CS : Ok, when did the band start, and who are the original members?
Joe : We started back in early '95 with Matt on vocals.
Sam : In the spring of 1995 at Cherry Tavern in NYC. Matt, Sam, Chris & Joe.
CS : What is the current line-up?
Joe : We have a new singer now as of August '97.
Sam : Milo-Voice, Sam-Drums, Joe-Bass & Chris-Guitars.
CS : What bands inspire Urban Riot the most?
Joe : I personally couldn't pin-point a specific band. I guess its just a mix of different music styles that inspires me from 50's ska, reggae, soul, punk, oi & RAB.
Sam : COCK SPARRER, the Krays, deHUMANized, KORTATU, Major Accident, and many many more!
CS : Which bands do you enjoy playing with the most?
Joe : We have had alot of fun playing shows with local bands from our area. There is just so much talented bands here in New York that we just couldn't turn down a show if given the chance to play with them again.
Sam : Step2Far, the Krays, Inspecter7, the Templars, the Truents, Oxblood, the Wretched Ones, the Infiltrators, and more!
CS : Have you ever played in Connecticut?
Joe : Yes we have. Actually back in '95 at the Tune-Inn. Our only regret playing was that there wasn't any alcohol to be served!
Sam : Yes, at the TUNE INN. in New Haven.
CS : What venues (in NY, CT, wherever) do you like the best?
Joe : Well, for me, CBGB's has always been a favorite as well as the Wetlands and CIH.
Sam : CBGB's (NY), Coney Island High (NY), the Pipeline (NJ...r.i.p.)
CS : Are there going to be any new Urban Riot releases that we can expect?
Joe : Yes, definitely! There are plans of releasing alot of new material with our new singer Milo. Maybe an EP, 7" or more comps hopefully in the near future.
Sam : Yes, a 7 inch or two and some more comps, (not sure when yet).
CS : Do you have any last comments?
Joe : I would like to thanks Common Sense Fanzine for this interview as well as cheers to everyone out there who have supported us throughout the years. Just a reminder that we have a CD out now entitled "On the Streets", get it whenever you can. We can be contacted at Urban Riot / P.O. Box 1326, New York, N.Y. 10274-1326 or email us at URBANRIOT4@aol.com. Visit us on the web at http://www.angelfire.com/ny/UrbanRiotNYC1/index.html. Cheers!
Sam : To all of the Skins and Punx who have and will support us, thanx alot and keep the streets alive! Fuck radio and MTV punk! I like beer. Thanks for the interview.
The following interview was conducted through the mail after I had seen this band and hung out with them at several "crucial barbecues" and such. Anyways, Urban Riot is a familiar name around here, and soon to be a familiar name to many more all over. Sam who plays drums and Milo who sings for the band answered the questions to this interview - Ed. KC
FD : Could you briefly run down the line-up and beginnings of Urban Riot?
Sam : We got together while hanging out at Cherry Tavern in NYC. Joe and Chris were talking about starting an Oi! band. I overheard and said "Hey I can play drums", then they needed a singer, so I suggested Matt. We went to the studio the next week and "Last Call" was written. 3 weeks later we found ourselves playing the 1995 Skindependence Day show due to the Press cancelling. After 2 years we came to a group decision to find a new singer. A few months later we approached our good friend Milo to be our singer. He agreed and it has been uphill since.
FD : What material does the band have out?
Sam : In late spring of '95 we released a 3 song demo, then later that Summer we released a live recording of the Skindependence Day show. We also appear on "From the Ground Up : NYC" and "Better Scene Than Heard" comps. And in Dec. ' 97 we released a 3 song demo with Milo.
FD : Are you all Skins in Urban Riot?
Sam : Yes.
FD : Where have your travels taken you for gigs?
Sam : Mostly we play NY and NJ, however we have also played New Haven, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island. We would like to play more gigs in NY, but it is very difficult for any Oi! band to play NY. We would also like to play places on the east coast if possible.
Milo : Hell, if the timing is right and we can take off work we'll play anywhere. But I personally will not play somebody's birthday or graduation party if you get my drift.
FD : Is there any deals being made of a full length release?
