Philadelphian bands took over my year lists by storm! Legion 76, Sweet FA and of course Thunder And Glory all took the number one spot in their own category (EP, mini-LP and full-length) and the latter one did this with their 10” “Living In The Crossfire” for Contra Records and Longshot Music. Time for a little chat with front man Greg Boil about the present, the future and of course the inevitable past, aka The Boils. Enjoy!
Mano: Hi Greg, first of all thanks for taking the time to do this interview! How are things going at the moment?
Greg: Thank YOU, Mano! Going through some struggles at the moment, but hey, it all contributes to building of character. As for the band, we are getting some momentum this year, so, band life is good.
Mano: You just released a brand new Thunder And Glory 10”, “Living In The Crossfire”, are you satisfied with how things worked out for this record?
Greg: Very! I took a long walk away from playing in bands before Thunder and Glory, and upon my return, I feel that Living in the Crossfire is the step ahead I've been seeking as a song writer. I wanted to create Oi! that had some fuckin' balls! Something that sounds heavy but would still resonate with catchy sing-a-long choruses that define so many great Oi! bands that I grew up on.
Mano: It took a while though, giving that your previous effort “As The Ocean Churns” (7”, Stratum Records) was released well over two years ago. Any particular reason why it took some time?
Greg: Yes, I hate for it to be such a boring answer, but, line ups and commitments from band members are the reasons why we had such a drought. Frank from Stratum Records was very kind to pick us up at such an early stage in the band. Looking back, we see we had a lot of growing to do around the time that we recorded for Stratum. But fortunately, we feel that the 4 songs we gave him for "As the Ocean Churns" still stand strong, and most of them are still a part of our current live set. There's a few songs from those early sessions that have yet to be released. A couple of them may appear on some splits and such that we have planned, and there may be a couple that we just let go of. As I mentioned, the writing for those sessions was an early stage of the band, so there are a couple songs that we have grown out of in favor of the newer, stronger material we have recorded for Living in the Crossfire" and such.
Mano: All lyrics on “Living In The Crossfire” have a common theme revolving about warfare in one way or another. Do you reckon it to be a thematic album and what is your influence or inspiration when it comes down to writing the lyrics? If you have the time you can go through it song by song.
Greg: There are a few influences for this band lyrically. Some material is similar to like, writing for a epic story / graphic novel such as Frank Miller's "300." Its meant to jumpstart you and fire you up. Other songs are more of a metaphor for certain things going on in either my personal life or politically or socially around us. I wouldn't want to go into too much detail with those, not because I don't want to push my views on anyone, but more so because I feel that some things are best left to the listener's interpretation. To go through it song by song, "Deny Them Victory" is that sort of "300" battle anthem heavy type material. "The Departed" is about people you either literally lose in life, and will see again in the hereafter; or people who disappear from things such as the scene but are welcomed back when they return. I know that from experience, from walking away for awhile and having to sort out for myself why I was playing music/etc. "Viking Revolution" is one of those personal struggles/triumphs songs. "The Battle Awaits" is one of the metaphorical songs I was speaking of, for things currently going on around us. "Through the Fires" is about staying on the righteous side of the cause. I've seen people who get into the scene adopt doctrines that like, render them to being sheep...giving up all freedom of choice to be a part of some group. So "Through the Fires" is for those kids who never took the weak path. And finally, "Victory Will Be Mine" is again one of those "300" meets-self-motivation anthems.
Mano: On a personal note, the 10” instantly became one of my favorites and tops my year lists along with other Philadelphian, and quite familiar, outfits such as Legion 76 and Sweet FA. What kind of magical liquor are they serving in the bars over there? Philly is taking over by storm!
Greg: I can not begin to thank you enough. I saw that we had topped your list of mini albums for 2016 I am personally humbled and beyond appreciative for this....i actually screenshotted the list and saved it! As for Philly, I think the best thing we have going for us right now is we have a good network and family of people who are inclusive rather than exclusive. We play Oi music...that doesn't make us any better or worse than anyone else. And everyone is welcome in. We've been fortunate to have such amazing bands such as Lion's Law, Patriot, and oldies such as Infa Riot come through and show that this is a city worth coming to. Chris Caton is one of the main supporters/promoters of Oi music in the city, so through his toil, he has helped build things. Also there is a skinhead reggae night once a month in Philly called South Philly Moonstomp which brings people together. With Thunder and Glory, Legion 76, Duffy's Cut, Sweet FA, and other up and coming bands in the city, we're hoping we can help build up something self-sustaining and worth travelling to for touring bands.
Mano: Did you ever expect to even make records again though? You obviously spend over a good decade of your life fronting The Boils, but your last release with them was nearly nine years ago (I believe). Is blood thicker than water, or was it never your intention to stop making music?
Greg: You out-ed me, haha! I was hoping to leave the former part of my band life lost in the past! Well, I did front the Boils some time ago. And there came a time when I needed to walk away from it. Ironically, the time when I walked away was the time when Eric and Chris, from Legion 76, had joined the Boils. Eric and Chris put a lot of blood and sweat into the Boils, recorded songs that were never released, and then the band folded after they played in it for a few years. We are a family, both Eric and Chris are my closest friends. I went through some things, and needed to walk away, and figure out why I was even involved in doing bands anymore. Over the next few years , the only thing I really did was a side project with Mike (Boils drummer) and Mark Magee (Anti-Heros) called... Thunder and Glory. And as you know, Eric, Chris, Mike and I turned it into the ongoing thing that it is today. Also, shout out to Warren, another ex-drummer of the Boils, who played in Thunder and Glory and was the drummer on the 10".
