Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., May 26
RACIST ROCK: DO THE WHITE THING
A history of SoCal racist rock
RACIST ROCK: DO THE WHITE THING
"Throughout history, music has been used to recruit and unify ultra-right movements. A lot of people think the Third Reich couldn’t have happened without Wagner. For Skinheads, who follow the concept of leaderless resistance, white power music is what binds them." (Carl Raschke, Professor Of Religious Studies, University of Denver)
"White power" rock music provides the rallying call which unites racists and Nazi-inclined "Skinheads" hoping to develop a common culture - or at least present the appearance of one. Bands like Ethnic Cleansing, Extreme Hatred, Grinded Nig and Angry Aryans expouse hostile ideology directed against non-whites, particularly anyone of Negro or Jewish descent.
Racist rock is angry, nihilistic music, advocating intolerance, if not actual violence, against minorities. The great-grandaddy of the genre is 1960s singer Johnny Rebel, who recorded songs like "Some N--rs Never Die (They Just Smell That Way)."
Later, pro-white rock was dubbed "Oi!" music, goosestepping from the skinhead and punk subcultures of the '70s ("Oi" was a common greeting in the British Cockney dialect).
Skinhead style - shaved heads, Doc Marten boots, thin suspenders, rough trade tattoos and reverence for weight training and beer - originated as the working class antithesis of the hippie look and philosphy.
Adherants were prone to violence and criminal hooliganism from the start but turned toward national socialism and racial issues in the early '80s. Not all Skinhead groups are racist but, for the purposes of this essay, the term is used to refer to white supremacist variety.
The first rock stars embraced by the Skinhead movement came out of England - Ian Stuart Donaldson (Skrewdriver), Ken McLellan (Brutal Attack) and Paul Burnley (No Remorse), for example. In 1982, Skrewdriver headlined the first of many "White Power" concerts, though the event was called "Rock Against Communism" to disguise its theme.
By 1987, band leader Ian Stuart Donaldson was publishing a magazine called "Blood & Honour," the same words inscribed on daggers issued by Hitler to the SS Youth Corps. America's entry in the hate sweepstakes came out of Minnesota with the album "Warrior's Glory," the first call to arms from Bound For Glory, and soon Skinheads and neo-Nazis alike were pogo-ing and pounding each other to the strains of similar U.S. based knuckleheads like the Bully Boys and Midtown Bootboys.
The Oi! Boys, a neo-Nazi skinhead club, established one of the first internet websites devoted to racist rock music. It makes constant reference to the music of Skrewdriver's Ian Stuart Donaldson, who died in a 1993 car accident, advocating violence even more directly than Donaldson's in-your-face lyrics.
The Oi! Boys site also includes a page called "BootParty," featuring people said to deserve being kicked in the head by Skins wearing steel-toed boots. "This here is N--r Nate. Him and his mama are holding a N--r hunting tag that was gave [sic] to him. This story made the front page in the newspaper 'cause his mama is in the NAACP. N--rs Are Always Causing Problems. The one thing that his mama doesn't know is that her son is a gangbanger and his getto-slang [sic] name is Chicago. Well if you see this N--r, kick him in the [expletive] head."
American hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Hammerskin Nation (a Skinhead enclave originating in Dallas in 1989) didn't take long to realize the potential of hatecore music, and of the internet, to attract and convert alienated, antisocial young people to the white supremacist movement.
White Aryan Resistance (WAR) is based in San Diego, headed by KKK poster boy and white warlord Tom Metzger, who refers to Skinhead followers as his "shock troops for the white revolution." The WAR website features crude cartoon caricatures of blacks and Mexicans intended to celebrate worldwide "racial and cultural separatism."
Metzer declares white skinned people as "Nature's finest handiwork...your race and only your race must be your religion." WAR offers not just ideological guidance but also tactical advice on how to use violence to squash minorities and non-white cultural influences. In 1987, he booked several Skinhead bands for an "international punk white power record album." That record was "The Spirit Of Oi," released on London-based White Noise Records.