Sam : We have a full length CD entitled "On the Streets" coming out soon on Trailer Park Records.
FD : Are there any bands you'd like to play a gig with?
Milo : The Blood, Major Accident, the Ejected, or even some of the current U.S. bands like Boot Party, Adolf and the piss artist, the Despised, or the Moloko Men.
Sam : Cock Sparrer or the Addicts.
FD : What do some of your lyrics deal with?
Milo : All sorts of shit. From being fed up with everything to dealing with life and your surroundings. We also have songs of patriotism and squatter bashing.
FD : If you could change things within the Skinhead Movement what would a few of the changes be?
Milo : Tough question. Honestly I'm not sure. Maybe more shows, there isn't much of that anymore.
FD : How would you rate the U.S. Oi! movement at present?
Milo : That's a crapshoot. With the current abundance of U.S. Oi! it brings out mediocracy at times. I prefer bands that aren't so plain and generic. Or bands that play generic Fight, Drink, Skinhead Apparel songs. These things are a common place in our lives, it tends to be overkill when it's played over and over again. Stuff like that is only cool in small doses.
(I agree with what you're saying, also any American fuck who claims to be "Shagging a Byrd on a Bank Holiday Monday while on the Piss with his Mates after some serious Aggro was put out by the Bovver Brigade at a Football Match", had better wake up and live in America for a minute you wannabe Limey turds! - ED)
FD : What's been your best and worst experiences at gigs?
Milo : Best - CB's (CBGB) last Spring with the Krays. Worst - Rhode Island or the Crocodile Club incident.
FD : I guess I'll let you use this last question to answer any questions I never thought to ask.
Milo : Thanks to you and your zine. Also thanks to our girls and our friends for supporting us. If you'd like to contact us for shows or whatever write us at : Urban Riot, Bowling Green Station, P.O. Box 1326, New York, N.Y. 10276-1326 USA
VS : Tell us a breif history of the band?
Joe : Well, Urban Riot started out back in March of 1995 at a pub we all used to hangout at called Cherry Tavern in New York City. The original line-up of the band was me (Joe) on bass, Chris on guitars, Sam on drums, and Matt on vocals. But as of June '97, our original singer, Matt, decided to leave the band to persue other things. Milo, who is originally from Atlanta but now lives here in New York City has since been singing for the band as of August '97.
VS : Which are the bands that have you particulary influenced?
Joe : We all agree on Cock Sparrer as being one of our influences and the list goes on and on. But personally I like all sorts of music from 50's ska/raggae to soul to punk to oi to rockabilly.
VS : How many concerts you have played until now? Which is your best gig?
Joe : I can't remember exactly how many shows we've played to date. But we try and do at least a show or two a month. The most memorable show for me would definitely be our first at the Wetlands during Skindependence '95, we only did 4 songs that night but to a capacity crowd of 500 + I think.
VS : Is the skin & punk scene united in New York? (in Italy skins & punks are together)
Joe : To some extent, yes they are united. Most of the skins & punks I know from around here are much older and wiser now. I don't really know what's going on with the younger crowd these days, but I'm sure they are doing what we did back then.
VS : What is OI! for you?
Joe : Oi for me is the voice of the streets. It's about youth, it's what hard life and surviving it is about, it's about being independent and self-respecting.
VS : Is there the problem of Bonehead in your area?
Joe : We have them around but they are not a problem. Most of them live and hangout outside of the city so we rarely see them around.
VS : What do you think about SHARP? (in Italy has been excellent to unite the scene and to send away the racists)
Joe : SHARP has been non-existent here in NYC for some time now. There is really no need for SHARP anymore here in the city. If you've seen us here in NYC, we are so diverse, we practically have every nationality imaginable that proving to the public that we are not racist by wearing badges is really pointless. We just try and stay away from any form of politics.
VS : Is life in N.Y. fun for skinheads?
Joe : We are in one of the greatest cities in the world and we are all proud to be a skinhead from this city. Life for us here is the same as anyone else, we get shit from people as well as anywhere else.
VS : Tell us something about your new album "ON THE STREETS"?
