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CRASS

CRASS

CRASS! you know that band that lived in Epping Forest and started the whole anarcho punk thing!

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We will not be commisioning any more of this design. CRASS were a major influence on our thinking and we will always be grateful to them for that but the revolutionary significance of the band and their logo has been severely tarnished in the last few years and we no longer feel this logo is worthy of continued reproduction alongside the black star and others.

I made my views about the Steve Ignorant 'CRASS" shows well known, I also felt the CRASS reissue CD's were misguided at best, then there has been the interviews in Vice magazine, the legal wrangling between members of the band, using copyright laws against anarcho punkebsites and appearances at festivals like Rebellion (sic). Ya basta, CRASS were great, then they stopped functioning as a band and tis a pity it didn't stay that way.

Jon @ctive

 

P.S. Thanx to Penny, Eve and Gee who told us to sell these pins as a benefit for Active many years ago when we asked them what cause they'd like us to do them as a benefit for.

  

 

When, in 1976, punk first spewed itself across the nation's headlines with the message 'do it yourself', we, who in various ways and for many years had been doing just that, naively believed that Messrs. Rotten, Strummer etc. etc. meant it. At last we weren't alone.

The idea of becoming a band had never seriously occurred to us, it simply happened. Basically anyone was free to join in and rehearsals were rowdy affairs that invariably degraded into little more than drunken parties. Steve and Penny had been writing and playing together since early '77, but it wasn't until Summer of that year that we had begged, borrowed and stolen enough equipment to actually call ourselver a band....CRASS.

Having finally managed to rehearse five songs, we set out on the road to fame and fortune armed with our instruments and huge amounts of booze to help us see it through. We did gigs and benefits, chaotic demonstrations of inadequacy and independence. We got turned off here, turned down there and banned from the now legendary Roxy Club. 'They said they only wanted well behaved boys, do they think guitars and microphones are just fucking toys?'

By now we had realised that our fellow punks, The Pistols, The Clash and all the other muso-puppets weren't doing it at all. They may like to think that they ripped off the majors, but it was Joe Public who'd been ripped. They helped no one but themselves, started another facile fashion, brought a new lease of life to London's trendy Kings Road and claimed they'd started a revolution. Same old story. We were on our own again.

Through the alchoholic haze we determined to make it our mission to create a real alternative to musie biz exploitation, we wanted to offer something that gave rather than took and, above all, we wanted to make it survive. Too many promises have been made from stages only to be forgotten on the streets.

Throughout the long, lonely winter of 77/78 we played regular gigs at The White Lion, Putney with the UK Subs. The audience consisted mostly of us when the Subs played and the Subs when we played. Sometimes it was disheartening, but usually it was fun. Charley Harper's indefatigable enthusiasm was always an inspiration when times got bleak, his absolute belief in punk as a peoples' music had more to do with revolution than McClaren and his cronies could ever have dreamt of. Through sheer tenacity we were exposing the punk charlatans for what they really were, a music-biz hype.

Our gigs remained wild and disorderly, we were still too scared to play without a belly full of booze and invariably we were in such a state that we'd realise half way through a song that each of us was playing a different one. For all the chaos it was immense fun, no one bitched about leather boots or moaned about milk in tea, no one wanted to know how anarchy and peace could be reconciled, no one bored our arses off with protracted monologues on Bakunin, who at that time we probably would have thought was a brand of vodka. Ideas were open, we were creating our own lives together. These were the glorious years before the free alternatives that we were creating became just another set of bigoted rules, before what we were defining as real punk became yet another squalid ghetto. We even played a Rock Against Racism gig, the only gig that we'd ever been paid for. When we told the man to keep the money for the cause, he informed us that 'this was the cause'. We never played for RAR again.

As the charlatans increasingly headed Stateside, to get a sniff of that which refreshed them best, we became hardened by the isolation. We determined to stop fucking about with booze and to start taking ourselves that much more seriously. We adopted black clothing as a protest against the narcissistic peacockery of fashion punks. We started incorporating film and-video into our set. We went into production of handout sheets to explain our ideas and a newspaper, International Anthem. We designed the banner that hung behind us to the end, and we committed ourselves to see it through at least until the end of the then mythical 1984.

Later in the Summer of '78, Pete Stennet, owner of the much missed Small Wonder Records, heard one of our demo tapes and loved it. He wanted to put out a single but couldn't decide on which track, so we recorded all the songs we'd written and made the first ever multitracked 45. We named the album The Feeding Of The Five Thousand because 5000 was the minimum number that we could get pressed and some 4900 more than we thought we'd sell. Feeding is now only a few hundred short of going golden, though I don't suppose we'll hear too much about that in the music press.

So, with our entire stage set on record, wrapped in what was then highly innovative black and white, the music press were able to commence on the barrage of attack that has followed us throughout the years. They hated it and us and their loathing positively overflowed. It is not grandiose to claim that we have been one of the most influential bands in the history of British rock, true we have not greatly influenced music itself, but our effect on broader social issues has been enormous. From the start the media has attempted to ignore us and only when its hand has been forced by circumstances has it grudgingly given us credence. It's all fairly simple, if you don't play their game, that is commercial exploitation, they won't play yours. The music bit doesn't just buy its groups, it pays for the music press as well. The charlatans were spread thicker and deeper than we could ever have imagined.

Nonetheless, realising that we were a threat to its control, the first offers started coming in from the enemy. Mr. Big tried to buy us with cheap wine and an offer of 50000 pounds if; we'd join 'Pursey's Package'. He also informed us that he could 'market revolution' and that we'd never succeed without his help. It was the first of many offers that we refused, we never looked back and, incidentally, we didn't hear too much more of Jimmy Pursey.

When Feeding came out in the Spring of '79, the first track had been silent and named The Sound Of Free Speech. The pressing plant had decided that the track that had been there, Asylum, was too blasphemous for their, and your, tastes. Such is the true face of censorship in the 'Free World'.

Eventually we found a pressing plant willing to deal with Asylum, so we re-recorded it along with Shaved Women, printed the covers at home, sold it for 45p, and totally broke ourselves.

On its release, the Reality Asylum single ran into immediate troubles. Complaints from the 'general public' led to police raids on shops throughout the country and a visit to us from Scotland Yard's vice-squad. After a pleasant afternoon sharing tea with our guardians of public morality, we were left with the threat of prosecution that hung over us for the next year. Eventually we received a note informing us that we were free, but that we'd better not try it again. The nature of our 'freedom' made doing it again inevitable and so the endless roundabout of police harassment set itself in motion; it has continued to this day.

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