go to school and they haven’t got a word of Spanish, and they beat them if they don’t. Other places in North America, people have these things where they might have their mouths brushed-out, washed-out with soap if they speak with their own language.

You hear stories of people who’ve been through that system, but have somehow managed to keep their language intact. They’re involved in linguistic human rights work, saying things like, “When I speak my native language, I can still taste the soap.” Which, obviously, all that stuff is horrific and we want to do something about that, but it doesn’t really make a great deal of sense for us to go out and try to learn some threatened Central American language, because living where we do in Northern Europe, we’re not really going to get a chance to use it. And, also, if we were to record records and the people who buy it don’t speak the language, it’s really not going to do much help. So we kind of break the levers in that “think globally, act locally” kind of philosophy. We thought, “What’s the best thing we can do to help threatened languages?”

Well, it’s to work with the threatened indigenous language where we come from, which, in our case, is Gaelic in Scotland. It’s spoken by about 50,000 people—only about one percent of the population—so we thought we would do some stuff in Gaelic. None of us spoke it, so we had our friend help us write fairly Discharge-style lyrics for our record. But then we thought, “Well, we can’t really justify putting this out unless we’re in a position to talk about this and promote it through the actual language.” So we had this thing recorded and we had to wait for a few years while I went to college and learned how to speak Gaelic and went and lived in Gaelic speaking areas. Then we thought, “We aren’t going to make this into a kind of gimmick.” You know some metal bands might be singing in Klingon, as kind of a publicity thing. [laughter]

Deek: We wanted to show that this is not a gimmick—this is really something very, very important to the band. So we recorded our next album and it’s completely in Gaelic. When we first brought it out, all the sleeve notes and everything were exclusively in Gaelic as well, because there’s a problem with a lot of indigenous languages in many places—they’re presented as a kind of museum piece. This is a particular problem in Scotland—there’s a lot of very beautiful traditional Gaelic songs and some very good Gaelic singers; and, what tends to happen is they’ll make a CD and the lyrics will be in Gaelic, but the sleeve notes will be in English. They do a concert, they’ll be singing in Gaelic, but they’ll be introducing the song in English. Our whole thing is that it’s a living language—it’s not some boring old thing that people would associate with their grandmother who speaks it out on some remote island. This is why in some of our songs, we sing about open-source computing and stuff like that, because we really want to make it about present-day, living-language issues. There’s a problem with some people—they associate it as something uncool or old, like grandmother’s generation kind of thing. I’ll stop right now because I could rant about this for hours. So that’s how we ended up with the Gaelic stuff.

The Finnish, I ended up living in Finland—my partner and my children are Finnish—so it’s fairly easy to do, especially Discharge-style, Finnish, d-beat kind of lyrics. Especially if you’re a European band that’s touring, the distances in Europe are much smaller to go from country to country and culture to culture. Here, I’m pretty sure in the Midwest, in the middle of the country, you can drive maybe for about two days and everything will be the same, pretty much. In Europe, you can drive for about eight hours and drive through four different countries with completely different cultures, different languages, the houses all look different, and the customs will be different.

If you’re a touring band, our audience is not what it might have been from when, say, bands like Crass and the early U.K. anarcho punk bands were around—they weren’t doing that much foreign touring. A band like Crass took a conscious decision not to do that. So it’s no surprise that maybe all their lyrics would be in English and their songs would be mostly about British issues. Nowadays, especially with cheap travel and so on, people are traveling around a lot more. We spend an awful lot of time touring in Germany, so we have songs in German and about German issues. It’s not difficult for me to write a basic anti-war song or anti-system song in Finnish, and people like it when we’re in Finland. For our next album, we’re going to have a song in Spanish.

Andy: Is it the one you guys played tonight?

