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  • Band News

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    3 articles in this category

      The Oppressed are SHARP-dressed men

      When it gets down to it, there are really only two types of skinheads — those who need a boot in the ass and those who don’t.
      It’s usually subtle differences that set them apart: the colour of their bootlaces, how much they love Skrewdriver and whether they’re wearing collared, button-up shirts or T-shirts featuring the Stormfront logo. So it’s unfortunate that, to the untrained eye, they all look like a bunch of racists.
      But rest assured, there are plenty of good skinheads who walk among us. And Cardiff, Wales oi! legends the Oppressed are, for all intents and purposes, the good guys.
      The band, formed in 1981 by Roddy Moreno, subscribes to SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice), a worldwide movement against white power skins that comes with its own lexicon. They also support antifa groups and Red & Anarchist Skinheads, or RASH. The three-piece band is filled out by Paul Cobley on bass and Tony Kizmus on drums, with singer-guitarist Moreno as the sole remaining original member.
      Cult MTL caught up with Moreno via email ahead of the Oppressed’s show tomorrow night as part of the two-day St. Patrick’s weekend oi! fest, which begins tonight at Katacombes.
      Tracey Lindeman: How did your one-off Montreal show come about?
      Roddy Moreno: Our friends, the Prowlers, asked us to play their St Patrick’s festival. It’ll just be one gig, though. The U.S. is a nightmare trying to get visas for when you have prison records.
      TL: When the Oppressed, and oi! in general, started up, things were different on the political scene and in interracial relations. Not to say politics don’t still suck, or that people aren’t racist anymore, but do you still feel you’re fighting those battles?
      RM: The only difference between then and now is the boneheads [colloquial for neo-Nazi] now hide in the greyzone and claim non-politics, but they’re still out there and the battle goes on.
      TL: Do you still get scum coming to your shows and/or trying to antagonize you?
      RM: No, the scum never come to our shows. Our crowd is mostly people with an anti-fascist attitude.
      TL: What attracted you to making political music in the first place?
      RM: When we began, we had no interest in “politics,” but then right-wing politics infiltrated the scene and we wanted to show where we stood. It was that simple.
      TL: Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with SHARP?
      RM: My only involvement was promoting the idea by using the band’s renown to spread the word. It means to me what it says on the label — nothing more, nothing less. I am a skinhead who hates the cowardice of racism.
      TL: When you started your label (Oi! Records), you said no reds or racists. But now you say you support RASH. What changed?
      RM: When I started the label, I was naïve, politically, and the “neither red nor racist” sounded cool at the time. Since then, the band has played outside the U.K. and we have met many RASH people who share our hatred of Nazi scum and have became good friends, so we stand beside them in the battle against fascist scum.
      TL: What kind of music do you listen to at home?
      RM: I only listen to old school reggae and soul at home. The only punk/oi! bands I have time for all have antifa credentials.
      TL: Do you have some kind of vetting process?
      RM: Well if a band wants to sit on the fence, that’s their choice, but I respect bands who make it clear where they stand. There’s no vetting process, but you choose your friends carefully.
      TL: I read that seeing a group of skins at a football (soccer) match when you were 12 in 1969 was the main reason you decided to become one. What about them impressed you? What kind of music did you listen up until that point?
      RM: They looked like an army and they just blew me away — a hooligan army was very impressive to a 12-year-old kid. I wasn’t really into music before then, but picked up on skinhead reggae and soul at youth clubs, and it’s [always] been my first love.
      TL: Montreal’s Major League Soccer team, the Montreal Impact, are playing both days this weekend. Are you going to go to either of the games?
      RM: The lads from the Prowlers will be taking us to the game on Sunday the 17th. I don’t follow the MLS, but will be cheering for the Montreal Impact with the rest of the lads. ■
      The Oppressed play as part of the St. Patrick’s weekend oi! fest March 15–16. Tonight’s headliner is Toronto’s King Size Braces and the Oppressed play tomorrow with fest co-organizers the Prowlers. Katacombes (1635 St-Laurent), 8 p.m., $15 Friday/$20 Saturday


      50th Anniversary Party COCK SPARRER (Madrid)

