Oi Polloi are a punk rock band from Scotland that formed around 1981. Starting as an Oi! band, they are now generally more associated with the anarcho-punk genre. The band has become notable for their contributions to the Scottish Gaelic punk subgenre. The name probably comes from the Greek expression "Οι πολλοί" and it is a pun on the phrase hoi polloi meaning "the masses" or "the common people".
The band has gone through about 50 members since their formation, and their only permanent member has been vocalist Deek Allen, who has also been involved in Gaelic-language television. The band has included punks and skinheads. The members have been supporters of Anti-Fascist Action and Earth First!, and they use the motto "No Compromise in Defence of Our Earth," which is an adaptation of Earth First!'s motto. They support direct action in defence of the environment, hunt sabotage and resistance against racism, sexism, homophobia, fascism and imperialism.
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After numerous gigs in the Edinburgh area and the recording of the group's self-recorded first cassette demo, Last of the Mohicans, drummer Stu "Doccy" Dunn left to become a karate instructor and was replaced by Muz, who later recorded with the Apostles.. Oi Polloi's first studio recording was the demo Destroi the System, which was released in 1984 or 1985. After Sounds magazine gave their previous home-recorded demo a favourable review, demand increased for gigs. A second studio demo, Green Anarchoi followed before the release of the first vinyl EP, Resist the Atomic Menace.
Oi Polloi started singing in Scottish Gaelic in 1996, recording the Carson? EP, (released 2003), then recording & releasing the full length LP "Ar Ceòl Ar Cànan Ar-A-Mach" in 2006. They also use the language in day-to-day communications. They consider the use of Gaelic and other endangered languages as important to maintaining the biocultural diversity of life. They toured Europe with Seattle-based punk band Mill a h-Uile Rud, who sing only in Scottish Gaelic, and Les Ramoneurs de menhirs, who mostly sing in Breton. In 2013, they collaborated with CLÀR, the Scottish Gaelic publisher, to launch Mill a h-Uile Rud singer Tim Armstrong's Gaelic science fiction novel Air Cuan Dubh Drilseach at events at Elvis Shakespeare on Leith Walk and on The Cruz Boat at the Shore in Leith.. The (now legendary amongst the Leith community) Leith Walk gig played out while Hibernian F.C. played out a 3-3 draw agains St. Mirren F.C., inadvertendly diverting Police resources at a crucial time and allowing the Anarcho-punk, Oi!, punk rock, street celebration to continue uninhibited, proving a significant landmark in Gaelic culture.
Apostles and Political Asylum drummer Chris Low also played in Oi Polloi for a while. Drummer Murray Briggs, who played on several of the band's 7" records, as well as the Fuaim Catha LP, now plays in Scottish indie pop band Aberfeldy along with brother Riley, who had a brief spell as Oi Polloi's guitarist in the 1990s. Brian Tipa was instrumental in writing a great deal of material for the band in the mid 1990s, including the Fuaim Catha LP, which was co-written with Calum Mackenzie two weeks before it was recorded. David 'Rat' Connolly was the guitarist through much of the early years, playing his last gig and album in 1991. Connolly wrote the music for songs such as "Pigs for Slaughter" and "Boot Down The Door", and he went on to become an archaeologist and Middle Eastern adventurer.
Former bass player Calum Mackenzie (1992-99) relocated to the United States and went on to play in several bands. On the "Omnicide" 7", bass and some vocals were by Morag Cruickshank from the Aberdeen grindcore band Grunge. Guitarist Ricky Olsen first appeared on 1999's "THC" 7", having replaced Matt "Keith Chugwin" Finch in 1997. Olsen was replaced in 1999 by Ethan Buck, and then by Yaga who left to join Disorder. Olsen later rejoined the band and a stable line-up has existed since 2001 (with the exception of Calum Nicolson's replacement on bass in 2006): Deek "Ruairidh" Allan on vocals, Cameron Tongs on drums, Oigridh on Basses and Olsen on guitars.