Thanks to Ericka for sending me this interview.
Interview comes from Maximum Rock'n'roll
Interview by Mundo Murguia with help from Dave.
What can you say about The Business that hasn't already been said?
They've been carrying the street punk banner for over fifteen years and
considering the recent Oi! explosion I figured it was about time for them
to have their say.
Micky Fitz -M,Steve Whale -S Mick Fairbairn -Mick.
MRR:Ok,let's begin with a bit of history.When did the Business form?
M:Unofficially '79.Officially 1980.
MRR:And the lineup that's playing now has been together for how long?
M:Mick's been with us since '84,the only change we've made since is the
He was an original member of The Lurkers and still play with 999 as well.
He's not here tonight,he's out shagging somewhere.
MRR:When was your first gig?
M:It was upstairs in a bar.
We were doing covers as most bands do when they first start,and shit like
You know,first get your friends to like you;then once your friends like
ya,you can go to a bigger bar and then get more people to like you and
hopefully go on from there.
We've never had it easy you see.
MRR:Did you see the Pistols or the Ramones and
said "we can do that"?
S:Basically,The Business's music then and now is just what we went through
in '76 and '77.
We were at gigs every single night watching all these new bands come out
like The Damned,Ruts,Slaughter & the dogs and all this and we just copied
M:We were like twlve year old at the time.
S:We're just a product of what happened in the punk explosion of '76 and
MRR:Would you call yourself an Oi! band?
S:It's funny because whatever country we go to we get called different
M:We got labeled an Oi! band basically because I was a skinhead from day
I've always been a big soccer fan of Westham.
I remember standing on the terraces at Westham in about 1978 or '79,'78
actually and some of me mates that I knew really well started shaving
their heads and wearing DM's and god knows what else.
I said "Skinhead's making a comeback".
Then these Sham 69 badges started appearing and I'm like "Who's Sham 69?"
and my friends are going "come and see 'em".
'Course I go see Sham 69 and that was it,Skinhead was back.
MRR:Was this a sort of backlash against punk?
The reason skinhead came back in '79 was as you said a backlash against
British punk was very middle class and it didn't take us long to suss out
that it was a very college,middle class type thing and we were all working
class kids and we rebelled against the punk thing by being skinheads.
It was a harder edge and the music was more street music,you know.
Our music,The Business's music,is pure punk rock.
It's because I've been a skinhead for many years we got labeled Oi!.
S:To be fair,we were also about punk,which was me.
That's why we sold twice as many records because all the punks and all the
skinheads bought our records.(laughter)
MRR:That's interesting because many of the Oi! bands from back in
the day,Sham 69 Cock sparrer etc. didn't necessarily have skinheads in
MRR:Yet somehow Oi! became associated with skinheads.
M:Yeah,I think the only true 100% Oi! band was the 4 skins.
M:Because they were a skinhead band.
I love skins but I love punks as well.I love hardcore kids.
I love anybody who wants to come to listen to our music and enjoy
That's what it's all about.I think the 4 skins were the only Oi! band
but the word Oi! should never have been used.
Basically it was just a saying in London at the time.
Say you was walking down the street and I went "Oi! Mundo,over here"
you'd say "Oi! Mickey".
MRR:Kind of like saying hey here in America.
M:You say hey,we said Oi! and we still say it,everybody says it in
MRR:In the states,when someone says "Oi!" people automatically think of a
certain type of music,shaved heads,docs,braces,stuff like that.
S:Yeah,stereotypes,those people don't really know what it is or understand.
M:Like I said,you shout out hey,we shout out Oi!.
MRR:When did the National front get involved in the skinhead scene?
M:That started in about '79.
The National front being actually a right wing party in Britain at the
They look for people who are easy to run,easy to use,bully boys actually.
The soccer grounds were perfect for that because we were fighting all the
time,it was sort of like a tribal thing.
You know how you got the gangs over
Your gangs will fight everyday but like I'm a Westham fan,Steve and Mick's
We could only fight on the day of a soccer game.
During the weeks you're best of friends,but on Saturday the truce is off
and it's one team against the other.
S:So no disrespect to each other,right?(Laughter)
M:That brings in the element of kids who are easily led and that's when
both sides of the political spectrum moved into soccer.
Ummm,you always heard about the rightwing but the left was there as
well,ramming it down their throats.
S:To counteract the right.
M:To give an example,I remember Willie Delouisham in South East London.
There was a big march there in the late '70's,The anti-nazi league was
marching against the National front.
The National front had about seven thousand people marching and like two
hundred thousand people marched against them.
M:It's a difficult thing to explain.
You'll see similar things happening in America,people,if they're really
poor are easily led one way or the other.
MRR:Was the nazi thing that big?Were there lots of nazis showing up at
M:No,it was a minority.
S:But when something like that rears it's head it's very noticeable.
It takes only a couple of assholes to do something and then it's in the
press because that's what the press looks for.
M:When we toured last year we arrived in NY to meet our agency for the
first time and Tim,the guy who runs the agency said "Look,I'm really
sorry but it looks like you might have come at the wrong time,a couple of
skinheads have murdered their mum and dad".
MRR:Oh yeah,yeah I remember that story.
M:You heard about that.When we saw that on TV,I mean they weren't fuckin'
They're just redneck boneheads,there's a difference.
I don't know if you've seen a program in England called "The world of the
MRR:No,I haven't seen it.
A lot of the footage is from our tour last year,it didn't have the Business as
such in it.