Deek: The one we did tonight—I think Bryan speaks a little bit of Spanish and our drummer, our normal drummer who didn’t get let into the country, he speaks a little bit as well. But we thought it would be good to do that. It’s an interesting thing we’ve noticed—going back in time a bit before the advent of e-mail, when we’d get lots and lots of snail mail from all over the world and people from every country would write to us in English, unless it came from Spain or a Spanish-speaking South American country. They would always write in Spanish. None of us or our friends could speak Spanish, so we’d have to write back, “We’re really sorry, we have no idea what you’re saying.”

But again, we should make an effort. We don’t tend to play in Spain precisely for that reason. We play in Spain sometimes, but in comparison with other countries, we don’t do many concerts there. One of the main reasons is that we can’t really communicate with people as effectively as we can in a place that understands English or German-speaking countries. A couple of us can speak quite good German. In Gaelic countries we can speak a little bit, but it’s quite nice to learn a Spanish song and play it. My pronunciation was probably horrendous but I’m sure people appreciate the effort. [laughs]

Andy: Are all you guys from Scotland?

Zodiac: We are.

Xanadu: I’m originally from here.

Andy: Oh, you’re from the U.S.? What part of the U.S. are you from?

Xanadu:North Carolina.

Andy: How did you get involved with punk?

Xanadu: It’s a very punky place. Believe it or not, for whatever reason, there’s always been a scene. It’s hard for me to name really early bands, but around here you can name a lot of ‘76 punk bands. Not long after you take California, you take New York— they’re starting around ‘76/‘77— and you have various punk bands in North Carolina back to like, ‘79. C.O.C. (Corrosion Of Conformity) is from there and they got started pretty early as well. But if you’re going to name some other state, Colorado something, I don’t know; it’s a hard time finding loads of punk bands there. But North Carolina’s always had them.

Deek: I mean, we met Xanadu because when he was studying. He had a year in Edinburgh as part of his course exchange. Zodiac and I are both from Edinburgh. Zodiac married an American, so he lives in Bloomington. I married a Finn, so I live in Helsinki.

Andy: I saw that in September there’s going to be a referendum for Scottish independence. Where do you guys stand, as a band, with that issue?

Zodiac: Very, very much in favor of Scottish independence.

Andy: And that issue—that’s going to go up for a vote?

Zodiac: Yeah.

Andy: I don’t know where you guys stand with voting. Would you guys vote for that?

Zodiac: Absolutely, yes.

Andy: Do you usually vote for referendums or people, or is this the exception?

Zodiac: I didn’t vote for a very long time. Then my mom made me promise that I would vote.

Andy: [laughs]

Zodiac: So I had to say to her, “Yes. Okay mama, I promise.”

Andy: For this?

Zodiac: No, just in general. So now I vote. And it’s usually a protest vote, a pragmatic protest vote. Anyone who thinks that you shouldn’t vote in the Scottish referendum for independence because voting doesn’t change anything is being very stupid, because that’s a chance to make a big difference in the politics of Britain. Whether you’re anarchist or not, to make a difference that will send a huge shockwave through the U.K. and Europe will terrify the establishment and also force the parties to pay more attention to left-wing politics. It’s a practical vote that is in the right direction, and anyone who thinks different, in my opinion, is being an idiot.

Deek: I would totally second that. I think what’s important to point out for people here in the U.S., or who are interested in other countries, or who don’t really know much about the situation in Scotland, is that what is referred to as Scottish nationalism isn’t really an ethnic nationalism. It’s not about, “We are better than other people,” or “We are proud Scots,” or anything. I am Scottish but I don’t get a vote because I don’t live there anymore, whereas lots of people, Polish people and other people who live in Scotland, do get votes. I’m very happy about that because it’s not about your ethnicity—it’s basically about autonomy, quite a serious amount of autonomy for the people who live there. It’s not about “Fuck the English.” The Scottish National Party have Asians and quite a lot of English members of the Scottish parliament, and about ten percent of their membership are actually English people, so that’s very important to point out.

