Combat 84 were an English Oi! band active during the early 1980s. Formed in 1981 in Chelsea, London by skinheads 'Chubby' Chris Henderson and 'Deptford' John Armitage, Combat 84 rose to national prominence after being featured in a controversial 1982 BBC Arena documentary about the skinhead movement.
The band was originally composed of Chris Henderson (vocals), 'Deptford' John Armitage (bass guitar), Jim (guitar) and Brownie (drums) and played their first gig supporting The Last Resort at the
Peckham. The Last Resort's lead singer, Roi Pearce (later of The 4-Skins) liked
the band and agreed to produce a two-song demo tape with them. These sessions
resulted in the songs "Soldier" and "Combat 84", which were
favourably received in the music press, leading to the band being described as
'the new Sham 69'. Walmer Castle
In 1982, the manager of The 4-Skins, Gary Hitchcock attempted to get the band signed to Secret Records, then home to The 4-Skins, The Business, Infa Riot and The Exploited, although the deal fell through at the last minute, prompting Combat 84 to sign to Victory Records for the release of their Orders of the Day EP. Former Business drummer John Fisher replaced Brownie for the recording of the second (1983) EP, Rapist.
More right-leaning, lyrically than many of their punk rock and Oi! peers, Combat 84 received much criticism for recording a song that advocated capital punishment for rapists ("Rapist"), and a song that supported nuclear weapons and criticized the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and reds ("Right to Choose"). Guitarist Jim stated in a 2000 interview that the latter song was intended in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and as a homage to Vietnam War movies. Other lyrical themes included unemployment, inner-city violence, war, and slavish followers of fashion.
Controversy erupted around the band after they were featured in a 1982 BBC Arena documentary, during which
made racist comments. His views were not shared by the other band members; in
the same documentary, 'Deptford' John commented on the similarity in living
situation between black and white working-class youths in early 1980s Henderson . Britain
Footage of crowd violence at a gig was also broadcast in the documentary. This led to the breakup of the band, as their newly-earned bad reputation discouraged venues from booking the band. Gigs were then often played under the pseudonym The 7th Cavalry to avoid the stigma of the Combat 84 name.
Victory Records, wanting little to do with the band at this point, compiled an album of studio recordings (intended for the band's debut album) and bootleg-quality live tracks and licensed it to German label Rock-O-Rama Records for release as Send in the Marines in 1984. The record was disowned by the band, which split up soon after.
In the intervening years, Combat 84 were frequently labelled as a neo-Nazi, white power or Rock Against Communism (RAC) band, a charge which has been denied by 'Deptford' John and Jim, noting that the band's songs contained no racist lyrics, nor were they ever aligned with any far-right political party, although 'Deptford' John noted in a 2001 interview with the "Pissed and Proud" fanzine that he believes in free speech and whilst not supporting it, that RAC music should be allowed a platform - as "people should be allowed to say what they want".
'Deptford' John and Jim went on to roadie for and play with the U.K. Subs and The Exploited, and John Fisher played with former members of The Last Resort in The Warriors. After retiring from the music business, Chris Henderson became more involved with football hooliganism, and eventually led the Chelsea Headhunters in the mid-to-late 1980s, writing the book Who Wants it? about his experiences with Colin Ward. He now owns a bar in
. In 2000, the band
reformed without Thailand
for the release of the Tooled Up EP, released on their own 7th Cavalry record
label. 'Deptford' John took over vocal duties, with Jim on guitar, and 'F.T.'
and 'Suds' on bass and drums respectively. Henderson
AS MOST OF YOU ALREADY KNOW, 'BULLDOG BREED' WAS A CO-OPERATION BETWEEN TWO BANDS, 'ENGLISH ROSE' & 'SQUADRON'. THE LINE UP AT THE BEGINNING WAS AS FOLLOWS:
'BRAD - BASS' (SQUADRON).
'JIM - GUITAR' (SQUADRON).
'STEVE - VOCALS' (ENGLISH ROSE).
'DAVID - DRUMS' (ENGLISH ROSE).
IT WAS NEVER MEANT TO BE ANY MORE THAN A RECORDING PROJECT, AN ATTEMPT TO CAPTURE THAT OLD SCHOOL OI! SOUND AND ATTITUDE WHILE STEERING CLEAR OF POLITICS. OBVIOUSLY OUR STREET POLITICS FOUND A WAY IN, IT WAS LIFE AS WE SAW IT BACK THEN, BUT WE THINK WE MANAGED TO CAPTURE THAT OLD SCHOOL SOUND AND ATTITUDE AS PLANNED.