Mano: With The Boils you made records for cult, legendary and legendary cult labels such as Cyclone Records, TKO Records and Squigtone Records. What do you think is the main difference between making an Oi! or punk record now, compared to the late 90’s and early 00’s?
Greg: Oh wow, some of those names are amazing to hear these days. Cyclone picked up the Boils and put us on another playing field, touring with Oxymoron, and being on a roster of bands that included the Bruisers. We really appreciated them for taking us in, and for releasing our first full length record, "World Poison." TKO records was like, the final destination for The Boils. Through TKO, we shared a label camaraderie with bands such as The Beltones, The Reducers SF, The Forgotten....we had amazing times in San Francisco with The Reducers. So many good memories with so many bands from that label. Antiseen in North Carolina, playing with The Bodies in San Francisco...i can get lost in the recalling of it all. I remember every time The Boils played in the Bay Area, no matter how big or small the show was, the great Bruce Roehrs, may he rest in peace, was always, always there. That man was so supportive of punk and Oi, at a time when there wasn't as many blogs and such. It was a time when people depended more on print, and in print, there wasn't much support for our type of punk, and certainly not for Oi. But Bruce was always waving the flag in his column in MRR. He and i had a close bond being that he had family outside of the Philadelphia area. I remember the worst show we played in SF, at some bar barely anyone was there, but I saw Bruce walk in. He was clockwork....such a supportive and great pillar of the scene. As far as the difference between making a record from the 90's to now is, I guess I'd say the accessibility of it all. Youtube, Spotify, and Bandcamp are all instant places to get a hold of new releases, as opposed to back in the day, waiting for them via mailorder or finding them at an independent record shop.. I like it better today. I like being able to put a new Thunder and Glory vid up on Youtube for people to hear. I like that I can be on the subway here in Philly and I can listen to Assault and Battery on Spotify. But I'm also thankful for the independent stores that still exist, such as Sit and Spin and Long In the Tooth Records, both awesome Philly record stores. By the way, you mentioned Squigtone... those old Squigtone compilations "Greasers Punks and Skins " were pretty rad, and The Boils split on Squigtone with Disorderly Conduct was one of my favorite Boils' releases.
Mano: I don’t think The Boils ever ‘officially’ parted though, is a restart of The Boils still an option, or is your mind now totally focused on Thunder And Glory?
Greg: I'm totally focused on Thunder and Glory. And you are spot on, my friend... The Boils never had a "last show." I just wanted to quietly disappear as opposed to having a last show or whatever. There are some people I feel indebted to who would like the Boils to play a reunion. And because of wanting to give back to those people, a Boils show could maybe happen at some point somewhere. But I've also turned down a number of those invites. It would take something at the right time for me to give up any energy that I put into Thunder and Glory for a temporary Boils gig. I've moved past it. Thunder and Glory is all I now know.
Mano: You share band members with Duffy’s Cut and the aforementioned Legion 76, the latter already toured Europe and are coming back next year. Is this an ambition of Thunder And Glory as well, what are your plans for the band in general (not just touring)?
Greg: We definitely want to get to Europe if we are wanted there. In Thunder and Glory, we have different living situations/financial obligations...but luckily there are fests and such that provide us opportunities to travel to places. In March of 2017 we will be in Canada. But we are also hoping for other over seas opportunities to play. I am an inner city teacher, so summertime is pretty much my touring opportunity. Mike runs a studio full time, has a family, so, its difficult for him to take long breaks from that. So all out tours for Thunder and Glory are probably unlikely. However, weekends/ appearances at festivals and such are totally in the cards for us. Eric had mentioned to me there was one such possibility for a European weekend in 2017. As for general plans, to start playing more regularly, and having some weekend travel plans in place for the band in '17. Also, to continue with releases after "Living In the Crossfire." I know there is a split with Scab Coma happening. Other than that, we're talking with bands and thrilled to be working with Longshot and Contra.
Mano: With both this interview and the year coming to an end, I thought it would be a good time to ask what are your five favorite releases from 2016 are? Explain your choice with a one-liner.
1. Assault and Battery - All Shades of the Truth. We played with these guys in Philly, some months later I was flippin through Spotify and came across this album. Brutal!
2. Oxleys Midnight Runners - Combat - Love that lyrically this band has no fear. "We've been trumped" is one of my 2016 mainstay's.
3. Victory - The Code - Tore it up at Midwest Live n loud! Nice to see quality Oi! made by good dudes.
4. Skalmold - Vogguvisur Yggdrasils - I tend to lean more towards older metal releases. Not opposed to newer metal releases, there's just too many and none really stand out to me. But this is one I latched onto this year.
Everything else I've been listening to has been previous to 2016! But I'm checking out your best of list to get up to speed on things!
Mano: Alright, that is it. Thanks again for your time! If there’s anything I forgot to ask and you want to be included in this interview, feel free to do so!
Greg: Mano, thank you for your support, and well thought out questions. Cheers my friend, it was an honor to do this interview with you.