      Cock Sparrer will be playing at Madrid for their 50th Anniversary Party COCK SPARRER, on 9 April 2022, the band post on their official facebook page Cock Sparrer Official about the line up, and all the information about the celebration.
      " FLIGHTS ARE BOOKED! Madrid 'We're Coming Back'.....
      We've event booked a rehearsal!
      Not long now until we start our 50th Year celebrations and we're heading back to Spain where we played our last gig outside of the UK before Covid changed the face of live music for 2 years. But it's time for us to all get back to what we love doing.
      See you at the bar!
      Ticket links, event link and lineup below. Grab your tickets whilst they're still available.
      ➣ 09 APRIL 2022 @ WiZink Center in MADRID
      ⇢ https://labur.eus/CockSparrer-WiZink-09-04-2022
      ⇢ https://bit.ly/WiZinkCenter-09-04-2022
      LINE UP:
      COCK SPARRER - Cock Sparrer Official
      CARALLO TROOP - Tropa do Carallo
      ANTI NOWHERE LEAGUE - Anti-Nowhere League (Official)ere League (Official)
      THE CASUALTIES - The Casualties
      LION'S LAW - Lion's Law
      THE CHISEL - @TheChiselUK
      YUGULAR - Yugular "

    1. Happy 50th Birthday Cock Sparrer

      We at Skinhead.com.my would like to wish happiest birthday to our favourite band Cock Sparrer, for 50 great years this fabulous band have been rocking us with their song, we also would like to wish them success on their future endeavors. Long live Cock Sparrer!

      Cock Sparrer Full History 
      The Early Days

      This story started at school in 1972 when rivalries between a couple of bands were put aside and the decision was taken to merge and form what was to become COCK SPARRER. The boys had loads of different influences at the time which has helped over the years create what could be considered the unique Sparrer sound of today. The early years were spent mostly doing covers while Burge’s songwriting skills were still being honed. The line-up from the beginning was Micky, Burge, Steve and Colin accompanied by Will who would often guest DJ at any gig. It should come as no surprise to anyone that knows him that he would often get paid more than the band. Gigs were grabbed when offered, but were few and far between, until the band started their own residency at Trinity’s Youth Club in East Ham. Playing most Fridays, they slowly built up a following, which mainly consisted of girls from the local Grammar School – Happy Days!! Unfortunately, a lot of these girls had boyfriends that weren’t too enamoured with their new allegiance to the band, and it wasn’t unusual for most Friday nights to end up like a scene from Gunfight at the OK Corral. Once the fights were out of the way, it was over to the Burnell Arms to spend whatever money had been taken on the door that night. Life was simple in those days – music, beer, and girls.
      By 1974/5, gigs were becoming more regular. Sparrer had become one of the first calls that Terry Murphy from The Bridgehouse would make when bands blew out, and there were many Monday nights spent playing to three people in Canning Town. It was worth it for the free rehearsal, the beers, and the plate of sandwiches that Terry and his wife Rita would lay on for after. Support slots at The Marquee in London’s Wardour Street would follow, as well as regular gigs at the Dagenham Roundhouse, thanks to Paul Fenn at the Asgard Agency. The band’s reputation was growing, but often for the wrong reasons. They were banned from most of these venues on more than one occasion, but always managed to turn up the next day with an apology and a cheeky grin to get back in the good books.
      By now, Sparrer were 7 strong with Will & Glen “The ‘Ed” Smith taking care of roadie-ing duties, and Garrie Lammin on rhythm guitar. They had lived in – and done runners from – a number of different flats in and around East London, including one in Green Street, Upton Park, where on one occasion Col got arrested for nicking Will’s stuff…it’s a long story!!
      1976 saw the boys move a few further stops down the District Line to Dagenham and into a house that could have been the basis for “The Young Ones.” Out of work and on the dole, they passed the days playing football over the park, writing songs, blagging gigs, fiddling the electric, and trying to find enough money to pay the rent. By this time, the mode of transport to get to and from gigs was an old Post Office van. It ran on red diesel, and had to be started with a blow torch. By the time they got to the gig their voices were shot because they had to SHOUT REALLY LOUDLY to be heard over the engine. It was either that, or be semi-conscious upon arrival because of the fumes that the engine would chuck out!
      1976 also saw Cock Sparrer sign their first management and publishing deal with Orange Music, who, through their connections, got the band signed to Decca in early 1977. Purely by coincidence, and still a strange quirk of fate, it wasn’t until many years later that they realised that the fella that actually signed them to Decca was none other than Daryl’s Dad! Daryl was five at the time!! Still struggling to find gigs, it was a surprise when, in April ’77, a couple of the band members went round the ‘Eds house to be told by his Dad that he wasn’t in, and that “he’s gone up to London to sort out your tour with The Small Faces.” WHAT?! He was having a laugh, surely? THE Small Faces? Steve Marriott, Ian McLagan, Kenney Jones, etc? It couldn’t be! He must have mis-heard him. With no mobile phones, it was an anxious few hours before the ‘Ed returned to confirm that Cock Sparrer were, in fact, to support The Small Faces on their 12 date UK comeback tour starting the following week!
      The red GPO van made it to the first gig in Preston before The Small Faces road crew took pity on the band and offered to stick the small amount of Sparrer gear in the back of their trucks for the rest of the tour. Steve Marriott lost his voice after a couple of shows, and for a while it looked like the whole thing may be cancelled, but he recovered fairly quickly and no dates were lost. They say you should never meet your heroes, but everyone connected with that tour were very gracious to the Sparrer boys, and this is the thinking that they try to maintain to this day when it comes to dealing with their own support bands. Kenney Jones lent Steve anything he wanted from his kit, Ian McLagan would always accommodate requests for Faces songs during soundchecks, and Micky spent an afternoon locked away in a basement with Steve Marriott trading Humble Pie riffs on their guitars. The tour ended with two shows at The Rainbow, Finsbury Park, followed by an end of tour bash at The Dickens Inn, St Katherines Dock, London where a serious attempt was made to drink every last drop of alcohol in the place.

