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Iron Cross interview from If This Goes On #2 . The band was interviewed by Sharon Cheslow (SC in this interview) in August of 1982, while Wendell Blow was still in the band. Special thanks to Sharon for permission to reprint it.
SC: Did you decide from the beginning what type of style your music would have 'cause it seems to be more influenced by English stuff than American?
SAB: Well put it this way--that's the stuff I grew up with. Sham's been my favorite band for years. That's the type of style I like. I got very bored with "l-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4". I didn't want to play that. I wanted something more musical--something where you can actually hear what the guy's saying. We started at a time when the only thing you could do was play real fast Circle Jerks style. And so we got slagged off right from the beginning... Nobody said when punk started, "we're better than you, we're gonna create a new system." All that it started with was being fed up with stuff like Led Zeppelin. We play what we want and we do the best we can and we get shit for it. Black Market Baby are the only band that has supported us from the beginning and I'd like to say right now that they're the best band in the world... Thrash is a very limited musical style. Only a few people can do it. SOA were great at it. There's a few other bands...
SC: Do you think Iron Cross was a reaction to what was going on?
SAB: Yeah. I definitely think so. We'd write a song and say, "Try slowing it down a bit," and it'd sound better to us.
SC: It's interesting 'cause now there's a whole lot of bands that are slowing down.
SAB: I believe we started that in DC at least. America's first Oi band.
SC: So you do consider yourselves an Oi band?
SAB: We didn't start off saying, "Look, US Oi." We've been tagged with it. I feel very comfortable, privileged to be called that. It's like an honor. I'm glad we're associated with bands like the Last Resort and Infa Riot.
SC: What makes it an honor to be grouped in with those bands?
SAB: 'Cause they're good bands, that's why.
SC: Well, how are those bands any different from other punk bands? What does Oi mean to you?
SAB: There's no difference. It's a mental attitude.
SC: Well what kind of attitude do you have now that's different from how you were before?
SAB: When I was a punk I was 15, 16 and really fucked up. I mean not on drugs but like on myself. I had no pride because I'd been kicked around all ay life and people telling me I'm shit and not worth a damn. All my life my parents, the school, all this bullshit. So then you start thinking, well fuck--they must be right, so you don't care about yourself. I used to have razor blade scars all down ay arms. You just get so down and you just turn on yourself because you're really angry but you got nothing you can take it out on so you get depressed instead. It was like--so we're all gonna die tomorrow and that was my attitude. What happened with me was at the same time I started getting into the skinhead thing I started thinking; I was wising up. I was like--hey, wait a minute, you can run from your parents, you can run from the cops, and you can run from the school but you gotta wake up with yourself and you can never run from yourself. So if you're getting all this shit from people, the last thing you need is another enemy inside yourself so you start turning it around. You're saying--alright, they say I'm shit, but I know I'a not.
WENDEL: The majority of the people who are down and depressed have been punks for over four years and they have nothing to do--they keep doing the same things everyday and the skinheads got a lot more to say 'cause they have a lot of feelings built up.
SAB: It's hard to say--punks, skinheads. I mean look at Dante, he's as punk as you can get and his attitude's the same as ours. We're more into looking hard... Loyalty, honor, pride, that sort of shit is what I'm into.
SC: Do you consider yourself a political and?
SAB: Personal politics--politics of the street. Politics you hear when somebody cracks yourover the head or something. I'm not Interested in thick tomes full of Karl Marx. I've read the fucking Communist Manifesto. I mean y'know I've studied it and I know exactly what they're talking about and it's an outdated, archaic system. Anarchy is shit. It can't possibly work. And fascism's just...that sucks. There's no question about it. In order to create a perfect society you're going to have to change human nature. The only system that works with basic human nature being the way it is, is democracy. If you have a true democracy, you got it. We don't have one right now. We are pretty lucky, though. A fascist government would not let us walk around like we're dressed and say what we want to off a stage. We may get shit for it, but we're not in a concentration camp or up against a firing squad...I'm not interested in philosophical political points. I'm just interested in what happens y'know how you get a job and shit like that.
SC: Well, being an American band what would you like to accomplish as a member of Iron Cross?
SAB: I'd like to be really big and remain true to my ideals which only a few bands have been able to do. UK Subs have done it.
SC: What are you views on violence?
SAB: I'm at an age--I'm 19--I can't go out and look for trouble--I can't afford to. 16 year olds can and it's kind of natural. Fighting is a very natural, human instinct. Violence is human nature. To deny it is to deny something that is our heritage. My feeling about fighting is I will stand up and fight for my friends even if I'll get slaughtered doing it. And they'll do the same for me...We're not a gang, but we have a basic feeling of unity. Everything we've ever done has been to try and get everything going and to try and help bands that didn't have nothing.
DANTE: And we get shit on.
SC: You get shit on because of your image and instances like at the Wilson Center when you were sieg heiling Government Issue.
SAB: Oh, sieg heiling Bobo [John Stabb]. That was a personal joke between us and him. We were going, "Bobo is a homo."
SC: But a lot of people don't understand that and when they see you doing something like that they think you're Nazis.
DANTE: The thing that upsets us the most is that most of the people who give us shit aren't the people that don't know that we're joking around, it's the people who know we're joking around and they say we're Nazis anyways.
SC: Why do you think that is?
SAB: The problem with everything now is that to most people the only racists are the Klan and the Nazis. They don't see that other minorities are just as fucking racist. My opinions on racism equal Minor Threat's "Guilty of Being White." I don't care if you're black, white, purple, or whatever. What I care about is if you hate me. If you're an asshole, you're an asshole, and if you're giving me shit, I'm going to use every verbal chance that I get to cut you down.
DANTE: And if you have to say something racist, it's just as effective as anything else.
SAB: I don't care what people are as long as they respect me. If you hear me joking about people, it's because we think it's funny. If you think about it, humor has to exploit somebody.
WENDEL: People look at Iron Cross as a name and the only thing they think of is a Nazi wearing an Iron Cross.
SAB: That's 'cause they've seen Hogan's Heroes. The Iron Cross goes back about 500 years. It comes from the Maltese Cross and it became a German symbol of bravery. It's got nothing to do with fascism. You look on the German army tanks today and they've got a fucking Iron Cross on there.
WENDEL: People say things about us that they don't have any right to say.
SAB: Ian said some things about us that he regretted and he knew were wrong. We've got it sorted out and we got a new song out of it.
SC: Speaking of songs, when's your new single coming out?
SAB: Whenever we get 'em back. It's gonna be Crucified For Your Sins, Psycho Skin, Fight 'Em All, and Shadows In The Night on Skinflint/Dischord Records. On the matrix it says "never Nazis" and "death or glory". We have never been Nazis. We may joke about it but everybody else does too.
Hated and Proud ad from MRR #9
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