The other important thing to point out is that the government in London is really extreme right-wing. Their immigration policy is fucking horrendous. Every policy they have, they’re completely dismantling the welfare state, they’re selling off the few things that are still owned by the taxpayer—you know, like the post office and all these things that are assets of the people—they’re sold off in cut-prices to their rich cronies and people playing the stock market. We talked about this in an intra-band discussion the other day. We were talking about the comparison with Obama’s election and people thinking things might get different and so on.

Andy: Keeping in mind what you just said, how much does Scotland or the U.K. keep track of politics in the United States?

Deek: Well, people are certainly aware about what’s going on. Xanadu said to us—not long after he’d come over to Scotland—that he reckoned he actually learned more about the system in America since he’s been living in Europe, because the media coverage was so much better. I’d recommend to anyone who’s interested to check out the website of The Guardian, which is a British newspaper. In the last few years, because of the internet, they’ve started covering a lot of American political stories. Even things quite local, like with what’s his name? Chris?

Xanadu: Christie (Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey).

Deek: You know, with the fucking bridge and everything in New Jersey and all that stuff?

Andy: Really? You guys know about that? [laughs]

Deek: Oh yeah.

Zodiac: For a week or for a couple of days, that was the main headline on The Guardian.

Deek: And who was that guy, Weiner? Who sent pictures of his…

Andy: Oh, Anthony Weiner! [laughter]

Deek: Yeah, all that stuff.

Zodiac: It’s in the news over there. All the stuff when there was no budget or something and people were being told not to come to work…

Andy: Yeah, the government shutdown.

Zodiac: Yeah all that stuff. People are aware of all that.

Xanadu: We often say that when America sneezes, Britain gets a cold.

Andy: [laughs]

Deek: And that’s the other thing people say is that a lot of the things that are going on in the U.S., Britain is like five or ten years behind. The same shit that happens here, things like more privatization of prisons coming into England and so on. This is one reason why people want independence in Scotland, because you have a right wing government in London and people in Scotland have traditionally voted in a very left wing manner. The ruling party in England has only one MP [Member of Parliament] in the whole of Scotland.

We have a joke —because there are like two Chinese pandas in the Edinburgh zoo— that there’s more pandas in Scotland than there are members of the ruling party. So people look at this and say, “We’ve never voted for these right wing bastards.” It’s completely unfair, a kind of democratic deficit, that these people are governing the country. I said to Xanadu that I was very skeptical when Obama was elected. I was like, “Okay, I totally understand what you were saying about the fact that it’s at least great that a person of color can be elected,” to which people say, “I don’t know, fifty years ago we would never have thought this possible.” But what’s going to change in general? Probably fuck all.

Xanadu was saying, “Don’t you think it’s going to be the same in Scotland?” My response was that actually, things already have changed for the better, with the things that the Scottish Parliament has power over. The situation at the moment is that defense, mineral rights, the really important stuff is all controlled from London. But there are some things that the Scottish Parliament has power over, as well as the left-leaning Scottish National Party since it got elected a few years ago. It made university tuition free, whereas it had cost thousands of pounds every year. In England it costs about 9000£ every year, just to study in England. I know it’s bad in the U.S.

Andy: Oh yeah. I can tell you it’s horrible.

Deek: Also, in England, you have to pay if you get sick. In Scotland, it’s free, and that’s thanks to the SNP (Scottish National Party). In England, they sold off most of the good social housing for poor people. In Scotland, they’ve started building loads more. If you’re old and need care, in England you have to pay and in Scotland it’s free. So, okay, it’s not going to turn into an anarchist utopia overnight. There will still be cops. There will still be innocent people getting kicked around and being put in jail. But it’s a hell of a lot better than England. Also, their policy is to have the complete removal of any nuclear power generation, so as to have all electricity generation by 2020…

Andy: By the SNP?

Deek: Yeah, by renewables, and they’re moving in that direction. In England, they’re going for fracking and for loads more nuclear power.

Zodiac: What is the SNP’s thoughts on fracking?

Deek: Well, they haven’t come out said they are totally against it but, if you look…

Zodiac: They fucking should.