Joe : Our album "On the Streets" is out now, so go buy it! The album contains 18 tracks of recordings from 95-98. We also have our cover version of "Pulling on the Boots" from the Romper Stomper soundtrack on there. The CD was produced by Doug from Trailer Park Records and we hope to release this album on vinyl someday. Everyone reading this interview, go get our album and let us know what you think.
VS : Do you also follow SKA music?
Joe : Yes, I do. I personally prefer the older 50's ska-rocksteady styles of music but I also like some 2-tone, even some 3rd wave but I am very picky with that. I like such artist as Laurel Aitken, Jimmy Cliff, Toots Hibbert, Clancy Eccles, Lord Tanamo, Judge Dread, Madness, Bad Manners, Skatalites, Desmond Dekker, Simaryp, the Pioneers, as well as newer bands such as Mephiskapheles, the Hepcats, the Scofflaws, etc...
What do you think about fanzine? Are there good fanzine in your zone?
Joe : Fanzines are really good, its a way for bands and readers to introduce each other specially if they are from accross the globe. The more fanzines the better! Keep up the great work Moga!
VS : A message to italian kids?
Joe : We would like to say thanks to all the punks and skins in Italy and across Europe for all their support! We hope to come over and play a show there sometime in the future. If anyone wishes to contact us, we could be reached at Urban Riot, Bowling Green Station, P.O. Box 1326, New York, N.Y. 10274-1326 or email us at URBANRIOT4@aol.com, visit us on the web at www.angelfire.com/ny/UrbanRiotNYC1/index.html. Oi! to Moga for this interview!
TN : History and line-up of your band?
Joe : We started out back in March of 1995. Chris who plays guitars, and myself on bass, were at Cherry Tavern in NYC at that time talking about forming this band when Sam overheard our conversation and volunteered to play drums for the band. The next day we booked for rehearsal at Context Studios, and that same day Matt offered to do the vocals. We wrote "Last Call" and "On the Streets" on the first day together as a band. This same line-up lasted until June '97, when Matt decided to leave the band to pursue other things. For a short time we had John from the Krays play 2nd guitars for us. We currently have a new singer now, Milo, who joined the band in August '97 and have since then recorded new material with us.
TN : What are your influences?
Joe : Personally, everything from traditional Ska/Rocksteady/Reggae to late 70's Punk/Oi & anything else that catches my attention. I also like Rockabilly, Soul & RnB so go figure. 3/4 of us in the band including myself likes Cock Sparrer, except Milo, don't ask me why.
TN : You have recorded many titles for a lot of compilations and now, a full length CD. What is your opinion to this productions?
Milo : They are good but I'm hoping to do even better in the future. I won't stop until I achieve perfection.
Joe : I think this album is well produced by TPR. 15 of the 18 tracks on this album are sang by our previous singer Matt, but Milo does 3 tracks on here. This first album, "On the Streets", is definitely something worth checking out.
TN : Can you describe your musical style?
Milo : It's your basic American Oi.
Joe : It's New York style street punk! Although we've been labeled "Oi-core" before, but I don't care what people say, we just play whatever we feel like.
TN : How many shows have you played, where and with whom?
Joe : We try to play as many shows as possible, I don't really know off the top of my head how many shows we've done but it's pretty much a good number. We try and do about 3 shows a month though most of it are local shows. I believe the only states we've played at outside the NY/NJ area would have to be RI & CT. Around the city we frequent clubs like the Wetlands, CBGB's & Coney Island High, as well as the Pipeline in the NJ area. Bands that we had played shows with would be the Templars, Oxblood, Mephiskapheles, Step 2 Far, Inspecter7, the Krays, the Truents, First Strike, Bottom of the Barrel, Battle Cry, NRSV, Warzone, SFA, the Business, Sub Zero, Awkward Thought, the Casualties, Blanks 77, Bovver 96, Wretched Ones, Niblick Henbane, and a whole lot more.
TN : What is the message you want explained in your songs?
Milo : Basically about life and the shit I deal with. Not some glorified fairy tale.
Joe : We sing about our everyday life. Song titles like "Class War", "Last Call", "Hard Times", "Love it or Leave it" pretty much explain themselves.
TN : You come from NYC, how is the Oi! scene and do you have many problems to play shows?
