Meet the Brits who are fight­ing back against govern­ment cor­rup­tion and clas­sism in the most punk way pos­si­ble.

Ex­pos­ing po­lit­i­cal cor­rup­tion and the di­vi­sions in so­ci­ety, con­fronta­tional UK punks Bad Breed­ing are as real as it gets. It’s time to fight back against the bull­shit

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contests - WORDS: DOM LAW­SON • PIC­TURES: ROGER SAR­GENT

You don’t need to be a pol­i­tics junkie to re­alise that 2017 finds the world in a more un­cer­tain and per­ilous po­si­tion than at any time dur­ing the last 50 years. As a re­sult, you might ex­pect heavy mu­sic – and punk rock in par­tic­u­lar – to be pro­duc­ing end­less bands with a shit­load of per­ti­nent, re­bel­lious in­sights. Un­for­tu­nately, a great deal of 21st cen­tury ‘punk’ has fuck-all to say and is aimed squarely at an young au­di­ence who are largely un­fa­mil­iar with the con­cept of punk as protest. And that’s why Bad Breed­ing are the most vi­tal band in the UK right now.

Formed in Steve­nage, Hert­ford­shire, in 2013, this vis­ceral and un­com­pro­mis­ing quar­tet have har­nessed the power of tor­tured gui­tars and swivel-eyed bel­low­ing to shine a light on so­ci­ety’s in­nu­mer­able ills.

“None of us have any par­tic­u­lar skill when it comes to in­stru­ments; it was more a case of just com­ing to­gether and play­ing out of frus­tra­tion,” says vo­cal­ist Christo­pher Dodd. “Our po­si­tion in Steve­nage puts us in an odd sit­u­a­tion where if you want to ex­plore any no­tion of cul­tural iden­tity, you ei­ther have to pay 20 quid for a 20-minute train jour­ney into Lon­don, or spend your time mak­ing some­thing for your­self. It was clear that writ­ing and per­form­ing was not only cathar­tic for us on a per­sonal level, but it also gave us the chance to com­ment on our own iden­tity in Steve­nage, one that’s of­ten ma­ligned, dis­torted and abused by the right-wing press and politi­cians.”

An anony­mous, 50s-built ‘new town’ and some­what face­less satel­lite of Lon­don, Steve­nage may not seem like the most likely breed­ing ground for a game-chang­ing punk rock band. But as Christo­pher ex­plains, the evo­lu­tion of the ex­tra­or­di­nary racket that Bad Breed­ing have con­jured on their epony­mous 2016 de­but and this year’s fol­low-up, Di­vide, is in­trin­si­cally linked to the grey streets and dis­in­te­grat­ing in­fra­struc­ture of the band’s stomp­ing ground.

“Steve­nage is at the heart of all that we do, it’s all been in­formed by grow­ing up here,” he says. “It’s a place fraught with problems, but it’s also some­where that has taught us a lot of pos­i­tive things about

strug­gle and be­ing able to back your­self when nec­es­sary. Po­lit­i­cally and so­cially, it pro­vides us with a lot to write about. The town’s con­tin­u­ously been on the re­ceiv­ing end of gov­ern­men­tal fail­ures and fi­nan­cial self-in­ter­est.”

lthough largely writ­ten prior to the star­tling cli­max and bit­ter af­ter­math of last year’s EU ref­er­en­dum cam­paign, the new Bad Breed­ing al­bum could hardly be a more ap­po­site sum­mary of the UK’s cur­rent state of frac­tured con­fu­sion. Songs like the vi­cious Whip Hand (‘They ex­ploit, you pay / Whip hand crack­ing on the backs of the vul­ner­a­ble’) and the self­ex­plana­tory Death (‘Con­sumed again by pu­trid frauds / Push­ing cheap lies and loans’) paint a hideously bleak pic­ture of work­ing class life in the UK un­der a Tory govern­ment; of cor­rupt land­lords, un­scrupu­lous politi­cians, dis­hon­est

“We’ve been failed by the govern­ment” BAD BREED­ING’S HOME­TOWN HAS BEEN LEFT TO DE­CLINE

me­dia and the dele­te­ri­ous ef­fect that all of the above have on real peo­ple’s lives.

