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BACK in 1998 anarcho punk legends Chumbawamba introduced a song by dedicating it to Noel Gallagher and Tony Blair, saying: “They're great friends. They drink champagne together."
Pausing to grin, singer Dunstan Bruce went on: "This song is called I Can't Hear You 'Cause Your Mouth's Full of Shit."
Fast forward 20 years and listening to the radio before I catch up with the same Mr Bruce, hearing Blair makes me think nothing has changed.
Having left the band in 2004, Bruce kept busy, mainly making films and writing but now, as one of the “hard-faced macho dandies” in Interrobang‽ he is back making glorious music and currently treading the boards nationwide to promote a stunning new CD.
“The difference between now and then is in Chumba we had a collective view of the world, very much taking eight opinions into account and we wrote everything as a band, bringing a standpoint on something to the audience’s attention, a particular issue or cause.
In the past I was able to hide behind the politics. What I find liberating with this album is to talk about things from a personal point of view and that's also political in itself,” he says.
Their explosive debut album is superbly played and tells an incredibly powerful story, with Bruce on vocals, Harry Hamer on drums and Stephen “Griff” Griffin on guitar all on brilliant form.
“For me it has been a revelation being able to talk about stuff that as a man I struggled to talk about for years and years. Its easy to stand on stage and shout “Unrest is progress, content is death.”
Its just a slogan.
“It’s much harder to get up and talk about something personal and difficult. I've had a fantastic response from a lot of men of a similar age who have told me all about their experiences with their dad. I think so much comes back to reconciling their troubled relationships with their dads, and also with their own sons.
“I have come through my own existential crisis, I suppose, and I wanted this album to talk to others who have. As miserable as it sometimes seems, I think a lot resonates and there is a real sense of humour to it,” he says with a smile.
Asked about the current tour and what it is like getting back on stage, he laughs: “This album has been cathartic, getting it out of my system so it feels like a different person on stage now. I am half-terrified and half-excited, but I do feel comfortable up there. I am a massive show-off.
“When Chumba stopped getting on stage, I thought right, that’s over, done that. I wanted to do something else, so I got involved with documentary film making, which I am still doing. I got back on a stage almost by accident, but straight away I realised this is something I can do and should still be doing.
“I love the theatricality of it and so many bands look bloody miserable, but it is a massive privilege to be up on stage and perform so I really want to do it again and make the most it.”
Dunstan has put together this 16-night tour — “the most nights I have ever done” — himself. It is a real DIY tour with Bruce approaching venues, support acts and local community groups/campaigns to have stalls at the gigs.
“I didn’t want to be part of a nostalga circuit. I wanted this to be fresh and interesting and to get people involved, give something back. It feels just like the first time and we wanted to do something a bit more than just being another rock and roll band.”
Asked what the future holds for Interrobang‽ he says with an intensity driven by an ob vious excitement:“The next album won’t be like the first
“It will start from a different place and I have loads of fragments of lyrics about the last few years which I cannot wait to start work on with Griff and Harry, stuff about what’s happening now. I love the fact that young people are increasingly becoming political and engaged and taking control. Wasn't Grime for Corbyn great?
“This album was about my past and we started it at a time when the world was becoming an utter shit show — crazy shift to the right and everything that that brings with it.
“The next album will be more current and hopefully not take as long to get out. I am keen to explore how you can fit into the world when you’re well past 50.
“I still think a lot how to change the world, how to transform it. I could easily stand up and shout about revolution, but I now am more likely to quote Audre Lorde, ‘Revolution is not a one-time event,’ or Howard Zinn, ‘Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.’
“I still believe we live in a fucked-up society, but as a 57-year-old man I really believe there must be a better way. It is unfair and unjust and we definitely want to change it."
Interrobang‽ the combination of the question mark and exclamation mark is the perfect name for a band making their own unique sonic statement, appalled by and at the same time questioning the state of the world today.
UK Spring tour dates:www.interrobangband.co.uk/
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