I’ve pointed out before that I always (try to) wear a Broken Oath shirt when I’m performing, and so far there’s only been two last-minute gigs where I haven’t. There are a few reasons for this, so if you’re bored or idly curious, now you can find out why…
This all goes back to the year 1999 or 2000, when I relentlessly frequented the forum on the official page of Manchester metal band Kill II This. I fell in love with them on the back of hearing one song on a compilation, specifically “This World.”
This was the first time, I think, that I really took to the fusing of dance beats and aggressive metal, and over time I got to know all the Scots who posted regularly on their forum. It was a proper online community, with actual meet-ups, and I made some genuine friends on it – some of whom I’m still in touch with. I met up with them at various gigs, back when I’d see anyone who played in Glasgow, and also at Kill II This gigs, at a time when they were touring often. As I recall, it was my second time seeing K2T when they had a meet-and-greet for forum members. That was why I ever signed up. The support on that show came from a band nobody had heard of, but who wowed us all and hung around at the sound desk afterwards. I asked if they had an album out, and was told it was imminent. When it was released (tells you just how long ago) I bought it from Tower Records, the only place who carried it. I saw the Lostprophets another five or six times after that, and at one point had the (original issue) CD and all my ticket stubs signed by this amiable Welsh posse. Ironically, the main support band, Brutal Deluxe, played to just six people the next time I saw them (headline) the Cathouse.
Anyway, it was at this gig in October 2000 where I first met Lee. I didn’t really know much about Glasgow’s metal scene – I still stayed in Hamilton where if you didn’t get out by 10.30pm you were trapped – but somewhere at some point, online or otherwise, she mentioned she was forming a new band. Originally called Torquemada (if memory serves), they were known as Broken Oath by the time of their first gig in 2001. I went along to support a friend, thinking I’d have to say they were good, cos it’s a mate’s band. But they WERE good. They were fucking incredible. Local guitar legend Staresy was in the band at that point (it was, I think, his project in many regards, though he later left to be replaced by Evil Steve), and he – like me – was a huge Iron Maiden fan, which came across in the music. Meanwhile, Lee had a massive guttural roar of a voice that few who see her could expect her to produce. Kind of like Tairrie B of My Ruin in many regards.
I’d actually already seen My Ruin live, when I was drunk, and thought they were shit. When I later heard their CDs and realised I really liked them, it stopped me from ever getting drunk at gigs any time since.
Anyway, Broken Oath played Glasgow frequently at a time when I was going to as many gigs as I could. As I got to know Lee, Iain, Ali, Craig, Staresy and later Steve, they often let me in free, or entry was only ever a few quid, and they played alongside many of the local scene bands – bands like In Decades Decline, Zillah, Co-Exist, Blob, Soulgreed, Dionysus (another Staresy band), Divide, By My Hands, Regorge, and many, many others. Many of these early shows took place in the 13th Note on King Street, at Nice n Sleazy’s, in the Cathouse, and in various other pub basements. At some of them, I’d be the only person to turn up to see them, but I loved their music, and their ethos, and the chance to see all these other great local bands, and over the years I saw them somewhere between thirty and forty times. It is a source of regret that I can’t remember, and don’t have noted, all the times and places I saw them. I’ve easily seen them more than any other band, ever.
After the release of their first CD – I still have my copy, fully signed, and all 300 copies sold out fast – they did a split with another hardcore band from England, called Eviscerate AD. I think it’s still available. After that, they signed to Rucktion Records and released two further CDs (“Blood Cleanse The Streets” and “Given Half A Chance”) – all the time gigging profusely throughout the UK and Europe, and supporting American and European hardcore acts who played Glasgow. Notably, they were lined up to support Arch Enemy at King Tut’s though later pulled in favour of the international band Without Face, and supported hardcore bands Caliban and Knuckledust. Eventually, they gigged less, and while I was at the RSAMD I had other commitments that meant I gradually lost my claim to have been at every single Glasgow show they’d ever played. Though I still made it along when I could and continued to spread the word. They finally disbanded in 2007 or 2008, I think.
And then, after a year or two of maybes, they announced a one-off reunion show, playing as headliners at the By My Hands CD release show in Pivo Pivo. This was in August 2010, and I was hugely excited to see them again. People travelled from all over Scotland to see them, from all over the UK, and a few (like me) made it to their very first and very last ever shows, to see them off in style. The pub was clearly oversold, and absolutely jumping. People lined the walls, standing on chairs, people in front of them, and then a massive beatdown pit in front of the stage. I’ve never seen anything like it, testament to a great band and the torch-bearers for the entire Glasgow Hardcore (GHC) movement. During By My Hands set, someone jumped up into the crowd by the stage left speaker, and managed to crowdsurf in a U-shape round to the stage right speaker. The energy was almost tangible, and they played a blinder of a set including old crowd-pleasers. The set ended with them getting a massive and rapturous round of applause, the end of an era.
Just prior to the gig, I’d dug out my old dog-tags I’d bought in 2003 (a phase I was going through) and had had etched with the words “Broken Oath…And The War Rages On” – the title of their first CD. The myspace page was still offering t-shirts, but Lee confirmed they were all long sold out. I then looked on the Rucktion site, where they were selling them for a mere £5.40. I immediately ordered two for posterity, an XL and and XXL that I could wear over any XL shirt in winter or whenever. Someone actually commended me at the gig for keeping it old-school, and I didn’t have the heart to tell them my shirt was about a week old…my devotion to the band, of course, was older.
When I finally had my first performance coming up, I had to decide what to wear. Ordinarily, I’d wear the shirt of a band nobody knew. This way, there could be no preconceptions and grounds for abuse (had I worn an Iron Maiden shirt, say), but my usual choice – Combichrist – were getting steadily bigger on the back of their European (and now US) tour with Rammstein. They didn’t need the publicity, so I thought about wearing my Uberbyte shirt, another band I’ve loved and supported from the very beginning, when the obvious choice hit me. I’ve seen more Broken Oath gigs than any other band; being part of that scene was massively influential on my development and helped form my outlook on life (“Channel Your Energy Into More Useful Things Than Hate”); they are local legends in Glasgow, whose music is still just as powerful even now they don’t play it live; they are, or were, friends, and I support my friends in their creative endeavours. So here was a shirt no-one would recognise, or if they did I’d only get kudos (nobody has, yet), which ties back to a time in my early twenties when I escaped Hamilton and discovered myself. I had two, and ordered a third (thus buying up the very last of their stock), so it meant having some kind of constant throughout all my gigs.
I miss not seeing them anymore, of course, but the memories of those times are ones I very much treasure. Which is why, if you see me on stage, I’ll most likely be wearing the shirt of the band I saw on more stages than any other.
The videos don’t really do the music justice – listen properly here.