Metzger, who is well into his sixties, went bankrupt after a $12.5 million civil judgment was levied against him for his part in encouraging behavior which resulted in the beating death of an Ethiopian man by skinhead followers. However, Metzger still manages to publish an inflammatory tabloid magazine (also titled "WAR") which promotes Holocaust denial and ethnic cleansing, targeting the Skinhead demographic with ads for mail order racist rock recordings and videos of hatecore music festivals. The magazine is distributed from vendor booths at white rock gatherings and concerts as well as on the internet by most of the supremacist record labels.
These white power labels became prolific between 1992 and 1997, many of them founded in Sweden (Ragnarock Records, Nordland Records) and elsewhere in Europe, benefitting from the fall of Communism and relaxed trade restrictions. U.S. labels specializing in hate-themed music also thrived, such as Tri-State Terror of Pennsylvania, whose roster includes Mudoven. The cover of Mudoven's CD "Aryan Vs. Alien" sports a photo of corpses in a German concentration camp.
Another Tri-State act, Blue Eyed Devils, has a record called "Murder Squad" featuring a cover photo of three lynched Jews. However, it is Michigan-based Resistance Records which has, from the start, been America's best-known racist rock label, even publishing its own propaganda magazine.
Resistance was incorporated in 1994 by George Burdi and members of WCOTC, a Canadian chapter of an anti-Semitic group calling itself the World Church of the Creator. "Music alone cannot save our Race," Burdi said on his website, "but our music is precious to us, and highly effective as a recruiting tool."
He says supremacist rockers had difficulty getting recorded until Resistance came along. "Suddenly, it went from a couple of white power labels to a couple of hundred...I let everyone use our stuff. After all, I was motivated by altruism." At the time, Burdi sang and wrote lyrics for the Skinhead rock group RaHoWa, an acronym for "racial holy war."
"The concerts were crazy," remembers Burdi. "Friends would beat each other up and then laugh about it afterwards, with their eyes swollen shut and their noses broken and picking their teeth up off the ground."
"Kill all the n--s and you gas all the jews.
Kill a gypsy and a coloured too.
You just killed a k-ke. Don't it feel right?
Goodness gracious, darn right"
(From "Third Reich" by RaHoWa)
Burdi's record label was soon selling upwards of 50,000 white power CDs annually. However, the company was thrown into chaos in 1997 due to an American tax dispute and prosecution in Canada for distributing "hate material."
At the time, Burdi was serving a one-year prison sentence for kicking a female anti-racism protestor in the face at a 1993 RaHoWa concert. The Resistance catalog had grown to over two hundred titles and the label reportedly shipped around fifty orders each day, grossing nearly a million dollars yearly.
Resistance moved its headquarters to California and changed hands in April 1999, falling under the ownership of William Pierce, one-time head of an American neo-Nazi group called the National Alliance.
Pierce paid $250,000.00 for the label and its assets. "All too often we turn [our anger] against ourselves," said Pierce. "We need to give a proper direction to that anger…[Resistance Records] will be the music of the great, cleansing revolution which is coming." Pierce also bought the Swedish hatecore label Nordland, including its inventory stock and American band contracts, for $50,000.00.
Pierce had previously outlined his views on the importance Skinhead recruitment in March 1995 on his "American Dissident Voices" radio show. "What we have to do is encourage in every way we can the growth of the racially conscious portion of the Skinhead community...we have to give young people back their sense of identity. We have to give them purpose and direction again."
Around the same time that Pierce took control of Resistance, Aggressive Force was emerging as Orange County's flagship white power rock band. Their songs bear unmistakably racist titles like "It's O' Kay To Be White."
"Our first gig was at a place here in OC about two years ago," says the group's singer Brian online, "and we played with Youngland and Extreme Hatred. Well, the lady who booked the show for us had also booked a show for Extreme Hatred a few years back...[that] turned into a riot and the place was totalled. Little did she know that she had just booked them again plus two other WP [white power] bands."
"You should've seen the look on her face when carloads of Skins started pulling up. All I know is I heard her screaming 'Oh no, not again,' waving her muddy arms up in the air, 'it's the Nazi's again!' Capitalistic mud wench finally shut her face when she saw all the people paying to get in and all the bar sales."
