B Squadron is one of Britain's top bands currently taking over the scene! Perfectly recreating that raw, violent sound of the 80's, 2015's "Saturdays Soldiers" EP was a massive underground hit! Studio-wise it has been quiet on the Squadron-front since then, but with their debut full-length "Sons Of Tigers" and a two-track contribution to the upcoming "Oi! Ain't Dead Vol. 6" compilation coming up, it was time to send front man Travis a few questions!
Hi Travis, thanks for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going at the moment?
Hello Mano and all at American Oi!. Our pleasure to be asked to do this little interview. All is good at B SQUADRON HQ
Could you give our readers a brief history of how B Squadron got together, did you guys had any experience in other bands, you know – the usual background information?
B Squadron got together in late 2014. Me and Daz ( drummer ) had been talking about getting a band together for a while, everytime we were at a gig the subject would come up. We wanted to do our own thing and try and recreate that original early 80's Oi sound we grew up with. Yeah, I played guitar in hardcore punk band 'the nags'. Max (bass) and original guitarist Ryan were both in indie lad band 'The Tennysons'. Kev, our guitarist played in many bands around Leicester before seeing the light and joining us ha ha, he still plays in 'The Regenerators' Leicester's finest punk rock covers band.
Let’s get back to 2015 for a second, the year your debut EP “Saturday’s Soldiers” was released, a record that was very well received by ‘the scene’! Did you ever expect such a positive response and how do you look back on the record now, nearly two years later?
Saturdays Soldiers was recorded in the practice room with one microphone and a laptop ha ha, still, we love that raw unpolished sound, it's the sound we were after. No, not in a million years did we expect the response it got. Rebellion Records did a great job with it and it quickly became a sort of cult classic, especially as the band split shortly after its release. We look back with great affection on that EP and the tracks are still staples of our live set.
Not long after the EP you guys decided that it was enough and split-up, only to reform quite quickly afterwards! It might even be worth contributing to the Guinnesss World Book Of Records! All jokes aside though, what was the reason for both splitting up and getting back together so fast?
Ha ha yeah, Sugar Ray Leonard would be proud of that record. We'd played a gig in Leeds and all had a load of ale, things got a bit heavy on the trip home, harsh words and punches were traded and the band split. A couple of weeks later our pal big Mart called a meeting in a boozer and the decision to reform was made, Kev came in to replace Ryan and the rest is history. There ain't been a cross word between us since.
And now you recorded your first full-length album “Sons Of Tigers”, set for release early 2018 through Rebellion Records! Are you happy with the way it turned out?
Our goal was always to record an album, it's just took us a long long time ha ha. We are all hard grafting family men so it's been a slow and steady process finding the time to get in the studio. Our football team Leicester City FC is another big factor in the process, Daz follows them home and away without exception so pinning him down onto the drum stool for any great length of time is like one of Hercules' tasks ha ha. But as we speak it's all done and mixed down, it's gone over to Wouter ( rebellion ) in Holland for mastering. Yeah we are all over the moon with it. It ain't no overproduced classical job, it's a warts and all look at life through the eyes of 4 working class lads. It may be rough and ready but it's from the heart and it's honest.
Can you explain the title from the album? Is it affiliated to your local rugby team, or is there another meaning behind it?
It has absolutely nothing to do with our local rugby team. Kev is the only member of the band that likes rugby, it's a strange game with a strange shaped ball, played by strange people ha ha. The title relates to the Royal Leicestershire regiment, affectionately known as the Tigers because of the Bengal tiger on their badge. The regiment is now sadly no more but we are fiercely proud of our roots and each member of the band has historical family ties to the regiment. Great grandfathers served in the Great War, grandfathers served in world war 2 and fathers did their national service, all as proud members of the Royal Leicester's, hence the title 'sons of Tigers'. It is our tribute to those brave men who's blood flows in our veins.
I’ve heard an unmixed version of the album and it contains a solid mix of new, crackin’ tunes, ‘oldies’ but goodies from the “Saturday’s Soldiers” EP and a couple of raucous covers. Can you tell us a bit about the songs on “Sons Of Tigers”?
All the songs on the album mean something to us, they are a look at the ups and downs of everyday life as seen through our own eyes. Reworkings of old tracks, obviously because Kev wanted to put his own stamp on them, the covers are there as a tribute to the bands that inspire B Squadron the most. The title track if you listen close enough is loosely based on the Cockney Rejects power and the glory, not only is it a tribute to our brave forefathers but it's a firm nod to the rejects, great pals of ours and perhaps the biggest inspiration on us. This is England is an out and out UK82 hardcore punk track, we've even gone for that nasty hissing guitar sound on it, the vocals and lyrics may be firmly in the Oi camp but the music is pure short sharp shock era chaos uk and that was deliberate.
Fortunately you stick with that raw, violent sound of the EP on the new album that shows great resemblances with the early 80’s of The 4-Skins, Combat 84 and The Oppressed. What are your influences and how do you guys manage to maintain that rough and vicious sound?
