Keeping the true rebel spirit of punk rock alive, the good folks at Rebel Time records invite you to “Rebel Fest 3” this weekend at This Ain’t Hollywood. With boots tied tight to punk’s working class, and radical roots, Rebel Fest is a two-day music festival done right – with distribution tables from area collectives and radical organizations, accessible, safe space enforced, volume at 11, anti-oppression, anti-fascist, anti-bullshit, two day punk/hardcore/oi/ska-
Friday night, our hometown punk heroes The Steeltown Spoilers help kick it off. We caught up with Spoilers frontman Glen Faulman (aka “the Hamilton Kid”) to get schooled on punk history and the City of Steel.
Q – By all accounts, Glen, you are “Hamilton as fuck”. You are born, and bred Hamilton. You are the Hamilton Kid. The frontman for the Steeltown Spoilers. A proud Steel Worker. A Hamilton booster and a Hamilton defender. And it shows in your music; the city just figures so largely in your writing. What is it about Hamilton that you love so much? When did that love affair begin? And if you could change anything about our city nowadays.. what would you change?
I’m not sure when I fell in love with Hamilton, I think I was born this way. I grew up as a hockey player and view things like that a lot. As a kid, I learned that Toronto sucked (just part of being Hamilton). In high school there were a few people who started bad mouthing Hamilton and saying Toronto (and in one instance the States) was better than here. I could not believe my ears. You and I are both Hamilton, this is the team that we were born into and you wished that you were on another team? Then leave, we don’t want you here. You’re a floater, your useless, get lost, etc. I’ve read that New Zealanders are a lot like Canadians because they are a smaller neighbour next to a much bigger one that is very similar. I think Hamiltonians must be like people in the #2 city in New Zealand because we get the inferiority complex times 2, we are Canadian but we are stuck next to the megalopolis of Toronto. Can anyone hear us? Is anyone paying attention? Who knows? In the late 80’s me and my friends wondered how big the Forgotten Rebels actually were. We decided that we couldn’t tell because we were from Hamilton, but they toured East Germany (and my Dad’s hometown) after the Wall came down on the strength of bootlegs that had filtered through over the years. The Rebels are as good as the Beatles. England, keep your stars.
What would I change about the City? I would put it in a time machine, back to 1955 or even 1855. I’ve heard a million times that in the 1960’s you could walk down Burlington Street from one end to the other and you would end up with a job, paying in today’s terms $20/hr or better, unless you were black. Aside from the race issue that’s a pretty sweet deal. I wish we still had “a reasonable economy” (see “Holiday In The Sun” – Sex Pistols).
Q – I once had the honour of touring your home, which, for all intents, and purposes, is a museum (one might even say a shrine) to all things Hamilton. From the Studebakers in the yard.. to the old timey canned goods.. appliances.. pictures.. hats.. signage.. buttons.. you have more “Hamilton made” and city memorabilia than any one person could hope to gather. It’s overwhelming. When did you start collecting? And what are some of your favourite, rarest or most treasured pieces?
I started getting interested in antiques in my late 20’s. It’s part of the evolution of some punks. Punk/skinhead culture is only so deep (I remember seeing all these old time skinheads at Robert Gordon shows at the Corktown) and you kind of have to reach out for more, or give up, at some point. The wife and me started “antiquing” a bit, and I saw a few other rockabilly punk type people at these swap meets and stuff. But everyone comes from their own place. I originally bought a couple things just because I thought they were cool. But while looking through the tables of old stuff, I was confused because I thought I would be inundated with things that were “Made In Hamilton”, since I knew Hamilton had been Canada’s manufacturing powerhouse. Since I was raised to “Buy Canadian”, I cannot pick something up and not look at the label to see where it’s from. Made in Hamilton stuff isn’t easy to find (partially because we make things that other industries use to turn into a product), and my inferiority complex x2 kicked in, and thought “Where’s the Hamilton stuff? I’ve been looking ever since. At one time Hamilton had 700 different factories functioning at the same time. Can you imagine that? Older people here lived it! I like all my junk equally, but I think I like the couple bars of LAVA soap that I still have the best because I helped make them back in the the 90’s before Proctor & Gamble closed down (I haven’t bought one of their products since. If we’re not good enough for them, they aren’t good enough for me).
Q – Your understanding of Hamilton history is unparalleled. I’ve watched you school people of every age about our city’s roots, city politics, labour heritage, etc. With our downtown starting to boom again.. and droves of fresh faces, students & out-of-towners calling the downtown their home.. what parts of the city’s history do you wish everyone was aware of? What parts of our history have been forgotten that you wish people knew?
