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Lost Legion: Chicago Oi! Band Confronts Mental and Social Realities on Behind the Concrete Veil



Chicago’s Lost Legion is a band that has established itself as an enigmatic entity in the Oi! scene since its foundation almost a decade ago. Without ever releasing any band photos and marking their live debut way too late in 2023, their music has always had a distinctive lo-fi and outsider quality. The images used […]

The post Lost Legion: Chicago Oi! Band Confronts Mental and Social Realities on Behind the Concrete Veil first appeared on DIY Conspiracy – International Zine in the Spirit of DIY Hardcore Punk!



Chicago’s Lost Legion is a band that has established itself as an enigmatic entity in the Oi! scene since its foundation almost a decade ago. Without ever releasing any band photos and marking their live debut way too late in 2023, their music has always had a distinctive lo-fi and outsider quality. The images used on their record sleeves featured forgotten bovver bands and old photographs of Chicago’s street gangs from the 1960s and 1970s, further allowing the band to live their own life outside of the time and space of modernity.

Nevertheless, the members of Lost Legion continued to be active in Chicago’s South Side punk and skinhead scene throughout. Lost Legion’s singer, Ian Wise, was extraordinarily productive, not only performing in numerous other bands and publishing the fanzine Our Way of Life, but also managing Foreign Legion Records. Through his label, he has released an impressive number of records for bands such as Fuerza Bruta, Ultra Razzia, Syndrome 81, Urban Savage, Snake Handler, Rogue Trooper, Brick Assassin, as well as Lost Legion’s own early work. His efforts culminated in a notable compilation collecting essential Alabama Hardcore acts from 1981-2003, reminiscent of iconic bootlegs like the Killed By Death and Bloodstains Across series.

DIY Conspiracy is excited to unveil Lost Legion’s first full-length, Behind The Concrete Veil, now accessible on streaming services, with vinyl version by Mendeku Diskak and a tape release by 161 Strikes Records coming in March 2024. The ten-track album finds the goons at their most aggressive hardcore sound while retaining their psychedelic essence and cryptic lyrical depth. Ian penned the lyrics for eight songs, exploring themes of mental health, inner struggles, and systemic violence in a late-stage capitalist dystopia. Drummer Dave contributed lyrics to two tracks that focus on the battles of low-income workers during the COVID era and the looming threat of artificial intelligence.

To premiere the album without any bullshit hype and promotional nonsense, we caught up with Ian Wise to talk about Lost Legion’s history, its underlying message, the commodification of Oi! and the skinhead cult in a music culture dominated by Spotify playlists and social media algorithms, the current scene in their hometown of Chicago, and the possibility of touring Europe.


Ian, please tell us how Lost Legion started, I get the impression that it was more of a recording project than a live band? Does the name have anything to do with the label Foreign Legion Records?

We were just goofing around. My friend Griff and I had some ideas for songs and one day he invited Dave to play drums. This was back in 2014 or 2015. We recorded our first demo that day and didn’t do much after that because Griff moved to Denver. Those songs ended up on a comp called Oi! The Tape and on a lathe seven-inch. We recorded a couple of times after that, and one of the sessions was in Denver, which became the Autoproduktion demo.

Dave and I didn’t really start working on it until a couple of years ago when we recorded the songs for Bridging Electricity, and we didn’t play live until the summer of 2023. Now we have a live line up and we’re working on more shows because they’ve been fun so far.

Foreign Legion became the name of the label because I wanted to focus on American pressings of foreign releases. We actually wanted to call the band that, but there’s this band from Wales in the 1980s and ’90s called Foreign Legion. I had written lyrics for a couple of songs that we never used that were from the perspective of resistance armies that only served their purpose in certain times, and that was the reference to the “Lost” Legion. The name has come to mean different things to me now.

In earlier recordings, Lost Legion seemed to be leaning towards ’70s bovver and pub rock—one of your earliest EPs was even dubbed as having been released in 1974. Why the intention to sound more rock’n’roll than hardcore and what were your main subculture and music influences?

