Jason Biswell

Jason is the president of Los Babas UK chapter, crew who is bringing people together across various music scenes around the world helping each other out. He is talented tattoo artist and nice person to talk to. Our pathways crossed few time and I thought it will be great to chat with him about his life, Los Babas and hardcore in general. Thank you Jason for your time and commitment. Keeping it real.

Los Babas

Current state of mind


R: Jason it is my pleasure to conduct interview with you for my web site amentma.com. How are you doing nowdays? What is mostly occupying your mind in the era of worldwide pandemic?


J: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed. I think it’s just getting through this on a day-to-day basis, and basically surviving it really. I am good, and moving through the day to day. Family at the moment and my artwork are getting me through, I am lucky to have family.


R: Is your family safe from the virus? Are you following all the necessary rules like wearing mask, washing hands and keeping distance from each other socially?


J: I wear a mask every time I go out and practice safe distancing. My wife is vulnerable so I have to take all the necessary precautions that are laid out, she is asthmatic. That is one of the reasons that I am very stringent around the rules, I have elderly family that I also have to consider.


R: What do you think about the people who refuse to wear mask and think the Covid is Bill Gatess and Jewish conspiracy to rule the world? Do you engage in arguments with people around you who are deniers? Is it even worth arguing with anybody who does not believe it?

J: I wear a mask, but that is my choice. I dont confront anyone who doesn’t wear a mask, as it is not down to me, it is up to them. I do not police it, it is their choice.

Merauder – Master Killer


R: It is over a year since we are in some kind of lockdown, it is definitely having impact on people`s business and mental state. Do you cope well with the situation? What is helping you to go over this craziness with your head up and not losing your face?


J: I think as suggest earlier on, I’m lucky to have family and I am not by myself. I have my wife, children and step children. This has helped me cope. We have watched a lot of box sets, Star Wars, and lots of rubbish mundane TV! Lots and lots of artwork.

R: How was Christmas? Did you get anything nice you wished for?


J: I get LOTS of Star Wars toys!! Christmas was really good. We travelled down to see my two children that live 210 miles away in Bristol (I live in Yorkshire). It was a simple Christmas spent with family, I think because it was simple, I enjoyed it more.

R: Now I got it, you are big Star Wars fan. When did you see the movie first? Which one is your favorite character and do you enjoy the new movies Disney produced? Be honest, I cannot force myself enough to watch them all in one go. I tried, but the new ones does not do the magic for me. Where are you standing in this?


J: I first saw Star Wars when I was a kid. I went with my neighbors who were also big fans. My favorite character throughout the films is always to be Luke Skywalker. I did not rate the last 3 films, I watched them, but they felt like a regurgitation of the old story. I did however like Rogue One and Solo.

Djamel and Jason

Growing up


R: Where did you grow up? What is your earliest memory from your childhood?

J: I grew up in Worcester. My earliest memory from childhood would be the summer of ’76 it was a hot and long one, a lot of it was spent outdoors. I remember being out at the crack of dawn and being out all day until it was dark, with friends. The days you could just go out and be free.


R: Man, I had the same, all my childhood and growing up was on the street from the morning up to early night when I was a kid. Loads of stone fighting, cycling around the blocks and chases, trying to impress the girls from neighborhood. Not sure if I will allow Zoe those days hanging on the street by herself or her friends at age of 6 and we used to be out all day at that age. Strange how things has changed…
Do you have any siblings? Are you coming from loving or dysfunctional family background? Was it working class environment or middle class lifestyle?


J: I have one sister a couple of years younger than me. From a strong working-class background, my father was an engineer and a union representative. My mother worked in hospital kitchens. Money was pretty tight growing up. Lived in a 2-bedroom flat when I was young and used to share a room with my sister. My mum and dad did the best they could, we never had holidays as times were tough, but we were always clothed and fed well.

Djamhellvice – Benefice du Doute


R: Had it the same way, I shared room with two of my sisters, younger and older. Growing with sisters in household I learnt to sew and some handy stuff which came handy later haha. Did you learn anything from your sister?


J: The only thing I learnt from my sister was not to be like her. She is different from me, very well to do and wealthy. She chose not to have any children with her husband, and she has forgotten her roots. I do not hate my sister, we just do not see eye to eye.


