I’ve known Mozza for a good number of years now (probably since around 1998/99? He’ll have to confirm that for sure, though), knocking on for nearly 20 years. I think we probably first met in the early days of me DJing the thursday night punk room at Jilly’s Rock World (R.I.P.) in Manchester, or the shitty Monday disco at the Ritz.
Mozza is a principled bloke, very down to earth and all round nice guy. I immediately mentally associate him as being someone that really knows what’s what when it comes to Oi!, street punk and two tone amongst other things. Anyway, enough of my clap-trap. Let’s hear what he had to say…
What was the very first way that you became aware of punk? i.e. what was your first encounter with punk
Other than seeing punks, or punk rockers as they were known at the time, as a kid, usually hanging around the bus stop or, oddly, often at the funfair on August Bank Holiday (okay, maybe it’s not that odd, even punks can enjoy candy floss and dodgems), I think my first encounter would be 1996, when the Sex Pistols did their Filthy Lucre tour. I recall watching clips from the Phoenix Festival (weirdly, I was at that festival – Tony) one Friday evening after my parents had gone to bed, I got quite tired so decided to set the video recorder (yeah, that long ago) running and see what was on it in the morning. For the next couple of months, I used to re-watch what I’d captured, 2-3 tracks each by Terrorvision, Foo Fighters (back when they were good), Echobelly (coincidentally I’m writing this 21 years later listening to Echobelly’s Anarchy and Alchemy which arrived in the post this morning), Beck, Prodigy, and the afore mentioned Sex Pistols, of all songs it was Liar that really grabbed my attention. I think I’m one of the lucky few in that I managed to hear the Pistols music before I was really aware of the whole media-circus that surrounds them, as my parents’ music was very much 60s – early 70s, so I wasn’t exposed to anything like that as a young child. Oh, Neil Young was on the tape too, but I used to fast forward that bit.
How did you get into punk / alternative music?
I spent ages 17-18 flicking between the Indie/Britpop scene and the metal scene. Neither really grabbed me 100%, I loved some of the attitudes in the Indie/Alt scene, it sounds awful saying it now, but I loved the fact that there’d be two or three fights most Thursdays at 5th Ave in Manchester, bear in mind no one carried knives or bottled each other in them days. I calmed down a lot when I saw a guy get punched in there once and learned afterwards that he’d died the next day in hospital, but I still enjoyed the loutish, pseudo-hooligan attitude of the scene. Musically I enjoyed metal, this was Pantera, Sepultura era stuff, before the whole rap-metal thing kicked off in earnest, but it was all very middle-class and while I met some great people and am friends with many to this day, it never really sat right with me.
I was listening to the Sex Pistols and the Clash at home, and then about that time I came across Fat Music For Fat People (the first Fat Wreck Chords CD sampler) in HMV. I’ll be honest I bought without knowing what it sounded like purely due to the name Guns’n’Wankers on the back cover. While I still think Skin Deep is a cracking tune, the standout artistes for me were Propagandhi, and Rancid. I picked up a copy of …And Out Come The Wolves, and eagerly snapped up the old £5 compilations from Fat Wreck, Epitaph etc. One Friday night I was walking through Jilly’s (alternative nightclub and place where socially awkward rock kids could actually get laid) when an “old” punk (I use quotes as he was about 35, but seemed old to me at 18) saw my t-shirt (the one with all the bands on that Wattie wears on the cover of Horror Epics by the Exploited) and handed me a flier saying “here mate, you like Punk, the (UK) Subs are playing next week”. So, the following Friday I tracked down the Star and Garter and went to my first Punk Rock gig. I made some great friends, there’s a myth that the “old school” punk scene is really unwelcoming, but I found it anything but, and I am still friends with said old punk (even though he did turn out be a Leeds fan), and four or five others I met that night.
I think in some ways that’s why I’ve never bought into the whole “Old Punk” v “New Punk” crap, I explored it all as one genre and on the whole, it’s really very similar. I was generally considered “old school” by the younger punks and “new punk” by the older crowd. It amazes me to think this took place over 18-24 months, when these days, I can pick up what I consider to be a new album, and realise it’s three years old. Everything changed when I randomly bought Give ‘Em The Boot (the first Hellcat Records sampler) around 1997/98. Both Spirit of the Street by the Business (RIP Micky, you legend), and Barroom Hero by the Dropkick Murphys blew me away. I still can’t help but smile about the fact that over 20 years I’ve gone from being mocked for liking a band that no one’s heard of, even on the alt. scene, to liking the same band that are “mainstream” and popular, that said each Dropkicks album since Do or Die has got progressively worse. If Punk was my first love, Oi! was my true love, though I’ve had a few sordid affairs with Psychobilly, Ska, Goth, Reggae, Industrial, and Polish Dancehall down the years. Then again, in the words of Billy Joel, it’s still rock’n’roll to me.