Deek: They should and a lot of people are moving towards that, like Radical Independence and other more left-leaning elements in the party. But if you look at the energy generation wealth that there is in Scotland, there is absolutely no need whatsoever for fracking in Scotland.

Also, it’s a core part of their policy to get rid of nuclear weapons. Now, there are some people who think that might not happen. I personally feel that there are elements within the right wing party in London that might actually quite like that because it’s fucking expensive and it gives them a kind of get-out, like, “Oh, we didn’t want to get rid of them.”

See, there’s no place in England where they can put the nuclear submarines. People say, “America will never allow it”—well, America doesn’t really give a fuck because they’ve got their own weapons. What they would probably far rather prefer is that the British government put its money into soldiers and a sort of rapid-reaction deployment force that could actually go and get killed. You can’t use these fucking nuclear weapons unless it’s the end of the world, so I’m sure the Americans would rather have more British troops get sent to places like Afghanistan, probably Iran next, or wherever the bullshit kicks off.

Zodiac: Is France part of the treaty?

Deek: France has got its own independent nuclear deterrent.

Zodiac: I mean, what does it matter if Britain has a nuclear submarine from Scotland out in the North Atlantic if somebody from fucking France could be there? It’s a bit of a non-issue, really, in some ways.

Deek: We could go on about this for ages but—just to answer your questions about voting—I’ve voted plenty of times. Maybe for like, Green Party or in Finland, in the last election, I voted for the really radical left party. I think the important thing is to realize that the main change isn’t going to come about through looking to leaders to sort stuff out. But I very strongly believe that you can change the conditions in which you’re working for change. People say, “Oh, it’s the difference between living in a cage full of shit and living in a cage where the shit gets washed out once a day.” Well, if I was living in a cage and I was trying to pick the lock or something, I’d rather do that while I wasn’t covered in shit.

We really notice in Britain, and we were talking about this recently, that when we were younger—say students, and we were involved in things like hunt sabotage—we used to be able to go out to do hunt sabotage about three times a week because we had loads of free time. We’d do all other kinds of different direct action things.

Nowadays there aren’t so many people with that free time. One of the reasons for that is that they’re all forced into fucking work because the welfare safety net is being stripped down to the very bare minimum. You got people who might have taken the initiative—kind of squatting campaigns and setting up all sorts of alternative things. Nowadays, they can’t do that because all their energy is being plowed into reactive things. Every time the government brings in a new law, you spend all your time and energy protesting against that law but, in the past, you might have been taking the fight to them.

We believe that it would be much better to live under some kind of left-leaning government where you got a bit more space to move things forward in a progressive manner. I totally do not subscribe to this idea that the worse things get, the more that’s going to force people into revolution—what happens then? If you follow that to its logical end, then not only should you not vote for a left-wing party, you should actually vote for a right-wing party. You should actually just join them and become an organizer. That’s fucking bullshit.

Andy: So taking into thought that you guys sing in Gaelic, you sung about Stonehenge and the Stonehenge of the North.

Deek: Callanish.

Andy: In one of the songs, you refer to it as a temple. Is it safe to say there is a sense of spirituality with the environment or with the history?

Zodiac: The country?

Andy: Not the country, but the land.

Deek: I think so. I mean, we’re not practicing pagans or anything, but I still think you can feel a sense of awe when you go to some of these places. A lot of them are very special and you get a feeling… there are some things that we still don’t understand, but just because we don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s all hippy-dippy bullshit. We can appreciate the beauty of Stonehenge and go there during certain times of the year. I don’t think it does any harm to attune yourselves to the solstices and the equinoxes and the seasons. You can still sing about kicking the fuck out of Nazis and anarcho-syndicalism and it doesn’t mean you’re all [makes woo-woo sound]. I don’t know what Zodiac thinks about this, but…


Zodiac: I’m really into the standing stones. I call them standing stones, Megaliths. The people who made these things were very civilized in certain ways. Like in the North of Scotland, they discovered these kinds of balls that are called “Platonic Solids” that have to do with geometry—three-dimensional geometry. So Plato wrote about this stuff in like, 500 B.C., but these stones show that the people who built the Megaliths in the North of Scotland understood that in 3,000 B.C. They understood about geometry and math and stuff—they just didn’t write the stuff down in the same way. The mysteries are there—it’s very powerful.

