A tour supporting The Angelic Upstarts in January 1981 boosted their profile and led to Garry Bushell from ‘Sounds’ getting them on the now legendary ‘Strength thru Oi!’ LP with the tracks “Riot! Riot!” and “We Outnumber You”. They also appeared at “New Punk Conventions” at Southgate and London’s Acklam Hall.
After signing to leading Punk label Secret Records, they went on to release their first single “Kids of the 80s” in October 1981, which then spent 13 weeks in the independent charts, getting to No.8. Following the release of the single (which was produced by Max Spodge) they set out on a mini-tour with The Business, and then later on with The Exploited on their “Dead Cities” tour. “We met max in a pub, we got on and when I told him we were about to record our first single, he offered to produce it for us. He still says we owe him money for it, so when we met a few weeks ago (after about 25 years) I had to buy the beers! He’s a great laugh!”
In February 1982 the band played at the opening of the famous Skunx club in London and the “Gathering of the Clans” punk all-dayer in Glasgow with The Exploited, Anti-Nowhere League and Vice Squad. Getting to gigs with school and parents to worry about never seemed to be a problem. “Me Dad was an original teddy boy, and he got the scene straight away, so he’d drive us about when we needed it.” A testament to the parental support can be found in the original credits on the back of the band’s debut album “Still Out Of Order” where they thank ‘Mums & Dads everywhere who have to suffer their kid’s punk bands”. Lee also remembers that getting his brother and Barry out of school wasn’t too hard either “…..they needed permission from the school to go on tour, they got it, I think the teachers admired them for having a go.”
Lee was working in a kitchen at the time and recalls “I ran out of holiday time, and sick days off, so I left the job to do the band full time. It was ok though because I had older mates who were builders, and there was always a few days work here and there. That sort of thing seemed easier then than it is now.”
A second single “The Winner” (released in May 1982) was a firm live favourite, and shot to No.9 in the independent charts where it hung about for nine weeks. Contributing the sing-along anthem “Power” to the “Wargasm” benefit LP for pro-nuclear disarmament groups, mirrored the feelings of many kids living in ’Thatcher’s bloody Britain’.
The band entered Matrix studios, just off New Oxford Street in London to record their first full length album. Secret Records paid for it but provided no producer and just let the band get on with it. “The engineer was great with us. I think it took us about 10 days from start to finish.” There’s no doubt that the songs are great but the band feel that production (or lack of) let it down. Nevertheless, these were the days when punk albums were judged by the energy, spirit and content rather than a polished studio sound that today’s bands have so cheaply available and easily accessible.
“Still Out Of Order” was released in July 1982 and even bothered the National Charts, denting them at Number 42. Rave reviews followed with ‘Sounds’ saying “This album is unstoppable all round. Songs, production, lyrics, energy – it has the lot…..There isn’t a low moment on it from start to finish.” ‘Melody Maker’ jumped in with “Proves conclusively that you can be a shit kicking, dirt dragging, hell raising punk band while at the same time offering thought and versatility and melody and originality”.
Lee’s lasting memory is of the artwork. “It’s the cover that haunts me! We wanted the cover to be like the ‘Kids of the 80s’ cover with our Mohican skull logo on a black background. I thought that was all agreed, then I went to Plymouth for a week to see me mates and when I got back they released it with that cover. To this day I don’t know why they did it.” He remains philosophical about it noting “I suppose it’s had a lot of attention for having such a bad cover!”
Looking back on the songs now Lee says “You can’t beat a good recession to make you angry, so a lot of those songs came out of the 80s when times seemed to be so tough. For example “Each Dawn I Die” was a James Cagney gangster film, I thought the title would be good for a song about being unemployed and on the dole.”
Despite the positive reviews, stormy waters hit the band as Secret Records folded in mid 1983. A chronic lack of gigs, little press coverage, and a name change to The Infas did not help the band. Struggling on they released the album “Sound and Fury” on Panache Music, with the title track being released as a single, but with little if any promotion and poor distribution it was impossible to buy either record.
Although their music has always been available on CD, the band disappeared and despite a brief reformation have pretty much been off the radar for the last 20 years. They have always been a band that Rebellion have wanted to get on the bill. Always on our wants list. Always being requested by punters. Just one problem, nobody knew where any of them were! We asked Lee why it took so long to reform? “Good question, I’d been living in Spain for the last 10 years and Barry had moved to another part of England. I was in a rock/punk type pub in the Midlands and someone recognised me and said we should reform. After thinking about it I thought why not, but I didn’t have a clue where Barry was, so I tracked him down, he agreed. He also knew where Alex our drummer was, he was also up for it. I never thought we would have the chance to do it again, we’re loving it.”
Lee’s back in the UK now and has been a regular at gigs in London of late and even made it over to Berlin for a jolly boys outing at Punk and Disorderly. “After 10 years away from the UK, I’m enjoying going to gigs again. It’s better organised now with better sound etc and better venues. The punk/oi festivals are all over the world these days. I think it’s fantastic it’s all still going stronger than ever, I’m so happy to be part of it all again, I’m going to appreciate every single minute of it.”
After such a long time away we are honoured to have one of the finest Oi! Bands of all time at Rebellion. Welcome back Infa Riot – we’ll be in for a riot in the Empress on Friday night!
BREAK OUT BOX WITH ALBUM COVER IN
STILL OUT OF ORDER
Available on CD from Captain Oi – www.captainoi.com
Available on vinyl from Randale – www.randale-records.de