What was your first gig?
I’m not 100% sure, but I saw a shit Oasis tribute band in 21 Piccadilly called Gallagher, 50p a ticket, ripped off, let’s see, I had a fight with a guy that night and remember seeing him a week later in the Land o’Cakes pub watching England heroically “beat” Italy 0-0 to qualify for the World Cup – that would have been 1997. I saw the Levellers supported by the mighty Fish Brothers about the same time. It’s one of those two I think.
What was the very first album you got? Also what was the first punk album you got?
First album was K by Kula Shaker, first punk album is hard to say, I still class Zeitgeist by the Levellers as punk but many don’t, so excluding that it would be Never Mind the Bollocks here’s the Sex Pistols. I don’t subscribe to the view that they revolutionised music, the time was ripe and if not them, someone else would’ve done it, but if you can manage to ignore the hype and general circus that surrounds everything to do with the Pistols, it’s actually a quality rock’n’roll record.
Were you in a band while at high school or college? If yes what was the name, and how bad did you suck?
No, I didn’t really get into music until after high school and didn’t attempt to make any until I was in my mid-20s.
What is the biggest influence that punk rock has had on you as you’ve developed as a person?
I think it’s self-confidence. As I said earlier, the late-90s metal/alt scene was very much a self-loathing place with a victim complex, whereas the indie scene were basically a bunch of dickheads. Punk Rock felt like home; summed up by the Motörhead quote, Born to Lose, Live to Win.
What has punk rock caused you to question most about the world we live in?
This is hard one for me as over the last 5-10 years I’ve become involved with Secularism, Scepticism (with a k or c is fine) and more recently Epistocracy. To me this has caused me to question the world much more than punk rock ever did. I guess punk led me to question some concepts of capitalism and commercialism, but I hear the same questions from people who have had nothing to do with punk rock, and suspect maybe the current under-40s simply started to get that as a generation, which has carried on to the younger generations. I look back and when I opposed GMOs, for example, I was really just following the punk crowd, it’s only through science and scepticism that I came to see not only how safe, but how amazing the whole GM industry is and can be. These days some of my views bring into conflict with some on the punk scene, though I will say most are willing to discuss things and often can see reason, and I still have a lot of love and respect for the scene.
What was the most recent gig you went to? (any genre)
It was actually a private gig for Chris “Big Hands” from Revenge of the Psychotronic Man’s joint stag and hen do with his fiancé. Mathilda’s Scoundrels and Casual Nausea played which is never a bad thing.
What was the last record you listened to? (any genre)
Well, I’m listening to Echobelly – Anarchy and Alchemy for the first time as I write this (signed copy arrived in the post today), prior to that it was Fiends of Dope Island by the Cramps.
Do you geek? If so, how?
I’ll state that I know what a Malkavian is, I know the difference between a Brujah and a True Brujah, and I contend that Slaanesh > Nurgle, and leave it at that. (Hell, I don’t even consider the fact that I own every episode of Deep Space 9 on DVD to be geekery, I’m beyond saving).
Give me your top ten records EVER, and a BRIEF rundown of why you’ve chosen each one…
Okay, first I’ll caveat that these could all change tomorrow, but for now my all-time top ten are as follows.
1. Ace of Spades – Motörhead
Pure unadulterated rock’n’roll. I remember hearing the title track on radio 1 in about 1995 and just sitting in my bedroom grinning at the raw power. The 1996 re-issue includes the St Valentine’s Day Massacre ep which is worth a listen. My favourite track on the album is probably The Hammer, though Shoot You in the Back, and The Chase is Better Than the Catch are both contenders. This is basically music for people with ears.
2. Zeitgeist – The Levellers
Maybe not their most famous album, but for me it’s the apex. I think Exodus is possibly what first grabbed me, though Men-An-Tol also stands out. Saturday to Sunday is on my funeral playlist (yeah, I have a full playlist of songs I want playing if I die – I contend it’s not a certainty that it will happen – I sometimes listen to the full playlist at home, and it’s only now occurring to me that that’s a bit weird), and Maid of the River is a classic. The only real disappointment here is that it’s a shorter version of Just the One, you need to get the single (or the True Brit compilation) to get the full version feat. Joe Strummer.
