WORDS: EMMA MURPHY
When a band submerges a hydrophone into the Thames in order to demonstrate the working class, industrial geographic of their roots, you know we’re talking about punk.
Bad Breeding have been on the scene since the release of their first tracks, ‘Burn This Flag’ and ‘Age of Nothing’ way back in 2014 and since then have released three full length albums all as politically charged and galvanising as the last. Released on June 21st Exiled, in the words of vocalist Chris, “serves as a direct comment on the impact of neoliberalism on places like Stevenage, a town where large sections of the community have been ignored, but also abused as a matter of ideological course.”
While not strictly anarchist, the band is far from subtle with the political themes that saturate their music. In fact this contempt for the “boot-end of late capitalism” spills over into multiple art forms including essays, artwork and film, which are often Crass-esque in nature and as easily accessible to the public as possible. The band “work with a close-knit community of people to make the artwork, write the essays and produce the videos, each of whom have varying interests in the genre and also have an interest in conducting conversations about working-class experience that transcend the mocking caricatures of television media and the ‘mainstream press’”.
“What we do comes as a direct result of what we have experienced in our local community…”
“Much of what Bad Breeding does is inspired and centred on the material conditions of those that write the music. What we do comes as a direct result of what we have experienced in our local community – a town battered by neoliberal greed and suffocated by the tightening grip of Conservative austerity.”
In the 80s Stevenage, the hometown of Bad Breeding, was home to the Bowes Lyon House (now the Bowes Lyon Centre) which was a foundation for a thriving DIY punk scene “but you can’t put on gigs there anymore. Licensing issues and the continued stomp of commodified culture has killed the live music scene here. Instead we’ve had to travel and make friends elsewhere in order to play shows.”
Regardless, Bad Breeding are truly DIY. All self-taught musicians the band stress the importance of a physically, geographically close, community-like scene: “in terms of physical community-building that offers people a constructive platform for discussion and the space to play, close-knit DIY scenes will always be crucial – not just in terms of offering marginalised sections of communities with the chance to express themselves, but they are also important in political organisation by pulling together likeminded people in a room.
“Going to shows doesn’t need to be about the monetary exchange for entry…they can potentially be fertile ground for organising movements of solidarity.”
“So many tangents of ‘punk’ have been commodified and commercialised, harnessing a collective spirit in a room still allows you to challenge the entrenched logic of capital through the power of the collective, even if it’s just for a few hours. Going to shows doesn’t need to be about the monetary exchange for entry, high merchandise costs and parading obscure band t-shirts, they can potentially be fertile ground for organising movements of solidarity and potentially progressively radical modes of protest”.
Bad Breeding are currently signed to One Little Indian, the record label owned by Ex- Flux Of Pink Indians bassist Derek Birkett who from day one was “understanding of the band’s ideology and standpoint on a lot of issues. The determining factor for us was the ability to keep control of what we did and to not get involved in deals that were counter-productive for the band, both financially and ideologically”.
The chances of sharing a Christmas dinner with label-buddy Bjork, however, are apparently very slim.
Bad Breeding are currently on a tour of Europe. Catch them at the following dates: