Well, this time i did an interview with Doug & The Slugz from USA, they’re pioneers in the oi! music scene and Skinhead movement of L.A. ¡Enjoy the interview!
– Doug & The Slugz were the first L.A. oi!. How was your origins?
“Doug & The Slugz started in February 1983. The original 4 members were Doug, Scotty. Lucky, and Sard. Three of us grew up in the same neighborhood in North East Los Angeles. Doug & Lucky were 15 years old, Scotty was 16, and Sard was 17. The four of us had been going to LA Punk shows since 1980-1981 so we were all into the same music. We would go see bands like Black Flag, Fear, Circle Jerks, etc on a weekly basis, it’s what was happening at that time and we were inspired by all those LA hardcore punk bands. Sometime in 1982 I started buying these hard to get imported UK punk 7″ eps from bands Discharge, Chron Gen, and GBH, but I also picked up a 7″ ep called “Never Surrender” from the band Blitz and that record forever changed my life. It was also around that time that a UK Skinhead from London moved a few streets over from where I lived. He was about two years older then me, and was a pretty aggressive kid who was a horrible influence on me so with me discovering Oi! music and then making friends with this UK skin kid I quickly shaved my head, and became a skinhead at 15 years old. It did not take long before I dropped out of school, took to the streets, getting into a lot of fighting, getting arrested by the police and what we be considered normal for any skinhead kid in the early 1980’s, weather you were from London, or from Los Angeles. Around this time I started writing letters to The Business, and they would write back to me, and I would write letters to the Last Resort Record store in East London. I would even get on the phone and call the store to chat with the owner Micky French. He would have a laugh speaking with me, and couldn’t believe there were skinhead kids all the way in Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before the four of us started our band, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and who I wanted to sound like, and it wasn’t going to sound anything like Black Flag, or The Adolescents or any other Los Angeles band, it was going to sound like The Last Resort and The 4-Skins. That is all I was wanting to do, just be like those bands, and the rest of the boys felt the same way. We were truly inspired by The Last Resort “Skinhead Anthems” and The 4-Skins “The Good, The Bad & The 4-Skins”. There were no bands in Los Angeles playing music like that, and there were very few actual Skinheads, or let me say Boots, and Braces UK influenced Skinheads. We knew we were doing something different, but we had no real idea that we would be on oof the first bands in America playing music like that. It was at the same time Agnostic Front had released their first 7″ EP “United Blood”, and some kid from our neighborhood brought it over to Scottys house and we listened to it, but I didn’t really like it. I was confused that it didn’t sound to me anything like The Business, or The 4 Skins? Later on I would understand it was just there own thing, and that would soon be known as NY Hardcore, but at the time it wasn’t my thing.”
– I have knowledge about NYC skinhead scene but tell me of California skinheads
“In the early days of California Skinhead well at least Los Angeles Skinhead there were two different Skins, there were the older Skinheads who were more into the Skinhead Reggae side of the music and then there were the younger Skinhead who were us and were only influenced by the Oi! side of it, or the Punk side of it. Now the Punk scene in Los Angeles was primarily based out of Hollywood, not far from Downtown LA, and at that time Hollywood was a real dirty place, full of hookers, drug addicts, homeless, runaways, etc… so this was a perfect place to be the epicenter of the LA Hardcore scene. Back in these days this is where we would go to see the punk shows and also this is where we as Skinheads would meet up with these older Skinheads and get to know them and we would get along with them, because we all looked the same, it’s just they for the most part were into other things, and our gang of Skinheads were very much into fighting, and causing trouble so since they were a bit older, and probably smarter they tried not to run around with us too much, but we all had respect for one another. So as Doug & The Slugz is getting off the ground, and starting to play shows, mainly with other LA Punk bands we are also getting all these new kids from our neighborhood starting to shave their heads, and put on boots, and braces, and those kids start following the band, and then that becomes an actual gang, and that starts becoming a lot of trouble. We would show up to clubs, and parties to play with all these kids and there becomes a lot of fighting and places getting destroyed. It was just crazy, and it became a big problem for the band. I can’t speak too much on what was going on in Northern California as there were Skinheads from San Francisco, but we had a problem with them because I believe some of them were nazi’s so we would have probably had some big fights if would have met them. There was also a Skinhead scene getting started in Santa Cruz, and those kids some of us knew and got along with much better, but thats all Northern California, and were from Los Angeles, and that’s all that mattered to us.”
– Skinhead Faction is a bootleg of 1983, what’s the story behind of it?