      Punk Rocking

      “Runnin’ Riot” was released in July, 1977 having been recorded in Decca’s West London studios in Hampstead earlier in the year. The session was produced by Nick Tauber, a producer of some repute who had earlier worked with Thin Lizzy. By the time of its release, punk was everywhere in the media, and Decca thought they had it made with Sparrer and Slaughter and The Dogs signed to the label. The only problem was, the Sparrer boys didn’t really want to be punks. Well, not punks in the way that the press were portraying punks, all gobbing, safety pins, and bondage trousers. They loved the punk ethos that anyone can have a go, but there was no way that they were dressing up in anything other than Doc Martens and jungle greens. The fall out with Decca began almost as soon as it had started, with the label trying to push the band in one direction, and Sparrer flatly refusing to play the game. This is demonstrated perfectly by the release of the band’s second single, “We Love You,” in November, 1977. The reason for the plain white cover on the release is purely down to the band’s refusal of the suggestions that the record company had put forward. The strained relationship limped on. The Decca offices were used to string a bunch of gigs together in October 1977, and again in early 1978, including the infamous Stratford Town Hall launch of “We Love You”. Dignitaries from the music world were bussed to the gig which was intended to be a bit of a Sparrer showcase but ended with Alan “Fluff” Freeman, the radio DJ, going home early because someone threw a pickled onion at him. Overuse of a dry ice machine resulting in the band not being seen by a large part of the audience for much of the show, an over zealous stripper whose physical contortions could have put Olga Korbut to shame, and a venue totally unsuitable to have live bands meant that what on paper seemed like a good idea at the time ended up a bit of a disaster. It was, however, the first of many times that Sparrer and The UK Subs were on the same bill, so there was some good to come out of it!
      The ‘Ed had decided to stay on and work with Mel and Bev Bush after The Small Faces tour, so Sparrer needed a new roadie. At the time, Will was working at a hospital in Goodmayes, Essex, dispassionately referred to as the Barley Lane Nut House, when on one particular occasion he was accused by a co-worker of having stolen his NME. A rapport was quickly developed and not only had this bloke heard of Cock Sparrer, he had heard “We Love You” played on the John Peel show several nights earlier. Will came back to the house in Dagenham after work and told the others that he had met the perfect roadie to replace the ‘Ed. The questions came thick and fast “Can he drive?” – “No.” “Has he roadied for anyone before?” – “No.” “Does he know one end of a mic stand from another?” – “Definitely not, but he drinks like a fish and reads the NME!” He was in! Andy Doré, the original Fist Magnet, joined the ranks of the unpaid.
      It was also around this time that a few regular faces started to show up at Sparrer gigs. This bunch of mates from East London, who came to be known affectionately as The Poplar Boys, were extremely handy to have around should gigs develop into a bit of a scrap. They always had each others backs, and often diffused situations that without their presence could have turned nasty. They were never responsible for starting trouble at any Sparrer show, but because they took no nonsense from anyone, quite often finished something that others had started. Friendships between some of The Poplar Boys and the members of Cock Sparrer are still as strong today as they were in 1977. 
Both “Runnin’ Riot” and “We Love You” got to the lower reaches of the charts, but insufficient sales and a band refusing to toe the party line meant that it wasn’t long before Decca and Cock Sparrer were going in different directions. In September, 1978, having sold all of their equipment – including some they didn’t own! – they moved out of Dagenham and headed for the USA.
      It has been said that Cock Sparrer weren’t that relevant in the history of punk in the UK, and they have been accused of not being around in that first wave of punk. It’s true they didn’t have number one records or make many headlines, but the following is quite interesting –
      “Runnin’ Riot” was released -

      3 months before Never Mind the Bollocks by The Sex Pistols
      8 months before Sham 69’s “Borstal Breakout”

