Injury Time have been mainstays of London hardcore for a long time and continue to go from strength to strength with every release and formidable live show. The band released their brilliant latest EP; “We Can’t Be Stopped” earlier this year and it sees Injury Time in full force with four tracks of blistering hardcore. In Effect’s UKHC bureau chief Gavin Brown caught up with Injury Time vocalist Tom Webster to discuss “We Can’t Be Stopped” and loads more including the history of Injury Time, his time in London and UKHC, memorable live shows and his love of graffiti and how it relates to hardcore in this October, 2022 interview.
Lead photo by: Adam Malik. Graphic work by: Paul Turano.
IE: You have just released your new EP “We Can’t Be Stopped”. What has the feedback been like so far?
Tom: The feedback has been great, some friends old and new have picked up the record which is much appreciated. And even better, people I don’t know took the time to buy it, comment on it, or share some positive words. We sat on the songs for ages because of Covid… it was a huge relief getting them out there at last.
IE: How has the (sort of) new lineup been working out and can you tell us how it all came together?
Tom: The lineup isn’t that new actually, the core of the band has always been Rocky on drums and Matty and Simon on guitars, and of course DBS was a founding member on vocals until I took over in 2017. I was a huge supporter of Injury Time so it was a natural fit when they asked me to replace him, big lyrical and vocal shoes to fill too! A chance meeting got Joe on board on bass. That’s someone we’ve known for a while through music… he is also in Ancient Rivalry and Last Orders HC.
IE: Louis Gino from Ironed Out and Last Orders HC does guest vocals on the EP. How was it having him guest with Injury Time?
Tom: An absolute pleasure, Louis did his homework and nailed his part real quick.
IE: Who else would you love to have guest on an Injury Time track?
Tom: There would have to be a connection to Injury Time, someone who we’ve shared a stage with. That’s why Louis G is on the record, he was a big part of resurrecting the band, helping us out on vocals and getting us on shows when we started up again. So, off the top of my head - Tam Divide, Pelbu Knuckledust, Joe from Wisdom In Chains, John Nasty Bastard. Old friends whose work we admire.
IE: Is the title of the EP a testament to the tenacity of not just the band but the hardcore scene as a whole?
Tom: When I wrote the lyrics to “We Can’t Be Stopped” it was the band I had in mind, the music and message made me think “this is a title track” as it all came together. It was the first song we wrote with the current lineup, so I wanted it to be a mission statement as we worked hard getting ready to play again, but it could definitely apply to our corner of the London scene and the hardcore scene in general. Some of my lyrics are about pretty personal subjects, but I wrote them so anybody could take inspiration and hopefully something positive from my experiences.
IE: The EP has come out on Then And Now. How did you hook up with the label?
Tom: We’ve known the TAN guys forever. We’re good friends and big fans of their bands. They have the same thing going on in Essex as we do in London… pride in their scene and always trying to keep it going with bands and shows. We were keen to work with TAN but everything was up in the air with Covid and recording dates. Luckily it ended up coming together really well and worked smoothly.
PHOTO BY: ADAM MALIK
IE: Have you got plans for further new music, perhaps a full length album?
Tom: Yeah, we definitely have some new music plans, still in the early stages but for now we just want to play shows. I’m excited for the new stuff but I ain’t gonna say too much yet, we all have jobs and lives and we are busy enough just trying to make ends meet.
IE: What was your first exposure to hardcore music and culture?
Tom: In the early days it was through Thrasher, and in the UK you had Skateboard! Magazine that also covered hardcore. Looking round HMV and Tower Records and being sucked in by the artwork of bands like Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Misfits etc. In the 90’s Lost and Found Records bootlegged loads of influential bands, so on the High Street you could get Killing Time, Warzone and more. One of the biggest game changers though was “Set It Off” by Madball… apart from the music, that thanks list gave us so many mysterious band names to investigate. Soon after, we hooked up with the Knuckledust boys which really started things off for us as we got deeper into the DIY UKHC scene, starting our own bands and putting on shows for ourselves.
IE: Who are your biggest influences musically and as a vocalist?
