Dublin, Ireland’s GRIT (est. 2014) seem to be one of these bands who suddenly explode out of nowher, release a blazing demo full of anthemic tracks and captivate the listeners with their to-the-point style, catchy melodies and smart, socially conscious, politically charged lyrics. We caught up with them to talk about their fun, highly addictive debut record, oi! punk, skinhead culture, Irish punk, and more! I firmly believe Ireland stands as one of the greatest breeding grounds for new DIY punk and GRIT certainly resembles certain predecessors of early European hardcore punk with a slight oi! vibe, but they surely have a clearly identifiable brand of their own. Launch the intelligent party record below and scroll down to read the full interview with the band’s bassist Byrneos.
Hey guys! It’s so good to have you here on IDIOTEQ, again :) Apparently, Dublin is becoming Europe’s capital of awesome DIY punk and hardcore :) How are you? How’s Ireland dong this fine Autumn?
Hey Karol, all good here in Ireland with this Autumn being unseasonably warm. Yeah the Dublin scene is pretty good right now. Lots of bands playing, plenty of gigs. These two new-ish Dublin bands with polish members/vocals might be of interest to you and some of your readers in Polska.
Back to Dublin, did all of you grow up there? Tell us a bit about your backgrounds.
Three of us are from Dublin, the rest from places south of there. We’ve all been knocking about the Irish punk scene for a while now, we’ve played in a few bands of various styles (DivisIONS RUIN, EASPA MEASA, RATS BLOOD, BURNCHURCH). We’ve all been involved putting on gigs, tours, zines…. the usual type of stuff.
How did you get together and formed this vigorous pack? What inspired you to hit a bit different direction when it comes to the vibes and moods you’re bringing with GRIT?
Most of us have played in other bands together at some stage before. The main reason for the band was simply it is the type of band we wanted to see ourselves and nobody in Dublin was doing this type of stuff. There’s a lot of heavy noisy bands and we wanted a band that’s a bit of fun, catchy sing-along, good for a dance yet punk as fuck. So we had to just do it ourselves. We thought it would be easy it’s actually much harder than you’d think when you’ve no distortion or wall of noise to hide behind.
Can you pinpoint exactly what issues and inspirations for lyrics made you want to pair it with this particular style of hardcore / punk rock and communicate via the oi! banner?
I wouldn’t get too hung up about the oi! banner, for us it’s just a musical term and a nod to our influences. Topics include: work, class struggle, friendship, loyalty and the sad state of our country due to austerity policies of the government hopefully with a different edge. With GRIT it’s “real” singing and you can hear the words and we need super-catchy choruses. We obviously still have the same politics, ideas etc., as some of our more heavy bands from the past… it’s just done from a different angle.
How long have you been into oi! and melodic hardcore / punk rock that served as influence for GRIT?
We don’t actualy like oi! just it’s fashionable at the moment and we’re in it for the money :)
But seriously… I discovered my brother’s punk and ska records in the attic when I was about 10 or 11. I guess I became aware of the subgenre oi! when I got a tape with early oi polloi stuff at about 14 years old and someone explained the pun in the name to me.
Since you receive one stripe on your jacket for each decade served in the scene I’ll be receiving a third stripe to sew on my uniform soon enough so I’ll let you do the maths! We are all into many types of music from d-beat to blue beat and everything in between.
Paradoxically, on your debut demo, you seem to deliver a bit more polished sounds than lots of rawer and more obscure oi! punk acts that have built the bad reputation for the movement.
Yeah that is because we are a lot more influenced by the punkier side ….stuff like BLITZ, the early French sound of bands like WARRIOR KIDS and CAMERA SILENS (the latter is a big influence on us). Also, we have been inspired by more contemporary bands like BISHOPS GREEN and SYNDROME 81 to name just a couple, bands which would also have that polished less-gruff sound.
As for the bands given the oi! scene a bad name often they don’t even consider themselves oi! punk (either do we) but instead call themselves “whitenoise” “nationalist rock ” or some such shite. Of course, like every scene/part of life there are sound heads and there are wankers and as far as I am concerned, along with all the boneheads, any right-wing, conservative, nationalist, “real oi!” people can go and fuck themselves too.
What are your thoughts on skinhead culture in general and is this something you’d like to connect to strongly as GRIT?
Skinhead means lots of different things to different people, but for myself when I think of skinhead culture it is about good music (reggae rocksteady, ska ,soul,punk/oi!) dressing dapper, dancing, tattoos, scooters etc,. what’s not to like? Nothing offensive there.