R: When you were growing up, what were the most common injuries on playground? What was your favorite game? Did you spend more time outside with your peers or opposite, being the kid who loved to read books and played on his own?


J: I grew up on a council estate there were lots of kids growing up together. I was mostly out and about with friends a lot of the time. Just to get out of the flat, as it was quite a small property. The most common injuries would be grazed knees and black eyes. I used to get into a fight now and again, I suffered a broken arm playing football. My favorite games were football, riding my bike, or kick the can.


R: How was school during your growing up time? Did you enjoy going to classes? Which one were your favorite?

J: I went to a normal junior and secondary school. I didn’t enjoy going to classes, I enjoyed the time I spent at school with friends. But only enjoyed a few lessons, art obviously being one of them, history another. Hated math’s and English! Growing up in Thatcher’s era was tough.

Jason


R: What was particularly hard during that time? Was it the uncertainty for working class? The undermining and underfunding and cuts? How do you remember that time?


J: My father was made redundant, so things were really tight. My mum was working. My dad was a shop steward for a union, so for him it was really hard with the redundancy and he was out of work for 2 years. The unions were breaking out because Thatcher was trying to break them down, especially with the miners. I missed out a lot as money was really tight, but made up for it in other ways.


R: What music did you listen to at that time? Imagining some saucy pop stars like Samantha Fox haha or was it more innocent like…?


J: I was lucky because I had an older cousin, I was introduced to bands like The Jam, Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Buzzcocks. Then I broke off and listening to my own style, Two Tone, The Specials, The Selecter, Bad Manners and The Beat. Punk rock was breaking, but then two tone came out.


R: Did you become a Rude boy before you became punk, haha?

J: Yes I did. I did like the two tone era. I think it crossed the divide. Then I moved on to punk.


R: Do you remember the time when you lost interest about your toys and games and you slowly transitioned into teenager? I have vivid memory myself I was about fourteen years old when I realized I am forcing myself to play with the plastic soldier figures, completely being bored of it and not having energy or will to carry on. I just packed it and never took it out of the box. Just complete moment of emptiness. Do you have similar moment in your growing up time?


J: I think you had to grow up pretty quickly, I didn’t have many toys, my nan used to buy myself toys, the toy soldiers and action men, but I mainly had hand me downs from my older cousin. Most of the time I was out playing football or cricket, hide and seek, riding bikes. We had to make do with what we had.


R: What interests and hobbies you had at that time? Anything particular you are still holding on?


J: I did draw from an early age, this was influenced from my older cousin Lynne, rest in peace. Never really had other interests it was just what all the other kids were doing at the time that you just got pulled into at the time.

Outfor justice – Lapsuuden loppu

Being teenager


R: Obviously the transition into becoming man is always a difficult time for every young man. How was your transformation going?


J: Being a teenager, during the Thatcher era no one had a lot. My time was spent “dossing” around the shops until late at night. Trying to get cheap cider, or cigarettes. Hanging round with similar people talking shit. We never had a lot to do, these days kids have mobiles and social media, we never had any of that to occupy our minds.


R: Were there any embarrassing moments you still remember? Man, I have stories to tell haha, I was growing up with two sisters and becoming a man with all that stiffness around the clock was hard as fuck to hide haha. I can write a book similar to Diary of a wimpy kid, but this will be called Diary of a stiff kid. What about you and your teenage years and discovering new world?


J: I never really argued with my parents because I knew I would get in trouble with my dad, my dad was hard on us as kids. So, I knew not to disrespect them unless I wanted a wallop! Transition to teenage was quite early you had to grow up fast in them days, was a sign of the times. Transition from school to college, there weren’t a lot of jobs about 80-81, so I went on a youth training scheme, I was paid £25 a week with an engineering company. I only took it because if you didn’t, and you weren’t working you didn’t get any dole (state benefit) money. I spent a year on the youth training scheme but I wasn’t offered full time work. My girlfriend at the time, her father was a builder and the person he was working with was looking for a laborer, so I went to work with this building company. I was with him for a year, at the point I was offered a full apprenticeship as a bricklayer which I took, and I was enrolled at Worcester Tech College, where I spent 2 years to qualify as a bricklayer. They were good times. I enjoyed bricklaying.