Tom: 10 or 20 years ago I probably would have reeled off a list of names. They still apply, but I’ve been doing this so long I can now say that real life inspires me lyrically, as well as the opportunity to escape it and vent about it for 25 minutes on stage. Also my desire to give the fiercest most intense impression of the band... when I hear the cymbals crash on the first song it’s like a switch has been flicked. Not gonna say too much about the lyrical writing process. I definitely have a notebook of ideas, and I try to stay away from the “you did this to me and I didn’t like it” kinda approach. I try to write from a different perspective.
IE: You’ve been in bands with Matty and Simon over the years… can you tell us a bit about those and how you joined Injury Time?
Tom: I’ve done Nine Bar with Matty for 25 years, and Rocks has even been helping us out on drums recently as our drummer Ollie just became a dad. We’ve slowed down due to work and life commitments, but we still play when possible. Rocks and Simon were in Maldito with me years ago, the band was fun but had like 6 singers (simultaneously!!!), before morphing into Injury Time which was a bit more organized. We still do a Maldito song at the end of our set. I did Tirade with Simon for a few years, we worked hard and I’m proud of what we wrote, but sadly life got in the way, so we’ve all been together in one form or another playing hardcore for a long time, typical for London. Injury Time had come to a standstill and DBS the original singer was going to move to Ireland. They approached him about carrying the band on, then inevitably over a few beers asked me if I’d take over on vocals. I love everything Injury Time released prior to me joining, and our set is 50% old songs and 50% new ones that we wrote since I joined.
PHOTO BY: ROMAN LARIS
IE: How is the London scene at the moment and what bands coming up would you recommend to check out?
Tom: Our corner of the London scene is pretty fertile and made up of Knuckledust, Borstal, Bun Dem Out, Infraction, Nine Bar, Dropset, Prowler, Last Orders HC, Ironed Out, Idle Hands, King St, 50 Caliber and more. Lots of shared members between these bands and some heads involved have been doing this for over 25 years. A couple of newer bands from London that have impressed me recently would be Clobber and Lawful Killing.
IE: What other scenes across the UK are you feeling at the moment?
Tom: Don’t know if I’m too qualified to answer that these days, I don’t get around the UK like I used to. Over the years I’ve enjoyed playing Birmingham, Newport, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds and Glasgow. Lots of respect for Essex: Raiden, Splitknuckle, Nasty Bastard, Deathskulls and EBD. Cold Hard Truth, Anti Stasi, Nothing But Enemies, Last Wishes and Divide are a few I’d recommend from around the UK, all different styles.
IE: How did you come together with the whole LBU and Rucktion crew?
Tom: I’ve been there since the start, in the very beginning it was Knuckledust who were the catalyst for getting things up and running. They were a couple of years ahead of us, playing around the UK and making connections. Our efforts, appearance and attitude may have been out of step with whatever else was happening at the time, but we didn’t let that stop us and still won’t. We formed our own bands, and we put out our own records and put on our own shows when not many would take notice of us. Over two decades later we are still doing it the same way.
IE: What have been some of the highlights of LBU?
Tom: Personal highlights would be when we had the regular shows happening at 12 Bar and later at The Unicorn. And also a few years ago when Proven and Life Betrays Us were about, playing regularly and representing for the movement. I miss those bands but the members are still active in new projects. LBU is an ongoing thing that isn’t gonna stop, it’s a highlight to see my friends still pushing things, forming new projects and continuing to create.
PHOTO BY: ROMAN LARIS
IE: What are your favourite memories of the legendary 12 Bar Club and its place in London hardcore history?
Tom: Too many to know where to start really. Apart from the amount of packed insane shows I saw there, just memories of hanging out with good friends and enjoying a welcoming and intimate environment unlike anything we had before. The 12 Bars’ layout, central London location, atmosphere and staff were so special and unique, and the rehearsal studio opposite made the area a real hub for London hardcore as well as for other scenes. A massive loss for underground music, but the recent book is incredible and will solidify the 12 Bar’s place in history.