      4 months before “Where Have All the Bootboys Gone?” by Slaughter and The Dogs

      A year and a half before “Alternative Ulster” by Stiff Little Fingers

      The same month as “Peaches” by The Stranglers

      16 months before “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones

      3 months before The Buzzcocks’ “Orgasm Addict”

      And only 6 weeks after “White Riot” by The Clash
      I’m So Bored With the USA
The boys acquired £50 one-way tickets to New York with Freddie Laker. Because this was the first introduction of the “budget airline” in the UK, he had to set up his desk in the grounds of Gatwick Airport, with marquees to keep the rain of the queuing public. By the time they arrived at the airport, it was something like a three day queue. Thanks to some bribery in the form of a shopping trolley full of beer, Will managed to get the boys miraculously to the front of the line by the next morning. Once on board the DC10, their money started to quickly evaporate, as the drinks trolley never got past row 27.
      The plan was to tout the band around to as many agencies and record companies as they could, to try and drum up some interest. After a couple of days in New York, there were no takers, and the decision was made: “Go West, Young Man!” Will decided to come home, and the five remaining arranged to deliver an Oldsmobile Cutlass to Tucson, Arizona within 7 days. Money and food were already getting tight and a welcome pit-stop was made at Andy’s aunt’s house in St Louis, where after the Dagenham diet of a pork pie cut into 4 pieces, the provision of steaks and ribs on the BBQ was manna from heaven. The air-con in the Oldsmobile packed up fairly early into the trip and the sight of five skinny, pasty, yet sweaty English blokes, shirtless but dressed in shorts and Doc Martens, raised a few mid-West eyebrows, but they got to Tucson on time and duly dropped off the car. The Greyhound bus took them on the last leg of the journey into Los Angeles. Several more attempts to raise interest in the band were made in LA, including seeking out one of the guys that had worked with them at Decca, but to no avail.
      Col was the first to head home, being repatriated by the British Consul. Steve and Burge stayed on for a while in LA, while Mick and Andy headed back to St Louis and Chicago.
      Back to Work
It was of course back to nowhere to live, no gear, no money, and no band. Everybody went off in different directions to get jobs to pay back debts or back home to Mum for some proper food.
      It was a period when Cock Sparrer as a gigging band didn’t really exist. Everyone still met up for a beer and a night out, but they all thought that Sparrer had run its course. Nothing was ever said, there was no big fall-out, no musical differences, or anything like that; the band just took a breather.
      Steve and Burge went off to join The Little Roosters with Alison Moyet for a while, releasing an album and a couple of singles, but any success still eluded them. Burge and Will tried their hands at promoting, most notably The Clash at The Notre Dame Hall, Leicester Square, and were heavily involved with the re-emerging Mod scene, promoting the likes of The Purple Hearts and Secret Affair.
 It was all well and good, but it wasn’t Cock Sparrer.
      Meanwhile, going on in the background was the release of Oi! – The Album, which contained “Sunday Stripper” and, partially through this, the birth of the musical genre that Cock Sparrer would forever more be associated with.
      England Belongs To Us
In November 1982, Cock Sparrer released “England Belongs To Me” on Carrere Records, a song that was only a title and nothing else when Burge sold the idea to them. The single was recorded in the White House Studio, Old Church Street, Chelsea, which was owned by the band’s manager and publisher, Cliff Cooper. Cheap studio rates were negotiated with the money that was forwarded by Carrere to record the single, but was actually used to record both that and most of the tracks that were to later become Shock Troops. By this time, Chris Skepis, a mad Brazilian (from the East End of Brazil, obviously) and a lovely fella, had been recruited to play rhythm guitar via an ad in a shop window.
      The single’s release was heavily supported by Garry Bushell and Sounds, who provided some welcome reviews, but was pretty much ignored by everybody else.
      Carrere liked the single, and agreed to support and finance an album and dutifully forwarded enough cash to do so. Little did they know that most of it was already recorded and ready to go, and so, in true Sparrer fashion, a lot of the funds went straight over the bar of the pub next door to the studio. Well, they didn’t want to waste it, did they??
      Shock Troops was recorded and mixed in just over two weeks. Songs that had been written and stored away which covered all aspects of the band’s experiences with the scene, former record companies, former band members, friends, characters they knew, and the world at large, could finally be heard. Or so they thought.
      Micky played on every track on the album, but didn’t fancy getting back in the van to do the gigs to promote it.  Another advert was placed, and Shug O’Neill was asked to join on lead guitar.
      A number of gigs were organised, including The 100 Club and The Fulham Greyhound in London. Record company executives were obviously invited along to get to know the band better and to start to think about the marketing strategies required to launch the album.
Unfortunately, it all kicked off at these gigs; several people got hurt at The Fulham Greyhound and the only sound heard for the next few months was the stony silence of non-returned calls, followed by the smell of friction created by the furious back pedaling of the record company.
      A deal was finally struck, and the album was released in November 1983 by Razor Records – a subsidiary of the subsidiary!
 Someone at Syndicate Records must have liked Shock Troops, because they agreed to commission a second Sparrer album that was to be rather lazily titled Runnin’ Riot in’84. Shug’s influence on the songs on this album is very apparent, but once again more could have been done in terms of the writing and production of this release, had all of the monies found their way to the studio rather than The Dog and Duck!
      All Roads Lead to The Astoria

