Interview – Top Dog

Britain’s Oi! scene is booming at the moment with new bands springing up all the time, one of the best are Cumbria’s Top Dog. We are thrilled to bring you an interview with Marc and Nige from the band. Enjoy!

Sounds Of The Street: Hey guys, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with us. Can you start by introducing the band and how you got together?

Marc: Ste/Geeza (Vocals) and Nige (Guitar) were at a loose end after the Scabs had folded. They wanted to get back in the game and bring back the classic sound of the 80’s. They recruited Rab (Drums) who also played in the Scabs and Brads (Bass) to complete the line up. Things were shaping up well and the first release through Rebellion Records was on the cards. Unfortunately just as it was getting moving, Brads left the band. Fortunately for me, though I bumped into Pez from No Thrills enjoying an ABBA tribute band when I was looking for my kids, we had a crack and he put me in touch with Ste. The rest you could say is history and the line up has been the same since August 2015.

SOTS: Both your E.Ps and your debut album have been well received all over the world, you must be happy with this?

Nige: Absolutely over the moon, we thought we had something good, but most bands do and so many never get signed up. Wouter at Rebellion Records was behind us right from the start and even though we hadn’t played that many gigs he still took a giant leap of faith in an unknown band for which we will be always grateful.

Marc: It’s mental, it gives us all a massive buzz seeing how far and wide they end up. The reviews have been unreal too, it’s great to see that what we’re about is coming through and it’s very humbling. To come from being an unknown like Nige just said to shift over 1200 hard copies since the first EP release 2 years ago is a bit mind-boggling to us. Modest compared to some bands but great figures nonetheless, there’s not many bands from where we’re from that have or could do that.

SOTS: You play raw sounding Oi! like bands from the 80’s such as The Business, The 4-Skins and Last Resort. Are these your main influences?

Nige: I’ve been into this music from the start, seen the upstarts in 78, then bands like the 4-Skins, Infa Riot and Combat 84 in the early 80’s. My old band Distortion were on No Futures – “A Country Fit For Heroes” so I think Top Dog were always going to sound like the early Oi! bands.

Marc: We don’t do covers but we like to give little nods to those bands in the songs we write. Take ACAB and Fear No Foe for example. As well as those bands we all bring various different influences to the table. Rab is into his metal and hardcore, which is hard to keep a lid on especially live! In Cumbria, it’s difficult enough just to get a band together let alone a full band of pure 80’s Skins. Ste and Nige were lucky enough to be around in the 80’s while I was still a twinkle in my dad’s eye back in 82! Still, he’s got good taste and I grew up listening to Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias and the Pistols until my Mam banned The Young Ones and all things punk from the house. No word of a lie, she caught me copying Vyvyan and trying to smash my head through the front window. Think I must have been about 6 or 7 and Motorhead used to set me right off, still does! She even took my docs and I’ve never had a pair since.

 

SOTS: The Oi!/Streetpunk scene in the UK seems to be thriving at the moment, what are thoughts on the scene? Do you think the state of the country is a factor in this?

Nige: The scene is brilliant at the moment, in the 90’s it was so hard to get gigs, a lot more underground than it is now but I think Darren Russell helped that by putting Oi! bands on at Holidays In The Sun and it made people realise that the Oi! bands were there for all working class people and not just skins. I don’t think the state of the country has much to do with it, it’s the same problems the working class have had for the last 100 years.

Marc: I think there’s still a lot of shit that needs to be squared away but it’s on the up and who knows where it’ll be in a year or 2. I do love it at the moment and actually, think I’m addicted. Other than being a top bloke, why do you think I’m so quick to help out other bands and do the odd session when I can? Because she can’t stop me going the gigs if I’m playing!

SOTS: You played this year’s Rebellion where you had a great turn out considering you were the first band on the Pavilion stage on the Friday. How was it for you?

Nige: Amazing, five minutes before we played there were about six people in the Pavilion and when we came on it was packed. Even the Pavilion sound crew said they’d never seen a band on first fill it like that before! One of the best gigs I’ve been involved in nearly forty years of gigging. Big thanks to everyone who crawled out of bed early to support us, you were brilliant!

SOTS: The scene was well represented there this year, did you get a chance to catch any bands? If so what were your highlights?