If we are to talk about “nazi skins” “boneheads” whatever you want to call them, they’ve brought nothing to the culture, they’ve only taken away from it. They bring nothing to the table of any value.
They hold Ian Stuart from SCREWDRIVER up like he’s a god for fucksake read the lyrics! I can’t see any self-respecting fascist other than these bald knuckle draggers holding him up as a leading ideological theorist for that movement.
There is no doubt that skinhead has become synonymous with “racist” “thug” in the media /with the general public.
Without doubt lots of wankers will be attracted to that scene for these reasons, missing the history of the culture. But it’s good to remember most racists look like “joe soap” not “joe hawkins”.
I’m afraid with no skinhead members in the band I can’t see us becoming skinhead super stars anytime soon. In relation to oi! it’s always been as much a punk thing as a skinhead one.
Some might say oi! punk is a godforsaken niche :) Is there a strong oi! punk scene in your country?
I don’t think we can simply talk about one “oi! scene”, it can vary from country to country, town to town and so many different types of people/bands fly the oi! banner from right to left politically speaking.
As for Ireland, there’s not really a lot of bands playing oi! and those that are, are part of the larger punk scene (as opposed to a separate scene which exists in some countries.) We are a small island and in turn a small scene has always meant that gigs with different types of punk bands sharing the stage (oi!, hardcore, crust, etc,.) are quite common. Luckily for us, Ireland has never had a bonehead scene worth any real mention here compared to what you see in the UK, Europe and elsewhere.
If you want to check out some good bands in this style from Ireland I recommend TAKERS AND USERS from Belfast, THE JOLLARS from Cork other oi bands from the past: RUNNIN’ RIOT (UNITED BOTTLES is their current band) THE RUCTIONS, SKINT and the FREEBOOTERS.
Members of GRIT have worked with Alex Distro-y in some of the other bands we’ve been in over the years. Although he has released mostly heavy bands on his label, he is also a fan of the bands we reference. In the past he’s also put out some oi/street punk bands such as THE FREEBOOTERS and SECTION 4 so when he offered to help with a 7″ we were happy to take him up on it.
There are three other labels involved: “Carbomb Records” based in Belfast, Contraszt (Germany) and the 7″ will be the first release for a new label out of Vancouver called “Ultra Peace”.
Are there already some plans for an eventual full length? Recording wise, what are your next steps?
We haven’t actually talked about an LP to be honest but I guess it would be a plan. We hope to release a second 7″ soon and are working on new songs.
How about shows? Where and when can we see you performing live?
GRIT’s next gig will be “Life over Death” festival in the 1in12 Club, Bradford (uk) on 3rd December with OMEGA TRIBE, CULTURE SHOCK and lots more bands. We have a gig in Dublin 17th December in a independent venue called Jigsaw. On January 10th 2017 we are delighted to be playing alongside GENERACION SUICIDA (us) with loads of great local bands, again in Dublin.
Would you perform at Live on Later… With Jools Holland if he invited you with GRIT? :)
Ha ha, interesting question. I know we are catchy but I don’t think we’re going to be asked to play on Jools Holland. Funnily enough some friends of ours from the punk scene who now play in a folk band (Lankum) did play on his show recently using the opportunity to sing an anti-imperialist/anti-war song.
I don’t know Jools himself but at the end of the day it is still a BBC show and they are the establishment mouthpiece.
After a bit of discussion in the band, we recently turned down an interview with “noisey” because of their links to vice so I doubt you’ll see us on Jools Holland tv show.
If the BBC brought back “Top of The Pops” that might be a different story….. : )
Alright, so what else? What other bands and projects are you up to these days? What’s occupying your time?
Eric and John are still ripping it up in RATS BLOOD and John also plays fiddle/percussion in DOWTH who release their first LP this month. Clodagh puts together an punk news letter (on paper not internet) called the PARISH PUNK featuring articles and listings/reviews about the Irish punk scene. Eric does lovely artwork in true oi! style, work takes up large amounts of our time.
Cool. Thanks so much for your time. Good luck with GRIT and let’s keep in touch! The last words are yours.
Thanks a million for the interview Karol.
The questions were very interesting.
The first GRIT 7″ will hopefully out in late 2016/early 2017,
Our demo can be downloaded for free or “name your price” at gritdublin.bandcamp.com, bye and thanx!