      The period following the release of Runnin’ Riot in ‘84 can probably be considered the band’s most inactive. Don’t get me wrong, socially it was really busy, with every member getting married, having kids, and working to pay the bills. It’s just that Cock Sparrer didn’t gig for a while.
      Steve Bruce grew his hair and embarked on a new career, that of pub landlord. His first boozer was The Flying Scud (nothing to do with The Falklands!) in Hackney Road, quickly followed by a move to a pub in Bethnal Green Road which Steve renamed The Stick of Rock. A PA system and DJ booth were quickly installed and The Stick of Rock became a leading East London music venue. Steve even managed to persuade Burge and Micky to join the house band on the odd occasion. It was while Steve was here that punters realised that the guvnor behind the bar used to be the guvnor behind the drums in Cock Sparrer, and he began to receive requests and offers to reform the band and start gigging again. One particular offer was to play at The Astoria in Tottenham Court Road. A meet up over a pint was organised and it was quickly agreed that this was one of the dumbest ideas that had ever been presented to the band. Who was gonna come? The Astoria was a big place, holding up to 2000 people. Big bands – proper bands – played there. Once they had confirmed that the promoter wasn’t certified insane, they agreed to do it. It would be a laugh, something to tell the grandchildren about in years to come. As Chris Skepis had gone back to Brazil they had to find another rhythm guitarist. Steve mentioned this kid called Daryl who had played with his band The Elite a few times in the pub and knew all the Sparrer songs better than they did – still true today!! An impromptu rehearsal was organised, and the Astoria gig was confirmed for October 4th, 1992. The headline slot was deferred to The Adicts, with The Lurkers and The Elite also being added to complete the line-up. Still convinced that they would be playing to an empty hall, several get-togethers were arranged to run through the songs including one on the afternoon of the gig in The Stick of Rock. It’s funny now to hear the number of people that claim to have been there for that last minute rehearsal; queues would have gone around the block if everybody had really turned up! 
The show itself was sold out. People came from all over the world to see Cock Sparrer for what was intended to be a one-off occasion. They sang every word to every song, which was helpful, because Col forgot a few.
      Sitting around the dressing room afterwards, sharing a litre bottle of Leibfraumilch – classy!! – with Arthur from The Lurkers, he suggested what Sparrer should really do was to go to Europe. The scene was healthy there, especially in Germany, and they would really love to see the band. Grabbing the bottle back from Arthur, who had clearly had enough by this time, little thought was given to his suggestion until the dust had settled a few weeks later.
      Germany Calling

      An offer was received from a small German label, Bitzcore, to record and release a new Cock Sparrer album. With the funds provided up front, the thinking caps went back on, Burge was locked away in a darkened room, and Guilty As Charged was born.
 As is the usual Sparrer method of operation, tapes were dropped through letter boxes, half finished songs were completed, additional verses were added, and it finally looked as though the album was beginning to take shape. One song that was delivered with strict instructions from Burge – “This is finished, it doesn’t need anything, and I’m quite proud of it” – was “Because You’re Young.” Quite right, too!! 
Studio time was booked at The War Rooms in Shoreditch, and Guilty was quickly recorded and mixed.

      A 14 date European tour was organised to promote the album, although as with The Astoria, the band were pretty sure no-one was gonna turn up. The tour took in Germany (10 dates), Austria, Italy, France, and Belgium, and included playing in school halls, squats, clubs, aircraft hangars, and the occasional concert venue. But people did come – from all over! – and friendships were forged with people that they met along the way, many of which remain intact today. The most visited country on the tour was probably Switzerland, which they passed through on loads of occasions to get to somewhere else!! The tour wasn’t that well organised in terms of geography and journey planning, and they were soon sick and tired of going backwards and forwards over “the bleedin’ Alps.”
      Germany was proving to be a second home to Sparrer, and more gigs were organised to further promote Guilty As Charged and the follow up, Two Monkeys, released in 1997.
      The set list by this time was growing and growing. Obliged to play some of the songs off the new albums, there was no way that they would ever get away with not including the majority – if not all!! – of Shock Troops whenever they played live. Whilst wanting to sell as many albums as they could, their priority, which remains the same today, was to give everyone a good night out.
      2000? Quite a Busy Year by Sparrer Standards