Joe : We have alot of oi bands here in NYC, around 5 or 6 maybe? The only problem is that not many clubs are willing to have shows involving "Skinhead" bands unless your in a ska band. At one point, we had to play shows in NJ for a while because our own city won't even allow shows for us, but that recently has changed. We still get a good number of skins that hang out at the end of the day regardless of having a show or not.
Milo : It's alright I suppose. We have alot of bands but few clubs to book shows at. No club seems to like booking skinhead bands.
TN : What is being a skinhead in NYC like? Is it hard?
Milo : Nah, I don't see any problems with it.
Joe : New York City itself is a tough city to live in. There is nothing laid back about our city. In a way it toughens you up. The city is so diverse in ethnicity that it gives you a view of the whole spectrum, like other people say, "Nothing can surprise a New Yorker", and that's true. Being a skinhead here just adds more to that.
TN : Many people think that skinheads are all nazis, what is your opinion to this?
Joe : Well personally, being a skinhead to me is an individual thing. If you happen to be racist, then fine, just don't preach your shit to me cos I don't believe in that. The way I see it, just hate everyone equally.
Milo : It depends on where you live, in most backwoods skinheads are mostly nazis, but if your blinded by TV or what you read in the papers, then you will never know the truth.
TN : What do you think about the revival of ska and punk music? Is it good for the Oi! scene?
Milo : That all depends, when ska got big it got mutilated, I hope this never happens to oi.
Joe : I don't even go to that many ska and punk shows that often anymore because it's just not what I used to be. Either way it has definitely affected the oi scene, in both ways good and bad. The bad thing is that all of a sudden we've been getting kids at shows who come around just because they think it's cool. And the good thing is now we have more idiots to stomp.
TN : NYC is known for it's hardcore scene, do you like this music and do you have many contacts with hardcore bands?
Joe : I support the older HC sound & some of the new. Someone mentioned to me before that HC is bigger in Europe now than it actually is here. I know a selected few in that scene.
Milo : I personally like older HC bands and some newer bands with the older music styles.
TN : Do you know any French Oi! bands?
Milo : Yes, I specially like the Herberts, Brutal Combat & the Evilskins.
Joe : Anti-Patik, the Westside Boys, the Herberts. If anyone feels like making a tape for me feel free to do so.
TN : Your opinions on Bill Clinton?
Milo : Hey, as long as hes not ripping on me I don't give a fuck!
Joe : He has too much free time on his hands.
- Guinness beer?
Milo : It's good, I like it, but I like other beers too.
Joe : Guinness is good, but Murphy's is better.
- Pitbull dogs?
Milo : They die at a really young age, they are worthless, they have artrithis and they fart alot.
Joe : I don't really know much about pitbulls.
TN : Skinhead, what does this mean for you?
Milo : Skinhead to me is coming from a low income family, fucking striving for what you've got, and everything you got, and whatever you have you got it for yourself. Its a way of life.
Joe : Skinhead to me is pride in yourself, hard working and never being 2nd to anything. Anyone can claim skinhead but it's a selected few that really have it in their heart. Skinhead means holding your head up high even when things go wrong.
TN : In end?
Joe : Thanks to Raphael from Then & Now zine. Also thanks to everyone who took the time to read our interview. We appreciate all the support!
BS : Who is the line up now in the band?
UR : The current line up right now is Joe on bass, Sam on drums, Chris on guitars and our newest addition to the band is Milo from Atlanta who joined us recently as our lead singer. Matt, our original singer decided to part with the band back in May '97 due to personal reasons.
BS : When, Where, Why did you guys start?
UR : We started the band back in March '95 at Cherry Tavern in New York City. I guess thats what happens with too much alcohol content in your system! Well actually, Chris & myself (Joe), were talking about forming this band a bit too loud that night when Sam overheard us and volunteered to play drums. Matt joined the band soon after.
BS : Who are your influences? if any.
UR : Our influences would have to be everything from alcohol to early Punk and Ska, even Classical and everything in between. As well as bands and individuals like, Cock Sparrer, Combat84, Menace, Cockney Rejects, Laurel Aitken, Clancy Eccles, Simaryp, the Jam, the Who, as well as some RAC for music only.