"Since then, we have gotten our own place that loves to have us play and splits the door money with us to get other bands out here to play. We have our own security team and they keep the muds [dark skinned people] out, for the most part. One time this beaner [Mexican] just happened to cruise in, talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We gave him a party and kindly showed him the door where a police escort was waiting for him that the owners had called...he was 'starting fights,' ha ha."
Regarding the racial climate in southern California, Brian says "There are n--rs here but the majority of the dung is Mexican and g--ks. The zipperheads out here have a town called Little Saigon, a name apply given to this large cesspool filled with ornamental written signs, g--k gangs, and dry cleaners. The beans are 'equal opportunity invaders' and pretty much ruin any place in O.C. they can get their greasy mittens on to. A common scene here is a pregnant bean pushing a double-stroller with a string of four baby beans being drug behind her on the way to the welfare office. We dig it because they do not use the crosswalks, are slow, and having such a large litter with them they equal more points!"
This statement refers to a game called "Death Race" wherein point values are assigned to pedestrians who can be hit with a motor vehicle.
By the late '90s, the U.S. was infested with the likes of Angry White Youth, Kick To Kill, Gestapo SS, H8Machine (formerly known as Dying Breed), Hatemonger, Final Solution, Mullet, Patriotic Front and The Brawlers. The latter band, from Kansas City, is known for their song "Dead N--r Storage Box":
"We're open for business and we're packing them in.
Got forty n--s in a garbage bin.
On the streets they're selling crack,
got ten more in a burlap sack.
Roll down the window, say 'What's up cuz?'
They reply back 'Not much, blood.'
Stick the shotgun out the window,
guess what, yo, you know where you're going to go?"
Though never signed to a hatecore label, the Santee based group InSanitee managed to earn some national press by provoking audience violence during performances.
Among their first gigs was a festival in Lake Havasau Arizona - not a racist event but promotors were apparantly unaware of set list titles like "Jewboy Roasting On A Fiery Cross" and "El Cajon Sand N--s." As the band played the all-age event, horrified parents hustled children away from the stage and delighted skinheads - many of them friends of the band - formed a rowdy mosh pit.
Anti-racist bystanders shouted angrily at bandmembers and were rewarded with beatings administered by Skinheads, seven of whom were arrested for assault. InSanitee also promoted itself as a "high school dance band" without disclosing their racist focus, instigating at least one teenage riot in Escondido in 1999.
Some concert events willingly announce themselves as racist gatherings. Using the Internet as a promotional vehicle, the Ku Klux Klan has staged successful hate rock concerts.
In May 2000, the Imperial Klans of America held a three day concert, Nordic Fest, in Powderly, Kentucky, co-sponsored by Panzerfaust Records (founded in September 1998 by former Resistance Records employee Eric Davidson). Around 500 American and overseas attendees accessed transportation and event information using the guestbook at Panzerfaust's password-protected website (guestbooks serve as electronic bulletin boards).
Another Nordic Fest was held in May 2001 and other recent gatherings include Peckerwoodstock, Skinfest '98, Oi Bash '99 and Oi2K.
Even skinhead extremists Hammerskin Nation now sponsor a travelling racist rock festival called Hammerfest. The Hammerskin website announces "The exact location will not be disclosed until the weekend of the concert...beginning Friday before the show. A cell phone will also be activated for people to contact, for directions."
The Eastern Hammerskins once had to cancel an event in Baltimore, Maryland at the last minute after local music venues became aware that the concert's theme was white supremacy.
Locally, hatecore concerts are difficult to stage, even with the James Bondian subterfuge. A "benefit" show sponsored by the California branch of Blood And Honor, intended to raise money for a CD compilation featuring neo-Nazi bands, was scheduled for August 19th 2001 at an Anaheim club called the Shack.
The bar was overwhelmed by angry phone calls from anti-racist activists, picket lines and negative media attention in the days before the event and it was subsequently cancelled.