Marc: The whole festival was great for the scene and it was brilliant to have the UK bands on Rebellion Records spread out over the 4 days. I don’t know if that was intentional but I was gutted we couldn’t all play together. Plus I had to miss the Saturday due to work, that was a proper Oi! heavy day and meant I missed out on B Squadron. I managed to get back down on the Sunday with my daughter and we squeezed in 15 bands. I have to say I don’t think I saw a bad performance all weekend, everyone was on form. Highlights, if I have to pick, would have to be a bit of a mix. Reno Divorce, Brassknuckle, Argy Bargy, Dedo Podre, The Scumbrians, Arch Rivals and Crown Court.

SOTS: Since the early eighties the scene has suffered from negative press which unfortunately doesn’t want to go away. Recently someone on social media has been spreading rumours that you are playing a RAC/White Pride gig with bands like B-Squadron, Brassknuckle, and Half Charge which is utter nonsense. What are your thoughts on this? You must get annoyed by getting linked to this?

Nige: Yes it’s annoying, but if one person can show me anything that we’ve done or sung about that is right wing then they’ve made it up. It’s even more annoying when someone has an opinion without actually listening to you or checking out your lyrics. We’ve made a conscious decision not to be political in any way. Here’s a bit of political controversy for you, I vote Conservative, that’ll really wind the fuckers up haha!

Marc: Bloody hell Nige. We’ve also made a conscious decision not to pay it any lip service and let our music do the talking. You won’t find the standard issue “Goodnight” statement coming from us because 1. We don’t have to. 2. We shouldn’t have to. 3. How can we? We all lean different ways and have mixed beliefs. That’s why we’re non-political and that’s what makes us click as a band. It would be pretty fucking boring on the road if we were all on the same page. Sure we don’t always see eye to eye but we respect each other’s views and opinions…well most of the time we do. Anyway, last and least 4. It gives the sad fucks who spread this shit the attention they crave so fuck that. All that actually sounds a lot like a statement doesn’t it, little scoop for you there mate.

SOTS: You are back in business after deciding to take a break from live shows for a few months, can you explain the reasons for the break?

Nige: A bit of burnout added with a few personal, family things that were going on away from the band. We thought it would be respectful to knock the gigs on the head for a while and not let anyone else down trying to push on. Plus I’ve got a dodgy ticker so have to take it easy, but I’m on a death wish and want to die on stage. Roll up, roll up, come and watch the old bloke die haha!

SOTS: Did you use this time to work on new material? You’ve recently released 3 new bonus tracks on the CD edition of your Razor Reg EP, is there any more to come and if so when can we expect it?

Marc: It was strictly a break, a bit of time to get recharged and hit the ground running in the new year. We managed to get all of our finished material recorded before the announcement was made. Saying that we always have a few on the back burner that we tinker with now and then so will no doubt pick them up again.

Nige: Most of the new material is out there now, the 3 brand new tracks on Razor Reg (thanks for the great review by the way, happy you like it) and there’s an exclusive track on the CD Album repress out on Step 1 along with our Demo EP. We’ve also got 2 brand new exclusives coming out in February on Volume 6 of the”Oi! Ain’t Dead” compilation series by Rebellion Records. You won’t want to miss that!

SOTS: You have been added to next year’s Oi! This is Tegelen gig in Holland with some great bands like Last Resort, Rude Pride and The Young Ones. You must be looking forward to this one?

Marc: I can’t wait, I love the Netherlands, love the people and it’s rich history. I’m fully on board with their culture and way of going about things, I don’t know what it is but something over there just clicks for me. That reminds me, we need to try and tie in a cultural visit up to Amsterdam this time Nige…

Nige: Ha! I don’t know how well that would go down back home Marc! It’s going to be fantastic, I was talking to Mike from Gimp Fist the other week and he said Tegelen is one of the best organised and most fun gigs he’s ever done. We’ve also got Belgium, Sweden and a return to Eindhoven planned already for next year. 2018 is going to be a cracker!

SOTS: For anyone who hasn’t seen you live before what can they expect?

Nige: One of the best Oi! bands on the circuit and we’re always there for a crack at the bar after we’ve played, but catch us early because of we don’t need to be away, after a certain time no one can understand what I’m saying and that includes English people!

Marc: Pure impact 100% (85% if Nige hasn’t had his pills in which case his death wish could be on the cards so stick around anyway for his big finale)

SOTS:  We are big fans of the band here at Sounds Of The Street and we wish you all the best for the future.

Nige: We’re big fans of Sounds of the Street, thanks for all the support.

Marc: Yeah thanks for the support mate and catch you at the bar soon.