BS : What stuff do you have released, or are going to have done? Done any tours shit like that? I know you aint been to Chicago yet >:(
UR : Well at the moment we have 1 track on "From the Ground Up : NYC" by Eyeball Records, 2 tracks on "Better Scene than Heard" by Trailer Park Records, a live video compilation called "New York's Finest" with 17 other bands (vhs) by Welfare Video, and to be released a split 7" with the Infiltrators which will be out around early '98 as well as our full length album entitled "On the Streets" which hopefully will be available around early/mid '98 and will contain 12 songs. And also not to forget our poor demo which started us out, as well as a live show recording from the Skindependence Day '95 event. Well, we havent really played much outside the NY/NJ/CT area but we are looking forward to doing more show outside the area in '98. There is talk about a tour for us around March '98 but that is still up in the air. So if you are interested in booking us shows around your area, let us know and we'll figure something out.
BS : How do you feel about the Skinhead music scene these days?
UR : We personally feel that skinheads should listen to whatever they feel like listening to, because it is definitely an individual choice. The only regret is that the music scene is so broad right now, need it be Ska music or Oi!, for instance, the current ska sound right now is influenced from everything from punk to funk to swing and it looses the traditional sound it started out with, the same goes for Oi or any other form of music that inspired our scene. But as long as we keep in to perspective what our roots are all about and that we are here for one purpose and that is pride without prejudice.
BS : What is going on in NY as far as the music scene and the Skinhead scene, some people say its the best others say its gone down the drain?
UR : Well, to be honest, the scene right now here in New York City is dead in terms of the Oi! scene. Mainly because unlike other places in the US where band's with skinheads are allowed by certain club owners to perform as they wish. Here in New York it is completely different. Although New York has some of the better Oi! bands out there, we still struggle to get a good show going without it being cancelled. So, without the bands being able to play good shows in the city, the scene has basically gone downhill at the moment.
BS : Being that this is a Anti-Racist zine, Do you guys have any views on that? Whats the bonehead situtation in New York and the reactions from the skins?
UR : We in Urban Riot always try and stay away from any form of politics. We feel that we've got better things to do than to be part of a "label" such as the right or left. The best way is to just hate everyone equally! Regarding the "bonehead" situation here in New York City, well we dont have any, or we just dont see them around preaching their politics in the scene. But in terms of New York State in general, Im sure they do exist but in the backwoods far from the city.
BS : Any closing comments?
UR : We would like to thank everyone out there who have supported us, the Rowdies (Mike & Erich), Oxblood, the Templars, BOTB, First Strike, Step2Far, Storm Watch, the Infiltrators, the Unruly, Inspecter 7, Mephiskapheles, Inside Job, and all the other bands we've played with, all the NY/NJ skins & punks, George from Spoons Tavern, Sir Arthur Guinness, all the breweries in the world, Doug from Trailer Park Records, Vinny from Eyeball Records, Mike from Welfare Records, all the clubs that allowed us to play, and lastly to our girlfriends Susan, Alex, Christina & Aisha. Special thanks to Lauren from Chi-town for this interview.
Contact : We could be reached at URBAN RIOT / Bowling Green Station, P.O. Box 1326, New York, NY 10274-1326 or email us at URBANRIOT4@aol.com or visit our webpage at http://www.angelfire.com/ny/UrbanRiotNYC1/index.html
TS : Who are the current members of Urban Riot?
UR : The current members of UR are Matt (age 24 / Voi!ce), Chris (age 26 / Guitars), Joe (age 28 / Bass) & Sam (age 26 / Drums). We have always had the same original members as when we first started the band.
TS : How and when did you all form?
UR : We first started out back in March of '95 at Cherry Tavern (which was a local skinhead hangout then from '91-95) in NYC. Chris and I had been talking about forming an Oi! band for some time before when Sam who had been playing pool near by over heard our conversation and immediately suggested that he would play drums for us and we agreed. Later that evening, we had decided to get Matt to sing for the band, and that was how it all started. We wrote "On the Streets" that week during our first rehersal together.
TS : How would you describe the sound?
UR : We would have to describe Urban Riot's style of music as taking the basic form of Oi! and influencing our own style in to it.