Part of the Shack's reluctance to follow through with the concert stemmed from local reaction to an earlier event on June 24th, headlined by Brutal Attack, Aggressive Force and Extreme Hatred. Press reports had expressed particular outrage over the band Youngland, which performed a song called "Thank God I'm A White Boy" to the tune of John Denver's "Thank God I'm A Country Boy," followed by a cover of Johnny Rebel's "N--r Hatin' Me."
The Nationalist Observer and its website loves white rock and roll too. They provide links to other supremacist clubs and hatecore music distributors on their website, as well as offering daily propaganda via an old school telephone message line.
The Observer was founded by Alex Curtis, operating out of what used to be his family's laundry room in Lemon Grove. Curtis uses the website to promote cooperation between "White nationalists, White separatists, Skinheads, National Socialists, Ku Klux Klansmen and Identity Christians." His "Tribute to Jewry" is a doctored photo of what he calls "Jew York City," after being blown up by an atom bomb.
On the Nationalist Observer website, he nominated the teen-agers charged with brutally beating field workers in Carmel Valley as "Aryans of the Month"
Among the organizations championed by the Observer are the Hammerskins, The American Nazi Party, Wake Up Or Die ("Powerful [web]page for regaining our forgotten courage"), Vinland Records ("Source for foreign music"), S.S. Enterprises ("Racist record producer") and White Power Music Dot Com, as well as the ubiquious record labels Panzerfaust and Resistance.
While attending SDSU in 1997, Curtis was charged with using La Mesa Police insignia without permission on flyers he'd distributed which described La Mesa as a "nonwhite sewer" and urged citizens to work with police in identifying undesirable "criminal minorities" and "interracial couples."
Curtis once told a reporter, via email, about watching news reports about the Columbine High School shootout in Littleton Colorado. "I did not feel remorse. Instead I was ecstatic and prayed that the shooters were open racists."
On the other side of the battlefield, pointedly anti-racist bands are popping up, such as the Red Skins and International Jet Set. Many feature mixed-race lineups, called "two-tone" groups, and this sort of activism is music to the ears of an organization founded in San Diego known as S.H.A.R.P., or Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.
Anti-Nazi fanzines like Zoot and Spy Kids have also raised their profiles in recent years, as more and more teenagers react against the incursion of Skinheads and other race-baiters in high schools and mosh pits all over America.
After his release from prison, Resistance Records founder George Burdi severed his ties with the white power movement. He joined a band which included two black members, and now looks back with wry amusement at his attempts to recruit Skinheads to help achieve white supremacy.
"A large percentage of Skinheads, especially in North America, are really hardcore alcoholics," he says now. "It’s too much to expect them to put fliers on cars, but they’ll jump at the chance to buy beer. There’s a real irony in the fact that Hitler would have exterminated most of these guys as social deviants."
Asked how he feels today about calling for racial extermination in songs like "Third Reich," Burdi says "I didn’t write the music or the lyrics for that song...but the people who bought it, they wanted to listen to it and probably already had those ideas in their heads."
Mark Noah's punk band Anti-Heros records for San Diego-based Taang! Records. In the '80s, the group wrote several observational songs about the Skinhead movement for their albums "That's Right" and "Don't Tread On Me."
"It's 'reality rock,'" he says, admitting that, at one time, Anti-Heros didn't mind the occasional audience riot. "We don't try to get all of our crowd to come out and smash things up, or kick people...but it does have a very strong anti-social bent to the lyric construction, or the texture of the music, and, you know, it attracts people that are angry."
But the band is adament about not being considered part of the Skinhead scene. New Line Cinema recently approached Taang! about using Anti-Heros music in a movie about Nazi skinheads. "They wanted to have the inside of this Nazi's room covered with Anti-Heros posters and lyrics, and have him listening to us, and I was like, 'F--- that! Who wants to be painted up like that?' That's the Hollywood version of what this music is, and it's wrong."
Hard rock hero Henry Rollins, who headed one of punk's original front line bands Black Flag, laughs at the notion that white people in America are being driven to extinction. "White people in this country have no clue as to what oppression is," he told VH1 for a Race Rock special.