I was really into ’70s glam and pub rock when we did the first couple of demos, so I just wanted to do stuff that was in that vein. But we played it so stripped-down that it kind of turned into Oi. All the ’70s imagery and the joke about the year of recording was just because we weren’t very serious-intentioned about the band. We never took band photos or anything because it never occurred to us, so we used old photos of other bands or sometimes old Chicago gangs from the ’60s and ’70s.

I grew up on American hardcore and that was my obsession from about the age of 14. I got into Oi! a few years later in high school through Negative Approach, Agnostic Front, etc., and Oi! led to me getting into a lot of other music because older guys in the Oi! scene were pushing glam, Australian rock, etc. There were some older skins that got me into Oi! from France, South America and Japan when I was a teenager, which opened my eyes to an international community.

My influences change a lot because I’m always listening to different things and tend to get really into a band or genre for a while. Dave (drums) and I do all the songwriting and our mutual favorite bands are The Replacements, Gun Club and Masshysteri. To me, we sound exactly like those bands without sounding exactly like those bands.


Despite the pub rock inspired sound, your lyrics have been both a bit esoteric yet also socially conscious, tackling issues like police harassment or Proud Boys and MAGA organizing. Can you tell us a bit about your lyrics and how local politics influence them?

I don’t really consider us a political band. We have a couple of political songs, but I’ve never really thought, “Oh, I’m going to address this issue with a song,” you know? The political songs we write are just frustrated scribbles about things in the world that bother me. “Silhouettes In Blue Light”, the song about police violence, is about the way ideas become ingrained in a community and outlive the people in it. It’s about the culture of the police in the US and how it affects other communities.

I’ve been in bands that were mostly political, and for Lost Legion there are more personal issues that I want to write about, but in the end I guess that stuff can be inherently political. I’ve always considered myself an anti-fascist, but in the last few years a lot of the work I’ve done on myself has shown me that I’m still part of a big capitalist system and my thought patterns have contributed to it. So some of the lyrics are about unplugging from that hive mind of American overculture. Some of the lyrics are about the problems with mental health services for working people in the US, but I didn’t think of it as a political statement when I wrote it.

Your new album Behind The Concrete Veil will be released on European labels like Mendeku Diskak on vinyl and 161 Strikes Records on tape. What did you change in your sound and lyrical approach compared to previous EPs and singles? Is there a unifying theme to the album?

It’s the heaviest thing we’ve done. There’s pretty much no bovver style on it. It’s much more hardcore influenced. Our goal was to just come up with new ideas in every song, which I think we did. The lyrics deal a lot with mental struggles and psychedelic experiences. All the songs are thematically connected in my head, but I don’t think I could explain it.

Like I said in the last answer, I have done a lot of work over the last few years trying to really change my view of the world, myself, and the fundamental nature of reality. A lot of the songs on the record deal directly with that shift. I think a lot of Oi! bands claim to be talking about reality, but they all get their model of reality from Hoxton Tom or Mickey Fitz. We got our model of reality from Robert Anton Wilson and Genesis P-Orridge.

I think a lot of Oi! bands claim to be talking about reality, but they all get their model of reality from Hoxton Tom or Mickey Fitz. We got our model of reality from Robert Anton Wilson and Genesis P-Orridge.


Chicago is a place known for its diverse immigrant community, how does that affect the punk scene where you come from? Is the scene divided by neighborhood since you come from the South Side? What are your favorite bands? What are the shows like?

There is less of a north-south divide these days than there used to be, but I feel like the scene down here on the South Side is a little insular. A lot of South Side bands sing in Spanish, so it opened up the scene to a lot of people who might not have felt like punk was “for” them if all the bands were singing in English. Everyone knows about Los Crudos, but Latin Americans have been a big part of Chicago punk since the beginning, and “my era” of Chicago hardcore was centered around labels like SouthKore, Not Normal, Lengua Armada, and other labels run mostly by Latin Americans (but big shout out to Raven, who also helped run Not Normal!).