TS : Influences?
UR : Our influences combined would have to be everything from Alcohol to Classical music to '77 Punk to 80's Hardcore. But we all agree on a favorite band and that would have to be Cock Sparrer, definitely! Other favorites would have to be Combat84, Last Resort, the Jam, Menace, Laurel Aitken, Jimmy Cliff, Cockney Rejects, the Pioneers, Toots Hibbert, Prince Buster, Condemned84, 4Skins, Strike, Upstarts, Blitz, some RAC (for music content only), and local bands here such as Mephiskapheles and a whole lot of others.
TS : What releases are currently out?
UR : We currently have a 3 song demo (tp), as well as a live recording from the "Skindependence '96" show at Wetlands in NYC. Also available is a CD compilation from Eyeball Records called "From the Ground Up : NYC", check out # 23! Also currently available is a live show compilation on VHS from Welfare Video called "New York's Finest" which contains 18 bands (2 songs each band), with such bands as the Templars, the Truents, Oxblood, the Casualties, BOTB, the Unruly, Blanks77, First Strike, the Krays and more. Check it out when you get the chance.
TS : Any plans on a future release(s)?
UR : At the moment, we just finished recording our debut album entitled "On the Streets", but we are still looking around for a good record label to release it. We are trying our best to have it available within this year on either vinyl or CD. The album will contains 11 original UR tracks + a cover of "Pulling On The Boots". We will keep you posted on the actual release date. We are also currently working with Trailer Park Records on another compilation.
TS : How have the shows been?
UR : The responses we've been getting at shows have been very supportive. We really can't complain about the shows because we just have been having too much fun at it. When Urban Riot first started we all had agreed that the main purpose is for us to have fun and as soon as we lose that interest then there is no reason for us to continue. It has just been great these past 2 and a half years we've been together as a band. And we hope to keep it up for as long as we can.
TS : What bands have you played with?
UR : That is really a lot of bands to remember. Well we've done shows together with Oxblood, the Templars, Bottom of the Barrel, Storm Watch, Blanks77, First Strike, the Wretched Ones, Niblick Henbane, Mephiskapheles, Inspecter7, Warzone, SFA, Breakdown, the Blue Beats, the Casualties, the Truants, the Krays, Battle Cry, Step2Far, Banner of Hope, Violent Society, the Unruly, Spirit of 88, Heidnick Stew, No Redeeming Social Value, Battalion of Saints, the Scofflaws, as well as the Business last March, plus a whole lot more bands we cant remember at the moment.
TS : What would you and the other members like to achieve with the band?
UR : Well, mainly to get our voices heard out through our music and have people understand what being a skinhead is all about. Its not about being Black or White but having pride in yourself as well as hard working and pushing all politics aside.
TS : What's your views on the scene up in New York?
UR : The scene here in New York has been up and down lately due to the clubs not wanting to book much bands, mainly Oi! shows. 90% of all the Oi! bands here in New York City are skinhead bands and the clubs are afraid to take risks. We have about 7 or more Oi! bands in the city alone and none of us have been getting the exposure we all deserve. But there are still alot of skins and punks in New York that support the scene and are dedicated to it one way or the other. Most of the skins here in the city are traditionals which is better, atleast we dont have that bonehead element running around in our streets. We try to do as much shows as we could and support the younger crowd coming out now, but they themselves have to prove to us that they have the heart to keep the scene alive.
TS : Closing comment?
UR : Thanks to Raffi for this interview. If any of you get the chance definitely come out and see Urban Riot. We usually play shows around the New York metro area, but we will try and do more shows outside the city in '97. We would like to thank everyone who have supported us from the very start especially the Rowdies (Mike & Erich), as well as our girlfriends for their patience....Susan, Aisha, Christina and Alex. Special thanx to Cat from SteelCat Records, UBB Frank and the rest of Step2Far, Rich & Penny, Drew, Rick from 99x, Mephiskapheles, Shaun and the Truents, the Krays, Oxblood, the Templars, BOTB, the Eastside Skins, all the NY/NJ Skins & Punks, and all the bands we've played with!
OS : Who are you guys? Names and instruments? Favorite beers?