"I do not know what it’s like to walk into a restaurant and have the staff go, 'Okay, skin color - dodgy. Make 'em pay before they get their order.' My whiteness gives me credibility. I can look low rent, but with this white skin, I will get served. I never understood why rap guys wore the gold on the outside until I started hanging out with some of them...they have to say 'see, I can afford my Grand Slam at Denny’s because I have enough gold. I’m good for the bill.' "
Rollins downplays the influence racist rock bands have on young people. "Let’s not overestimate the sway these corny bands have. They’re really bad. They got no beats, no chops, and just read text when they sing. Their music is like Jamiroquai. It sucks. At the end of the day, people go for better music, but these guys won’t become better musicians."
WHITE THING ADDENDUM
While visiting family in rural northern Georgia, I learned that Hammerfest, aka "The Racist Woodstock," would take place nearby. The event would include sometime-Fallbrook resident Tom Metzger performing karaoke between sets by Whitelaw, Kremator, and Definite Hate.
Metzger, onetime Grand Dragon of the California Ku Klux Klan, was one of the first people to recognize the recruiting potential of white-power music. He has released tape and CD compilations to raise money for his causes.
Hammerfest organizers kept the locale secret until Thursday, only telling attendees (via the stormfront.org website) to book rooms near Douglasville and Lithia Springs. A number of tattooed skinheads and bikers arrived and filled area hotels. When directions were posted online, they indicated that the show would take place Saturday and Sunday at the Georgia Peach Restaurant and Museum, which is run by a convicted sex offender. The museum's relics include black lawn jockeys eating watermelon, "Whites Only" signs, and photos of lynchings.
I hid my long hair under a beanie and drove to the concert site (at which the NAACP later protested). Police were milling around, and I could see people gathered in a field alongside a ramshackle barn building near the restaurant. A security checkpoint had been set up by "Hammerskin Nation Security Personnel," who wore red shirts and black armbands.
I could hear a band playing (badly) and I saw several dozen people walking in and out of the fenced-in area. I don't think there were more than 400 people in attendance, though I was unwilling to pay $35 to enter and see. I asked a guard when Metzger's karaoke session was scheduled.
"He's your hero, too, huh?" said the guard. I nodded slightly, attempting neither affirmative nor negative conviction. The guard assumed the former, possibly sparing my skull from being summarily split. "He's going on [stage] tomorrow, but he's here today; I heard he's walking around, talking to people and checking out the bands."
I returned Sunday to catch Metzger's act, but, near midnight, another band was abusing their equipment and nobody knew when he'd go on.
CRAIGSLIST FUNNIES - these headscrathers were posted in the San Diego Musician section of Craigslist:
“Heroine addicts need not apply.” (So no Supergirl collectors)
“Need female dancers…no flukes or groupiers please.” (We’re allergic to fish)
“Must be god centered and ready and willing to spread only positive massages.” (Yeah, negative massages never have a happy ending)
“CD artwork…can provide samples on speculum.” (Said the freelance gynecologist?)
“Every day that goes by without a gig, [I] get closer to killing everyone in my neighborhood.” (Another reason to avoid living next door to a drummer)
“Looking for female dancer who sings…vocal talent not necessary. Must weigh 9 or 10 on hottie scale.” (Pounds?)
“We are revalutionery street poets none for our acapollo freestile raps.” (Turn off Showtime At The Acapollo and go buy a dictionary)
“Heavy singer looking for heavy band to make heavy music.” (What, is Meat Loaf outta work again?)
“Bing Crosby needs Bob Hope. Singing comic or funny singer needed to put together variety act…don’t be stuck up.” (Unless you're El Vez)
“Tired of playing with yourself? Let me help.” (Groupies-R-Us?)
“Metal guitarist looking to form or join group…not into Cookie Monster sounding vocals.” (So forget about me playing that Dr. Teeth reunion)
“Funeral vocalist. Fill your loved one’s farewell with heavenly music....Classical, popular, traditional. Military burials (National Anthem). At chapel, funeral home, graveside, in-home.” (Can I get that to-go?)
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford
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