R: How things changed going from primary school to college? Did you like going to college? That is the time when you are starting to spread your wings and becoming more independent. Did you argue a lot with your parents? If yes, what it was mostly about?


J: I did really enjoy college. Because I was learning something that was a trade at the time. With me working in the building I was gaining independence and fast, clashing with my parents, like all teenagers do. My main arguments, were me being out late, weekends benders, not letting know, but there were no mobile phones then.


R: Did you take or try drugs during this time? What is your position about drugs? What recommendation would you give to your own kids when it comes to drugs?


J: When I was a teenager hard drugs weren’t available to me, nor would I have known how to get them. There was weed (in resin form), poppers, during the late 80s ecstasy and speed came in, which I dabbled in a little bit. My kids, they’re going to try it and hide it. You can’t put a stop on it, it is a difficult one. It never gave me anything, just some funny stories. I’m not going to recommend taking drugs to my kids, but I would tell them to be careful on what they are doing and buying, and advise them of the dangers involved with certain drugs.

R: Is this the time when you discovered underground music? What were the bands you really enjoyed at that time?

in the pit with Merauder, foto: amentma


J: I was listening to a lot of British punk rock. The Jam was the most influential band, again it was my cousin that gave me the album “In The City”, I identified with the lyrics at the time, as they were pro socialist and very anti Thatcher.

Discovering underground


R: When have you become involved with hardcore? Have you ever played in any band? Organized a gig or did a fanzine?


J: Later on in life I got into hard-core. My cousin took me to see Black Flag in 81, that was my first taste of the underground scene. GBH, Vice Squad, The Exploited, UK Subs, all played on the same bill. It was the scariest experience I ever had; I didn’t get in the pit this was the first time I had ever seen a pit! There were big burly blokes with Mohawks and tattoos, big guys!! They were scary. I lost my cousin for about 20 mins, and I remember just being in a corner hiding!! You had to keep with your local scene and there wasn’t much of one in Worcester. Underground music is so much easier to come by now with the social networking we are able to reach out to.
Nope I haven’t ever played in a hard-core band, unless you class jumping on stage and taking mikes off people as being in a band?! Never did a fanzine, I was asked to arrange a tour for a Scottish punk band year ago, but getting venues to reply etc. was difficult and it never came off.


R: Man, are you for real? Seeing that bill is pretty awesome. I know the struggle when it comes to booking. Used to book bands back at home in the late 90s early 00, when there were no mobile phones yet wildly available and internet was still in nappies back at home. It was hard then, but even with the technology in place it always surprise me, that people do not have the decency to reply to message or reply to a call.
What bands have had the biggest influence on you? Did you read the lyrics and got hook up on the stories and beats making your body thrill in your bedroom.


J: There were a lot of bands that caught me The Clash was my biggest influence, Bad Religion, The Sex Pistols as they were anti-establishment. Also, The Specials, in the two-tone era as it opened my eyes to Reggae and the cross over.

in the pit with Merauder, foto: amentma


R: How was the scene in your home town? How is the scene now? Any bands worth to mention and bring back to light?


J: The were no bands or a major local scene when I was growing up, mainly metal bands but I wasn’t into it at the time. Nothing really in Worcester, I moved to Bristol when I was about 20, and the scene there was much bigger. A band called One Dice album called Life worth a mention, one of the first bands I listen to in Bristol. There were a few bands that came out of Bristol, Massive Attack Portishead, Tricky whom are not hard-core. But I did get involved in that scene due to graffiti and Banksy.


R: What is your bet on “who is Banksy”, any tip of yours? Did you do graffiti yourself?


J: I did do graffiti yes, tagging etc…and if I knew who Banksy was I would never tell.


R: What do you like about hardcore?


J: There is a brotherhood/sisterhood about it, it is not the norm. It is very much DIY, it is for the generation that no one really cared about, the bands spit out lyrics that we identify with. Being able to let go, the brutality of it. The togetherness and everyone understanding each other.


R: I noticed you wearing straight edge t-shirts, are you still edge? How long you have been drug free? What made you go drug free and endorse this lifestyle?

Merauder in London, foto: amentma


J: Straightedge was a life I was leading at the time. I wanted to cut out the drinking and smoking, which I did. I’m no longer edge, due to my belief as to what edge has become in the scene, and the politics around it, which is my personal opinion.