Matt (vocals) , favorite beer : Room temp Guinness. If you come into town I am not buying the beer.
Joe (bass) , favorite beer : Guinness, Newcastle, Boddies, ah lets face it, anything will do!
Chris (guitars) , favorite beer : Everything!
Sam (drums) , favorite beer : Guinness or anything as dark and thick as Guinness, room temperature of course! As well as Ochim (polish beer).
OS : How and when did you get together? Why did you get together?
Matt : We got together back in the days of Cherry Tavern over a game of pool. We were pretty much unemployed so we'd figure we'd get together and sing about being working class.
Joe : Met up at the now defunct Cherry Tavern in the eastside on March '95, formed the band soon after. Decided to form the band because we all happened to like Oi! and we wanted our voices heard. NYC has one of the best scenes and we wanted to keep it that way.
Chris : First me and Joe got together asking friends if they knew any drummers while hanging out at Cherry Tavern, Sam happened to come by so we took him in. Then the next task was to find a singer, which Matt, who happened to be around at the time joined in, and we started from there.
Sam : We got together back in March of 1995. We were at Cherry Tavern. Me and Matt were hanging out together playing pool while Joe and Chris were hanging out drinking. I over heard Joe and Chris talking about forming an Oi! band, I was half way listening to the conversation and said "I can play the drums!" and the question of who was going to sing came about and I said "How about Matt!", so that's basically how it all started. However, Matt and I talked later that night, so we said what the hell, lets go to one band practice and see how it goes. And at the first practice we wrote "On the Streets" and the rest is history.
OS : How would you describe your sound for the people who have never heard you? Who were your inspirations?
Matt : Urban Riot is to Oi! what Mephiskapheles is to Ska. We just take the basic form of Oi! and we produce a kinda hybrid form of it bringing our own influences and style to our music, we have our own sound. Influences would be Cock Sparrer definitely, No Redeeming Social Value and the current local scene like the Krays & the Truants.
Joe : Brickwall Oi! with our own style. Definitely Cock Sparrer, Combat84, Laurel Aitken, the Pioneers, Strike, the Jam, Cockney Rejects, Menace, the Pogues, Last Resort + more.
Chris : I would describe our music as a different sound of Oi! more hard edge. Influences would be Cock Sparrer, Mephiskapheles, Red Alert, the Business.
Sam : Its Oi! with a faster New York sound, influenced by alcohol! But seriously, my influences would be every music I have ever heard like pop, punk, Oi! etc. and even opera.
OS : What do you have out? What do you guys do besides Urban Riot? Any other bands? Work?
Matt : We have a live tape from the 7/96 Skindependence Day show, 2 & the Eyeball Records CD is an Oi!/Punk/Ska/HC compilation with such bands as the Krays, the Casualties, Step2Far, Inspecter7 and more. As far as working, I am currently interviewing with service bureaus, working at CBGB's and enjoying my new apartment next door to my girlfriends.
Joe : We have a 3 song demo, an Eyeball Records comp called "From the Ground Up : NYC" (check out track # 23!) and soon our own 7" or CD. I do graphic design. I am also doing session bass for another oi/punk band but without any commitments.
Chris : We have a couple of demos out now and a CD compilation. We're looking to come up with our own someday. I am currently working in graphics and printing.
Sam : We have demos and a CD compilation out. What do I do besides Urban Riot? I work ALOT at a plastics factory in Brooklyn and besides that I hangout with my girlfriend Christina and with my dog Stella.
OS : How would you describe the NYC Oi! scene? Do you guys like it the way it is now? I haven't heard about a show for a while?
Matt : Sometimes I work on putting a local show together for the local scene. Like the December 1st Oi! show but that fell through. I think the local Oi! scene needs a breath of fresh air. I think bands like First Strike needs to start playing more, the Unruly, Oxblood, etc. Its just hard for all of us to get shows all together due to the nature of the bands and its crowd participants.
Joe : Well, the NYC Oi! scene is currently dead right now, although we have 5 or more Oi! bands here in NYC alone some of the club owners don't allow us to book or play much shows around here because we are "Skinheads" and they assume the worst. I'd definitely want to see the scene improve! Im sick and tired of people bad mouthing all us skinheads here and having the club owners go against us! Shows? Well, me too! I haven't heard of any good Oi! shows lately.
