The little punk that could

Benji Bollox moves from Dallas drudgery to London legend

It was an era of rereleases and new compilations, including The British Punk Invasion--Volume 2, which would set down in vinyl a tiny piece of history that Benji could claim a part of as his own. The Subs have even recorded a song that Benji wrote when he was with Riot Squad that includes the lyrics "Riot Squad" sung with extra volume and irony to show Bollox's distaste for the band, which he's currently battling over name rights and general philosophical differences.

Of course, there are downsides to Benji's new career. Like the fact that New Musical Express, Britain's premier music mag, misreported the real UK Subs as a UK Subs tribute band at the Holidays in the Sun Festival. And the fact that the original UK Subs, including Iggy Pop alumnus Alvin Gibbs, frequently reunite, leaving Benji warming the benches on the sideline.

In addition, the whole punk revival of 1996 has fallen to serious, and in many respects, well-deserved criticism for its outright commercialism--the Sex Pistols reunion tour being a prime example.

"The Sex Pistols said outright they were doing it for money," says Benji. "But I'm still glad these bands are getting back together. I'm happy that I can say I saw the Sex Pistols."

Another problematic issue for Benji is that of sub-stardom financial reality. "Basically, we're all living on the dole," he says, referring to London musicians' guardian angel, the UB40, or "unemployment" (from whence the band UB40 got its name). Part of Benji's reason for returning to Dallas was to work at AT&T to save up some money for a flat. While in Dallas, he's playing with the band Fall Out, which does do a few UK Subs covers. Back in England, he also plays with Splodgenessabounds, which, although relatively unknown in America, is a fairly well-regarded punk band in the UK. "People think these musicians they see on stage are doing so well, but it's not true," he says. "I know the guitarist from Siouxsie and the Banshees, and he lives in a small flat around the corner from King's Cross [underground station]. He's totally struggling."

Still, struggling or not, it's obviously been the best move Bollox ever made. "I see so many people bitching all the time about their lives," he says. "But if you really want to do something, get up off your ass and you can do it."

Benji Bollox and Fall Out play Saturday, January 4, at Last Beat Records.

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