By Aja Cadman
CALGARY — The resurgence of streetpunk and Oi! music has helped propel the prolific Oakland, California’s Harrington Saints to the forefront of the scene. With their newest album Fish & Chips set to drop this summer, lead vocalist Darrel Wojick gets into the philosophy behind their sound.
“In my opinion we are not an Oi! band in the strict sense of the term. I think we are an American Oi! band and I think that American Oi! includes some ‘80s and ‘90s hardcore and is more of an American sound. A lot of the times I also think we are just a blue collar rock and roll band,” he clarifies.
The Saints, compiled of five members from across the U.S., are held together by their blue-collar upbringing and hard work ethic. This common ground has kept their song writing fresh over the years and has brewed a mixture of styles that spans from hardcore, street punk, punk rock and Oi!
“As far as musical roots, Oi! is taken from punk rock and pub rock, which was big in the ‘70s in England and I think then they just sang about every day, like almost how folk musicians do. So I think it is a version of modern folk music for the working classes and since there are working classes in every country, I think it kind of spread and got really popular.”
Breaking into the scene in 2005, Harrington Saints were doing the Oi! streetpunk thing when no one else was doing it. The fact that they still play songs off their first EP, 2007’s Sounds of the Street, speaks to the timeless theme of the working class being held down by the man. It is to the point, no holds barred, music for the people.
“I think ultimately that is what Oi! should be, rock and roll for the average Joe. Where people can go to a show, have a couple of beers, buy a shirt for cheap and go up and meet the band. Basically in England it was about having a laugh and having a say and I think that still holds true today. Things have gotten much more serious, as far as politics and things like that, and that is fine too because that is part of the whole working people’s situations. You have to be political to a certain extent; otherwise you are going to be blind to what is really going on around you.”
In honour of their 10th anniversary, the Saints are releasing Fish & Chips as a 10-inch record. While this impending album may touch on subject matter that is darker then normal, like good whiskey, these guys are only getting better with age.
“I think the song writing is getting more complex without it getting convoluted and boring. I think we are getting better at our craft and the jobs that we do in the band. We are getting a lot better as far as the show we put on and I still think some of our best work is ahead of us. We also drink a lot less then we used to.”
Don’t get it twisted, these are not old men and still know how to make their shows an event not to be missed.
“We don’t really like the tough guy American Oi! bands that stomp around the stage and show how tough they are. We like everybody to have a good time. What we really want to do is just play loud rock and roll and have everybody sing along and get drunk and have a really good time. And if we got some more serious point across, then that is awesome too.”
See the Harrington Saints at DV8 (Edmonton) on Friday, May 29th and at the Palomino Smokehouse and Bar (Calgary) on Saturday, May 30th.AB, Alberta, DV8, Harrington Saints, Oi!, Palomino