STILL OUT OF ORDER!
There aren’t many bands that appeal to both Punks & Skins equally but Infa Riot certainly crossed both genres and have equal amount of respect from both camps. A lot of people nowadays think Oi = Skinhead, but a closer look at the early Oi albums will show that there were more non skinhead bands on them than there were people with shaved heads. It was a working class thing. Terrace bootboys, Punks, Skins, Herberts – Oi! was an ATTITUDE and Infa Riot had plenty of that.
Originally formed in early 1980 by vocalist Lee Wilson and his bass playing brother Floyd, together with guitarist Barry Damery and drummer Mark Reynolds, they soon impressed with their brand of boots and braces punk. So much so, they found themselves in ‘Sounds’ with a glowing review of their fourth gig at Hornsey community centre, courtesy of Upstarts vocalist Mensi.
Mensi said “Every time I see them I think, yeah! This is what it’s all about, ordinary kids getting together for a bash. Gutter level, a garage band, no pose, no shit, just get on with the job. Protest, hate, love, all bottled up and let out in a stream of catchy energetic songs. Punk. What it’s supposed to be”.
By November 1980 they managed to blow both Chelsea and The Dark off the Lyceum stage and earnt themselves the tag the ‘new boot boys sensations’ in the endless fanzines they managed to appear in. Lee Wilson enamoured himself with the eighties punks declaring “our crowd are the same age as us. Pursey’s nearly thirty, he’s got no relation with the crowd. The time is right to kick out all the has-beens. It’s time for a new generation of bands. Punk’s about ordinary geezers – punks, skins, bootboys”.
Catching up with Lee now he might not remember saying that (he loved Sham back in the day) but he concedes, “Floyd and Barry were still at school when we started out. The drummer and I were a bit older at 17”. So what were the gigs like for these kids of the eighties? “They were brilliant gigs” Lee reminisces, “I particularly remember Liverpool and Edinburgh as we did an afternoon gig for the under 18s and then went back on again in the evening. All the gigs were brilliant, apart from the spitting which they did back then if they liked you”.