An interview with Bristol’s militant ska punk band Spanner that we did back in 2012, just prior to their triumphant 2013 Canadian tour … you can both download their “Crisis” album and their split 7″ with Action Sedition for free / pay-what-you-want from the Rebel Time Records Bandcamp page … new album from Spanner out shortly on Rebel Time Records and other like-minded labels …
We are an anarcho ska punk band from Bristol, U.K. Formed around 2000 from the wreckage of Disruptive Element (folk punk), we’ve been playing benefit gigs, squat gigs, a few uproarious tours, festivals and the odd wedding since. The band is really going well at the moment, having recently released our first full length album (yeah, I know, what took so long?!) and getting out and about a bit more in Europe over the last few years. We all get on well and really enjoy the band. There’s a distinct lack of rock n roll rows or punk rock punch ups in this band! I love the mix of radical politics and pleasure and I’m happy and proud that Spanner has put a lot back into the scene / movement and supporting a wide variety of struggles. We’re not the most organised of bands, but somehow we carry on!
Spanner has been described as ” knock out in-yer-face political punky ska, more spikey than skanky but still eminently danceable.” Accurate assessment?
We’d say that’s a fair and comradely analysis indeed. We play a mix of ska, punk and budget end dub with a bit of bodge it drum and bass now being thrown in here and there, coz we hear the kids like that sort of thing these days! And we call it militant ska punk, because we believe and hope that the music we play should be a reflection of and a contribution towards our politics; part of the soundtrack to revolt and music to riot to, not just for entertainment or pacification / confinement in the subcultural comfort zone. Long live the resisdance!
What do you think of when you think of Canada? If indeed you think of Canada at all…
My reflex response to that question would have to be… Trailer park boys!!! Pure class. If ever we feel the need for bodyguards or getaway drivers for our Canada tour (yeah, we’re thinking a lot about that too!), we’ll be asking for Ricky, Julian and Bubbles. Put a shirt on Randy!!!
Also the 500 plus years of indigenous resistance, anarchist organising and attacks we hear reports of (most prominently during the Winter Olympics and G-20 periods) – and the legendary punk rock city of Montreal! One day we wanna play with Jeunesse Apatride, for example! We’re still pretty envious of the title “Black Block n Roll!”.
Crisis” is the first track on the album, and it’s also the name of the album so I would assume it’s an important song to the band…what’s it all about?
Well, where do we start? Oh yeah, these capitalist scum have a real habit of wanting it all their way, don’t they? Not content with bailing the bankers and desperately trying to save themselves from system collapse with our money they’re intent on making us pay again with their so called “austerity measures” (read full scale attack on working conditions, livelihoods and essential services for millions of people and our class as a whole). We are now faced with increased, intensified insecurity and precarity and deteriorating conditions in the workplace and job losses everywhere. Meanwhile profits rise and the bosses and bankers continue to reward themselves with huge pay rises and bonuses for their services to capital. Last year, the world’s millionaires managed, in the thick of the “crisis”, to increase their accumulated wealth by 10%. The richest 10% now own 83% of the world’s wealth and the gap between the haves and the have nots continues to grow ever wider. And yet in the U.K. we are cursed with a government filled with multimillionaires spouting shit like “we’re all in this together” and urging us to tighten our belts and work harder and longer for less, all for the “national interest”. Their plan is the wholesale destruction and privatisation of public services and this so called crisis is just an excuse to further neoliberal policies and go looting capitalist style i.e. on a massive, global scale. As always it is us who suffer the consequences, with libraries, day centres for the elderly, community projects, youth clubs, advice centres and so much more abandoned and closed down. Working class kids are shut out of further education and left with nothing and the sick are left to die while mercenary corporations are queueing up to get their hands on our schools and hospitals.
We often hear people talking about “Tory cuts”, but this badly misses the point. The present government is simply continuing where the last one left off. Capitalism itself is the problem and all government serves the needs of capital, managing a system based on massive inequalities of income and wealth. The cuts are not just part of economic class warfare, they are totally political and designed to discipline us all and to let us know who’s boss.
They try to tell us that the cuts are “inevitable” but we’ve got other ideas about how we can redistribute the wealth and turn their crisis into our opportunity for advancing the spread of revolutionary ideas and action. It’s a good time to be an anarchist as the system has been so thoroughly shown for what it is and our ideas suddenly seem to make a lot more sense. But our rulers won’t go down without a fight of course. We have to counter their lies and misinformation designed to confuse, divide and demoralise our class and to divert and destroy any rebellion and revolt. But we’ve already seen some inspiring examples and more potential for widespread, collective resistance, in our communities and workplaces. We have to do all we can to link up seemingly isolated struggles and increase coordination and solidarity and make or actions more effective and powerful.
The song “Autonomous Spaces” seems to deal with, it seems to me, a particular space? Is this the case? Is the band associated with (or affiliated with) a particlar info-shop or something?
I’m involved with Kebele social centre, which is an anarchist centre in Easton, Bristol. It has it’s ups and downs and can often take over a lot of your life, but it’s a very inspiring project which has been going for 15 years now. It’s about collectively meeting our needs and organising for ourselves without bosses or leaders, showing a good example of putting our politics into practice in the here and now, in a DIY, not for profit space. Again, so much to say about it all but this is a zine, not a book! Check out http://www.kebelecoop.org for more info on our history,ideas, events, activities etc and come and visit one day! So, the song is about some of the experiences of the day to day problems and pitfalls but also the constant sources of inspiration and confirmation of the strength of our ideas and in making revolution every day. There’s also a benefit CD for Kebele available from our Info shop!