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Punk & Oi In The UK - www.punkoiuk.co.uk: BZ Interview
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BZ Interview

14/10/2006

This must be one of the strangest second risings, first a UK based Oi band with RAC leanings to an apolitical band based in Peru. Firstly, what were you doing in Peru in the first place? And why resurrect the band?

I originally came to Peru to live back in 1999 after having been here 3 or 4 times on holiday. I was tired of my job (been at the same company for 13 years and I was only 29!), tired of living in England. I had gotten myself into a bit of trouble and just wanted to get away. I had met a Peruvian girl so it just made sense to come out here and live. It was also an adventure to a certain extent (although now it is pretty much routine… albeit slightly faster paced that my life over in the UK). In that respect I have never looked back. Restarting the band came a lot later.

Back in 1999 I was pretty much out of the skinhead scene. I was disillusioned and a little bitter. But after living here for a few years I kind of got itchy feet. I started getting my tattoos re-done and it was at my tattooist that I bumped into one of the founder members of Peru’s longest running punk bands. We got talking and decided to reform / form and Oi! band. We decided to stick with Battle Zone because some of the songs are good and deserve to be played again. It all basically started from there. Originally it was just gonna be a Peruvian thing. Just “arson around” here in Lima. But I thought I’d have a look on the internet and see if anyone was interested in what I was doing. And I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction! That’s the only reason that I started a myspace page etc. Because I saw that there was still an interest.

The apolitical bit basically started out a long time ago. Battle Zone’s final split in 1994 was mainly due to my disillusionment of the scene and a gradual distancing from the political aspects of the band and an attempt to “defy” certain political forces. To be honest I had gotten myself into a mess that I when common sense, maturity (I started the band at 20 yrs old), life experience kicked in… I wanted out. Nowadays, 12 years on, I am a completely different person than I was even then in 1994, let alone 1989.

I regret the “racist” (lets be completely frank here the term RAC is a kind of “nice” way of saying “racist”; at least with the UK bands of the time) aspects of the band. And I really wish we hadn’t done that. Having said that, the fact that I am no longer racist (I have a half Peruvian daughter) doesn’t mean that the band now are gonna be raging anti-racist, SHARPS or whatever. I made the decision that the band is just gonna be all about music. Just how it should be.

Are you still in touch with original Battle Zone members and do you have their full support? How did you meet up with the current members and who is in the band these days?

The only person that I am still in touch with is Charlie (ex Grade 1 and Another Man’s Poison) who was the drummer of the last line-up. He is living in Rwanda now. We speak at least once a month. I am not in touch with the rest of the band, although my mum still hears from Antonella (my ex-wife) now and again. To be honest, other than Charlie most of the other ex-members of the band probably think I’m an arsehole. You know... reforming the band in Peru after 17 years after we formed… with a completely different reality. I wouldn’t blame them either because I had to battle with that concern in my head for a year when I first reformed the band. But fuck it, it people are still interested (and they are) then why not?

Do you get to play in Peru? How do gigs and the scene compare with the ones in the UK?

Well, we have played here in Lima. And I am currently trying to set up a chain of gigs here in Lima. We are the only Oi! band here in Peru. Although there are a lot of punk bands who do really sound a lot like Oi! and have the attitude, they just don’t really know what it is all about. Street Punk I suppose (that’s what Oi! is anyway). The audience is mainly punks, a few skinheads (there are probably about 20 in total in Lima) and the majority a like kind of like punk kids without the gear.

I do believe that with time through BZ and Latin Connection (which is a new record label/organization purely to promote Latin American Oi! bands around the world) we are gonna help create a movement here. It is exciting in a way. It’s like starting the scene! Most people even here know about my shady past, but see that I am obviously no longer involved. People treat me with respect. What with being from the UK (where just about everything started) and being a skinhead. It’s cool. The atmosphere in the concerts is great. There are massive open air concerts that attract anything up to 5000 people, and then there are little ones of around 100. Great atmosphere, no trouble.

I believe you recently played CBGB's with members of the Templers. How did that come about and how did it go?

Well I became friends with Phil and Perry of the Templars in the late 90’s when I was still living in the UK. When I started my thing here in Peru after a while I thought I drop a line to a few of my old mates to let them know how I was doing and see how they were etc. I sent Phil a mail and we got back in regular touch. He basically proposed that BZ play in NY telling me that we had a good following there still.