Andy: So you see significance in the mystery of the stones or the history?

Zodiac: I’m just very interested in everything like that and I think there is a lot of power in it.

Deek: As I’m sure you know from reading the lyrics, those songs are not exclusively just about that. They’re also about people’s human rights in the traveling lifestyle to come together for these free festivals. The history of Stonehenge and the festivals, if you don’t know about the Battle of the Beanfield… you know anything about that?

Andy: I have not heard of it.

Deek: It’s about traveling people, living in buses and vans, going to the Stonehenge festival for the solstice, and being brutally attacked by the cops and stuff. There is a very good film on it—is it Operation Solstice or something like that? I can’t remember. But it’s on YouTube if you Google “Battle of the Beanfield.” It’s called that because the convoy of traveling people was forced by the cops off the road into these fields and they basically had all their homes smashed up—it’s fucking horrendous.

Zodiac: It was part of Margaret Thatcher’s government’s attack on the miners or whatever. Basically attacking all these things, another level of the same thing that happened in the ‘80s.

Andy: See, that’s something that I think people in the U.S. really don’t understand. I know Culture Shock played and they did that benefit.

Deek: Yeah, that’s the whole part of the world where they are from.

Andy: We heard bands from the U.K. sing about the ‘henge—you know, Poison Girls.

Deek: Because they’ve been chosen as a sort of sacred site, a lot of it is people’s right to be there and gather there. The authorities recognized that and how powerful it is when people come together. Like Zodiac said, it’s the same way they attacked the miners, getting Thatcher to blame the traveling people because they’re not sitting in one place and they won’t do a nine-to-five job, paying their taxes. Like, “Who do these people think they are?” Thatcher referred to them as “medieval drifters.”

Zodiac: They were making an example to the rest of the country and she couldn’t have that. And not just her; the same people nowadays are just the same people of the establishment—they can’t have that. And like the Occupy movement, they were making an example. It was the same thing.

Andy: So coming back to the music, to the oi aspect, what is it about oi music that you guys think attracts the nationalists, the right wingers? Because you really don’t hear about racist nationalist crust bands. [laughter]

Deek: Well there is nationalist socialist death metal in some parts.

Andy: Black metal is a whole other monster. [laughs]

Deek: I don’t think it’s intrinsically the musical style.

Zodiac: I think so as well.

Deek: I guess people like Sham (69), through no fault of their own—really, you had these National Front skinheads latching onto them, and it was music that attracted the young working class because bands like Sham were relatively working class.

Andy: But was it the sound or the lyrics?

Deek: I think it was the fact that they were specifically targeted by the nationalist Nazi organizers who were looking for disaffected young working class people, and those were the kind of people who were following that kind of music. They targeted them and, unfortunately, they had a certain amount of success, which is one reason why I think it’s quite important for bands like ourselves to represent a sort of radical left wing alternative still within the oi scene. They fucking hate it that there are bands like us. I think they hate it a lot more that there are bands like The Oppressed, because they’re all actually skinheads. I mean, we’re not going to football and starting any kind of fight with people. But The Oppressed, you know, are.

Xanadu: Our skinheads are really long, as well. [laughter]

Deek: In Europe, you got the Angelic Upstarts, bands like Blaggers, all these French oi bands, and German bands like the Stage Bottles. So it really fucking pisses off the Nazis, because they would love to have an exclusive claim to this genre of music and the ability to just organize and dominate. I think people say, “Nah fuck that, I can’t have skinhead shit in there.” We’ve met some skinheads who are idiots—we tend to refer to the Nazi ones as “Boneheads,” because they’ve got nothing to do with traditional skinhead stuff.