BACK IN EARLY '93, 'SQUADRON' WERE TREADING A PATH TO HEAVIER AND HEAVIER MUSIC AND LOSING THAT ORIGINAL SKINHEAD SOUND THAT THEY ONCE HAD. 'ENGLISH ROSE' WERE FACED WITH GUITARIST PROBLEMS IN THEM DAYS AND NOT FUNCTIONING AS A FULL BAND, JUST OCCASIONAL RECORDING SESSIONS. ANYWAY, BOTH BANDS HAD STARTED BECOMING GOOD FRIENDS WHILE PLAYING ALONGSIDE EACH OTHER ON A REGULAR BASIS. THAT FRIENDSHIP GREW WHEN BOTH BANDS WERE ARRESTED IN GERMANY WHILE TRAVELING TO PLAY A GIG, AND SPENT SOME TIME TOGETHER IN THE CELLS. OH SUCH FUN TIMES!
THE BOYS GOT TALKING ABOUT MUSIC AND HOW WE LOVE THE SIMPLICITY OF FOOTBALL TERRACE / ANTHEM SKINHEAD SONGS SUCH AS ''OI! OI! OI!', 'CHAOS', 'RAZORS IN THE NIGHT', 'ENGLAND BELONGS TO ME', 'VIOLENCE', 'SOMEONE'S GONNA DIE', 'HURRY UP HARRY', 'SUBURBAN REBELS', 'TAKE EM ALL' AND THOUSANDS OF OTHER CLASSIC OI! SONGS. AFTER A HANDFUL OF BEERS 'BULLDOG BREED' WAS BORN, AN ECCENTRICALLY BRITISH NAME WITH THAT OBVIOUS SKINHEAD CONNECTION AND PATRIOTIC PASSION. SADLY THOUGH 'STEVE WAS WAITING FOR A COURT DATE FOLLOWING A PREVIOUS RUN IN WITH THE LAW AND RECEIVED ON 18 MONTH SENTENCE, THIS WAS A SLIGHT SET BACK BUT ALSO A CHANCE FOR US TO WRITE THE MUSIC AND LYRICS FOR OUR 1ST ALBUM.
MADE IN ENGLAND:
THE BOYS WERE RE-UNITED IN EARLY '95 AND GOT TOGETHER IN THE LIVING ROOM OF STEVE'S HOUSE, TO THE ANNOYANCE OF THE NEIGHBOURS NO DOUBT, TO REHEARSE THE SONGS THAT WERE PENNED OVER THE LAST YEAR OR SO. THE 1st ALBUM WAS READY AND WAS RECORDED IN APRIL '95, MIXED ON APRIL 23rd (ST GEORGES DAY), AND WITH THAT PATRIOTIC FEELING RUNNING AT A HIGH WE DECIDED TO CALL IT 'MADE IN ENGLAND'. THE COVER WAS SIMPLE A PICTURE WE TOOK FROM A POPULAR SKINHEAD BOOK, AND SO STARTED THE MUSICAL JOURNEY OF 'BULLDOG BREED'. WE DIDN'T WANT ANYTHING TECHNICAL OR OVER PRODUCED, WE WANTED RAW AND STRAIGHT FORWARD OI!. WE RECORDED AND MIXED THE ALBUM IN 3 DAYS AND DECIDED TO RELEASES IT ON OUR OWN LABEL, WHICH WE NAMED 'RAMPAGE PRODUCTIONS'. THE ALBUM GAINED A LOT OF PRAISE AND SUPPORT FROM A WIDE RANGE OF PEOPLE, BUT IT ALSO HAD A FEW IGNORANT CRITICS. WE THANKED A LARGE NUMBER OF BANDS ON THE ALBUM, INCLUDING 'RED ALERT', 'THE PARTISANS' AND 'THE OPPRESSED' AMONG OTHERS, BECAUSE THEY HAD INFLUENCED US MUSICALLY AND WE HAD LISTENED TO THEM THROUGH LIFE. THEIR MUSIC HAD INFLUENCED US, NOT THIER PSEUDO ANARCHISTIC, LIBERAL, WISHY-WASHY POLITICAL VIEWS. ENOUGH SAID!
IN MID '96 THE WRITING OF THE 2nd ALBUM BEGAN, AND WE DECIDED TO CALL IT 'UNLEASHED AGAIN'. THE STUDIO WAS BOOKED FOR NOVEMBER AND WE HAD MOST OF THE ALBUM PENNED, BUT WE ACTUALLY WROTE 'DRUNK & DISORDERLY' WHILE TRAVELLING TO AND FROM THE STUDIO IN THE BACK OF A VAN, AND WE WROTE 'IN YOUR EYES' IN THE STUDIO ITSELF. WE COMPLETED THE RECORDING AND MIXED IT ON NOVEMBER 9th. THE COVER CAME FROM OVER THE WATER THIS TIME, FROM NONE OTHER THAN 'GRIFFIN' OF 'ARYAN' / 'STONEHAMMER' FAME. 'BRAD' & 'JIM' HAD STAYED WITH HIM WHILE TOURING CANADA AND AMERICA, AND SEEING AS HE WAS A TOP NOTCH ARTIST AND OWNER OF BULLDOGS, IT SEEMED LOGICAL TO ASK FOR HIS ASSISTANCE WITH THE COVER. WE RELEASED THE ALBUM ON 'RAMPAGE PRODUCTIONS' AGAIN, AND THE REACTION WAS MORE THAN WHAT WE COULD EVER HAVE DREAMED OF.
