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Catching up with Crass today: 33% visionary, 33% crochty, 33% right on and at least 1% annoying

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Wed, Mar 5, 2008 at 9:00 AM

Crass have kept a low profile since their break-up in 1984 and unlike just about every other band out there, you kind of believe them when their official website claims "Crass will never reform."

Much like the free-form influences which informed the group, the band's members have been engaged in a diffuse range of post-band activities. Gee Vaucher, the member most responsible for the collages and visual elements which defined the band, has been credited by writer Naomi Klein as an important influence on anti-advertising phenomenon like culturejamming. Several members of the group have collaborated to support specific causes. In November 2002, a bunch of them appeared at a high profile London event as the Crass Collective to protest the gulf war. As the Crass Agenda, they did a few benefits to prevent the closing of the avant-garde Vortex Jazz Club.

In each case, they don't really perform classic Crass material, nor do they appear on stage together. However, in November 2007, singer Steve Ignorant made the questionable decision to assemble an ad hoc band to play Crass's album Feeding of the 5000. In his defense, Ignorant, was the most traditional musician of the group -- a "frontman" who went on to play with the popular anarcho-punk band Conflict after Crass broke up. Dude's gotta pay rent, I guess. (You can find YouTube clips from the November reunion, but I've chosen not to post them because they make me sad. There's something about the conjunction of passion and youth and presence that was unique and impossible to replicate when Crass were in their prime. If you choose to watch the November videos, let your skepticism rest on Ignorant's apparent inability to let those same sorts of passions flow in his present incarnation.)

Of all of Crass's members, it's the band's founder, drummer, and theoretician Penny Rimbaud who is most responsible for keeping the flame alive, and mostly he does it just by talking which, let us consider, is a skill that generally sharpens with age.

click to enlarge 080305_teenagekicks_oldrimbaud.jpg

He may remind remind you a lot of former Dead Kennedy's singer, Jello Biafra -- 33% visionary, 33% crochty, and 33% right on. And, yes, admittedly there's at least 1% of just plain annoying mixed in for good measure.

After the jump, where you should look to to catch-up with Penny Rimbaud.

First you should start with this excellent five-part interview from VBS.tv. (Look on the right side of the page.) I've embedded the first part right here:

Then check out this essay in a recent Vice Magazine where he schools the youngsters by explaining:

I've got no allegiance whatsoever to punk as a form of music. Never really did. Punk as I knew it has a political purpose. What is classified as ‘punk' music these days is absolutely empty and gutless.

Finally, for a brief insight into Rimbaud's efficient approach, check out the best official website of maybe any musician ever.

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