“So between 1983-1985 we made 3-4 different recordings. We wanted those songs to be released on an album from one of the UK labels, and I sent those tapes to No Future Records, Secret Records and also the Last Resort Skinhead store because that is who released “Skinhead Anthems” by the Last Resort. Mick French who ran the label loved the music and told me he wanted to maybe use some of the songs for a compilation album, he also released United Skins, and I guess he was considering releasing another compilation, so we sat around and waited for that to happen, but it never did. It was not long after that the store closed down and we broke up. Looking back we probably could of went to one of the Southern California record labels like Mystic Records or Toxic Shock Records and got the album released with them, but this would have gone against all we were trying to do, which was not be a part of the same old LA Hardcore Punk stuff. We considered ourselves outcasts from that scene, and many of those bands did not want to play with us anyway because of all the skinhead kids that followed the band, and all the problems that followed, so we were kind of caught in a tough spot. I wish we would have maybe been more open minded about all of it, but we were just kids, and it really proves that it was less about the business of things, and more about just having fun.”
– This year you released a new album named Smash Hits Vol. 1, what do you say of that album?
“”Smash Hits” is an album that is filled with old songs and a few new songs as well. We recorded this album in an old studio in Highland Park, California which was in the heart of where we grew up. The studio had been there for a very long time and we had no idea it was even there when we were teenagers. Many old bands recorded there like Devo, and X. We really went in to the recording process to make it feel like the music had that vintage sound, the way it would have sounded when we were making our recordings 35 years ago, and I think we did a good job at capturing that. I think the boys as well as myself are proud of the album, and it is a good reflection of who the band is. We grew up on hearing more melody in the music when were were kids. All the early punk, and Oi! bands music were for the most part simple, and carried a bit of melody, and I think that’s kind of been lost with all this new school so called Oi! Some of these newer bands sound a bit like Iron Maiden meets Hardcore with the idea of more is better, and for me I think its way off the mark. I also understand that things need to grow, and change so it’s not all the same, but I an old school guy and I feel if you want to make the music really busy and all sorts of crazy guitar stuff then maybe you should just be a heavy metal band. I am all about keeping things at a street level, and any kid should be able to pick up an instrument and join an Oi! or Punk band, because that was what it was really all about anyway.”
-How achieve a clean sound in your songs?
“We achieved that sound because that is what we grew up doing in the first place. It’s what we know, so that is what we do. Once again less is more. You don’t need all this expensive stuff to make music, you just need a few guys, some beat up amplifiers and guitars, some beer, and just go for it. The true spirit of rock “n” roll, punk, whatever. Do not take things too serious, just have some fun, that is what it’s all about!”
– Every day i meet more oi! music bands from USA, the skinhead movement are more stronger than ever?
“It seems like there are a lot of Skinheads in the US and all over the world right now. It is pretty amazing on how the subculture has stayed alive, and new kids are picking up on it. It’s a much different scene then it was for me as a kid because that scene was more youth driven and much more dangerous, but for me at 53 years old I am okay with the way things are now. I would rather people enjoy themselves than be in the club, or outside the venue beating people up, or fighting with the police. I saw enough of that for one lifetime. I think the Skinheads are very misunderstood, the media has portrayed them horribly. It’s a shame that it became so political because it was never like that in the early days in Los Angeles. We did not have a problem with politics for the first few years, and then it became a problem, and ruined it for so many people that got into it because of the music, and the attitude & fashion.”
– How fighting against today politics problems?
“I personally feel we have unfortunately gone backwards and it’s a shame. It’s almost like the past 30 years were just taken away overnight. I find that to be a bit insane, and unfortunately many people will suffer because of their religion, or skin color, or their financial status. Today as we speak the world is in a bad, bad place. The virus is going to change this world like we have never seen, and I am hoping we all make it out of this to see better times.”
– In August (if the things march ok because COVID 19 fucked all) Doug & The Slugz will play at Rebellion Festival, how do you feel for be part of the fest?
“We hope we can play Rebellion Festival in the UK in August. I really am just not sure if it will take place due to Covid 19. I think the world might be shut down until the end of the year honestly. With that said I am honored to be asked to play the festival because it is one of the very best punk festivals in the world. We went to the UK last year to play the Great Skinhead Reunion in Brighton which was amazing for us. I can’t tell you how much all those UK Skinheads appreciated and understood Doug & The Slugz. It really meant alot to us, and we hope we get to Rebellion Fest in August as well.”
– Would you like visit Mexico someday?
“We would love go to Mexico! If any of your readers know any promoters who want to bring us down there to play any festivals we would love to be a part of that!! One day soon hopefully we can bring some 1983 LA Oi! to our neighbors to enjoy!”
– Which are your next plans?
“Our next plans once things get back to normal will be to do some touring, and maybe go back into the studio and make another 7″ EP with one old song re recorded and a new one. We still have so much to say and do so we look forward to getting back at it soon!! Thanks so much for the interview and we hope to get to Mexico soon!!!”