      By 2000, the gig offers were coming in thick and fast. The year started with a 4-day trip to the USA. Always an ambition for the band, this visit, which took in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, helped to convince the boys that people outside of the UK and Europe had heard of the band and wanted to hear the songs live. When discussing the various venues to be played, several options were put forward for the New York gig, but the band really wanted to play CBGBs because of the history and heritage that the club had. The second day was Boston and an all ages matinee show, which was fine – except for the poor sod that had driven for 8 hours to get there only to be told he’d missed the gig! The Dropkick Murphys were a great help in transporting the guys around their home town and providing the backline for the show. Col returned the favour by adding some vocals to a track off their new album. San Francisco was a cracking show, a lot of which (along with some tracks recorded in New York) found their way onto the later released Runnin’ Riot Across the USA album. The final gig in LA turned out to be the biggest of the four, which nicely rounded off Cock Sparrer’s first official visit to the US.
      This year also saw the band’s first collaboration with Darren Russell-Smith’s Holidays In The Sun promotions, with dates in the Basque Region with The Cockney Rejects and The Boys, and then in Berlin with The Dropkick Murphys.
      Everyone knew in the back of their minds that the day would come when Cock Sparrer would again play in England. It was just a matter of when.
      Morecambe (or Morecombe as Darren Russell-Smith’s Tee Shirts Read!) 2001

      That opportunity came in the shape of Holidays In The Sun, Morecambe, July 2001. It seemed a strange place to hold a punk festival. The old seaside town up on Britain’s west coast, famous for its cockles, came alive as 5000 punks and skins from all over the world descended to breathe life back into the old girl. Billed as the 25th Anniversary of Punk, the weekend was still pretty much ignored by both the music and mainstream press, which funnily enough, didn’t seem to matter to those attending. It was almost as though this was a private party with all of your best mates turning up. Sparrer were knocked sideways by the welcome and response that they got when they played on the Saturday night, when The Market Arena was packed to capacity and a big sweaty singalong was had by all.
      Still only doing the occasional gig, Cock Sparrer returned to Morecambe in 2003, where they filmed and recorded footage for the “What You See Is What You Get” dvd. The idea was to put together a live recording of the show plus numerous bits of unseen footage including a hand held video taken by the band themselves of their trip to the USA in 2000. This lot, coupled with some guitar tuition from Micky and a trip around their old East End haunts, ended up as nearly 8 hours of material.
      Blackpool 2006

      By the summer of 2006, Darren and Jennie Russell-Smith had moved the biggest punk rock n roll circus to Blackpool. I think they saw it as a bit of a quest to re-invigorate seaside towns that had seen better days. I’m not sure what the locals’ thoughts were as the place was invaded by hordes of punks and skins from all over the world. I would imagine that they were grateful for the extra income from this unexpected source. Stag and Hen do’s were pushed off the front pages of the local papers, replaced by images of mohawks and Dr Martens.
Sparrer were asked to play the Saturday night to a packed house in The Empress Ballroom, where several punters commented that they thought the floor was going to collapse from bouncing up and down so much! A good night was had by all.
      A New Album, Are You Sure?
There had been many offers for Cock Sparrer to get back in the recording studio during the ten years after Two Monkeys, and on several occasions, the band had sat down to discuss just that subject. Those discussions always came to the same conclusion however: that unless they were totally happy with the quality of the songs to be used, they wouldn’t bother. The band were on such a high after the success of Blackpool that once again the subject was raised over a pint or three, but this time it was decided to do a bit more about it. An earlier meet up with Lars Frederiksen of Rancid in a pub off Tottenham Court Road had added more fuel to the flame: Lars made it clear that he’d want to get involved in any future recording project. Like the band, he recognised some of the failings of the previous releases, and wanted to produce an album that everyone could be proud of. Slowly, the idea of putting a new Sparrer album together was taking shape. Over the next few months, CDs were once again dropped through letterboxes with demos and ideas for songs on them, and in January 2007, the band started on a series of rehearsals that would eventually knock those songs into shape. The plan to get Lars involved in the recording of the album failed to materialise, due to his work commitments and the timescales involved, and eventually it was decided that he would mix the album once recorded. Sessions were block booked at Pat Collier’s Perry Vale Studios in South London, and having spent a couple of months rehearsing and arranging the songs, Here We Stand was recorded over a three week period in May. Lars mixed the album over the course of the summer of 2007, after which it was handed over to Captain Oi! for release. Although it was also planned for the album to come out in the States, that wouldn’t happen until a couple of years later, and not until Pirates Press Records got involved. Having spent quite a while – by Sparrer standards – writing, arranging and recording the new album, thoughts moved to the launch.
      Why Wolverhampton? Well It’s In the Middle, Ain’t It?!

