interview with glen “the hamilton kid” of the steeltown spoilers.

Here’s an interview we just did with Glen, The Hamilton Kid, frontman of civic boosters The Steeltown Spoilers…Glen is a steelworker, punk rocker, saloon owner and collector of all things Hamilton. And he’s got a lot to say…

stspoilerslogoWith songs like “Defend Hamilton” and “Hamilton As Fuck,” it’s pretty obvious The Steeltown Spoilers are from the Steel City. What else do we need to know about the band?

The Steeltown Spoilers are 4 piece punk band from Hamilton that I started after I quit the Sam Lawrence 5, probably 2008. Scotty Vapid on drums was available after the demise of the Vapids, and Mark Hammer on bass no longer had a band since the Hammer Boys broke up, although he was still gigging sporadically in the Mickey DeSadest Experience. Originally we had Rob “Robo” DeGrunt on guitar, but he quit years ago and has since passed away. So Chris Crash was recruited for duty on guitar, and he has a lengthy punk pedigree. His first appearance on vinyl in 1981 with Slander on their “Hemi-Concious” Lp predates many of our fan’s date of birth.  Chris was the front man for Columbian Necktie and is a former Hammer Boy as well. Oh, and I’m the Hamilton Kid rhythm and lead vocals. We are old men and we pretty much have ourselves set. We’re not in punk for the money, girls, or glamour. We’ve got all that, now we’re just in it for trophies.

Someone said of the Steeltown Spoilers that the band is “the epitome of Hamilton punk rock; scrappy, brash and belligerent, with something to say.” An accurate assessment?

I wonder who said that? Yeah, that’s a pretty good assessment. The music is tough but simple (like me) and I write about my life. What I see and sometimes what I do. Guys from work, my love of Hamilton and it’s general decay. It’s rich history, which has still yet to be properly presented to the public at large. I was raised political so that’s how I view things. I love songs that mention place names. The first punk rock I listened to was the Clash and the Pistols. Their whole world was the city they lived in, and they made me work to try and figure out ‘I know where London is, but where is Camden Town?’ Then when the Rebels put out their untitled Lp in 1989 I shit a brick when I heard Mickey DeSadist sing “Evelyn was a party girl from Hamilton mountain, her hubby drove a bus around the Gore Park fountain”! That’s what I want, more Hamilton songs! I have to mention the word  Hamilton more often than anyone else in lyrics.

 Yeah, your love for the city of Hamilton shines through in your lyrics – and your life – for sure. Yet, in songs like Wartime, Demolition City and Not Enough, you sing about storming (figuratively, I’m sure) Hamilton City Hall and about running riot in the streets with bricks, bottles and hockey sticks…The Steel City has become, as you put it, Corruptionville…what’s that all about?stspoilerspic1

Hamilton was Canada’s manufacturing hub, we once had 700 different factories functioning at the same time. Everyone could get a job at a decent wage. Unions were so prevalent that non-union shops had to offer good wages to compete with the Union ones. But as years passed big companies got bigger and forced out little ones. Then Free Trade came in, American firms left cuz there were no longer tariffs to avoid, and the local one’s couldn’t compete on the global market without the protection tariffs gave. Then the suits in Washington and Wall St. engineered the current recession to knock down what was left of North American workers. The uninformed swallow the pabulum of mainstream media and blame Unions, or probably don’t think about it much, and just tighten their belts. Why are we in such a mess? Why does the government need to slash the budget? Because the taxes that all those factories used to pay has been put on the individual. It’s all about the boot of oppression coming down on Johnny Canuck’s throat. Everyone has suffered from the “Death from above” syndrome. Why are you closing the company? “Because it doesn’t make ENOUGH money”, who says how much is enough?

The people have been domesticated, and no longer have the will or the wherewithal to stand up for themselves. Canada used to have riots and general strikes, and couldn’t be pushed around. Did you know that up until the 1930’s in Hamilton boys in public school had to take marksmanship classes, with rifles!

The Canadians of 200, 100, or 50 years ago wouldn’t have put up with what we are dealing with now. We are weak and soft (except in very few cases), but we are the lifeblood of this nation and of this poor beleaguered city. Let fury have the hour, anger can be power, if you know how to use it.