Zodiac: Think about how ironic it is that skinhead culture comes from Jamaica and Jamaican immigrants into Britain, and the word “oi” more than likely comes from a Yiddish phrase from the East End of London. It’s a Jewish word, a Jewish working class word from London. I mean, c’mon…

Andy: They haven’t done their research. [laughs]

Zodiac: The irony is pretty good.


Andy: In your song “Your Beer Is Shit and Your Money Stinks,” you critique companies sponsoring musical festivals or gigs. Have you guys ever had to turn down a gig because of a sponsor or because of a band that’s on the same bill?

Deek: I think there are some things, definitely, that made the decision that we won’t attempt to try and play that. “Oh you should play this”—we’re not fucking interested in playing that. We had an interesting argument with Chumbawamba about precisely about this topic.

Andy: How long ago? Was this before the “Shhhhhhit”?

Deek: This was just before they signed to EMI, but they were going in that direction in their huge tour bus. Xanadu actually filmed this—it would be so good if at some point we could get it converted. I think the only time I can remember wasn’t actually turned down as a result of sponsorship but, this summer—it was really bizarre—we were playing a festival in Norway. It was supposed to be about freedom of expression and stuff, and we ended up being put on the bill.

The support act was the Israeli ambassador to Norway and we were like, “What the fuck? How did?…” So we were like, “You got to be joking,” and we said to the people, “Look, we really wanted to play the festival, but this is not going to happen. How on earth did you think we were going to share the stage with a professional apologist for the occupation, racist apartheid policies, and ethnic cleansings over there? It’s not going to happen.” I think that’s the only thing I can think of that we’ve actually turned down.

There was one concert in some crusty punk festival thing where we were waiting to play, and I’ve never seen such a horrendous audience in my life. I think you maybe call them “oogles” over here, loads of these really fucked up crusty people with dogs on leashes. And when the bands before us were playing, they were pogoing around, jumping up and down, with the dogs on leashes. So every time they jumped up the dogs would get yanked off the ground, and we thought “We’re not going to participate in this.” But those are the only two occasions… can you remember anything?

Xanadu: Cancelling some gigs?

Deek: Of us actually not playing. I mean there have been occasions where dancing has been particularly macho and unpleasant.

Andy: From the stage, you notice that it’s just a little bit too violent and you guys stop.

Deek: Yeah, yeah. It depends on the situation. The worst thing is when you got lots of people who clearly want to enjoy the band, and you got maybe like one or two really fucking big people going like this [swinging arms erratically]. That is not what we’re about. There was a band called Generic who had a song with something like, “We will not be a soundtrack to your misdirected violence.” I would go along with that whole-heartedly.

Andy: Coming back to oi, do you think it’s possible to separate the music from a band’s stance or ideals? I guess the extreme example would be Skrewdriver.

Deek: You mean to somehow appreciate the music and pretend they aren’t singing about that?

Andy: Exactly. Do you think it’s possible, or do you think it’s dishonest to do that?

Deek: I’d find it very difficult to listen to some band that was like “Kill the fucking queers” or something and be like, “Oh yeah, I really like this.” I listened to Skrewdriver in a kind of “know your enemy” research sense and I can appreciate certain music better than others, but it’s not like, “I really like their records.” I think you can look at something and analyze its propaganda values. I think things like the “White Power/Smash the I.R.A.” single is a superb piece of propaganda. I think the music, for what it’s trying to do in its target audience is excellent, but I fucking hate it and I hate what they’re about. I mean, we listen to a lot of this stuff. Zodiac’s got a compilation of really shit Nazi bands doing these acoustic ballads, and it’s a cross of sick amusement/dark humor value.

Andy: Really? [laughs] What bands and from where?