It is virtually impossible to get my band members a visa for the USA and it was gonna be too expensive even if they could, so Phil suggested that he put together Perry (ex Templars) on bass and Chris (ex Bombardiers) on guitar and Phil himself on drums. So I sent over the proposed set list they all individually rehearsed and then I arrived a week before the gigs (we also played in Boston… with Klasse Kriminale too!). We had one rehearsal together the night before the Boston gig and we played Boston on the Saturday night and CBGB’s on the Sunday. Fucking amazing experience. I was really nervous before rehearsing as none of the members had ever played BZ songs together and one rehearsal seemed just a little insufficient. Well we rehearsed and sounded fucking amazing. I got on the bus to Boston the next day feeling confident. We played really well, got a great reaction. After both gigs we agreed to make a regular thing of BZ USA. So strange though it may sound there is now a BZ Peru and a BZ USA. Both with plans to record new material!

I know it ain’t conventional and sounds stupid, but fuck it, if we are knocking out new material, playing gigs and reaching people then it is worth it. The proof is in the pudding right?


If you were to play other countries around the world and the Peruvian members could not tour what members from other bands in the country you were visiting would you like to second to the band?

The members I have with BZ USA are fucking shit hot. To be able to knock out 10 songs in one rehearsal, tight as fuck. Unbelievable! But if you are kind of asking which musicians inspire me ;) I would have to say that my favourite “sound” comes from Steve Jones’ guitar. Both with The Sex Pistols and The Professionals it’s just so distinctive. Bands that have influenced me musically over the years are Indecent Exposure, Evil Skins, Section 5, 4 Skins, and Conflict (yep THAT Conflict) so anyone from those groups would do!


How do you get inspiration for lyrics and how has this changed over the years?

My life has changed radically over the last 7 years, just for the fact that I live here. But my opinions changed a lot before coming here. The original Battle Zone songs were written when I was a 20/21 year old kid. I listen to them now and I feel pretty embarrassed about some of them. We are still singing some of the older songs, and one or two have undergone a few lyric changes. I have never been a really prolific songwriter myself. They take a long time to come; occasionally one will just come out in 5 minutes (Answer to You for example) but that is the exception.

Now I sing about life and my view of it in general. Songs are far lighter, less serious. I have a good sense of humour (so I have been told) so some of the songs are a bit tongue in cheek. The fact that I am no longer a racist and abhor racism does not mean I am gonna start singing about that. I do have a song which touches the subject of life and its experiences giving you the insight to change your views about things (obviously influenced by my experiences), but that’s about as heavy as it gets. When the album comes out some time in 2007 expect something lyrically eclectic and a lot lighter.

What have been the high and low points of the bands history, and what would you do different?
Hmmm. Good question. Some of the high points will have been playing in Lyon, France with Section 5 (our second gig ever!), playing in the Czech Republic, releasing the first single (the excitement of your first ever record), releasing the first album on CD especially was exciting (at the time). Some of the people I met over the years, I made some life-long friends.

More recently playing in CBGB’s with BZ USA and the whole USA trip was fucking amazing and to be honest I made many good friends there. I met many good people.

The low points – towards the end of 1994 where we just got ourselves into a mess with certain political groups threatening to kill me if I did not play gigs for them (which I did not), having gone too far into the political side of things with the band was a big mistake, I really wish we had stayed like Close Shave and Section 5 did at the time. Other than that I do not really recall any other low points, although I suppose “some of the people I met over the years” could also be a low point too!

What other bands from Peru would you recommend checking out?

If you don’t mind stuff being in Spanish- Leusemia are the first punk band here and they are still going although they knock out progressive rock nowadays on CD, they still do their punk stuff live, if you can find early songs of them (abundantly available as mp3’s on the internet). Their early stuff is very street rock and roll. They are the origins of the underground movement here in Peru. Ska/punk seems to be getting big here now, I’d recommend Antiestatika (they’ve got a myspace page) and Los Inyectores. .

Plans, gigs and releases planned for 2006/2007.

Got lots happening in Lima in the next few weeks. The gigs are always with punk bands as there are no other Oi! bands here yet. There is talk about BZ playing at the Winter Oi! festival in Sao Paolo Brazil in December along with Argentina’s Comando Suicida. Also got plans in 2007 to maybe play with Ocho Bolas (from Chile) maybe here or maybe there. St. Patrick’s Day BZ USA are playing in Jacksonville, Florida with The Templars, Los Greenkardz and more. There are talks about a USA West Coast tour sometime in 2007.

As far as releases are concerned. We are recording an old song in Spanish for an International Oi! compilation album coming out on a US label, that will be late 2006. We are recording a new song which will be released on LATIN CONNECTIONS’ * launch CD single (Virus 27- Brazil, Comando Suicida – Argentina, Ocho Bolas – Chile and BZ – Peru) which is basically gonna feature unreleased NEW tracks from each of those giants of their respective countries. And a new album in 2007. And with BZ USA there are plans to record a couple of tracks on Florida in March 2007 and maybe knock out a single.


Any final comments?
Just thanks a lot for the interview Rebecca. You are doing a blinding job with everything. I take my hat of to you. I also want to thank all the people who have supported me and have UNDERSTOOD me.
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