R: What made you to break the edge and leave it, what do you mean by what edge has become in the scene? Was there particular pressure on you or life circumstances? I mean the edge has never been huge anywhere if not more than for a year or two…apart the 90s vegan militant shit and hardline idiots, but I am assuming you probably became edge at that time rather leaving the edge at that time right?


J: I think it was the politics. It was treated as a trend. People getting two X`s tattoo and when you ask why, they would say like I do not drink or smoke, but I do drugs etc. It got too militant in some areas too, I support edge, but it is not for me.

Los Babas worldwide


R: Can you tell us more about what is Los Babas? When I look at the photos you guys look like outlaw bike crew. It is worldwide crew having chapters in USA, Latin America, Europe so who are you and what is your goal here?


J: Los Babas was started by Jorge Rosado (Merauder), initially it started as a hard-core crew. Today it is more of a social club, as you said we have chapters in the United States (where the mother chapter is in New York), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, UK, France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Holland, Belgium. We are a brotherhood; our goal is numerous things. We do things for charity, organize shows, organize chapters meets and we are not nefarious. We are not linked to any motorcycle clubs or criminal activity.


R: What the Blue and white colour represent?


J: With regards to colours, that is kept within the club and to ourselves.

Jason with Jorge


R: Is there any rivalry between other clans and Los Babas or this is purely peaceful hardcore loving crew across the world helping bands and promoters within own ranks?


J: With anything to do with brotherhood you are always going to clash with other likeminded organizations. Any disagreements are usually thrashed out diplomatically by the relevant chapter president. We are not here to cause trouble, that is not what we are about. But sure, we will stick up for ourselves.


R: Do you have hierarchy in the club? What are the rules to join and endorse your club?


J: We have a hierarchy in the club. Each chapter is subject to a president and we all answer to supreme, Jorge. In our shows anyone and everyone is welcome, if they like heavy metal, rap, hard core, punk or whatever they feel is best, as long as respect is for all is there unite don’t divide.


R: How do you become el presidente then of the chapter? Is there test or probation period, you have to create a crew? Pay money or how you establish a chapter and build it up? What is your position in the UK hierarchy?


J: I am the president of the UK chapter. When I first joined I had to prospect for a certain amount of time. I had to do a series of tasks to show my commitment.


R: What artists and bands are part of Los Babas?

Los Babas


J: Not all bands are predominantly Babas, some bands have Baba members in them. Merauder, Harlekin, Kraanium, Sicario, No Saving Grace, Out For Justice, Confronto, Norte Cartel, Bridge Burner, Smoke Bomb, DJamhellvice, JAG, Suicide Kings, Destroy The Machine, GetSome, Ammo, D-Pelt, Neighbourhood Watch, Cutdown, Become A Threat, Third Chance, Härkä Annos, and more on the way.


R: Where can people find you and talk to you?


J: We have Los Babas community page on Instagram and Facebook, that is where you can find us.


R: What is the role of each chapter president?


J: The role of each chapter president is to run their chapter in alignment with the rules and bylaws set out. Also, to get to know other likeminded organizations, and build a rapport with them.


R: Where do you organize those meetings? You organize a show where you meet with fellow members and the people around supporting you?


J: In various countries around Europe and the USA. We also have our own Babas Fest which is open to the public, we even have bands from other crews / brotherhoods that play at the shows. We even had Ironed out play {LBU/BFL}.


R: How important is the anti fascism and anti racism for Los Babas worldwide?


J: Considering we have members from various ethnic backgrounds, it is a very big part of what we are.


R: Across the world, is there a place where the racist card is more obvious?


J: I would say racism is relevant everywhere. I have seen it everywhere, I could not pin point one particular place.

Brexit


R: Well, 2021 the Brexit is real, on your way to Europe make sure you going to hide your meaty sandwich in the lunch box otherwise you will have it confiscated, haha, but looking at it, man, there is not much to laugh about. The shit will get more serious for touring bands, business and prices in the shops going slowly up. How fucked up it is in your mind? What do you think of the current situation?


J: I was a remainer. The length of time this fiasco has taken to sort out is ridiculous. It has put so many restrictions on different things, some of which are not even clear at this point. A lot of information is still in the dark. It’s shit!


