Bishops Green champion street-punk explore global economic burden

As Bishops Green drummer Orville Lancaster correctly points out political turmoil makes for excellent punk rock. Much of America’s seminal hardcore scene was forged in the shadow of Ronald Reagan after all. Meanwhile the U.K.’s punk and post-punk scene and its myriad subgenres famously despised Margaret Thatcher. In the midst of a global financial crisis it’s no surprise that excellent politicized punk rock has emerged — including Bishops Green an oi!-inflected street punk band from Vancouver.

“The government in the U.S. has just shut down and one million workers have been sent home” says Lancaster. “And ‘Tumbling Down’ it’s about economic collapse and a lot of the new songs we’re writing are along similar themes. The global economic climate is ripe for political punk.”

It is perhaps the soft-spoken Lancaster’s way of explaining his band’s prolific nature. There’s no shortage of anger and inspiration to be found especially through the lens of working-class punk. The band cut a debut EP in the spring via two labels — the Netherlands’ Rebellion Records and San Fran’s Longshot — and have travelled steadily since taking their anthemic work as far as the northeastern U.S. “We’ve been blown away by the response and all the amazing characters we’ve met” says Lancaster. “The first pressing of our EP is completely gone and both Rebellion and Longshot have done re-presses.”

Between it all the band’s back in the studio preparing an LP which they promise by Christmas. The album isn’t only heavily anticipated in Canada they’ve also earned plenty of fans in Europe (sample response from their YouTube page: “Oi! from Germany!”) — it’s because their sound draws influence from different eras regions and punk-rock subgenres says Lancaster.

“We’re older [as a band] so we’ve grown up with a lot of different waves of punk rock. It’s really hard to exactly define what we do” he says. “I grew up pre-Internet so you had to go to the back pages of Maximum Rocknroll or listen to Brave New Waves to get music.

“We love Blitz and The Partisans that first and second wave that’s flown out of Europe. And the North American punk [scene] is so huge — New York’s different from San Fran Toronto’s different from Winnipeg. You can have Direct Action or Personality Crisis. Canada’s so huge that you can have these interesting pockets.”

Members of the band hail from all corners of the country. Lancaster’s a Nova Scotia native while other members came from Edmonton and Montreal. Prior to Bishops Green members plied their trade in different bands: Intense gruff-voiced singer Greg Huff has led beloved acts like Alternate Action and the Subway Thugs. Lancaster played in (quite predictably) West Coast oi! mainstays the Lancasters. The band’s two newest members too are legendary coremen — bassist Adam Mitchell spent time in Burden a Canadian straight-edge staple and guitarist Sean Spear spent time in Seattle amazingcore institution Champion.

Yet they all came together over their love of first-wave punk and hardcore — and Lancaster adds the foursome is starting to gel. “Sean and Adam can name bands like Agnostic Front and the Cro Mags as influences and we all love bands like Dead Kennedys and Black Flag” he says. “You’ll hear that in our sound. We’re a new band but we’re not new to the scene.”

It shows. Bishops Green sound like veterans in the best sense; there’s a cohesiveness and sense of purpose evident in their music. Lancaster adds that the band’s readying for a trip to Europe next year — where they’ve received heaps of praise even if they’ve yet to travel overseas. The foreign adulation the band receives still comes as a shock.

“We talk about it a lot and we take it all in stride” he says. “But we’ve gotten emails from Argentina and we were mucking about on YouTube and we found a band from Mulan Indonesia who were covering a Subway Thugs song. The world’s so big and you can even feel that when you’re driving from Boston to New York — it’s cool and frightening and weird at the same time.”

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