Last year i bought a whole bunch of of cd's and lp's from Pure Impact records and found a demo for sale by an American band i had never heard of before. The bands name was Bleach battalion, a female fronted band playing raw, basic and classic Oi!. Searched around and finally got in contact with the singer Natassja. Being a good sport she accepted to do an interview for the greatest site since google.
Hi Natassja. First off all thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Could you please tell me a bit about yourself and the band.
Oi! there. Thanks for the interview. First off, "myself" is pretty much the same thing as "the band" as far as writing and recording goes. I write the music & lyrics, sing, and play all the instruments on all of the recordings except for the demo Model Citizens which had Kyle on drums and my best friend Jaye on bass on a couple tracks. I occasionally have friends come in to help do backup/gang vocals when needed.
Right now for Live Shows, I just play guitar and sing, and I have a rhythm section of Jim on drums and Adam on bass/rhythm guitar. I also have a couple of East Coast stand-ins on-call for live bass: Ryan in Long Island and Steve in NYC. Bassists seem to be hard to hold onto so I got a few backups.
From what i understand you have been in other bands prior to Bleach Battalion. Tell us about them.
Yes, I have done many bands in several styles/genres from my own solo work doing reggae/ska (under the name Natassja Noctis), to Americana/rockabilly music with a band called Gravemist.
As far as Oi! / punk stuff I played guitar in the skinhead hardcorepunk band Skullkrusher (who released several tapes and CDs and one 7" record) and the skinhead Oi! band Wardogs back in the 1990s (ex-Deadscene members who only had one release but mainly was a live band).
I guess I officially started my "Oi! career" back in 1996 with a band called Drunken Catholics who did one demo and a barrage of local shows.
Whats the Bleach battalion discography so far?
Thus far we have released:
2008: Model Citizens Demo/EPCD
2009: Knuckle Girls MaxiSingle CD (out of print), Never Fall CDEP
2010: Loud, Proud and Drunk as Fuck! DigiEP, The Kicker CDLP
To order the albums that are currently available in CD form,
Releasing and recording the records by yourself is an easy way to get your band out there. Would you like to have a record deal or do you prefer it without the middle hand?
It's not as easy as it may seem sometimes to go "DIY", because some people like to play "competition", even in underground scenes, by talking shit (online and off), spreading rumours, etc, which is hard to combat alone. However, I think once people actually listen to the songs it clears up most any "political" rumours.
I would certainly welcome a record deal as long as it was fair and allowed for me to maintain creative control, no censoring, no ripoffs, etc.
The band has gone through many lineup changes and at many times left you as a onewoman band. I can guess being a musical lonewolf gives you creative freedom. Am i right?
Yes, it actually works better for me that way. In the past, working with so many "alpha" personalities usually created an atmosphere where nothing got done, no proper promotion, no good recordings, and so on. Only one person, Jaye (Gravemist), has ever been actually very cool to work with honestly, everyone else had these huge rockstar egos or attitude problems. Keeping it where I can have players who just show up for the fun of the show because they like what I have already set up as the Bleach Battalion archetype is better than trying to meld several minds into working on one consistent creative "idea".
How did you get in contact with Peter from Pure Impact records?
Online. I found a banner to his site on some Oi! site (which i don't remember), and just emailed to ask if he wanted any copies of our demo which was out at the time. The same demo is available in the USA from Angry, Young and Poor but I wanted a European distro to carry it too, so shipping costs wouldnt be so high for supporters overseas.
Many bands are today turning to street-punk, hardcore and rock so its nice to see a band like yours playing classic Oi!. What bands have influenced your sound the most?
Oh the big question! I will try to keep it brief and mainly list just the bands which have had a major direct infleunce on our sound/style, or else it would be very long as I am influnced by Oi, Punk, Street Rock, Sharpie Rock, Old School Heavy Metal and more! Let's see: Deadscene, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Combat 84, The Wretched Ones, the 4 Skins, Lager Lads, Squiggy, the Infiltrators, Motorhead, Sex Pistols, Ramones, The Last Resort, Stars and Stripes, Condemned 84, Slaughter and the Dogs, AC/DC, Slade, Wayne/Jayne County, Symarip, early Skrewdriver, Buzzcocks, Toughskins, The Coloured Balls, Black Flag, Cockney Rejects, Angelic Upstarts, Attak, the Meteors, the Jam, Gehennah (Swe), Vanilla Muffins, Anti-Heros, the Oppressed, Niblick Henbane, Peter And The Test Tube Babies, The Damned, Infa-Riot, Girlschool, Chaos UK, Cock Sparrer, the Exploited, Wendy O Williams / Plasmatics, AntiSocial, Sham 69...ok too many to list.
How about I just say any good catchy, anthemic, drinking, yelling and fighting type music as long as it doesn't get too deeply political.
Being a woman of colour and a skinhead my guess is you get to see a lot of ignorance from both outside and inside the "scene".
Yeah, I get allsorts of weirdos both in support of and against me, esp. since I am also queer and Jewish....and a civic Nationalist as well.
I get Nazis AND Commies harassing me, minorities who think I'm supposed to be busy ridding the world of all racism instead of making music, homophobes who think who they fuck makes them a skinhead (and thus me- 'not a skinhead'), left-wing nutcases who think I'm part of some supposed 'Zionist conspiracy' to rule the world, PC assholes who think I'm an 'extreme right-wing skinhead' because I am somewhat openly conservative, but mainly the leftist Anti-American / Islamist harrassment has become the norm nowadays. Islamists are inherently VERY sexist, anti-American and Jew-hating so they tend to send many rude emails and messages.
With a war going on and a new president in the whitehouse what should be his top priority for America today?
To me, and many Americans (esp. the Jewish ones), the war on terror is of the utmost importance, but this President seems to see healthcare and other issues as taking priority. He's made the whole USA basically as vehemently divided as Chicago (where Obama and I are both from). I don't hate the guy, but I just hope we get someone with more experience next election who isn't so divisive. I do dislike the Chicago area and what the corrupt Democratic machine politics have done to make it so shitty here, and I don't want the whole country to go this way.
I've checked out to the Tea Parties, Conservative Happy Hours, all that stuff, none of which impressed me too much-There's always either too much religious focus or else too much anarchism disguised as 'libertarianism'. Who knows? Like I say in the song "No Answer", I think there is no real one "answer" to all of our problems, just a bunch of politicos fighting for their jobs more than the issues. Maybe soon our country will look like Greece and have riots every season, that is, if that little Hitler in Iran doesn't nuke the whole planet first.
What do you know about Sweden?
Sorry if I'm not too informed on the nowadays scene there, but I did do a book report on Sweden back when I was in highschool! I know that Sweden has 4 official languages, and that Stockholm is a city set apart on 4 islands and that cardamom is a common spice in the traditional food. I know that in 1943 neutral Sweden received roughly 8,000 Jewish refugees from the Nazi-occupied Denmark. Same-sex marriages in Sweden have been officially recognized since May 2009, and in the USA, the wacko Westboro Baptist Church preaches against Swedes as being basically spawned of the devil (see: www.godhatessweden.com) (and we hate him//Bernando)
I also hear that many unusual and kinky sex-products come from there, perhaps thats where the Westboro Baptists got their idea?
I know that bands there can somehow get money from the government of Sweden and that many crust and heavy hardcore type bands use state checks to put out their supposedly "DIY Anarchist" records. I have heard of some Oi! and streepunk from there, Perkele, The Righteous, The Contemptuous, Agent Bulldogg, etc.
Any last words? Upcomming releases, shoutouts, disses, upcomming gigs? The word is free so link away.
On Bleach Battalion plans:
We are focusing on shows / a possible tour right now (spring 2010), but there will be new music released eventually.
We are actually in a contest right now to get onto the Warped Tour, and I hope we get on it as I have no qualms about it being so-called "mainstream".
So, please VOTE for BLEACH BATTALION to play this year's Warped Tour!
Vote here http://www.battleofthebands.com/bleachbattalion - Pass the word and the link. You can vote once a day, so please vote everyday!
If you are a band and vote for us and we will vote for you too! Let's get some Oi! up there representing to today's youth!
If we don't win, at least a bunch of young people on that site will know what skinheads are after checking us out.
If it wasn't for bands like The Clash and the Sex Pistols , there would be no Oi!, and those bands didn't get their idea out by playing elitist "scene" gigs only to people who looked just like them. They went out to normal venues, pissed off the normals and influenced an entire generation to look beyond what the mainstream usually offers to the youth- and that's what we plan to do.
Early Oi! and skinhead was shown on regular TV in the UK, even if sensationalized, but we've never had anything like that in the USA.
Everything here is either so politicized or else so far undergound here that its become a clique with only people who are in the 'in-crowd' being privvy to the culture. What you end up with is ska and punk fans (and random racists) becoming half-assed, badly dressed, chav-type 'skinheads' who don't know better because no one here is sharing the info with the general public. It's like some secret society, and I feel that should stop. No one "runs" the skinhead scene, and certain groups/gangs/people should stop acting like they do.
The American working class isn't just made up of 'in-the-know' people who know how to mailorder specialty limited-edition vinyl from Europe, and I think Oi! music is for the entire working class, not just people who are already skinheads. This viewpoint will not be very popular with some of the "more aggro-than-thou" gang-focused meatheads who think skinhead is some kind of secret fight club, or with Commies or Nazis who think skinhead's about some kind isolationist political 'revolution', but if I start to care what those people think, I may as well wash my face in the toilet.
Finally, I want to say Thanks for the interview and for buying our demo! I / we appreciate support!
Like our song tells, We are 'Neither Red Nor Racist', and that means both of those sides want us dead, but you can't kill true skinhead, it will never die, even when numbers dwindle--Carry on Oi!