There are many trends that come and go within the hardcore and punk rock scene, which can be both a good and bad thing in the long run. There is always the opportunity to improve upon what has been played out throughout the years and move forward in a better direction. On the flip side there’s changes that can be detrimental to any music scene, reducing its credibility to the general populace. One thing that’s maintained its integrity and meaning in hardcore and punk rock, however, is the skinhead scene.
With many members of the punk and hardcore persuasion coming from working class households the values of the skinhead identity have never wavered in their 50-plus years of existence. While there have been many who took the identity in the wrong direction, the anti-racist and anti society aspects of the members lives on in those who truly live by the skinhead credo. One of the newer additions to the growing revival of boot boy bands is Klaxon from Rhode Island.
The band's formation story is almost serendipitous as they all wanted to play this particular brand of punk as it reflected their lifestyles and upbringing. Guitarist Tommy explains, “[Klaxon bassist] James 'The Hippy Killer' cut my hair and I met Cory at The Chisel show with Yellow Stitches back in May. We all found that we wanted to start a skinhead oriented band and just went for it.”
James adds, “I’ve known Paul (vocals) since we were like 15 and Tommy started coming to get his haircut by me recently and then we all got together at the Chisel show, which is crazy how that worked out. It all just came together like that after we’d been talking about forever.” Klaxon being born out of a largely skinhead show lineup has something poetic about it particularly with The Chisel establishing themselves as one of the new leaders of this style.
Klaxon will be releasing their first demo on September 16th and they have given No Echo the opportunity to premiere the two-track demo on the site a day early. The demo was recorded by Chris Cesarini of the hardcore band Street Power in is home studio.
Click the link below for some good old fashioned boot to the face skinhead jams straight from the cold concrete of the East Coast:
Their backgrounds in unions also played a large hand in bringing the members of Klaxon together, as Tommy explains it. “Cory’s in Local 51, Plumbers union and I’m in local 550, Sprinklerfitters. So we got two barbers and two union guys in the band.”
Klaxon draws influence from pretty similar places as well as they claim a lot of their music taste growing up came from older punk and hardcore. Tommy begins the list: “I grew up loving Cock Sparrer, 4 Skins, The Damned. Then I got into hardcore and the Youth Crew stuff and all aspects of ‘the core.’ My favorite band in the world is Thin Lizzy, though."
James adds, “I’m on the same boat with the older skinhead bands and hardcore. I’ll love all music and with these guys I feel like we’re all on the same boat when it comes down to what we’re jamming to. I think most of us share our connections to the hardcore scene so there’s an element of that in our music".
Paul expandes on James’ statement, adding: “Hardcore and UK82 were sounds that really brought the band together. James and I used to smoke cigarettes and listen to The Partisans when we were younger.”
Gilbert also adds, “I’m not really a skin so much as a working class guy that loves punk rock. I was also into the older punk stuff and then I found out about American Oi! music. But really it all came down to American Oi! and that ‘less fashion more fuckin’ anger’ fusion came from. The New England Oi! stuff in particular really struck a chord with me just because it was my local scene.”
Cory simply stated that “If I had to live on a desert island with only three records they would be The Chisel’s Retaliation, Oxymoron’s The Pack is Back and any one of The Exploited’s records. The UK82 stuff and American Oi! has been a necessity in my life.”
Klaxon's music delivers on the menacing grit and grime that Oi!/skinhead music has developed a reputation for, if it ain’t broke you don’t fix it. Their sound is elevated through Paul’s cataclysmic vocals which make the concrete slabbed guitar rhythms and pummeling drums hit so much harder. Paul’s vocals in particular show an influence in heavier music such as death metal and even post hardcore as they show a more skillful delivery than the typical grunts of skinhead bands.
Asking about Paul’s lyrical inspirations brings up a greater topic about the band's poltical leanings and how they view society. Being staunchly anti-racist, anti-authority and pro-union, Klaxon set out to dismantel the preconceived notions of skinheads that Hollywood has reinforced through movies such as 'American History X.'
Paul elaborates on his lyrics: “This band came about when I was really sick of a lot of the interpersonal drama amongst the multiple scenes I’m involved in. Some people you can only take in small doses in the music scene and I think that was an inspiration lyrically. That and what’s going on in the world, insane wealth gaps, and typical skinhead/caveman stuff.”
Tommy, who helped contribute to some of the lyrics, also adds: “Wealth gaps and police brutality were pretty big ones, along with the Proud Boys, fuck them. There’s been guys in Boston and Rhode Island hanging Nazi flyers around and back in the day that would get handled and nowadays I feel like people just go online and post about it, which is just stupid and pointless. There’s not enough street justice about that stuff.”
With this discussion in full swing the question of what it means to be a skinhead in today’s world meant to the band members. James states, “I feel like the skinhead subculture is one of the few in this music scene that has truly stood the test of time in that what it means has never really deviated from its original statement. The values like taking pride in yourself and your community, being there for your friends, there’s just a really strong sense of camaraderie.”
James is absolutely right about the values in the skinhead scene remaining strong for almost 50 years in America as the bonds of unity, standing up for one's community and friendship remains true to this day. It goes far beyond the shaved heads and Doc Marten boots. The true meaning of the skinhead subculture will always be fought for with tooth and nail by those who believe and adhere to those values.
Klaxon has not made plans for their first show just yet but they will be announcing it very soon. “We wanna set some stuff up after we drop the demo,” Tommy explains on the prospect of shows. They will also have merch such as shirts, tapes, and stickers ready soon after the release. In the meantime, follow them on their socials and enjoy the first taste of one of the new age of skinhead bands coming up in this great scene.
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