      Cock Sparrer at The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton on Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 will go down as a seminal evening in the history of the band. Darren Russell-Smith and the boys and girls from Rebellion put together a fantastic line-up consisting of Goldblade, Deadline, The UK Subs, Slaughter and the Dogs, and Cock Sparrer to launch Here We Stand. People came from all over the world to make this night one of the most memorable Sparrer gigs ever. Packed to the rafters, everybody sang, shouted, and punched the air to every song in an atmosphere of fun and celebration. Even the new songs that no-one had heard yet were well received. This was Sparrer’s only show of 2007 and it seems everyone was determined to have a good time. By coincidence, a former roadie of the band – the ‘Ed – had been working at The Civic Hall the previous evening with Van Morrison, which was a polite, demure, half of shandy affair compared to the full–on, “What’re you drinking?”/ “What have you got left?” party atmosphere provided by the Sparrer faithful on the Saturday night.
      Gigs and Gigs and Gigs
Cock Sparrer is never gonna be the sort of band that will put together a 40 date tour these days; it would kill ‘em! They continue to play the odd gig – and some of them have been very odd!! – here and there, and as long as they’re enjoying it and people still want to come and hear the songs, it will carry on. As soon as that changes, then it will be time to hang up the Martens.
      After Wolverhampton, 2008 included two shows in Vienna and back in Blackpool for Darren and Rebellion, following which they decided to dust off their passports and get out to a few different places that they hadn’t been to before, or been back to for a while.
      2009 started with a belter in Berlin in the snow at Punk & Disorderly, and included three trips to the USA for gigs in Texas, Chicago, and – in November – San Francisco, for the 5th Anniversary of the band’s new American record label, Pirates Press Records. Countries visited for the first, but hopefully not for the last time that year included Serbia, Norway, and Holland, while they also played the Ruhrpott Rodeo in Germany and Oktoberfest in Girona. The gig in Oslo saw the introduction of a new verb to the Sparrer vocabulary, which is to be “Heini-ed.” Will met up with our German mate Heini for a swift half in the afternoon of the gig, and woke up 12 hours later having missed the show completely.

The band were keen to do both festivals and club shows, as well as wanting to fulfill a promise to themselves to play London again. Finally, two nights at the HMV Forum, Kentish Town in March 2010 were planned to achieve this ambition.
      Two differing line-ups saw Friday night host The Rabble, Deadline, Street Dogs, and Agnostic Front, while Saturday had a real ’77 feel to it with The Exposed, UK Subs, Penetration, and The Boys. After the show on Friday night, they were told by The Forum management that bar takings for the night almost broke the house record. Col had a bet with the manager that the record would definitely go on the Saturday but £28,000 worth of beer had to be consumed to do so. Well my friends, you nearly did it! In fact, I think the record would have been broken easily if they could have kept up and were a bit quicker behind the ramp. They admitted afterwards that they had underestimated the number of bar staff required to fulfill the thirsty needs of the Sparrer faithful. Still, £52,000 taken over the two nights put a smile on their faces! A good effort, my friends, a good effort!
      Other gigs in that year took in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic for the first time, and saw returns to Italy, Belgium, France, the Basque Region, Scotland, and Germany.
      In January, the band re-entered Pat Collier’s studio to re-record “England Belongs To Me” for Dan Hardy to use as his entrance music when entering the octagon prior to his UFC fights. Dan was also keen to help out on backing vocals and as Daryl said at the time, “He can do whatever he likes, we ain’t gonna argue with someone who beats people up for a living!”
      2010 also saw the publishing of Steve’s book, The Best Seat in the House, which documented his recollections of the band’s story and allowed him to share his fantastic collection of Sparrer memorabilia gathered over the last 30+ years.
      It also saw the inclusion of “I Got Your Number” on the soundtrack of the movie Jackass 3D.
      Towards the end of the year, Pirates Press Records released the ultimate Cock Sparrer collection in a limited edition, vinyl box set. Produced in two parts, with one being all of their live material, Cock Sparrer Essentials has over 32 sides of the band’s back catalogue, as well as posters, Steve’s book, and other goodies. The package took over 18 months to put together, and is something that the boys are rightly very proud of.

