Italy has a strong heritage of some of the finest punk, hardcore and oi! bands to have done the rounds, and it is great to see that tradition continues. Although they are now celebrating fifteen years as a band, with a new home at Demons Run Amok and a new album about to drop, now is maybe the time for Bull Brigade to shine. We decided to catch up with Eugy from the band to get the low-down on the past, the present and the future…
Interview by Tom Chapman
MM: Congratulations on 15 years! Can you take us back to the early days – had you played in other bands before? If you can give a little history of the band, that would be great. I remember the band Youngang for example…
Eugy: Bull Brigade was born from the ashes of Banda del Rione, a band I started in 2000 and was the main songwriter for. Around the same time I was also singing in Youngang but my main focus was always Banda del Rione. That was a very busy time of my life, I had a radio program, I was playing in two awesome bands, I was booking shows and supporting my football team.
At some point I decided I had to start focusing on one single project and that’s when Bull Brigade formed. The rest is history as they say… two albums, several EP, hundreds of shows and several line-up changes later.
MM: Who were your influences when you were getting started. Seeing as you sing in Italian, was it mostly Italian bands?
Eugy: I think you can hear a lot of influences of the mid-90ies Turin hardcore bands in our records. Through the years we had different members joining and that definitely contributed to our sound a lot. If I try to remember the time around when we started the band, I believe we were listening to a lot of Turbonegro, The Bones, Gallows. Obviously we never stopped listening to punk classics too, my kids are still asking me to play ‘Teenage Kicks’, ‘Where Are They Now’ and ‘Police Car’ when we’re driving around.
MM: You have had releases on record labels with a strong political persuasion e.g. Fire & Flames. Was that a deliberate move because you align yourselves with their beliefs and political position? How did you guys get together with F&F?
Eugy: In Italy the punk subculture developed mostly within squats and to this day the majority of shows are still happening in squats. We’ve known the Kiel guys for a very long time and collaborating with them was very organic. We obviously share Fire & Flames political views and we love most of the bands on the label.
MM: And more recently, how did you hook up with Demons Run Amok (DRA)?
Eugy: Joining DRA represents a new chapter in our history as a band. We’re very used to changing labels after a couple of releases, the same happened when we left Anfibio Records and signed with Fire & Flames. We like collaborating with new people, we believe it’s a great way of growing as artists. We hooked up with DRA thanks to Marc MAD, we’re extremely happy with how things are playing out and we hope we’ll be able to achieve a lot together.
MM: On your recent EP (Stronger Than Time, released in 2020) you sing in English – why was that and why have you switched back to singing in Italian?
Eugy: We had these two songs and we decided to try to record the EP in English, something out of our comfort zone. It was just a test that helped us get to know DRA better and see how they operate. We never decided to stop singing in Italian, it was just a brief experiment.
MM: I noticed your songs have evolved to include a lot of guitar work and vocal melodies bringing a more metal or hardcore style into the Bull Brigade sound? Is this deliberate or a natural progression?
Eugy: The evolution of our style has a lot to do with us getting older, but also changing line-ups so often. The new album will definitely sound different but I see this as a natural progression of the band.
MM: Over the years you must have played in many different cities and countries, what would you say was the most exciting show or tour for you?
Eugy: It’s very hard to pick the best show, we had the privilege of playing some really exciting gigs in the past. Definitely worth mentioning being on stage in Germany with Feine Sahne Fischfilet and in Spain with Non Servium. If I really had to pick one, it would probably be our first time in South America playing Santiago de Chile. Being so far from home in such a big city and feeling the enthusiasm of those kids who came to see us was an unforgettable moment.
MM: Can we expect any new sounds from the new album?
Eugy: We spent lots of time in pre-production for this album with Fabio (Arsenico ex-singer). We’ve been friends with him for a very long time and as soon as he heard the demos he offered his skills to help us perfect the songs. I believe “IL FUOCO NON SI E’ SPENTO” will be a mature record, very introspective. Like I said our sound has changed, but that’s cause we’re all approaching our forties.
MM: Italy has a strong history of punk and hardcore bands like Colonna Infame Skinhead, Nabat, Raw Power, Indigesti etc. If someone has never heard any of these bands, which are the 5 classic Italian bands you would encourage people to listen to?
Eugy: Along with the bands you just mentioned I’d like to add Klaxon, Senza Sicura, Erode, Klasse Kriminale and Ghetto 84. There are also some more recent bands worth mentioning like Gli Ultimi, Sempre Peggio, Bomber 80 and Pressa.
MM: The Italian punk scene is quite political, do you see punk and oi music as a voice for change? Is it important to sing about “issues” instead of just having a good time?
Eugy: I believe music should represent a free form of expression. We always preferred singing about real life but along the way we met some great bands that were happy to sing about less important matters and that’s absolutely fine with us.
MM: Do you have problems with the right wing? Both in society and in the punk scene?
Eugy: Because of our history as a nation, there’s a big divide in Italy. You can see it in many aspects of our society in everyday life. When we were in our twenties it was very normal for us to adopt certain antifascist political views and thankfully, we grew up in a city with a very small right-wing threat. Unfortunately, in the last decade we’re seeing this pattern changing.
MM: I remember visiting Italy many years ago, and punk shows were happening in “CSOA” (autonomous centres) venues, does that still happen?
Eugy: Yes, most of punk shows (including bigger acts) are still happening in CSOA and we play there all the time.
MM: Do you have anything else to say? If not, thanks for your time!
Eugy: Thank you for giving us this opportunity, we would love to come back to tour UK extensively. To this day, we’ve only played London.