Slow off the mark again, I missed the first issue (now sold out) of this new zine dedicated to original skinhead style and sounds. Issue 2 of the spirit of 69 is out now and it’s the kind of thing I love. Putting out a actual hold in your hand, paper and ink thing seems to some a pretty perverse thing to do in this day and age, I received plenty of strange looks when i told people I was doing a zine but , hey if it’s in the blood what are you gonna do?
The guy that puts this out, Toast was also responsible for the skin/ska zine Tighten up which he was publishing in the late eighties/early nineties. Another great sounding venture I missed. Clearly a man with a deep felt obsession and knowledge of the skinhead subculture, with a burning desire to see this most misunderstood of street style scenes represented correctly.
Printed on a soft, almost newspaper type stock, his latest effort has a great feel to it. It’s a pure, old school style zine. A proper job. Heartfelt and written in an instinctual, knowledgable style by someone with a clear sense of pride for a scene they’ve been involved in for years. Issue 2 features stuff on trojan sounds, a great piece on Harrington jackets, an interview with ska band The Estimators and some pulp fiction. It’s good stuff, well worth supporting.
It’s a couple of quid so you’ve nothing to lose. Order details on the spirit of 69 Facebook page here
A true gent Toast kindly took the time to answer some questions for subbaculture on his long and varied involvement on the skinhead scene…
Your new zine has a great feel to it. How long have you been involved in the skinhead scene? How did you get in to it/first come across it?
I first got involved in the scene when I saw the Specials on Top of the pops. I was in to a few punk bands like Sham 69, The Ruts, Cockney Rejects , Angelic Upstarts. But needed an identity, and it was Two Tone and the specials that pulled me in. I became a rude boy my hair was more suede head, and it slowly got shorter. I had mates that were mods, Skinheads, punks etc and rockabillies. We all knocked about together. So I became a skinhead and have been one ever since, never changed. I started to look back to the original skins and started to listen to Reggae and ska as well as Tamala Motown. But at the same time Oi! Was important to me and as my local band was the Last Resort. But as Two Tone died and Skins started to disappear the more right wing element, started to take control of the scene. This went against what I felt was proper skinhead, and after reading fanzines like Hard as Nails, Stand up and spit and following more left wing bands such as the oppressed, Redskins, Burial. But Ska slowly started to come back with bands like the potato 5, The deltones, Trojans and by late 80’s early 90’s the 3rd wave ska scene had arrived, the Skins that had not left found there new scene and with Zines like spy Kids, Zoot. Me and my wife were going to gig’s in London every other week it seemed.
You ran a zine (Tighten Up) into the early nineties. What type of stuff was it covering? How many issues did it run for? When did that zine come to an end?
A friend suggested that I should write a zine, I knew a lot of bands as the scene was quite small still, so I thought I would give it a go. Tighten Up came out in 1989, it was a skinzine, it covered Ska, Reggae and Oi! And toward the end Bands like Rancid and ska punk. It was left wing in attitude, and lead to a number of death threats, because of its stance. It was featured in the anti fascist magazine Cable street beat, and I got a lot of shit because of that. One time a member of a fascist band was sitting in one of my local pubs, they were down for a punk gig. Asking me about (Toast) me, his girl friend at the time was from Klasse Kriminal. I had interviewed the band a year before and she knew me. He kept chatting shit and we were winding him up no end. He never found out it was me. The zine ran for 17 issues, although towards the end it didn’t come out as much as it should of. The zine came to an end, when I started to work for One stop Music, which was at the time the biggest street music distro in the UK if not the world. I ran the mail order section and wrote the Keep the faith Newsletter part of the mail order catalogue. I started to work for them in 1995, the zine finished just after that. We also did a shiny a4 newsletter called Skaville Uk, which was given out free at gigs, that had a print run of 5000. From One Stop I was involved in Moon Ska Europe, for a couple of years. I wrote a number of Sleeve notes for Oi and ska bands and all this would not of been possible if it was not for the zine, as that’s what got me the job offer at One Stop Music. Which was jointly run by Lol Prior Mark Brennan (Link Records) who were the manger of the Business, and the bass Player of the Business.
Were there any particular zines/any favourites that inspired you to start your own zine? What were the first zines you picked up?
I based my zine on Hard as Nails, I don’t think it was as good, but I like to think it influenced a few people, Tighten up made of good friends. Back then there were loads of zines Charge Sheet, Zoot, Do The dog which is still running as Rude. I’m a bit of a hoarder so I have about 1000 odd zines, some I brought and some were sent to me. Some of them were featured in an exhibition this year in London.
What’s your idea of the perfect skinhead look style wise?
I personally I like the sixties look, of Harrington Button down shirt Levi’s and Boots, and that’s what I wear most really. The tonic suit comes out for do’s now and again. I have a number of vintage Suit jackets all Tonic. Shoes include what I call the daddy of Loafers Frank Wright loafers, Loake brogues. I have a pair of Clark brogues with really chunky shoes, that I use for when on the scoot. So I do mix and match style. But for me its its the Harrington look, I normally wear Ben Nevis Combat brand Harrington, they are a nice cut and cheap. I have two Barracuda’s G9’s but they don’t hang that well since I’ve lost weight and I only wear them to do’s. My wife moans that my wardrobe is quite full, but you can never have enough shirts can you, but she thinks over hundred is to much, she maybe right.
What made you start another zine? Did you think there was a market for it or was it simply something you wanted to do regardless?
For a few years I have been saying I’ll do another zine but it never happened, my wife helped proof Tighten up but she said she didn’t want to do it this time, so I cajoled a friend Michelle to do it, she has threaten to put random words in, as she knows I don’t check it. Down here in Kent we have a big Ska/Skinhead scene, a lot of born again’s have got into it again, which is ok, until they tell you what being a skinhead is all about, and to be honest some of them are clueless. I have a real hate of the This Is England Top button thing, where skinheads have their top button done up, ive never seen it until that film. So I did the zine to educate. The first issue was photo copied,I thought I would sell about 20 so I just did the zine as and when I need it, I think I got to 250 copies sold and stopped it. Issue two was printed and I got 300 copies done, its slowly selling. It was something I wanted to do regardless, doing the one off music zine Skinhead Scorchers had got me going, that didn’t sell that well, as it wasn’t cheap to photo copied. But it got good reviews. I didn’t want to do a web based zine I wanted a retro type zine, and I think I’ve achieved it. Its a little rough, but isn’t that what zine’s are about.
Any news on issue 3 and when it’s out?
I’m working on issue 3 and it should be out in February I hope well that’s the plan.