Music and subculture runs through our veins, but some live and breath it more than others. One of those people is Wattie, probably most well known to those outside the French scene as the frontman of Lions Law. With street punk on the continent absoloutely booming he’s been front and centre in some of the best bands to come out of France. With apperances in Maraboots, Rixe and Bromure to name a few he’s defenately done the rounds and then some. Gareth thought it was time to put the questions to Wattie on punk music, politics, football and to get the low down on some of his projects past and present. Let’s see what he’s got to say…
G: How did you first get into Oi/punk?
W: I first got into it when I was about 12. I had a tape player and used to listen to punk/oi music secretly. My older brother would lend me his tapes. The first tape I had was by NOFX and it went from there. This was the time of soulseek when music sharing had just started. I started listening to French Oi! around aged 13. By 15 I’d shaved my head and never looked back. At school there were a few punks and skinheads and we would also share music.
G: When did you first start playing music?
W:I was living in Lille when I was 18 and I got my first guitar then. The first band I was in essentially a Survet Skins cover band which was strange as they were a very obscure band back then!
G: Out of all the bands you’re in, which was the first?
W:Maraboots. Maraboots were the start of something special. All the Paris Skinhead Crew were involved with Maraboots. All 5 members lived and breathed the Paris Oi! scene. We were playing the old French style Oi! with the saxophone which was loved not only in France but also Spain, Italy and Germany. We played some gigs there and they were phenomenal. We built a network with Maraboots across Europe and we still use that same network for Lions Law. These people support not just the music but also the scene.
G: Are Maraboots more popular now than when they were originally?
W: A few years later Rixe came along and the trend of liking French Oi! really got big. Perhaps they were!? Although, if you look at footage of our last ever gig in Nantes – it was insane. You have to remember there weren’t many young bands around back then. Also, with the labels now old French Oi! is more accessible. Our 10″ has been reissued.
G: Slight change in subject – but what’s your interest in football?
W: We have a lot of football fans around us. Although, none of the band members now really follow football anymore. I, for instance, used to follow Creteil (a fourth division French team just outside Paris). They played on Fridays and had a lot of ultras. At some point the ultras/skins would meet singing songs at the football. Although, now I don’t watch them anymore.
G: What do you think of every punk/oi! band supporting West Ham?
W: Some French guys like West Ham but support their French team first. All this West Ham stuff is outdated nowadays. In Paris we have one of the biggest and best teams around – why would anyone want to support West Ham!? They’re shit!Support your city and wear your colours. Don’t support West Ham because it’s fashionable. Same thing is happening with St Pauli. It’s become a bullshit moneymaker. People buy their stuff at airports because they’re an Anti Fascist team but can’t name any players!
G: What do you think about football and politics mixing?
W: In France and Europe it’s pretty much, left or right. Chose one or the other. The ultras were generally apolitical. Paris used to have one side who were on the left and one on the right.
G: Do you know Oxbloodoi?
W: That guy buys old boots. He saw an old picture of me wearing some really worn out boots. I emailed him and he said he would buy them! In exchange he sent me a completely new pair! What does he do with them!?
G: What are thoughts on right and left wing bands in France?
W: Only 2 or 3 of the bands in the eighties were not right wing. The rest of the bands were right wing but generally not Nazis. These days the Nazis are very secretive. They are never seen in Paris. They moved up to Northern France and have concerts in the woods. There are probably a maximum of 10 RAC bands in Paris. The scene is dwindling out. Ten years ago both the Nazi bands and RASH bands completely disappeared. Essentially, a Nazi killed a Redskin and their venue was closed down and they fucked off to a biker club in Northern France.
G: Speaking of RASH bands – what do you think of Brigada Flores Magon?
W: They reformed last year. Played 3 or 4 gigs then stopped. They were the leaders of RASH. I loved their early albums. They first got me into Oi!
G: Bromure/Rixe/Lions Law – what’s happening?
W: Rixe – still active – taking a break. Bromure – New album coming. The drummer will be a Dad in a few weeks so we’re not doing any shows for a bit. I have a new project called Faction S so keep an eye out for them. First show in a few weeks. We have no records yet but a demo is out soon. It’s very rough 80’s hardcore/Oi! crossover style. Lions Law – Super busy. Lots of shows and tours coming. Atlantes – Played in Barcelona and in Paris this April. However, we’re mainly a studio band.
G: What about Digital Octopus?
W: Still going. Seen them a few times but no more shows. He just plugs his Ipod in and sings over it!
G: Know anything about Ludwig Van Oi!?
W: Apparently it’s a Spanish guy.
G: How about Pink Panzer – thoughts?
W: Beltones played in Sweden and they did some Pink Panzer songs. I saw a full Pink Panzer set in the US. Crazy to see these huge American skinheads singing those lyrics. It was like a gay nightclub!
G: What are your thoughts on Hard Skin?
W: I love them. They are very funny. I’m here for fun. It’s great they use Oi! as a joke. All that boots and braces shit is crap. Hard Skin turned it into something funny. They listen to good music too. They’re loved in France even if some people don’t get all the lyrics!
G: What’s lined up for 2019?
W: Wanking loads. Lions Law – South American tour, USA, South East Asia and Europe too. Rixe – Playing Korea and Japan. I’ll personally be setting up one Oi! show per month in Paris. April is Battle Ruins/Nabat/Rixe which will be very good. Bromure record has just come out. Rixe – new 7″ and new full length this year. Atlantes – new 7″ coming soon. Faction S – Demo tape coming out (tape is cheaper and can be released quicker).
G: Anything else you’d like to say?
Cheers for that! Best of luck with all the projects, gigs and furious masturbation you’ve got lined up for the rest of 2019. Can’t wait to hear the new Rixe and Atlantes 7’s and we’ll be scraping about to get our hands on a copy of that Faction S demo tape.
If you’re after a copy, the Maraboots reissue mentioned in the interview and the latest releases from Bromure and Lions Law are available to buy at Une Vie Pour Rien Vinyles (Facebook: @UVPRVinyles).