      2011 saw the chaps heading to Vegas for Punk Rock Bowling, which was always a danger. The 24 hour city of sin didn’t disappoint, but thankfully, they all came back in one piece, and no-one got married by Elvis in a drunken prank.
      Dates in Berlin, Leipzig, Croatia, and a return to Blackpool were all highlights. September saw the band hit South America for one night in Buenos Aires, Argentina and one night in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where they were joined on stage by the mad Brazilian ex-guitarist Chris for a rousing version of “Take ‘Em All!”
      2012 – 40 YEARS OF SPARRER

      2012 was a very busy year for the band, who were celebrating their 40th anniversary. Amongst the many special gigs organized, there were 6 with Rancid, who by coincidence were celebrating their 20th year together. The idea was for two shows to take place in Rancid’s hometown of San Francisco, with the ‘return leg’ in London, later in the year. Duly, two sold out shows took place at The Warfield Theatre in San Francisco in March, with three – also sold out – shows at The Forum in London in December. These were topped off with a final show together under the Rebellion banner in Birmingham, UK, also in December 2012.
      Amongst the other gig highlights of that year were a massive show at the Alsterdorfer Sportshalle in Hamburg, as well as a trip to play Philadelphia and Boston. The journey between the two gigs was in what can only be described as a “Simpsons-style” school bus. Not the most comfortable ride, but made easier by West Ham playing in the Championship Play Off Final as they travelled. Poor signal reception meant that only snippets of game were watched, with much swearing and threats to throw laptops out of the bus window, etc. All was good in the end though. The band’s beloved West Ham won the game 2 -1, and were back in the Premier League.
      2012 also saw the release of the band’s 40 Years album, a compilation of tracks chosen individually by the band members, with a brief explanation as to exactly why that song was chosen and what that particular song meant to them. Each person had to choose 3 songs, with “England Belongs To Me” and “Because You’re Young” going on automatically. What seemed a fairly simple idea resulted in a lot of hand-wringing and cursing, as old favorites were either left out or snaffled up by other band members.
      Outstanding Gigs

      With Cock Sparrer now playing more gigs than ever before, the opportunity to visit many new places and make many new friends has been gratefully accepted by the band. They obviously treat each show as special, and whether they are playing to 50 people or 5,000, the same level of professionalism and attention to detail is applied. In saying that, there have been some that stand out, either because of the venue or location. They have played in the grounds of a castle in Serbia, and a bullring in the Basque Country. For the Pirates Press 10th Anniversary party in San Francisco in October 2014, the street was closed off, a stage erected and a good time was had by all. If you had asked any member of the band whether they ever thought that they would have the opportunity to play Las Vegas, they would have laughed you out of the bar. But thanks to Punk Rock Bowling, Sparrer have played there in 2011, 2014, 2017, and are due to return in 2020! They also enjoyed PRB on the road in Asbury Park, New Jersey in 2016. Of all the highlights over the years, one evening has to be included. Probably one of the smallest gigs the band has played in a while was in the 12 Bar (RIP) in London’s West End for Steve Bruce’s 60th birthday celebrations. Packed with family and friends and with sweat running off the walls and ceiling, Steve’s special birthday was certainly one to remember!
      2017 – Forever

With another ten years passed since Cock Sparrer’s previous album, Here We Stand, 2017 saw the release of the full length album, Forever. Recorded over a four month period between the end of 2016 and February 2017, Forever took shape as a collection of songs written in what only can be described as “the Cock Sparrer way.” Anthemic, filled with hooks, and with lyrics relating to real life, the album was immediately hailed as the next chapter in the band’s amazing career. The glowing reviews piled up, and the band took to the road once again, playing in front of crowds the world over who screamed along to not only the confirmed classics, but the new classics as well.
      Into the Future
      Today, Cock Sparrer remain humbled that people still come out in great numbers to see them, and the band will always be grateful for that. The years since the release of Forever have been filled with more festival appearances and club gigs across the world. Their continued appearances at such revered festivals as Riot Fest, Punk Rock Bowling, Groezrock, & Rebellion (just to name a few!) have cemented their reputation as an electrifying headliner. Rock The Ship 2019, the Pirates Press 15th Anniversary weekend, saw them command a crowd of thousands who flocked to see them headline a punk rock show aboard an aircraft carrier, the USS Hornet!
      Along the way, not only have they had the opportunity to play with a younger generation of support artists who grew up on their music, but they have even seen the next generation get in on the act in a very literal way. Cock Sparrer have enjoyed support on many gigs from Bar Stool Preachers, a band on the rise who are fronted by none other than Col’s son, TJ! It’s safe to say that the family business is still booming for both father and son!
      With enthusiasm for the band only increasing as the years go on, the early months of 2020 found the band in the studio once again, with the intent to bring even more new music to the stage in 2020…and beyond!
      When Cock Sparrer formed in 1972 all they wanted to do was have a laugh, pull some birds and give everyone a good night out.
      2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

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