IE: How did the recent record release show for “We Can’t Be Stopped” go and what were some of the highlights? How did the new material go over live?
Tom: It went well, we were playing in front of a bunch of people who didn’t know us but that suits me fine. I just wanted to explode onto the stage as it was our first show in 2 years, but a few songs in I realized I needed to get in way better shape! Haha… A couple of people were asking me how they could hear our music afterwards so I guess we made some new fans.
IE: What have been some of the best shows that Injury Time have played?
Tom: Well many of them would be before I joined the band… Haha. Any 12 Bar show was always fun, or anywhere else small really. Ninjafest used to be an annual event in London and one year Injury Time came on and completely smashed it. Personal highlights would be the first show with me on vocals in 2018, a huge day as it was Rucktion Records’ 20th anniversary. Also, we played with Mensvreters (South African cannibal rap!) which was a sight to see!
IE: What have been some of the most memorable hardcore shows that you have ever seen?
Tom: Far too many over the years to know where to start really. Any Knuckledust show at the 12 Bar is an obvious one. Damage Control Fest and Ninjafest in 2013 were good times. Year ago, a bunch of us travelled to Belgium to play in a barn in the middle of nowhere, with a bar set up, graffiti wall, BBQ and skate area. Rucktion coach trips were always a laugh, 50-odd people travelling across the UK or overseas and all the chaos that goes with it.
IE: You also do a bit of graffiti, can you tell us how you got started?
Tom: I was interested back in my early teens but never got anywhere with it until towards the end of the 90’s. Almost everyone would mention the Subway Art book, and it was also an inspiration seeing names like Rate, Event, and later Cosa and Zonk everywhere. Pre internet London graffiti always had a reputation for being under the radar and insular compared with Europe or the US, and was associated with some of the grimier parts of the capital, so not that welcoming to newcomers or tourists. Later we got to meet some people, check out their pics and hear some stories. These days I do the occasional legal wall or flyer/shirt and that’s it. A far cry from leaving the house with chrome and black paint stuffed in my jacket, making staining ink in my kitchen and dodging trains.
IE: What writers have influenced you the most and who are some of your current favourites?
Tom: Well back in the 90’s when I first started noticing who was up, Cosa Zombie and Zonk were everywhere. Char, Dier, Zoned, Funk, Regret, Teach, Neat, Mear, I could go on. Nowadays there are too many out there smashing it to mention. I love Stae and Name 26’s eye melting fills too.
IE: Can you tell us a few legendary tales of when you’ve been doing graf? Without incriminating yourself of course!
Tom: We played in Hackney (East London) recently and I remembered that years earlier I was painting on the tracks there. I had just finished and planned to sneak back on to the platform to wait for the train home. I saw a train coming and decided to run and catch it, but wasn’t expecting the driver to see me, and for a few seconds I was running parallel to the train while he slammed on the brakes and we looked at each other in horror. Otherwise just the usual stuff… getting spotted and having to run, the long track walks and waiting in bushes in the dark to do your thing, and of course the magical moments where the mission goes perfectly.
IE: Do you feel that graffiti and hardcore culture have always gone hand in hand and why do you think that is?
Tom: I would say that depends on where you are from. The link between graffiti and NYHC has been well documented, but there’s not so much of a connection in London. There have been a few heavy hitters with feet in both the hardcore and graff scenes, but London graffiti always had more of an association with hip hop and rave kinda culture. Of course, there is an overlap with those music scenes and hardcore in London too. Graff and hardcore both have that mysterious and powerful edge that can obsess you, though not obviously attractive to the outsider, and you have to put in a lot of work to get recognition. This is my view, and it is probably a bit outdated since technology came along, and you can keep up with either scene via your phone, rather than having to get out there.
IE: What have been some of the highlights of your time in hardcore so far?
Tom: Getting to travel out of my city and comfort zone, to play in front of people who don’t know you and trying to win them over. Making friends that I can bump into years later and pick up where we left off. Having the opportunity to express myself through my lyrics and designs, I love the challenge of both.
PHOTO BY: ROMAN LARIS
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