This is an interview stolen from 'New Mania' no. 5. (1981)
The BUSINESS are a band from Lewisham in south London. Their only vinyl
output at the time of the interview is two tracks, "Product" and "Suburban
Rebels" on the Carry On Oi! LP, although they are due to have a single released
on Secret records. This interview took place in a pub near Charing Cross
station with Steve Kent, Quint Smith and manager Lol Pryor. So that's the
introductions over, let's get to (the) business...
When did Business start?
October '79, although we didn't get serious until the next year. The first gig
was in Febrary that year at this girl's party in Waterloo. We had been talking
about forming a band for ages. We started off doing covers, before writing our
What were your first gigs like?
The first ones were just arranged through friends. We played ar small pubs,
gradually working up to better pubs. We played one gig at Guy's Hospital.
What happened at that Rock Garden gig?
We were supporting a "Rough Trade" type band, called Vincent Units. We arrived
at opening time, so by the time we went on, around 10.15, we was more than
drunk. It was the first time we'd played up the West End and the place was
packed with our mates. The owner said we were "generally unruly" and the sound
engineer said we was the best band to play there since the Sex Pistols. The
manager of the place didn't have the guts to tell us to our face that we
banned, he waited until he phoned us up the next day.
What do you think of the gig at the Bridge House with Cock Sparrer, 4-Skins
etc? Cos I didn't think the sound was really good.
Well, we nearly went home because we was being mucked about so much. The bloke
at the place said we had to go on at 8 o'clock or not at all. When we went on
the place was empty. If it hadn't been Garry Bushell's birthday we would have
gone home. The guitar sounded like a ukelele. I think that gig done us more
harm than good.
How did the gig at Southall with the Last Resort and 4-Skins come about?
We was going to do three gigs with them on an alternate headline basis. The
4-Skins headlining at Southall, Last Resort at Hastings and us at Crayford Town
Hall. In the end that was the only gig of the three.
What happened when you got to Southall?
We didn't get there until 8 o'clock. We got as far as the road to the
Hamborough Tavern was in. There was a big traffic jam so we asked an Asian
woman what was going on and she said there was an accident. Then about fifty
Asians steamed into the van, so we wound the windows up and shot off down the
road towards the Hamborough Tavern and ended up in the forecourt. We went into
the pub, which was packed, and went straight on stage.
Did you get all the way through the set?
We only had 25 minutes to play and the singer just picked out the songs as we
Who do you think was to blame for the trouble?
The police. They should have moved the Asians or called the gig off. Trouble
could have been avoided.
After Southall, I suppose it was pretty hard getting gigs?
We tried lots of places. Some said wait until things cool down, and others said
Don't you think you are now branded as "Oi!", along with the other bands at
Southall, even though your music is much different?
In our first poster we said we were an "oi-punk" band. Oi! is just something
you get called, rather than something you are. Oi! is punk, 1981 punk.
Do you think you could appeal to a larger, wider audience than the other
bands currently under the Oi! banner?
Yes. We appeal to the punks, the Skinheads and the herberts, the lads in the
pub. It depends a lot on the area you live in. A lot of punk bands don't want
to get across to the 20-22 year olds who ain't punk or Skinhead. No-one has
really tried to get across to these people.
What sort of things do you write about?
Steve writes most of the words, but we don't really sit down and try to write
about anything in particular. We write about anything that's in our heads.
Do you think the Oi! tag has done you more harm than good?
Being in with the Oi! tag did get us more gigs at first, as well as getting a
record out. Now that's all been cancelled out as no-one will put us on.
Are you signed to a gig agency?
No. We haven't got much faith in agencies. They just get you gigs at places
we'd try, but they take 15%. We just ring up places ourselves.
One side of your single is "National Insurance Blacklist". What's that
It's about a blacklist for extreme trade unionists and rebels that cause a lot
of greif for the government. They take the National Insurance number and when
they go for another job, it cuts their chances down. (There is a monster
said not to exist, they call it the Employer's Blacklist.)
The other, "Harry May", what is the story behind that?
Harry May is a well-known south London celibrity and 'Robin Hood', in no way a
villan, contrary to rumours spread by the Metropolitan Police.
What is the deal with Secret Records?
A shady one! It's an optional deal where, if the first single does well, then
we'll do another one. "Harry May" was going to be on the Oi! LP originally but
Secret wanted to put it on the single.
What does the future hold in store for the band?
There are a couple of promotors in Dublin prepared to put on an Oi! package, so
hopefully we'll play there sometime. There's also talk of New York dates
sometime in 1982. Finally we'd like to find out wether 'Crowd's Favourite' and
Mickey have got a good thing going...
I sensed that this signaled the end of the serious conversation. So, I made
my excuses and headed back to Charing Cross and boarded the train home...