3. The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing but The Truth – The Business
Despite generally being seen as a 70s/80s band, this 1997 release is their finest moment by a mile. From the opening second, it has the impact level of being shot with a 12-gauge, and the final two tracks of Southgate (Euro ’96) and Hardcore Hooligan finish in pure Oi! Style. Micky Fitz looked a bit like a skinhead Lee Evans and towards the end there was no doubt the band were suffering as his age slowed him down, but I saw them a couple of times when Steve Whale was still with them in the early 2000s and they were as good live then as any I’ve seen.
4. Achtung Bono – Half Man Half Biscuit
I was first introduced to this album by my old bandmate, Mat, and it’s since become one of my all-time favourites. Lyrical genius from Restless Legs right through to We Built This Village on a Trad Arr. Tune, featuring a wonderful ode to Pete Doherty (you’ve got a shit arm, and that’s a bad tattoo), and of course the ever-iconic Joy Division Oven Gloves. It’s a close call between this album, and Trouble Over Bridgewater, but I think this just about takes it.
5. Dance of the Headless Bourgeoisie – Nomeansno
Another recommendation, this one much earlier, about 2001 by Chaos Freeplumber, the UK’s foremost dreadlocked transvestite DJ that isn’t Boy George, it was a bit of a change of direction for me musically, but one I jumped at. I still occasionally find myself singing I’m An Asshole at inappropriate moments.
6. Vengeance – New Model Army
My first real foray into goth rock, and it’s a band that’s as punk as any I can name. I was really torn here, as I don’t want to fall into the “pre-EMI was better” cliché, and I arguably prefer Thunder and Consolation musically to Vengeance, (I definitely think Green and Grey off the later album is a better track than any here), but this is where I started with the band after hearing the title track in Jilly’s in the late 90s (thanks to DJ Malc), songs like Christian Militia and Great Expectations still speak to me now, and A Liberal Education is something everyone should hear at least once.
7. Resist and Riot – Pressure Point
A band that took a long time to really come of age, but when they did, they really did. Whether they’d just found their way around a studio or whether it was a genuinely improvement I can’t say, as I’ve never seen them live, but for me, they went overnight from being one of the filler bands on compilations to being one of the forefront of modern (ten years ago) oi! The first two tracks are good, but not amazing, but from Rise Up onwards, this is a quality album.
8. First Beer of a New Day – Jaya the Cat
I first went to see Jaya the Cat purely because the Fractions were supporting. From the name (I know books, covers, judging etc.) I wasn’t expecting much, but I was off work the next day so figured I may as well stay and give them a listen. When they finished, I bought their back catalogue (I didn’t have a mortgage in them days). This could have just as easily been Basement Style, but I’ve opted for First Beer… as I think it has more instant impact and as much lasting appeal as the other albums.
9. Part & Parcel – The Skints
I fell in love with the Skints (platonically) when I first heard Live.Breathe.Build.Believe, but it’s Part & Parcel that elevated them into my top 10. There’s barely a weak track on it, and when Marcia’s vocals kick in mid-way through the first track, Rise Up (there’s lots of good songs called Rise Up it seems), it’s electrifying, but not as electrifying as when she launches straight into Ratatat. I’ve also had a couple of good boozy nights in Leytonstone, so the O’s are cool by me. Apparently, she got upset when she was dripped on when playing Retro Bar in Manchester, and she didn’t even realise the stage was right below the gents’ toilets.
10. The Riddim Machine – Dreadsquad
So, long story short; sat in a bar called Jazzkino in Zielona Góra, Poland, drinking żubrówka and apple, they were playing an electroswing mix, which featured, Shake That Bone by Black Cat Zoot feat. Dr. Ring Ding, from there I tracked down more of German Reggae/Ska artiste Dr Ring Ding, which led me to Polish Dub-Reggae act, Dreadsquad with whom he regularly collaborates (Polish Vodka is one of their collaborations and is both a great song and a life lesson). From there I found The Riddim Machine album. Featuring guests like Tenor Fly and Lady Chann, the whole album is varied, but consistently good. Soulfly by Dreadsquad and Kasia Malenda is haunting and Champions Anthem featuring Perfect Giddimani is just plain fun.