For those who knew, Runnin' Riot united everyone: punks, skins, crusties, metallers, skankers. Forming in Belfast in 1996, against all fashionable trends, they quickly established themselves as one of the all-time great Oi acts through hard graft and great song writing. Up there with their heroes Sham 69, Cockney Rejects and Cock Sparrer. The outpouring of grief from so many people around the world proved that.
Dropkick Murphy Facebook Page.
Cock Sparrer Official Facebook Page
Message from Charlie: Colin McQuillan R.I.P.
The Irish News - Keep The Faith
Socialist Party - Obituary Colin McQuillan
They were the first NI punk band I could get behind. Seen 'em manys a time over the years, with the first time as support to the Anti Nowhere League in 2008, while the last one was at the Warzone Fest in 2013, recorded for posterity.
When people talk about NI music, Runnin' Riot often get overlooked in favour of the likes of And So I Watch You from Afar, Soak and whoever else is fashionable at the moment. Yet Runnin' Riot covered more ground (in regards to touring and influencing others) and did it all on their own terms, without the Oh Yeah Centre, local websites or Stuart Bailie. Respect is due.
And that’s just the story of the band.
Colin himself has become a mythical figure, talked about with reverence and awe by those a little too young to have seen Runnin’ Riot live.
His portrait (along with his creed that “we’re here for a good time, not a long time”) decorated Giros as well as The Bar with No Name and even Bohemian Football Club in Dublin.
But who was he offstage?
In my limited experience, nothing less than a gentleman. One that always had time for me whenever I spoke to him, discussing his love of The Heavy Metal Kids and Linfield F.C. Despite Runnin’ Riot touring America, playing the Rebellion Festival among other highlights, Colin never appeared to let any of that get to his head.
He could be seen at the Nuclear Winter festivals selling CD’s, in Giro’s slagging off skateboarders (in jest, of course) and bantering with punk rock legends like Charlie Harper as if the two were lifelong mates.
Not bad for a Belfast boy.
Colin McQuillan, lest we forget.
Now, let’s have a quick word with Marty Riot, guitarist extraordinaire who is now playing in United Bottles https://www.facebook.com/unitedbottles alongside Ralph Riot.
CO: How would you rate each RR album?
RR: 1/ Reclaim the Streets 10/10.
One of my favourite punk albums of all time. Definitely up there with Inflammable Material. The soundtrack to my misspent youth. After his funeral Nikki (Colin’s partner) gave me Colin’s test pressing. It's a prized and cherished heirloom.
2/ Monks Not Dead 10/10.
The classic line up with Trues, Stevie and Chris Black. Great songs from that era. Especially tunes like Captain Chaos, Saturday Ritual... Songs about our fallen friends and our weekend revelry. Victimisation and PTA are total classics also. Technically a mini album but still excellent. I want it on vinyl (and I’m sure the lads do too) ...
3/ Built in Belfast 8/10.
The first album I played on and contributed to. We were the last band to record in the old Giros studio. We had Mac on controls for this album. There’re some good songs on there but truth be told... The recording session was just a two day piss up. I think we drank the advance the label sent us to pay for it. (hic!) We went home bladdered after the first night’s session and we thought it was Amazing! Woke up the next day, went back into the studio and it sounded shite. We had another go at it and it was done. We should've spent more time on it to be fair. Still some great live favourites on that album, like Toyguns or Buckfast tonic wine.
4/ Boots and Ballads 10/10.
A lot of emotions surrounding that album. It very nearly didn’t happen. My mum was seriously ill in hospital and I had been out of work visiting her. I was financially destitute. I phoned Colin and told him we would have to reschedule. He was a bit peeved but understood given the situation. Next day he called me down to his. He had cracked open his savings jar. He gave me a pile of pound coins. Enough pound coins to get me through the next few days travelling to the studio. So, I slapped myself out of my wee depression and hit the studio. Best thing I could have done. Immensely proud of that album. Lost Generation, Ode to the Working Man, When the Boots Fly In, Tribute… all great tunes. Keith Farr also had a huge hand in writing duties on that album although he didn’t play on that session. Still think Double the Pain is the best tune I’ve penned to date. Only Colin could've done it the justice and he did just that. The album just flows well and I would like to think of it as a classic Belfast punk rock album.
CO: RR were a phenomenon: a band who formed against all prevailing trends and went on to become a leading light in punk/Oi music around the world (the outpouring of grief when Colin died is further proof of this). Did you simply see yourselves as lads having a laugh creating brilliant music, or was there something much more at work (i.e. a plan)?
RR: We were a family. I once dubbed us “the crack commando unit of Oi!! We were always up for it. Ready to go when the call came or the text came through for a gig. There were times on tour when we would look at each other and laugh. Colin would say “how the fuck did us four muppets from Belfast end up here”? We were always humble and always grateful. No mess and no fuss.
CO: I know the band were working on a new album before Colin's passing. Was anything recorded, and will it see the light of day?
RR: The last song we recorded properly was End of the line it went out on the Oi! This is Streetpunk vol 3 comp. We had been demoing album tracks in the practice room. We have About seven songs with Colin’s vocal on a separate track. Four of these vocal tracks are decent. So maybe in the not too distant future we might hit the studio and re-record those four tracks with Colin’s vocal. Kind of like what the Mescaleros did on Streetcore only on a smaller scale. Personally, it’s something we'd love to do.
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.