That early 80's original sound is exactly what we want, raw, uncompromising and aggressive. I think Oi music should make you wanna kick someone's head in, well at least think about it ha ha. The biggest influences on B Squadron are the Cockney Rejects, 4 skins, Last Resort and Combat 84. Add a splash of Blitz, a bit of Business and a hint of Argy Bargy and you get the picture. Maintaining the sound is quite simple, make sure it's honest, tell it like it is and don't give a fuck who it upsets.
Besides the album, you guys also have some tracks coming up on Rebellion Records' sixth installment in the "Oi! Ain't Dead"-series. Can you tell a bit more about your contributions?
We've recorded two tracks exclusively for the album, one is yet another tribute to our brave armed forces and the other is a right nasty little number ha ha. Wouter and rebellion have stuck by us so it's a pleasure to return the favour. It's good to be involved with some great British Oi bands, including the mighty Clockwork Soldiers, who came from our hometown. They went on to become The Glory who are still very much around today, infact Timmo the vocalist has a guest spot on our album.
Meanwhile you also had the oppertunity to play the (in)famous Rebellion festival in Blackpool last year and you are already invited for another round next year! How was the response from the crowd on your classic sound?
Blackpool was fucking brilliant. People slag it off and say it's all about the money but let's have it right, it's the biggest punk festival in the world. We are honoured to be asked back and next year we be taking an even bigger firm. Cunts get the hump and say if you play it you've sold out, well I'll tell you now, no cunt has said it to our faces so make of that what you will. My only criticism of it is the politicising of it, certain Oi bands are deemed 'dodgy' and will never be asked to play, that gets on my tits. There's loads of great bands that are no different to us who are ignored, usually because some spineless weasel has spread a load of lies on the internet from the comfort of their piss stained bedsit. The crowd was fucking brilliant, I couldn't believe it when I walked onto the stage and saw the gaff packed to the rafters. I guess we must be doing something right.
What about other gigs? Are there any plans on traveling abroad again once the album is out?
Gigs is another subject that revolves around how much time we have. We have an unwritten rule in the band that we only play 5/6 gigs a year because of family, work, football. We'd love to get abroad to play, PSK in Sweden was a real highlight, we were treated like kings and loved every minute. So yeah getting out into Europe and beyond is something we definitely wanna do.
When we talk about B Squadron, we obviously have to talk a bit about football as well of course! Taking pride in your city of Leicester, how did you experience 2015-16’s season of the Foxes?
The bands very name, for those that don't know is derived from Leicester City FC's firm the 'baby squad'. Certain members of the band have waded in the murky waters of football violence ha ha. I say waded, I myself probably went in chest deep whilst daz our drummer dived headfirst into the deep end ha ha. All the band are big fans of our team, I used to follow them everywhere but have long since retired, I probably get to about 3 games a season, Daz however is a die hard, he goes every week, without fail, home and away. Of course we all celebrated our famous title winning campaign with a glass or two of light ale.
The season after you guys ended on the 12th place and currently Leicester City holds the 11th spot in the Premier League table. Where do you think the Foxes will end at the end of the season and do you think another championship is possible ever again?
Expectations are a little higher for Leicester these days but those who have followed the team for any length of time will know, avoiding relegation is good enough. Obviously we all want the team to do well but being a leicester fan is never easy, still, win lose or draw we are blue to the core. Hopefully a top ten finish is an achievable goal this year. To win another title seems like a fairy tale but it's happened once, a 5000/1 shot. The odds are a lot shorter now so who knows. Premier league or non league we will still be true blue.
My team, Feyenoord Rotterdam, became champions last year, but are currently doing horrible in the Champions League and in our own national league we aren’t doing that well either by unnecessary spilling points every week. We only had to wait 18 years for a chamionship, so the way they’re playing now is really just ‘business as usual’ – although it can be really frustrating. Is the feeling somewhat similar now that Leicester City isn’t near the top five anymore?
Exactly, business as usual. Like I said, anyone that has followed the team over years is used to it. Fuck the glory hunters and Johnny come lately's, true City fans take the rough with the smooth and if we've lost 20 nil we'll still be City fans. Then, now, FOREVER.
Alright, I’m about to round this interview up. But before we do, what are B Squadron’s future plans?
Our plans are to get this album out, try and play out in Europe and maybe beyond. We'll ride this til the wheels fall off ha ha, we live it like we love it so the wheels could spectacularly come off at anytime but we'll fucking enjoy the ride.
Okay, that’s it! Thanks again! If there’s anything you’d like to add to this interview, feel free to do so! Cheers.
Just wanna thank you for your interest in B Squadron and wish you all the best. A big mention to a few good folk... the mongoose patrol (you know who you are) Big Mart Management, Jay Merch, Wouter and Rebellion, Steve Mohican, Big Merv and all our pals over the water, Gus and Tracy (diehards since day 1), Burnley Woz, Watford John (support and advice), all the crew at Rebellion Fest, Lou and Worm (second to none) all our families and last but not least anyone that likes what we do, we really do appreciate each and everyone of you. Cheers.