R: Do you go regularly vote? What political views you endorse?

Suicide kings – Shotcallaz ft. Demigodz


J: Last time I voted I voted for the Green Party. I have no faith in any of our political parties. I will most likely vote Green, or independent again.


R: What do you think of the current Prime Minister Bojo?


J: I have an instant disdain for our current prime minister. Especially being a working-class man. The guy doesn’t have a clue. How he has handled this whole pandemic has been terrible, none of the advice we have been given is clear! We have yet to see the fallout from his manifesto, people have had the wool pulled over their eyes. He is very privileged and doesn’t have his finger on the pulse for this country at all.


R: Why is Labour so weak in UK? We do not hear about them, we dont see them, they are like silent lambs hiding behind the bushes. I dont get it. Now the voice of the poor should be out there with strength fighting the conservative lunacy.


J: Our labour leader didn’t mention enough of what he was going to do for the working class. The previous leader’s (Jeremy Corbyn) whole bartering tool was to offer free broadband for everyone! He had a weak shadow cabinet and no one could identify with them, they were incompetent. The current leader is stronger but yet to prove his worth.


R: What can get your blood boil?


J: Numerous things, racism and inequality, how the LGBQT community is being treated, they are still fighting for their rights. How working-class people have turned on each other, fighting in the aisles for toilet paper, we went from “be kind” to fighting in supermarkets with each other. Instead of fighting each other we should have been fighting the enemy, instead we were “clapping for Boris”. The way our NHS are disrespected, capping their wages when they should be rewarded for their efforts.


R: What upsets me in the time of crisis is the way how they applause NHS, clap or at least pretend to be proud of them but on the other hand, behind their back cutting resources, putting larger pressure on the system without adequate support and now even fucking all the closest allies from European union and all the professionals working for the service. Makes me wonder, how far this will go before the people will rise and start being very angry. The tensions are building and Covid is not helping with the frustration. I am giving it two to three years before big shit will be happening in the streets if things will not change quickly…what do you think will be the next step?


J: I think they could use Covid as a tool / exercise to control the population. They have learnt how to oppress each nation and it will be much easier to impose a curfew here, or a lockdown there in future.

Tattooing


R: Correct me when I am wrong, but your occupancy now is tattoo artist or is it only hobby of yours at the present?

Jason`s drawing


J: I am a tattoo artist; I came into this late in life. I work in a studio and love the job.


R: When did you get involve with this art form? You are good drawer / painter, happy to have two of your designs on my wall in my little private collection. How this journey has started? Did you get inspired by somebody in first place? Where did you practice and how? Who was your practice person, was it your own skin first?


J: My wife texted me whilst she was being tattooed and I told her to tell the artist (we were good friends) that “I f**king love coloring in”, it was a long running joke. On this particular day, the artist said it is something I would be good at. Due to my artwork and my frame of mind it is something that would suit me. I then became his apprentice. My practice partners we my legs haha! I worked on various people “guinea pigs”, fake skins, fruit anything that would take a needle. My wife, she has cover ups of cover ups!


R: What do you like to tattoo? Do you have your own style you feel most comfortable with?

J: Mouse Lopez, Chris Nunez, Ogabel. Love the Chicano scene, clown faced girls, gangster, LA some of which I’m going to be working on. I also like lettering, and I also enjoy traditional.


R: Where people can see your work or book appointment?


J: You can see my work, or book an appointment on my Facebook page, Biz 13 Art.


R: Your artwork is influenced by religion. How important is religion in your life? Are you practicing Christian or protestant?


J: I’m not religious person. I believe in certain elements of the Christian faith, I believe there was a man that taught about love, peace etc. I wouldn’t I am a devout Christian but there is something there.


Future


R: Where do yo see yourself in 5 to 10 years?


J: Hopefully alive.


R: If there would be one wish coming through for you, what would you wish for?


J: All my family, loved ones and people close to me good health and a bright future.

R: Jason, Thank you again for all and see you in the pit one day again.

Djamellvice – Blague Triste

One thought on “Jason Biswell

  1. Great to hear a honest interview from Biz who I knew from Secondary school. A true view into the times back then and its good to hear how his life has progressed. You can tell his has found happiness even in these tough times in family, art and music – thanks for sharing 😎

    Liked by 1 person

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