One thing Hamilton still has (and always will have) going for it is our history. We have yet to present it to the public properly. Yes, there is Dundurn Castle and Whitehern. Some people might have gone so far as to the last steam powered Pump house in North America on Woodward Ave. But our history is so dense; like the rings on a tree.It’s mindboggling. The riots and strikes we used to have. Did you know that the last white man fighting at Custer’s Last Stand was from Hamilton? It just goes on and on. If anything we have too much history, but no one knows about it.
Q – Are you optimistic about Hamilton’s future? Where do you see us headed?
I am a negative person. The glass is half empty. I do not like to think about the future. I see Hamilton becoming a medical hub, and a suburb of stupid Toronto. The sales of lunch boxes will decline further and further in Hamilton because our social betters think that we shouldn’t make anything here anymore. I’m not interested in becoming a waiter or shaving someone before an operation. I’m getting older, and “I hope I die before I get old” sounds more and more appealing to me.
Q – What was it like spending your youth as part of the punk scene here in Hamilton? What were the live shows like back then?
Growing up punk in Hamilton was pretty cool. I didn’t really have a choice because my parents wouldn’t give me any money, so I had to wear crap compared to what some of the other kids wore. The down side was that I scared a lot of the girls off. But I was more interested in getting drunk than jumping through some girl’s hoops to get some action. But when action fell in my lap, I accommodated. If you were a rocker in Hamilton you liked the Rebels or Teenage Head. I was a Rebels fan. I would stand up against the stage and “protect” Mickey from the mosh pit. I’ve always been a pit cop. I remember being in Grade 11 (and I was always the youngest kid in my grade, being born on Dec. 31st) and word spread at school that some of us were going down to the Corktown to see somebody. The other kids tried to warn me “You’re going to get killed if you go down there!” But it was awesome! We’d get drunk somewhere and make it past the doorman.
Then belly up to the bar. The Cork only had 1 tap at that time. This mean old lady would say “Yeah?” and we’d each say “Pitcher!” She’d pour out 4 or 5 pitchers, “Any glasses?”, nope. And away we go! My first bar was Hanrahan’s. Gorgeous naked girls, beers, and then chair fights at the end of the night (this is like hockey, but way better!). D.O.A. at the X Club a couple years later (we used to go up to T.O. to see them, and then talked them into coming down to Hamilton. They hadn’t played here in 10 years!)
Q – What was it about punk that captivated you so much? The music? The aesthetic? The politics? All of the above? What did you see in punk music that made you identify, to this day, as a punk?
I was raised with a political bent. My Dad is an escapee from East Germany. He married my Mom who’s Dad was an ardent USWA 1005er (Stelco/CCF). Then I discovered the Pistols and the Clash. Punk was music that sounded like fighting, just like hockey! But it’s also very working class. I love old pictures of guys whether they are old workers or punks. But you can tell “Man, I wouldn’t want to mess with these guys”. The nobodies scaring the shit out of the big shots, that’s community vs. capitalism to me. Fuck you rich boy. You might fuck me over, but you’ll be driving the best wheelchair on the block.
Q – When did you start playing music yourself? And how many outfits have you played with over the years? I started playing bass near the end of high school. Me and my friends John and Curt had a band called Hatewrench that didn’t have a singer. By rights I would have become the default singer (like I did later), but I couldn’t pull it off. We were a stoner/metal band and I can’t sing like Josh Homme. I lived for a couple years in St. Catherines and played with a couple guys there. We were the Blau Boys because we were all of German descent and blau in German literally means blue, but really means drunk. I was punk, they were grunge. Whatever. Once I moved back to Hamilton, I had jammed a few times with Rob (“Diky Llibakcor”) Elmer who was a friend of my little brother. We got another guy who learned drums, Rob Campea (The Champ or the Chump, depending on our mood) and we became the Sam Lawrence 5, for 7 or 8 years. I eventually had to break out of that band to play the stuff I really wanted to play, and that begat the Steeltown Spoilers.
Q – The Steeltown Spoilers have been around for a quite a few years now (2006, is that right?). How did the band form? What bands were the Spoilers born from? Where can we our readers find your music?
I don’t remember when the Spoilers started, but ’06 sounds good. Scotty Vapid obviously was long time drummer for the Hamilton version of the Ramones, the Vapids. Chris Crash was guitar for Slander 30 years ago (I’m not kidding), plus he was front man for Columbian Necktie and guitar for the Hammer Boys. And then Mark Hammer on bass, from the Hammer Boys and the Mickey DeSadest Experience. I brought the band together because I felt that I had another album left in me. It will come out in 2013, 5 years or so in the making. Trust me, it’s pretty good.
Cut From Steel