EARLY 1997 - 1999:
WE ENTERED THE STUDIO AGAIN IN '97 TO RECORD FOR THE 'VOICE OF BRITAIN' COMPILATION CD ON 'RAMPAGE PRODUCTIONS', RESULTING IN THE 2 SONGS, 'THE UNION JACK' AND 'BROTHERHOOD'. SADLY THIS WAS THE LAST INPUT FROM 'JIM' AS HE DECIDED TO QUIT THE BAND AND MOVE ONTO OTHER MUSICAL ADVENTURES. 'BULLDOG BREED' WERE MOMENTARILY DOWN, BUT NOT OUT OF THE FIGHT FOR GOOD. IN '99 WE WERE ASKED TO PLAY IN AMERICA AT THE 'HAMMERFEST', AND IN STEPPED 'TICH' WHO WAS AT THAT TIME PLAYING ALONGSIDE 'BRAD IN THE BAND 'EYE OF ODIN'. WHAT A WEEKEND, WHAT A GREAT FESTIVAL, PLAYING WITH BANDS LIKE 'BULLY BOYS', 'MIDTOWN BOOTBOYS', 'WHITE WASH' AND 'INTIMIDATION ONE'. GODDAMN!
THE GREAT BRITISH EXPORT:
WITH 'TICH' ON BOARD, WE ENTERED THE STUDIO TO LAY DOWN A FEW TRACKS FOR A 7" SINGLE FOR 'DIM RECORDS' IN GERMANY. THE A-SIDE FEATURED 'THE GREAT BRITISH EXPORT', A SONG ABOUT THE SKINHEAD WAY OF LIFE. FOR THE B-SIDE WE COVERED 'PERVERT' (PUBLIC ENEMY), AS CLOSE TO THE ORIGINAL AS POSSIBLE, AND 'TAKE EM ALL' (COCK SPARRER) WITH OUR SLIGHT TWIST ON THE LYRICS.
ALSO IN 2000, WE ENTERED THE STUDIO AGAIN. 'PANZERFAUST RECORDS' ASKED US TO RECORD A SPLIT CD WITH 'INTIMIDATION ONE', SO WE RECORDED OUR 6 SONGS, BUT SOMEWHERE IN THE PRODUCTION OF THE RELEASE OUR SOUND WAS LOST, BUT OUR MESSAGE STILL GOT OUT THERE. BUT ONCE AGAIN THE BAND CAME TO A HAULT AS WE ALL HAD TOO MUCH GOING ON IN OUR LIVES, FAMILY, JOBS, CHILDREN AND OTHER BANDS. 'BRAD' & 'TICH' WERE BUSY WITH 'EYE OF ODIN', 'STEVE' WAS OFF TOURING WITH 'ENGLISH ROSE', WITH THE BACKING OF 'VERSZERZODES' AND 'DAVID' WAS NOW DRUMMING WITH 'BRUTAL ATTACK'. BUSY! BUSY! BUSY!
THE 40th BIRTHDAY OF 'STEVE' SAW THE BAND GET TOGETHER AGAIN FOR A BIT OF A JAM. WE STARTED TALKING AGAIN ABOUT THE SONGS WE HAD ON DEMO FROM ALL THOSE YEARS BACK, STUFF THAT WAS MEANT TO BE THE 3rd AND FINAL ALBUM. THAT NIGHT RESULTED IN THE BAND GETTING TOGETHER FOR A FEW MORE GIGS AND A COUPLE OF DAYS IN THE RECORDING STUDIO. WE RECORDED 10 NEW SONGS, 8 OF THEM ARE THE UN-HEARD TRACKS FROM THE DEMO, AND WE ALSO RE-RECORDED 'UNLEASHED AGAIN' WITH NEW LYRICS, AND 'H.F.F.H' WITH UPDATED LYRICS. THESE SONGS ARE EXCLUSIVELY FOR THIS 'COMPLETE COLLECTION, AND MAYBE FOR A VINYL RELEASE FOR YOU VINYL JUNKIES.
SO, WE ARE OLDER AND WISER NOW, BUT THE MUSIC IS STILL AS TRUE AS EVER..... 'BULLDOG BREED' NEVER LOST THAT OI! SPIRIT, AND NEVER LOST THE PASSION FOR THE MUSIC OR THE WAY OF LIFE. WE HAVE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO PLAY AMERICA, ITALY, SPAIN, BELGIUM, FRANCE, GERMANY, FINLAND, ULSTER, HUNGARY, SCOTLAND AND ENGLAND OF COURSE. WE HAVE MET MANY FRIENDS OVER THE YEARS, AND A LOT OF THOSE FRIENDSHIPS STILL CONTINUE TODAY, AND WE HOPE FOR MANY MORE YEARS TO COME.
Source: Band's Myspace