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CHUMBAWAMBA BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
Formed in 1982, Chumbawamba became active in the anarcho-punk underground movement of 1980s Britain. For years, they were based in a squat in Leeds. The band dealt with issues such as animal rights, pacifism, class struggle, feminism, gay liberation, pop culture and anti-fascism.
Stalwarts of cassette culture and the punk DIY ethic, their early albums were self-released on cassette. Evolving to pop in the 1990s, the band eventually took the controversial decision to sign with EMI in 1997. Following this, their first single, "Tubthumping", was commercially successful, which threw the band into the limelight of media attention and celebrity status.
After splitting up during 2012, they released a posthumous EP in 2013 called "In Memoriam: Margaret Thatcher", which had been scheduled to be released upon the death of Margaret Thatcher.
- Andy Bruce/booksmusicfilmstv.com.
DUNSTAN BRUCE of CHUMBAWAMBA INTERVIEW
This Paul Rance article on Chumbawamba frontman Dunstan Bruce originally appeared in Peace & Freedom No. 2 in the Summer of 1985. Back then, John Prescott was blithely unaware as to what lay in store...
Chumbawamba are a band who have a deep concern about man's inhumanity and corruptness. Dunstan kindly answered some questions on behalf of the band.
P.R: Chumbawamba seem more than just a cliched rock band - how would you describe yourselves?
D: Rock & Roll is an institution, the 'music industry' is just that and it won't change a thing because it supports the status quo by its very nature. We don't want to be a part of the Rock & Roll circus and we don't want to be a crutch for anyone. The whole Rock & Roll issue is to do with an attitude as opposed to a musical style. We use all the tricks which we have picked up from 'Rock & Roll' bands but it is how we translate those ideas and themes and how we act and react within the structure of the band that sets us apart from 'Rock & Roll'. So many rebellions in the music industry have been nothing more than chequebooks and charts, fashions and business propositions. From Elvis Presley to The Clash to now - it's all a sham and it's reactionary and it's full of shit. The entertainment industry is one small part of the whole shitty situation we are now in, it's just another wall that needs to be pulled down but it is one area that we feel we can have an effect in. Music is not a threat - action that music inspires can be a threat.
P.R: Which groups do you most identify with?
D: We have been, in the past, inspired and motivated by The Fall, ATV, Wire, Pop Group and Frank Zappa, however most of these people became a part of the very industry they were so cynical about or else ended up their own arses. Later, bands such as Crass provided that inspiration. Today there are few bands who I identify with, I prefer to talk in terms of people of which there are loads who I identify with. I see our music as a vehicle to express our ideas, we try to make it as interesting and coherent as possible whilst trying to retain the essential spirit of it all. None of us are especially good musicians (except for Simon who plays keyboards), but we have developed a method of combining all the different media and concepts we use to express them in a way which is hopefully effective.
P.R: How do you view the record industry (from indie to mega)?
D: The 'independent charts' has become a meaningless phrase when used in conjunction with what we see in the music press. It is simply another market - the independents are in fact making the job of the record labels easier as it is they who are finding new bands, giving them some experience and then watching them sign to a major. They have become the majors a & r team. Another brick in the Rock & Roll wall.
P.R: What does the name of the band mean?
D: The name Chumbawamba is taken from a line in an early Frank Zappa song - it doesn't mean anything.
P.R: Which is the nearest political party to your ideals?
D: None probably though every now and again we may find some common ground with various people involved with various groups.
P.R: How do you feel about programmes like 'Jack's Game' being shown on TV, especially at a time when children may be watching (Ed's note: This repellent television programme featured a former England soccer player, Jack Charlton, showing viewers how to kill various animals for fun)?
D: 'Jack's Game' is beyond contempt.
P.R: What are your views on religion?
D: Jesus was a troublemaker!
P.R: Have you any forthcoming releases?
D: We are to release an album this year sometime - a bit more product to keep you quiet!
English Rebel Songs 1381-1984
Going, Going - Live At Leeds City Varieties [DVD]
Singles (and UK chart positions)
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