This man needs no introduction. One of the founding members and guitarist of the legendary and infamous band the Evil Skins. Willy took the time to answer some questions about Evil Skins, his life now and future plans. So many rumours and heresay swirl about this band, so let's hear from a member in his own words.
1. Tell us how you first became involved in the skinhead movement?
In 1980, I first met a skinhead and a byrd in London. I admit that it was an explosion within me. One word, I was fascinated. Then, in 1982, I really became a skinhead. I began to start mingling in the tolbiac's band with le Tyran, Bruno, Vincent and the others. At this time, they wanted to make a record disc with titles like Zera and Skinhead de Berlin. Then, I met Sniff and Bat out of my school, they would come to see le Tyran. So I decided to go with them. There was a band in the twentieth borough, in Gambetta. Gambetta skins was different from Tolbiacs skins, they were more of troublemakers and brawling. It's really the "Bete et Mechant" skinheads, with guys like Porky, 140 kgs. Then, we have mooched to Saint Michel Luxembourg.
Sniff and Willy 80s
2. How were the Evil Skins accepted by the rest of the French skinhead scene? You certainly stand alone when it comes to provocative content and imagery.
It was a time where we had really to ensure and to assume your rave , if you want to be a skinhead. The game was that we would be the craziest, everyone was zealous. We jumped on the heads of our enemies. Such violence was present, blood constantly stained our clothes. It was such an urban guerilla atmosphere where the streets had to belong to skinheads. That was the 80's spirit. We had to do all you can do to not loose. The honour to be a skinhead was in us even in our dreams. I was just like this at this time. The truth is that we did not love anything and we didn't care for others. We were not interested in being rock stars, we were simply street skinheads. So no one came to see us and we did'nt have any contact with the larger scene as a whole, just with some skins of Tolbiac, Bonsergent, and "des Halles" who were real street skinheads. Evils Skins is difficult to understand, because at this time we were skinheads whom were not really intelligent. We cultivated rather stupidity and wickedness. As the song says, "We are stupid and nasty skinheads and the worst of all is that we are happy." We were a little bit like people who enjoyed being without brain. We were close to being pit bulls, ready to bite people. That was roughly the level of the band. All this washed it down with beer and that does not help. In short, it was difficult for guys like us at that time to think about change. Everyone was trained in this brainwashing. There was some people who create a fake persona by writing texts, but our texts were our truth. Sniff added nothing nor imagined. Also, our delusions of violence was to the zenith by displaying fascist slogans, but in both our band and crew there were skins that were black, Chinese, Arab, Iranian and there was also a Jew. Some of these skins wore skinhead reggae, trojan, or rude boys badges on their bombers. Others who were within the group liked the Communists Angelic Upstarts. There was a time of contact with real fascists who wanted us recruited, but it is not possible. We were guys from the streets, politics is derided. We just loved to brawl. After you get provoked, you have a natural opposition and enemies that increased your provocation. It was like a race that finally exploded in the look of Evil Skins around 1986. Our group had nothing to do with Skewdriver which are real Nazi politicians. Indeed at the time, I didn’t know they were like that, too radical.
3. I assume shows were very hard to come by for a band like the Evil Skins. How many did the band play?
Yes, we only did three shows, one of which was stormed. This night, there was a battle between us and a lot of other guys. Sniff had even taken a stab in the nose. Then, to prove our force, that we were in the scene, we threw out the group who played and we then requisitioned their musical instruments and began playing. It's the picture which you can see on LP 45 disc of the Evils Skins. On stage we continued to insult every one. Blood was flowing from the nose of Sniff and after half an hour of show, the security guard, with big arms wanted to intervene and cut the sound. Now there was a new battle in the show room. I remember people taking shelter behind the bar with their baseball bats. We were banned everywhere , that's why we never bloomed.
4. We are aware that Sniff was in a wheelchair, could you tell us about the incident that paralyzed him?
I remember, but this I was not with him. Sniff told me, long ago that he just hit a punk and this punk had a rifle with him. He shot at the group, killed a young man and hit Sniff. This was a mortal blow for the band and our crew. More than half stopped being skinhead and others just scattered. After this, we were creating another band on Bastille with members of the Evil Skins.
5. Some have accused Evil Skins of being a fascist band during their existence, what do you make of this?
Yes it's normal because with our provocation, lot of people hated us, and we hit lots of people, so it's inevitable.
6. What were your experiences with other French skinhead bands of the time? France had a diverse scene from more non-political bands like Tolbiac Toads, to acts like Totenkopf and Legion 88.
I think that Totenkopf and Legion 88 weren’t non-political groups. In our time, there was a conflict also between us and them. We considered them like the skins of movies and they reproached us that we were not a true fascist group, a group of wogs who dirtied the image of the real Nazi skins. About Tolbiac Toad’s Bruno, the singer hung with us many years ago, but he didn’t do a lot of things with his group during this time, just some recordings if my memory is good.
7. What was the reaction to Sniff’s Iranian ancestry within the more right wing side of the scene?
In our time people who criticized us, if we saw them, they were taking a big head (headbutt.) So, all of this was far from us. It's true a lot of fascist skins criticized us and this is also evidence that we could never be a purely fascist group with a singer like Sniff.
8. Was Serge Ayoub, or Batskin, a presence during the band’s career?
We knew Serge since 1982, he is a miserable brother. At first, he wasn’t like he is today, a Nazi purely and strongly. He was a skin like the others. At one point, he began to change and it's true that he was messing with politics, but hey we didn't care. At the time of Evil Skins, he sought to make a more politicized skin band and after this we had less and less contact with him, because he said we were crazy. There were a lot of criticism afterwards.
Classic photo of Willy 80's
9. What are the other members of Evil Skins up to these days? Do you have any contact with Regis since his prison sentence?
Sniff, I saw him a year ago and Bertrand six months ago. Luke and Renaud, I have not seen them in 15 years. Everyone has changed a lot, but they have not changed as much as me. Regis made a choice and fell into politics, it's a shame. I have no contact with him for very long time. In fact, Regis only played bass in the early group and it is Bertrand who replaced him. Bertrand actually plays on our two discs.
Willy and Sniff 2009
10. The Evil Skins remain one of the most legendary skinhead bands and it seems your popularity has been getting larger in recent years. The band has transcended the usual RAC audience and is accepted by many different viewpoints. Many skins in America hold your records in as high regard as classics from Last Resort, 4-Skins etc. What do you make of this Willy?
I was not aware of this. For me, Evil Skins, it’s in the past.
11. In conclusion, I would like to thank you for the interview and your openness to skins in the current scene. Do you have anything you wish to add, the last words are yours.
Now, I have a punk rock band called Dayal Nitai with a positive message. I need everyone's support to get back on stage. www.myspace.com / dayalnitaihttp://www.myspace.com/dayalnitai Maybe one day I will be invited to the United States? Here is the link for those who have not seen my mini biography before the release of my book: www.myspace.com / skinhead.repenti