Oi Polloi in Berlin, 1987. From left: Gangi, Deek Allen, the author, Chris Orr
I'm not sure if you've heard, but there's a royal wedding at the end of April. While most of London will spend that weekend waving little flags and gradually melting down into one amorphous, lager-wrecked, red, white and blue vomitoria, others will gather in some crustier corner to hoist their black masts high and celebrate a different anniversary. Yes – in one of those neat twists of fate, royal wedding weekend dares to fall on the 30-year anniversary of the first time Scottish anarchos Oi Polloi got together to shout and play loud music in front of other people.
I spoke to Deek Allen, the band's only ever-present member, as Oi Polloi rehearsed for their Fuck The Royal Wedding live spectacular. He was full of stories.
VICE: As you look forward to playing to one thousand anti-royalist punks, most of whom wouldn't have been born when you started, can you believe you guys have been around for 30 years now?
Deek Allen: We're more amazed than anyone. When we started were just a bunch of spotty teenagers attempting to play Exploited covers in a mate's garage with just one 15-watt amplifier and a drumkit composed of old buckets of fertiliser. Once we'd learnt how to cover enough of their songs badly, we played our first gig at a school charity concert. We didn't have a mic-stand so it was just held up by a mate at the side of the stage with his hand sticking out from behind a curtain. It was so dire that everyone apart from one person fucked off to the next room to watch a karate demonstration instead.
Oi Polloi, 2006
How did things develop for you after that?
Once we had some songs of our own we sought out some 'proper' gigs. We had a lot of difficulty finding them though. We ended up playing Under 12s' Youth Clubs and homes for kids with special needs.
Not exactly Hammer of The Gods. Did you ever feel like packing it all in, flattening your hair and getting a real job?
Bizarrely, what kept us going through those days was the enthusiasm of this guy from the north of Scotland. He used to send us a camera film each week to go up town and take pictures of ourselves posing around with our punk mates trying to look hard, and mooning and flicking V-signs at the camera. Of course, the fact that this guy we'd never met was so keen on encouraging us to bare our arses for the camera should have set alarm bells ringing, and lo and behold, it turned out that far from being the "19-year-old punk rocker with a green mohican" he was in fact a fifty-something convicted sex-offender.
Shortly after we'd rumbled him he stopped writing to punk bands, and started writing to skinhead acts encouraging the hapless skins to pose topless in front of Union Jack flags and give it Nicky Crane poses in their skintight Levi's so he could see their "balls bulging"... Again, no doubt for his own masturbatory pleasure, but to give him his dues he did find a pretty creative way to get around the social stigma attached to low-level paedophilia.