Mock Execution is a South Side band made up of immigrants, and they bring a lot of flavor from different international hardcore scenes into their sound, which has helped popularize different styles of hardcore here.

The North Side is actually more diverse, but I don’t think the immigrant communities really mix much with the punk scene. There’s a neighborhood on the North Side called Rogers Park where about 80 different languages are spoken, but if you go to a punk show in Rogers Park it’s going to be 99% white kids speaking English.

Chicago shows are kind of strange right now. They feel foreign to me because I totally checked out during the COVID days, and now there’s a whole generation of younger people that I don’t even know. It’s cool to see punk growing and changing and getting bigger, but I definitely feel like I’m not in the “in crowd” these days.

Right now I’m really into this local band Bussy Kween Power Trip. Not punk in the classic sense, but they consider themselves a punk band. They’re a heavy and groovy drum and bass combo with modern R&B influenced vocals. There’s no guitar, so they really blow out the bass and it reminds me of Man Is The Bastard in that way. They’re so much fun to watch! I also love this band Useless Info. I haven’t talked to them at all so I have no idea what they’re about but I’ve seen them a couple of times and it’s like watching a video of an ’80s hardcore band. One of those eternal reminders of why I still love USHC.

There is a sort of Oi! revival in the United States and elsewhere. However, I’ve seen people criticize bands like Conservative Military Image (CMI) for basing their entire image and artwork on skinhead subculture while not having any skinhead members. Do you agree with Creases Like Knives’ response? Any thoughts on gatekeeping in Oi! music and exploiting the skinhead subculture in today’s music scene?

I haven’t read what Creases Like Knives wrote about it. I’m too old to care about most of that stuff. I’ve been in the “cult” since I was 15, so I’ve seen several generations come and go and have lived through several Urban Outfitters and Doc Marten ad campaigns trying to revive the style.

I don’t have exclusive rights to it and can’t tell anyone what to do. I think guys who come in at 40 and do the whole uniform are kind of corny, and that’s one thing Adam from CMI is not. He gets the cult. He grew up at USHC down near where I grew up. He wanted to do something in that vein and he did it without turning into a weirdo who made Oi! his whole personality. He gives respect where it’s due. I don’t have a problem with that. Something else to know about Adam is that this guy sincerely wants everyone around him to be the best they can be at all times. I don’t get that vibe from a lot of people, especially in the USHC scene which can get really negative and some people treat the hardcore scene as something competitive instead of uplifting. All in all, this guy is a positive force in the current stream of hardcore, so I’m going to support him.

I used to get really upset when the image was exploited or guys jumped into the scene, but I don’t see the point anymore. Skinheads aren’t an oppressed group, even though a lot of us have developed a victim complex. If a guy decides to jump on the Oi! train and he’s not a total piece of shit, I leave it alone. If they do it to take advantage of people, they’ll quickly learn that there are still people in the cult that you don’t want to have problems with.


The Oi! scene has always had a lot of fencewalkers and bands who make friends with the enemy. Do you try to make your position clear and research the other bands on the bill when you’re invited to play a gig?

We’ve only played a few shows and we’ve had a direct hand in booking almost all of them, so that hasn’t been an issue so far. We’ve had a few labels offer to release our demos that had released bands we didn’t want to be associated with. Here in the Midwest we don’t usually have problems with that these days because SCAR/FCS (that’s South Chicago Anti Racist, which has morphed into Fear City Skinheads) did the heavy lifting to get rid of that element in our scene, and if someone shows up who doesn’t know what’s tolerated in Chicago, they get wiped out pretty quickly.

You’ve been on compilations like Stronger Than Before and now you’re on Longshot Music’s Tales of Violence. Do you think there’s a resurgence of compilations and global cooperation between bands and labels in the Oi! scene? Have you found any favorite bands through compilations in the last few years?

I’ve always loved compilations. I have a short attention span, so getting a new band every song keeps me interested! We were approached about these comps and said yes immediately for that reason. I think comps have always been a part of Oi! music, but in the last 20 years they have mostly been a regional thing with Paris on Oi! or “Chaos in [This Country]”. I tried to do a Chicago comp and nobody cared haha. Maybe it’ll work out someday.