Just it was all about the skinheads and the music was playing in the
Different skinhead bands or Oi! bands,punk,whatever.
But they interviewed a guy from that fascist band No remorse and he turned
to the camera and he went "Don't call us Oi! we're not Oi! we're white
MRR:White power,ok,so even they make a distiction.
M:Yeah.Even they don't want to be classed as having anything to do with Oi!
because they think Oi! is left wing.
MRR:That's one of the reasons behind this interview.To help clear up some
of the misconceptions.
Particularly since it seems like there's been an Oi! explosion as of late.
The last two or three years even.lots of stuff coming out of Europe,the US
and even Japan.
S:You should really try to see the program if you can.
What we're saying at the moment,we've got a chance to put forward some of
the more positive aspects of the scene and hopefully from this small seed
it'll grow into something that'll be good.
If we do it right in the beginning then it'll be right at the end.
MRR:Where would you place yourselves on the political
spectrum from left to right?
M:You'll find us travelling totally down the middle.
I'm working class but I detest extreme politics because extreme politics
S:I think a lot of people in the US don't understand what working class is
M:In politics I'd say fascism and communism is very close.
got to look at the second world war,Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany.
They were so fuckin' close in what they were doing to people.
To me,communism is just a different word for fascism.
They're basically the same in the way they treat people.
MRR:Steve,you were saying that a lot of people don't understand what
working class means....
S:Yeah,over here in America they got a different view of working class.
To me,coming from London,you come from a poor area,you got certain
You take pride in yourself,things like that.
I mean,it's like your own small personal politics in your life,we could sit
here all night saying how we live.
That's the basis for the music we put out,sit down and read the
lyrics,they're on the record for christ sake.
Sit down and listen to them for yourself and make up your own mind.
M:There's working class and there's "working class".
There's the people who pretend that they're working class.
They come from good homes but they're not prepared to work and then
they call themselves working class.
You gotta fight for what you get out of this life.
MRR:What do you think of bands like Crass or Conflict?
You do a Crass cover,right?
M:We've played that song every night of the tour.I'll tell you what,watch
the skinheads they go crazy.(laughter)
They love it.The thing is I always make it a point.
The skins know our
songs but for you punks who may not know our songs,this one's for you.
Mick:A lot of the kids think that it's our song anyway because we recorded
M:All the punks know it's a Crass song but all the skins think it's a
Conflict live up the road from us,we've been friends with them from day
S:Yeah,we started at the same time.
M:We were the only Oi! band that got invited to Crass's farm,we had a
Steve Ignorant used to come to our shows but in disguise.(laughter)
S:Yeah,a funny hat and sunglasses.(laughter)
M:Honestly.He loved the Business but if the skins found out....because
in those days it was the anarchy vs. street rock thing.
It was "they're the crusties and we're the clean skins".
MRR:What's your opinion on the Sex Pistols reunion?
M:Funny enough,we was just talking about that earlier.
in it for the money, we're all gonna go 'cause you have to go.
S:Hopefully,they'll do it with a bit of style.
M:It could be a move to ship the back catalogue.
Ummm I don't think the band will let themselves down.
If anyone is going to let 'um down it's gonna be Johnny Rotten,he's
either gonna do it properly or not do it at all.
MRR:He's said ever since they broke up that he'd never do it again.
M:That's right.I mean he's made...you think about it...his books,Public
image,god knows what else that he's done.
He's filthy rich,it's a bit like the Beatles,Um,'cause George Harrisons's
M:No money,gone skid,broke.
M.Six months ago the big news was that the Beatles were going to reform
and do a tour.
But then George Harrison got a settlement for a defamation of a character
suit in America.
He got seven million pounds and suddenly the tour's cancelled.
MRR:Have you played with Cock sparrer since they've been playing again?
M:No,I mean they do their shows and we do our shows.
S:I think they've called it a day now really.
They looked at America when we
came back last year and said "nah".
MRR:Where you guys ever officially broken up?
I mean,did you play a "last gig" and said "that's it"?
S:Just big gaps.
M:We had big gaps because we were told nothing's happening.
None of our records sell in America.
No one in America's ever heard of us.
MRR:Who was telling you this?
M:Different labels we were dealing with.
MRR:How did you hook up with Taang?
m:Well,we hooked up with Century Media for the "Keep the faith" album
through a German contact because they're based out of Germany and
They offered us another deal but they wanted to sign us for two albums.
About the same time this was going on,I got a call from a friend of ours
and he said don't do anything until you've spoken to Taang.
So I spoke with them and they sent us a very straightforward contract,which
we liked and then Curtis from Taang flew over to England and from then on
he's done everything that he said he'd do.How can I complain?
He said "I'll give you x amount for the album and x amount for the tour
S:He's helped us out a lot.
M:Yeah,he really has.I mean,obviously from a record company point of
view,he's in it to make money.
Otherwise he wouldn't have signed us.
S:I think he really cares about the music.
M:He also cares about us as well.He phones us every day.
When we first signed we said "Look,we're ready to fuckin' work.Put us
anywhere,365 days a year and we'll do it".
We've all got families with kids but it's something that we have to do for
We're not in it for the money because the money isn't there.
The only way you can make money is if you're on the Rancid,Offspring,Green
At this point,we just break even.
MRR:So what keeps you going?
S:It'd be great to just kick something off so you lot can enjoy what we
enjoyed in London with the Rejects,the Angelic Upstarts.You know,those
early days to us.
Nothing can replace those memories for me.
It was so exciting.
If we could be a catalyst for that in America,we'd really be happy.