Chumbawamba’s early ideology was influenced in no small part by the pioneering British anarcho-punk band Crass. Their stitched-together ideological tapestry involved pacifism, veganism, squatting houses and organizing benefit concerts. Unlike the humorless, puritanical Crass, Chumbawamba approached politics satirically, mocking MPs and offensive British laws and clauses by name. From the inception, their ethical consistency was the launch pad from which they delivered their scathing attacks. They lived together in a squatted house, liberated animals on the weekends, wrote about local and national politics, and spent their days organizing community daycare services.
Today, many people, myself included, have an idealized picture of the bands early years. ‘Why couldn’t the perfect anarchist band last forever?’ their critics seem to sigh. but sometimes the situations that seem the most perfect from the outside are those in the most dire need of change. It is paradoxical that the strength of Chumbawamba’s consistency is directly proportional to the amount of bile their former fans spewed against them when they signed a major label and turned in a different direction—if you look closely enough at the frames, you can almost see the love slowly turn to hate.