I came to Cran through a French comp and now I love this band. The best American Oi! song of our generation is “I Don’t Like You Anymore” by the Royal Hounds NYC, which is only on one comp. It’s still a good way to find out about new bands, especially if you’re new to the scene and can’t afford to buy a lot of records.

Most of the comps I’m really into are older bands, like the Killed By Death and Bloodstains Across… comps. I just recently got into the Brown Acid comps and they’re great!

As someone who has been involved in a lot of other bands, ran a label and a fanzine, what do you think about the fact that even lo-fi produced, working-class bands’ music is now available on corporate platforms like Spotify, and a British band like The Chisel is now signed to a bigger label in the States?

It’s tough to reconcile, but that’s just the current landscape. How did we feel when American bands were pressing records on vinyl made from oil that we only had the rights to because our country was at war in the Middle East? There are always going to be ethical concerns about media distribution, and when we look at Spotify, I hate to say that it’s innocuous compared to other distribution methods, or even compared to the issues that come up when we talk about manufacturing the technology that we have to use to access things like Spotify.

I don’t think that streaming is really going to democratize music distribution the way some other things are, but I do think that it allows bands to be distributed in a way that makes their music accessible to a large part of the world without spending hours and hours shipping records or spending thousands of dollars to get a record pressed.

Things also change so quickly. I was a major proponent of Bandcamp, but they are now completely corporately-owned and stripped of most of the things that made them relevant as an equitable distribution network. Putting energy and resources into platforms that are independently / ideologically / punk produced is important and should be prioritized, but not utilizing large platforms or networks seems misguided.

It’s wild to see how popular The Chisel have become. I first met these NWOBHC guys about 12-13 years ago when they were doing STAB. Now they’ve got a whole scene and a bunch of bands and one of them blows up. All these guys want to do is tour and now they get to do it. I don’t see any reason to judge. I don’t know much about Pure Noise Records, but I think they’re still independent, just big. They clearly saw a band they could make bigger and they were right. My labor is being exploited on a daily basis by a multinational corporation that doesn’t care about anyone, I don’t think it’s more or less ethical to allow part of your labor to be exploited by a record label when the end result is that you get to tour and make music without much oversight.

I don’t think your question was judgmental, but I have seen criticism of this band for signing to this label from people who work for huge companies with 401k plans that are definitely being used to fund evil shit. I’m much less concerned about a group of guys taking the opportunity to play music full time than I am about the guy who claims to hate it for ethical reasons but works for a bank that kicks people out of their homes.

I’m much less concerned about a group of guys taking the opportunity to play music full time than I am about the guy who claims to hate it for ethical reasons but works for a bank that kicks people out of their homes.

Some of the best modern Oi! bands like Béton Armé from Canada, MESS from Mexico and Violent Way from the States have toured Europe recently. Are you planning a European tour with Lost Legion and what are the costs and hurdles for a band like yours to fly over?

We don’t get a lot of time off from work, and flying is really expensive. Then we have to rent a van, equipment and hire a driver. It probably costs $3,500 just to get over there and set up for the tour, but with work and everything we can probably only do a couple of shows. If a show gets canceled or you have a bad promoter you can lose your ass.

We have a really good group of people playing in the band now, but everyone has their own family life, expenses, etc. I feel like we’re asking for favors every time we just get the band to take time out of their day to practice, so asking them to save up $500-600 each to buy plane tickets is hard when I can’t guarantee we can pay them back. Hopefully I can save up enough money to prepay for a tour, but we’ll see! It’s tough.

Béton Armé, MESS, and Violent Way have much bigger followings than us, so they might have actually had someone willing to pay to bring them over. I wish I could book MESS here in the States, but so far it hasn’t worked out because of some stupid legal stuff. I’m glad they got to play Europe though!

You can find Lost Legion on Instagram and Bandcamp. Behind The Concrete Veil comes on vinyl via Mendeku Diskak and on cassette through 161 Strikes.

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