I think everybody with any kind of interest into American Oi! and hardcore has heard about Immoral Discipline. After being one of the dominant forces in Washington D.C. back in the eighties they just disbanded and disappeared from the scene. Over 20 years on and the band is getting ready to release a discography album. But what happened back in 89? I got in contact with their singer to get some answers.
¤Hi Shawn. First of all thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Could you please introduce yourself for those who dont know about Immoral Discipline.
Thank you for your interest in the band and sending the interview. My name is Shawn Garard Leahy and I was the singer for the band and one of it's founding members along with lead guitarist, Bill Gerber and bass player, Jimmy Wood (R.I.P.) who was stabbed to death while he and I were involved in a street fight with some drunken assholes.The band formed in Washington D.C. in 1986 and broke up in 1989. We released a 5 song demo tape entitled "Boots and Braces, Stars and Stripes", a 4 song EP called "Battlefield" and a 3 song EP that was self-titled. We also had two songs on the Link Records compilation "The U.S. of Oi!" and two songs on the Oi!Core Records compilation The Spirit of Oi!-American Style". The band went through various line-up changes throughout it's history and the final line-up was: me on vocals, Bill on lead guitar, Chris Bodeen on rhythm guitar, Todd Greene on bass, and "Raven" on drums.
¤What happened after the St 7'' in 1989? I mean you got Chris Biondo to engineer the album and everything was going fine. Why did the band go separate ways?
Well, Bill decided to move to New Jersey with his girlfriend at the time (now his wife) because that's where she was originally from. Around the same time, Chris got accepted to Tufts University in Boston where he'd been wanting to go. Losing both guitarists at the same time was too much for the band to be able to handle. Finding a new rhythm guitarist wouldn't have been much of a problem because we'd had to replace those before, but there was no replacing Bill, he was a great guitarist and the band wouldn't have sounded the same without him. It just made the most sense to try to end the band on a positive note (going into the studio to record 12 songs and playing a couple farewell shows) and then call it quits.
¤When people talk about your band they often use the term RAC (and also described as RAC on Wikipedia). I dont remember you ever being politcal band in that way. Could this be because of the bands friendship with Brute Force?
I don't know where that label came from because we were never an RAC band as far as most people who are knowledgeable about music and the whole skinhead scene define an RAC band to be. We were not a political band and we were anti-racist. None of us were pro-communism of course, but we never touched on that point in our lyrics. As far as Brute Force goes, we were friends with those guys very early in their career and we played an Oi!fest with them in Linden, NJ which was like their second or third show. At the time they weren't an RAC band and they definitely weren't spouting any racist views. Eventually they changed as some bands do, which is unfortunate because they were real cool guys and fun to hang out with at the time.
¤After the breakup most of you went on to form other bands. Could you name a few and are any of these active today?
Bill went on to play in the New Jersey band, The Surefires who still play shows occasionally. Todd played in a band called Livid and is currently working on some solo tracks where he plays everything and does the vocals. I was in the Pittsburgh, PA Street Punk band, The Steeltown Pubsters. I am ready to start a new band, I'm just looking for the right band members to get the ball rolling.
The 26 songs that are going to be on the CD are: the 5 songs that were on our demo, 1 song that we recorded during the demo studio session that we never released, the 4 songs off of the "Battlefield" EP, the 3 songs off of the self-titled EP, the 12 songs that we recorded that we planned on releasing as our first full-length LP but never did, and 1 live track from our last show in D.C.
¤From what i have heard the profits of this record will go to charity. Dont know if this has ever been done by a "skinhead band" before. Why?
I'm not going to speak for other "skinhead bands" as to how they choose to do things, that's up to them. With our CD, we didn't have any desire to make money off of a band that broke up over 20 years ago. All of the former members of the band go to work for the money that we earn and that's an arrangement that we're happy with (most of the time). It seemed like the right thing to do to donate our proceeds of the CD to charity, so that's what we're doing. We're putting the CD out because we want the music that we recorded to be available to anyone that might want to find it, it's as simple as that. Most of our releases are long out-of-print and about half of the material that's going on the CD has never been heard before, so it will be cool to get that out there.
Okay, first I'm going to set the record straight: We never planned on being on a record with New Glory and The Arresting Officers. When Sandy from Oi!Core Records first approached us about being on "The Spirit of Oi!- American Style", she assured us that there weren't going to be any racist bands on the comp. We took her word for it and turned over the two songs. Later, when the comp. came out and we got our copies in the mail, we were fucking pissed off when we found out who she had decided to put on the comp. because we never would have agreed to being on it if we knew about that in advance. As far as Best Defense, they were very good friends of ours and while they weren't "politically correct", they were NEVER a racist band EVER. I have had numerous conversations with people over the years that were under the impression that they were racist for some reason or another, and my response is the same every time- "No, they were not!". (I tried saying the same thing when i wrote about the band some time ago//Bernando) Now on to your question, I think that the scene became so "politically correct" correct after that era because people began to realize that times were changing and that some things were no longer acceptable anymore. More and more people learned to be more tolerant and that definitely started showing through more in the music and at shows. Lines were drawn even deeper and people were forced to choose a side instead of just standing in the middle like they might have done in the past.
¤Around the time you played you where basically making shit up as you went along and i know today many bands can say they where influenced by you but was there any specific bands that made you lace up the boots and pick up the guitar?
There are tons of bands that influenced us individually and as a band, here are some: Sham 69, Cockney Rejects, Blitz, The Oppressed, Section 5, Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Cock Sparrer, Stiff Little Fingers, Rush, Iron Cross, Purevil, Black Market Baby, Bad Brains, and Agnostic Front.
What current band are you listening to?
Some of these are actually older bands that have recently gotten back together, but are still great: Patriot, The Traditionals, Toughskins, Iron City Hooligans, Flogging Molly, Hard Skins, Paddy and the Rats, Crucial Change, Hepcat, The Aggrolites, Circle 1, The Dead End Boys, and many more.¤Whats your thought on:
-Irish streetpunk disguised as oi?
I don't think anything should be disguised- you either are or you aren't.
-SHARP becoming red?
Well, that's just going to cause even more problems and more lines to be drawn isn't it? Not good for the skinhead movement. I think they need to take a closer look at the origins of skinheads and what has and hasn't worked throughout our history.
-RAC turning into pure racism (though a lot of bands are picking up the banner for what it really means nowadays)
Well, there's too many labels, too many sub-classes to those labels, and too many exceptions to those labels. It would be nice if there were clearer definitions as to what those labels were, and it would also be nice if people decided what the fuck they wanted to be labeled and stuck to it instead of flip-flopping around. Way too much confusion, I want to know who to kick.
-America still sucking ass at football?
It would be nice if America fielded some better teams, but you have to remember that football (soccer here) is relatively new to the U.S. compared to other countries. As it gains popularity here, our teams will get better eventually until we're kicking your asses like we do at just about every other sport. Until that happens (probably not in my lifetime) I'll be watching English and Irish football.
¤And now on to the most important question of them all. What do you know about the great land of ice and polarbears known as Sweden?
I know that it's really cold there. I also know that there are a lot of blond women there with very large breasts that love American men. I hope to go there someday when it's not so cold so I can have a few pints with you and sample several of your large-breasted blond women.
¤Thanks for the answers and the best of luck with the new record. The word is free so spill your heart out.
Oh, I almost forgot: you guys make great meatballs too, I love Swedish meatballs...good stuff! Oh, and Svedka...great vodka, I drink a lot of it, probably too much. Burp! Oops, sorry! Thanks for the interview and your support, Bernhard. Cheers!