“Much of the record was writ­ten with the Brexit cam­paign rum­bling over­head,” Christo­pher nods. “It was our way of at­tempt­ing to make sense of the con­fu­sion. At times, we sim­ply found our­selves in­stinc­tively lash­ing out in be­wil­der­ment at what was un­rav­el­ling around us – the di­vi­sion and de­ri­sion of cer­tain sec­tions of so­ci­ety, the en­able­ment of xeno­pho­bia and the ma­nip­u­la­tion of work­ing-class iden­tity by politi­cians and press or­gan­i­sa­tions.”

Of course, none of this earnest ex­plor­ing of so­cial and per­sonal pol­i­tics would have much im­pact if the mu­sic un­der­pin­ning it was straight­for­ward, cookie-cut­ter punk rock. In­stead, Bad Breed­ing seem to be chan­nelling the way­ward spirit of the orig­i­nal an­ar­cho-punk wave that ex­ploded in the late 70s in the UK, as bands such as Crass, Flux Of Pink In­di­ans and Icons Of Filth churned out edgy and un­tamed bursts of feral noise and in­censed, work­ing-class polemic that point­edly prized con­vic­tion and cre­ativ­ity over mu­si­cian­ship and mar­ket­ing. Christo­pher and his band­mates – Matt Toll (gui­tar), Char­lie Rose (bass) and Ash­lea Ben­nett (drums) – are far too young to re­mem­ber those days, but the par­al­lels are ob­vi­ous.

“Our main ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Crass is in that com­plete com­mit­ment and con­vic­tion to cre­at­ing art free from the ini­tial in­tru­sions of com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion,” Christo­pher states. “In some ways, they proved that you didn’t need the most skill to stand up for what you be­lieved in. If you wanted to rep­re­sent your­self through some­thing, whether that’s art, mu­sic or lit­er­a­ture, you just did it.”

From its fiercely in­tel­li­gent lyrics to its com­pelling, mono­chrome art­work, Di­vide is far more than just a rowdy punk rock record. Pro­duced by Ben Green­berg (of NYC in­dus­trial ter­ror­ists Uni­form), its grotesque, three-chord as­saults are em­bel­lished with the grind­ing, hiss­ing bru­tal­ity of in­dus­trial ma­chin­ery and pierc­ing feed­back that makes the al­bum both ridicu­lously thrilling and deeply un­com­fort­able to lis­ten to. Sim­i­larly, Bad Breed­ing have steadily earned them­selves a fear­some rep­u­ta­tion as one of the UK’s most in­sanely ex­hil­a­rat­ing live bands, but don’t ex­pect Christo­pher and his com­rades to play the usual mu­sic biz games. At a time when we des­per­ately need bands that give a shit about the world around us, Bad Breed­ing are liv­ing proof that com­pro­mise is a choice, si­lence is not an op­tion and do­ing it your­self is the only way to make your true voice heard.

“This band serves as an out­let for us to dis­cuss things that we don’t nec­es­sar­ily get the chance to else­where,” says the singer. “That’s the most im­por­tant thing for us – the chance to con­trib­ute to con­ver­sa­tions we’re of­ten ex­cluded from as young peo­ple. Our en­gage­ment with what you might de­scribe as the ‘mu­sic in­dus­try’ is some­thing we spend a lot of time de­lib­er­at­ing and is some­thing we only ap­proach on our own terms. Much of it is rid­dled with de­ceit and a sort of cal­cu­lated ten­dency to be a closed shop. But it’d be point­less for us to hide away from us­ing a plat­form to make a point. There’s very lit­tle point ar­gu­ing in a vac­uum.”

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