Lars Frederiksen is an American punk rock legend. He is currently (and always will be) in RANCID and he released two records with his street punk project LARS FREDERIKSEN AND THE BASTARDS. Together with Californian Hardcore/punk veterans Casey Watson (Bass, vocals), who earned his stripes in several hardcore bands like ‘Never Healed’ and ‘Look Back and Laugh’ and with ‘Never Healed’ drummer Paul Rivas (drums, vocals), he started the street punk/Oi band THE OLD FIRM CASUALS in 2010. A chat with Lars, Casey and Paul at Groezrock on April 29th 2012.
It is just punk rock!
If you ever read a Rancid or a Bastards interview than you know that street punk and Oi is where Lars comes from. It is his background and the main reason for Lars to start a street punk/Oi band like the Old Firm Casuals.
“The first music I fell in love with, besides the Ramones, and before that, Cheap Trick, AC/DC, Kiss and all that stuff was Cock Sparrer, The Last Resort, The Business, The Angelic Upstarts, those type of bands. Whatever I brought to Rancid was my version of that. If you look at a lot of Rancid songs we sing about Skinheads, Punks, and chant Oi Oi Oi. The whole street punk and Oi thing is just punk rock, its my way of life and a part of my culture. The first Bastards record was just Oi/street punk, the second one kind of evolved … The Old Firm Casuals is what I always wanted the Bastards to be,” Lars says.
The Old Firm Casuals is a full time band and not another Lars Frederiksen side-project. It is Lars, Paul and Casey making the music together that they love.
“Each guy brings in their ideas, riffs, lyrics, … and we all like the same kind of music. Whether you call it hardcore, punk rock, Oi, street punk, … we all feel that its universally the same music and you can hear hardcore, punk rock, Oi, … elements in Old Firm Casuals,” Lars says.
Three man army!
Lars is blessed with his band members, Casey and Paul. They are both talented musicians who can both play and sing. Considering to Lars, Casey and Paul are some of the best bass players and drummers he had the pleasure to play with.
“Casey is a guitar player by nature and for him to bring that psychology in his bass playing makes sense … there’s no room for error … any band is only as good as their rhythm section,” Lars comments. “In all the bands I’ve ever done and in all the music I love the bass and the drums hold the band together and it gives room for the guitar and the vocals to express themselves and that’s just how I approach the bass … its just power locked in with the drums.” Casey reply’s.
Being a three piece band is the best thing that could happen to a band like The Old Firm Casuals. Like the Dutch Oi band Evil Conduct, you don’t need a lot of musicians on stage to make good and powerful punk rock music.
“We love Evil Conduct, Evil Conduct is a great example and another thing about the three piece: we write music that is conducive to what we are doing, there is no flamboyance there.” Lars says. “We have such a chemistry between the three of us that bringing anything in will make it Kaput,” Lars says. “Its easier and its simple,” Casey adds.
“The Old Firm Casuals is not something you can duplicate.
We will be a band 20 years from now.
The Friendship and the bond is easy. Its easy to be around these guys.”
It is what it is.
With The Old Firm Casuals, Lars is returning to the skinhead thing he grew up with. He was a skinhead for a great part of his youth and its still a part of who he is. Considering toLars, the negativity, the prejudice, … towards Oi music and the skinhead scene in general is passé.
“I think that the negativity always comes from people outside of it. For example, the rich college kids always had a problem with Rancid. They were at Berkeley, going to college and wanted to play punk rock in the weekend. So, they come down and find beefs with whatever we were doing and four years later they are gone. It doesn’t matter anymore, while the real working class kids are the ones that are always making the music. They don’t give a fuck what anybody says, no matter what the stigma is. Everybody reads in Maximum Rocknroll that Agnostic Front was a Nazi skinhead band while their lead singer was a Cuban exile. People can talk and talk and talk but at the end of they day its the three of us making music. Whether you want to call it Oi or street punk or punk rock, but don’t call it hip hop, you can call it shit for all we care. Its not about that, its about the music that we love. If people like it cool, if people don’t like it, that’s OK too. We don’t care, we are not trying to win over people. You are not going to get rich in an Oi band, if you call yourself an Oi band you shot yourself in the foot. We don’t give a fuck because we have a passion for the music and for what we are doing here. Call it whatever you want to call it, it is what it is, ” Lars says.
The Last Resort
The Old Firm Casuals have a split 7” out with the British Oi band The Last Resort on Oi The Boat Records. Lars and Roi from the Last Resort support the same football team Millwall and became real good friends. When The Old Firm Casuals first started he called Roi to talk about his new band and doing shows together but they ended up doing a record together and some shows to support it. There is also a split record to be released on the Dutch Rebellion Records with Razorblade, Booze and Glory and the Corps.
“Wouter is one of those guys we want to work with. We only worked with 2 record labels so far: Oi The Boat who gave us our first shot with the band and Randale Records. There were a lot of labels that didn’t want to work with a side project but the people from Oi The Boat and Randale grew up with Rancid and loved what Rancid represent. We exposed those guys to Cock Sparrer, Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, … because they read a Rancid interview where we talked about all these bands and they researched them. We have gone to people who were very scene based, who understand the music and had a passion and understand what we are trying to do. Wouter (from Rebellion Records) is such a guy. Razorblade is one of my favorite bands, I bought Razorblade records from Rebellion Records overseas and he finally figured it out …that it was me …he didn’t knew … I used different names and shit ha ha,” Lars says.
The Old Firm Casual have releases several EP’s so far and they are all been been released on vinyl, a format Lars, Casey and Paul loves. Why? “Because its punk, man,” Casey reply’s.
“Its what you do as a band, you make songs, you record them and you put out records. We kept making songs and putting out EP’s. Its been an awesome time doing that and all of a sudden we have all these EP’s. … Ha ha … Its great, its cool its one of those things like … when its not broke don’t fix it … we might just put out another one who knows,” Casey says.
“By putting a record on the turntable and listening to it you have a bigger connection to the music. Putting the record on, listening to it, looking at the liner notes and reading the lyrics is how I grew up listening to music,” Paul reply’s.
“We are the last generation that knew a world without internet, Ipods, I phones, … when CD’s first came out, I was like … what is that and why do you want such a plastic thing and spent 2000 dollars on a thing to play it while you can spent 50 dollar on a record player. Punk rock to me sounds the best on an analog playback. We record all our music on a 24” track and only use pro-tools in the end. It keeps us humble, we don’t have 20 million tracks to choose from. We keep it stripped down and when we are recording its just the three of us doing it. Like Casey said, we make songs and record it, while wait, keep it fresh. Like Paul said, to have that physical thing is way more personal than a CD. The format of a vinyl is coming back because people want what they buy to be worth it. We are record geeks too so its a bit of a selfish thing on my behalf because I wanted to add something to my vinyl collection too haha,” Lars, says.