LARGELY forgotten by all but what remains of the anarcho-punk cognoscenti, Mark, Curtis and Joseph were a trio of hippy punks from Yeovil who subverted the mores of the ‘Crass punk’ scene with a less strident, less straightforward, more soulful approach than many other bands associated with Crass.
Thanks to a very groovy local CND organiser, John Bennett, who hired a van, a load of us went over to Doncaster Co-op Hall to see what turned out to be their last gig, alongside Benjamin Zephaniah, D&V, Chumbawamba and the Passion Killers.
Their set was pretty intense, with the band running through stuff like Witch Hunt, No Doves Fly Here and Stay, as well as lots of tunes from their album, Let The Tribe Increase. I danced my little socks off.
I wanted to interview them for my fanzine but something came up on the night and by the time they got around to answering the questions I posted to them later, they’d decided to call it a day.
For some reason, I always thought it was Curtis who answered the questions but the quotes were, strangely, unattributed in the zine, so now I‘m not so sure. Hmmm.
* * *
THERE’S a definite absence of songs about animal rights on Mob records – is this because you think it’s a relatively unimportant issue?
“The Mob started before it became the done thing to write about issues (war/animal liberation/violence). The songs were more personal and not about specific things. One of the reasons the Mob stopped was because of the pressure to write songs about specific targets such as animal rights.
“It is very dangerous to assume that, so long as people come up with the right answers and is ‘ideologically sound’, then that group or person is okay because then it all becomes very moralistic – the most difficult thing to do is get on, and live, be a whole human being.
“Hitler was a vegetarian”.
If songs don’t have a message, are they meaningless?
“Mob songs are effective because they evoke emotions, not because they have a simple ‘this is good, this is bad’ moral to them. Many people write in saying they are more affected by Mob songs than songs by other supposedly similar groups. The question is one which used to be asked in Victorian times, when all ‘art’ was supposed to have ‘a message’, often a very Christian and sentimental one.
“Eventually, in the twentieth century, Victorian values fell apart and by the time of World War One, people began to realise that the most they could do was express their own point of view. You should have to work it out for yourself – not have it presented on a plate”.
Are the Mob just ‘another Crass band’?
“Of course not. The Mob formed in Yeovil in 1977 and were more influenced by Here & Now and ATV and free festivals like Stonehenge than anything else. The Mob always retained a separate identity. Does No Doves Fly Here sound like a typical Crass-style band?
“The tendency for groups to be influenced by Crass has become very limiting. In a way, Crass have been too successful – making it difficult for other groups to express different views on things like anarchy”.
How do we fight back against the people who would give us ‘cigarette burns on tortured arms’?
“Personally, I never thought of that line being about being tortured by somebody else – the cigarette burns on my arms are self-inflicted, the nihilist/destructive side of punk, pre-Crass etc. Ever heard of the New York Dolls? Punk as self-destruct … The problem of such self-inflicted damage is much closer to most people than that of being tortured by others.
“Actual violence against the torturers? Well, they have the guns and the tanks and the weapons of oppression. The days of revolutionaries storming the Bastille or the Winter Palace are pretty well past. Nowadays, it’s more of a Stop The City-type gesture. Authority and oppression are essential parts of this culture – they are not just sideshows”.
Is the classification ’punk’ damaging or helpful?
“What does punk mean anymore? Is punk the Exploited? What we need is something to be to punk what punk was to hippy. Something with energy and passion and that … Well, if it happens, you will feel it”.
What is the Tribe?
“Well, Mark (above) has built a tipi and was going to go off to Stonehenge but they got evicted today … The Tribe is people living an alternative to society, which could be living on a hillside in Wales or living in a squat in Hackney or living in a bus and travelling. The old culture.
“Our parents’ society is collapsing. The more the Tribe increases, the more chance there is for us to have a future”.
[This interview originally appeared in The Primitive Patriot’s Last Stand fanzine, in early 1984]