weekly updated blog for Oi! – punk – ska – reggae
Earlier this year Italian The Offenders released their third full-length which was followed by a period of intense touring and many festival appearances. After just a few weeks of rest the band recorded songs for a split EP with their friends from RedSKA and prepares for new gigs. All questions answered by Valerio.
november 2011 – band website
First of all. Can you please introduce the band and the band members?
We are The Offenders, formed in 2005 in Italy and actually living in Berlin, Germany. During the years we had several line-up changes. Basically me (Valerio-voice/guitar) and Checco (Drum/backing vocal) are the last two standing, since 2009 Alex aka Captain Elysium (Hammond/Keyboard and backing vocal) is part of the band, and recently Janusz replaced Hansi playing the bass (Hansi couldn’t play for a while cause he had an accident to his left hand).
Alerio, you started as drummer, but now you’re guitarist and leadsinger. What’s the story?
Like i said in previous interviews, i always wrote all songs and sang as backing vocalist, after my cousin left in the real beginning of the band, i didn’t want somebody else singing my songs, so i tried and since 2008 i’m the lead singer.We can say that 99,9% of the people that know us never saw the first line up live. For all of them i’m the singer and Checco is the drummer, just the ‘pure’ fans know all the story and i’m always here to have a say and spread out the word. I’m proud of all i did and basically i’m glad to mention all the people that had something to do with The Offenders.
About the guitar. I always played guitar since i was 13, even if i never did it in a band, but you know, it’s hard to write songs as drummer, somehow you have to start to play piano, guitar or something like that to be a songwriter. I started to play guitar with Offenders cause i like it and i wanted to give to the people this four-men line up, a bit unusual for a ska band. So…here we are!
Your latest record is out for half a year now, how are the reactions so far?
Shots Screams & Broken Dreams is becoming a top seller, in a while will reach the amount of copies of Hooligan Reggae, and this is the best reaction we had since our first release. This is a chance to make things better and give to our audience always the best we can. I’m glad to hear the singalong at the stage for songs like Lights Of The City, Psycho Journey… by this time not only skinheads, mods or rudeboys are singing along, but also punks, rockers…whatever! That’s great, our sound is coming from the streets as well as our subculture. It doesn’t matter which one you followe, as long as you’re not a racist bastard you’re always welcome to give us your support. I think that’s part of the unity Jimmy Pursey was dreaming about… unfortunaty still far from reality, but at least we keep on trying.
Your previous LP appeared through Groover, a label with a huge name in the ska & reggae scene, while your newer releases all appear through Mad Butcher/KOB/Red Star 73. Why did you switch from recordlabel and did it help you to reach a broader following?
Our experience with Grover was not the best to be polite, so that’s the reason why we left. We reach more and more people cause we’re driving every fucking weekend thousands of kilometers to play shows all over Europe, despite of the logo we have on the back of our albums.
I know Mike from Mad Butcher since years, cause i had the chance to work with him when i was in a streetpunk band called Lumpen during my teenage years. We met years after and we started to work together, i really can’t say something bad about it cause is going good so far, as well as the other labels: I know Enrico (Los Fastidios and Kob Records’ boss) since 11 years. Thanks to him we became more known in Italy and we started to play several shows there, same for RedStar, Jan is doing a great job and our fan base in Spain and Basque Country is increasing day after day.
Musically you integrate more and more punk influences in your music. Does this musical change influence your audiance?
I grew up with punk and ModRevival…that still my sound. Two tone takes something from both of them. So as you can see, it’s all coordinated, it’s not like i put doom metal in 2tone (not for now at least). Our Audience was always mixed as i told you before. In the beginning it was mostly composed by skinheads, nowdays is more mixed, and once again, we are totally glad of it. Aswell as we need the support of our subculture… skinhead is my way of life since 15 years, i’m part of it and i’m glad to have many followers there.
You have been in incredible active last few months with gigs and festival. Where did you played the last few months? Any highlights or anecdotes you’d like to share with the readers?
Let’s see…in the last few months, including the summer season,we played in several festivals around Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland… sure i’m missing something… it was so intensive: from Punkaci DeTom in Slovakia to Force Attack, From RudeBoys Unity in Geneve to Filottrano CityRockers in Italy, plus all the club shows, included one of the last in September for Skanking Night Events in Wien, an amazing sold out…
I can share our nightmare with the readers when we came back from Italy to the direction of Hannover (more then 1.000 kms) when our van broke down at Brennero’s pass in the evening. We were supposed to play the day after in the afternoon at the stadium of Hannover for the RoteCurve (since we support all the antifascist and antiracist ultras group) and we had to wait hours to get two cars from Adac, to bring ou r backline, drive all night long, arrive there in the morning, make sound check and play the show, then back in Berlin, around 40 hours without sleeping and driving. The day after Hannover, we played at Resist to Exist in Berlin…i still don’t know how did we made it,but i’m sure many bands went trough stuff like that…
As band you wrote several political-themed songs. Do you notice – that with the current crisis, growing unemployment and cut back in wages – that more people see the relevance of lyrics as these?
The masses are still unconscious, voting for this or that, carrying hope and dreaming to make it somehow… a new iphone and a third TV seems to change their fucking life made on nothing… if their hypocrisy is too strong to realise something just when we are in serious danger as now days, i prefear them to be the slaves as they always been. I believe in people who realise something time before all falls down, for those i’ll always have a say and believe in a better future for this fucking mad world, my lyrics or every other lyric won’t make any difference, sadly.
A while ago you announced to take a small break with the band, yet recently you played a festival again and you just recorded a split with RedSka. What’s the story behind both the break and the recent activities?
Well, maybe you misunderstood about the meaning of ‘break’ ;-). We just took around a month off from the stage (we just played a gig in October) to record those new songs and focusing on new material, plus we really needed to rest for a while after all those summer’s shows. But The Offenders will never be in stand-by, we love the crowd, can’t stay for so many days without being on stage, that’s the life we choose and we’ll caryy on till we’ll be able to do it, and since i’m 28 and many of my ‘collegues’ of other bands are way older, i reclaim the chance to do it for a while more!
Do you have any closing comments?
Thanks for this interview, we hope to see you and the rest of the readers at some of our shows! Remember this Xmas, join the RudeLeague! Offenders & RedSka will team up and play 4 shows around Germany!!
28-12-11 Hannover / Bei Chez Heinz
29-12-11 Hamburg / Hafenklang
30-12-11 Berlin / Clash
31-12-11 Freiburg / Wallfisch
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