Deek: No Remorse—they got a song called “Tree of Life.” It’s all, “The farmers in the field are harvesting the corn/Woo-woo the tree of life/His wife is in the kitchen baking the bread/Woo-woo the tree of life.” It’s really, really shit. What else, “And the Snow Fell” by Skrewdriver—it’s a really slow keyboard ballad about a Nazi retreat from Moscow in the Second World War. I think they refer to Stalin as “The Beast.” “When I think of the red flag flying over Berlin, it sickens my heart.” Then there’s this keyboard line, “And the snow fell.” It refers to the SS as the “Forces of Light,” which is so shit.

Deek: For research purposes, it’s good to know.

Xanadu: And for entertainment.

Andy: [laughs]

Deek: Yeah, kind of like sick humor, entertainment purposes.

Andy: Well, taking into consideration earlier oi bands, that were really—I know you hate the term “unpolitical” or “non-political”…

Deek: Apolitical.

Andy: Apolitical, right.

Deek: It’s not so much that we hate it—we just think it doesn’t make any sense because you’re usually, by default, very conservative and supporting the status-quo. I mean, I understand anyone who says, “I want nothing to do with party politics because politicians are all fucking tossers.” I could understand that. But for them to complain, “Oh, beer is really fucking expensive” —well, that’s politics.

Andy: [laughs]

Deek: Or, “How come I’m waiting for the bus? It took fucking ages and then some rich bastard drove past in some Rolls Royce.” Well, the fact that you’re waiting at the bus stop for ages and the bus service is shit is a result of political decisions. You can’t pretend that you can somehow go through life and avoid politics—you can’t. So if you say, “I’m not going to do anything about it and I’m not going to get involved in any political thing,” that’s just basically giving these assholes a free hand to cut services. It’s not non-political—it’s just burying your head in the sand.

Andy: Like an ostrich. I know you guys have to go—just two more questions. I think you mentioned that you and your partner have children?

Deek: Xanadu has got two, I’ve got two. We both got one of each about the same age.

Andy: How does that affect the musical process, the writing process, the touring, everything about Oi Polloi?

Xanadu: It’s actually improved it somehow, believe it or not.

Andy: [laughs]

Xanadu: Well, I think so anyway. Whereas in the past we might get in a rickety van and go across Europe for six months and have gigs cancelled and play absolutely every place just because we have the time—we’d end up playing in front of five people for like six months. Traveling is very special, but at least we can pick and choose because we play less—it’s more a special occasion. The same for writing new songs—with the time pressure, kids can be quite inspirational. You might notice like a lot of the Oi Polloi songs are pretty simple—sometimes the kids will make up songs which can be integrated into oi songs.

Andy: Really? How old are your children?

Xanadu: Three and five. So just the fact that we’re limited by time is actually a pretty good thing, because if you have unlimited time you’re like, “Oh, I’ll do that later, I’ll do that later.” We basically wrote and recorded our record in one month with loads of songs, and they’re pretty good, because there’s a deadline. We’re all househusbands basically, so yeah, it’s good—it’s gotten us motivated.

Andy: Now that you mentioned you’re househusbands, I think I would say the term is very looked down upon. How is that seen in Scotland?

Xanadu: I was using that a little bit ironically. But, basically, we exchange with our partners. It’s extremely hard work. Of course, right now they are fulltime back with the kids. One week we’ll be looking out for the kids… there’s no house really involved in it. I was just throwing that around.

Andy: And you’re originally from the U.S.?

Xanadu: Yes.

Andy: Anything you would want to leave fans and non-fans of Oi Polloi, punk, oi, anarcho, crust, and everything you guys sing about with?

Xanadu: I don’t know. I think Oi Polloi has been doing it for a long time and…

Deek: Buy our new record. [laughter] Actually, in all seriousness, there are fans of crust, fans of oi—there’s something for all the family on our new album, as long as all your family is into progressive oi, street crust, or anarcho punk. [laughter] There was a lot of serious stuff, so it’s good to end on a lighthearted note.

Zodiac: Buy our new record, buy our merch! [laughter]


Want to read another Oi Polloi interview? Check this one out by Kevin Dunn from 2010.