(THIS IS AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL BARRETT OF 'HARD AS NAILS' ZINE)
(I ASKED PAUL A FEW QUESTIONS ABOUT 'HARD AS NAILS' ZINE......THANKS PAUL)
The first edition of 'Hard As Nails' hit the streets in the summer of 1983. We
(Ian & me) were Skinheads living in Essex and had been part of the Essex/East London
scene since the late '70's. We were increasingly dismayed by despoilment of Skinhead
culture in the early '80's. Oi! had added vitality to the movement, but the degeneration
into rag tag glue bags and knob head nazis defiled our core values. Our own politics were
probably best described as proud,patriotic and socialist. As such we were a put down
to 'white noise boneheads'.
We wanted Hard As Nails to reconnect Skinhead back with it's roots - working class,
anti-racist and smart. The 'zine was seminal but reflected a small undercurrent of
'Sussed Skinheads'. In '83 this was little more than a ruffle. Tiny firms such as the
Camden Stylists,Britannia Skins,Southend Clockwork Patrol and the Suedehead Syndicate
were populating gigs and dances. Often more closely aligned to the residue of 'Mod
Revival'. These guys and girls were Sharp and had nothing in common with 'Arry 'Arris
the gormless cartoon skinhead scruff who featured in most issues. However Hard As
Nails was not just about history. Although staying through to our roots, we also wanted
to acknowledge the Dynamic nature of Skinhead rather than staying stuck in 1970.
Hard As Nails sought to synthesise the best of the present with the past. There were
decent new bands such as 'Potato 5', 'The Burial' and 'Red London', all of whom -
received well deserved coverage. Then there were the features on clothes,working
class culture,our rivals (Greasers!) and even the odd bit of sport (boxing & football).
From the second issue in late 1983 we really took off. This issue with it's East London
gangster and uncompromising message attracted the interest of 'Garry Bushell'.
Subsequently Hard As Nails featured in the music press, some national newspapers and
even a spot appearance on the radio with Pete Murray. This publicity and word of mouth
recommendations ensured a growing circulation movement. The numbers of 'Tonic
Suits' and 'brogues' spotted when we were out and about slowly increased. Those
years saw a well established scene, 'Gaz's Rockin Blues', The Sols Arms,Militant Skank
Sound System were some of our regular hangouts. Numbers were never huge -
hundreds rather than thousands but that gave it a more exclusive feel. Many readers
became friends - the likes of Paul Armstrong,Chris Butler,Gail McGee,Teresa Reynolds,
Dudley Somers,French Cyrille,Mike Hudspith,Dempsey,Terry Wham & Brentford Linz.
Over the years we made visits to other firms - Cardiff,Glasgow,York,Dublin,Belgium
and France. These confirmed that Sharp and Sussed Skins n Suedes were perfusing
the streets and terraces once again.
Hard As Nails continued into late 1985 when we decided to call it a day. We had
achieved what we set out to do and the movement was well established, It
was time to hand over to other 'zines that followed in the wake of Hard As Nails -
'Backs Against The Wall', 'Croptop', 'Bovver Boot' and 'Zoot'. Some were -
derivative but others were taking the movement in exciting new directions. Looking
back now,our efforts seem amazingly amateurish, Hard As Nails preceded the age of
desktop publishing and social networking. Hard As Nails was banged out on an
old typewriter and taken to a local photocopy shop before being distributed. For
us cut n paste meant scissors and a pritt stick. Each edition took days to compile as
Ian and I shuttled back and forth to each other.
Some quarter century later I am surprised that there is still interest in what we did.
It is also good to know that there are still smart skins both young and old who
are 'keeping the faith'. I have kept an interest in the Skinhead movement since
then and still knock about with a few of the old crew,even though we are pretty
disparate now. I've even been known to don what the kids call a ''Shiny Suit'',
brogues and crombie when im in a soulful mood.
(A MASSIVE THANKS TO PAUL BARRETT OF HARD AS NAILS 'ZINE FOR THE
INTERVIEW AND PICTURES..........CHEERS AGAIN PAUL!)
(INTERVIEW BY JOHN BRADLEY aka RUDEBHOY 2010).