 Meeting Joe Strummer seems to have been a seminal moment in your life…you’ve got a song called Joe Strummer, I think you met your wife-to-be the same night and you also do yearly Joe Strummer Tribute shows to raise money for charities. What does Joe mean to you, on a personal and political level?

spoilersNov 20th1999 for me was a night to remember. I finally got to see Joe Strummer (w/ the Mescaleros) play, and I met a couple of blondes, I was properly lubed up and ready for action. I had been trying to impress these ladies with ideas for my then non-existant band in the bar after the show. We were then told that Joe Strummer himself was in the bar and we hung out with him on and off for the rest of the night. The girls told Joe about my stupid song ideas, but Joe liked them and encouraged me to get more serious about playing (which he apparently did to everyone). He remembered us the next time he was in T.O., and thus began a too short lived acquaintance with the man/legend.

I have  been a glass is 1/2 empty kind of guy for a long time, the Pistols (esp. Sid) were pretty negative as well as early Clash and most punk rock. Joe showed that there is a time for being positive, too much of anything is a bad thing (i.e. Sid). You should have something positive driving you as you rage against the machine, not just spite. With Joe’s globe-trotting youth he grew up with a perspective different than most. He worried about the people on his block, but also people around the world, I think he was a lot like John Lennon in that way.

 They lyrics to “Build It UP” are great, and bear reprinting hereis this song about Hamilton specifically, or about things in general? What inspired this song?

 As years go by I see the world is cyclical
Except my mind, cause I’m a radical
Road to rebuild they say it will be difficult
Naysayers call you know it is typical

You ain’t seen the last of us, oh no
We ain’t goin nowhere cus there’s nowhere to go
It’s time we made a stand and made it right here
High water mark that will be seen for years

Feel the pressure building back up again
Will you tow the line
you say that you are my friend
What they tear down
We will build back up again
Out on the streets we will be free again

You ain’t seen the last of us, oh no
We ain’t goin nowhere cus there’s nowhere to go
It’s time we made a stand and made it right here
High water mark that will be seen for years

Rise up above and overcome adversity
Expand your mind
embrace diversity
Keep them on their toes
Seditious activity
We won’t be fooled
Question authority

You ain’t seen the last of us, oh no
We ain’t goin nowhere cus there’s nowhere to go
It’s time we made a stand and made it right here
High water mark that will be seen for years

The song “Build It Up” is probably the only positive song I’ve written and was directly inspired by the Strummeresque attitude. Being inclusive means everybody brings their own stuff to the table. Community = the beginnings of a grass roots movement, people can exploit their power in groups, and that makes authority nervous.

That’s what sewing circles, Unions, Neighbourhood Associations, festivals are all an expression of. They are made of many kinds of people, from all over the world. We all have unique talents and interests, diversity is the bane of the blinkered institutions. That’s why there’s people at Hamilton City Hall who say that “Downtown” is not a neighbourhood, cus they don’t want us to stand up to them. You can’t be mad all the time, particularly at your neighbour, he’s struggling just like you. You can always tell a tourist because they look up, where everyone else is stuck in their rut. Look up and see the ivory towers, stare down the man. With a smile.

stdpoilerspic3What’s in the future for the Spoilers?

Not much, we are running on empty just like most things you see around you. We will be putting out an Lp soon “The Riot Act”, and we’ll see if there are any lawsuits resulting. I don’t like to tour, because I’m primarily interested in those around me and touring would just take me awayfrom my intended audience.  Like I said to D.O.A., “Do people in Vancouver want to hear me go on about Hamilton?”. Another thing I got from Mickey is that with a day job you can play and record whatever you want. I don’t have to bust my hump or conform to try and make money from playing music. I got my first job in Grade 7 and I’ve been slugging away in factories for 20 years. Fuck you customers.


1 Response to “interview with glen “the hamilton kid” of the steeltown spoilers.”

  1. March 12, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Reblogged this on Precarian Times and commented:
    Local anarchist punk label conducts interview with local legend Glen the Hamilton Kid. Glen’s got a very grounded way of expressing himself and his thoughts on the state of worker’s lives in Hamilton might be of interest to readers here.

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