Chris : It's basically been the same for years, nothings really changed except the faces. The scene has been going up and down through the years, you just have to let it go for a while then come back to it later.
Sam : Well, I think the Oi! scene has been revived in NYC by bands like the Templars & Oxblood and new bands are coming up all the time, some of which suck and some of which are very good! And I am glad to see that alot of punk rockers go to Oi! shows too. I'm glad to see that there seems to be a renewed interest in Oi! again.
OS : Was there a favorite Urban Riot experience? Show?
Matt : My first favorite was when we first practiced together, and also definitely our first show, it was only 3 songs but we played "Last Call" twice, as well as the Skindependence Day show. But overall I think being in Urban Riot is an experience in general because of the people that we meet or the response that we get at shows or just the fact of hearing that people like our music.
Joe : I would have to say, and I'm sure the other guys in the band would agree with me on this, it would have to be our very first show at the Wetlands for the Oi!Skampilation 1 record release party back in 5/95, although we only did 3 songs, we had to play infront of a crowd of 500+ people on our first night!
Chris : First night at Wetlands, we played 3 songs and split a set with First Strike, it was our first break and everyone enjoyed it.
Sam : I don't have a single favorite, because its all fun! I like playing all the shows. However, one of the most memorable times was when we were all in Chris's van with me driving and a taxi cab cut us off and we all got out and surrounded the cab. That was a really fun time!
OS : Do you guys fight alot? Anything worth telling us about? Band dirt?
Matt : We don't fight "Each other".
Joe : Fight? Between my band mates? No, not that I recall. But, between other people, well, all I could say is whatever happens, happens. The only dirt you'd get out of me is from under my boots.
Chris : A few squabbles here and there but we're still together, we're still a band. I think we are more friends that band mates. We all started out as good friends even before we started Urban Riot. So this is definitely not a business for us, its all for fun!
Sam : You mean between the band??? HELL NO! Because, that goes against everything that we are about. But sometimes outside the band I get into some fights, but only when necessary. I could remember a couple of times though when we fought side by side as a band or as part of a band.
OS : What's in store for the future? Any records? Tours?
Matt : Well, I personally would like to see a 7" come out on our own label but that all depends on our following because the money we get out of merchandising and on shows goes back into the band so the more support we get the sooner we could release something.
Joe : I would like to do all that, records, tours, etc. But I cant say right now. We definitely have been talking about releasing our own stuff hopefully soon. We'll keep you all posted on it.
Chris : Hopefully a record or CD soon. Tours, can't answer that right now.
Sam : I don't know, we'll see tomorrow. There's always tomorrow.
OS : Any closing comments? Feel free to add anything you want, including questions.
Matt : Keep an eye out for a community involved record (non profit, diy) label. I call it a community label because it's going to be a label run by local bands helping each other out, because I think there are many bands out there the deserve alot more exposure. Thanks to my girlfriend Alex and congratulations on your new job! Thanks to Mephiskapheles, Spirit of 88, Step2Far, the Truants, the Krays, Inspecter7, Hiednick Stew & Oi! Skinzine for this interview.
Joe : Well, I'd like to say thanks to everyone out there for keeping the Oi! scene alive! And for supporting us from the start, specially the Rowdies (Mike & Erich)! Cheers to Kirsten (Last Call : "Get the fuck ouuut!"), all the NY/NJ Skins, and everyone else, you know who you are! Stay true!
Chris : To keep the faith alive! We are skins and this is the life we live, there is no one else out there that could understand who we are so I guess we might as well stick together. Special thanks to my girl Aisha. Oi! to everyone!
Sam : I want to thank everyone that came out to our shows or bought any of our stuff. I want to thank all of our brother bands like the Truents, the Krays, Step2Far, Inspecter7, Oxblood, the Templars, First Strike, Bottom of the Barrel, etc. Also, I especially like to thank Polish Mike & Erich (the Rowdies) for the continued loyalty and of course my band mates Joe, Chris & Matt and last but not least Christina for all of her support.