The anarchic punks blazed a trail of politicised chaos through the ’70s and ’80s. As their best album gets a reissue, Pink Eyes from Fucked Up says if you like things loud then listen up
When I was 13 and getting into punk, Crass for me were a patch band. There were groups that existed almost entirely as jacket patches or T-shirts that were worn by punk kids and Crass was one of them. When I first heard them I just didn’t get it. But as time went on and my tastes went more into experimental music I started to appreciate what they were about.
To my mind, the release of ‘The Feeding Of The 5000’ in 1978 was the day when punk became earnest. They birthed the idea of what it was to be a political punk. They set up the rules which we still follow today.
Before Crass, no matter how sincere and heartfelt bands such as The Clash were, it was just a pose. The politics were something that could be picked up and put down when it suited the bands.
Crass walked the walk though. They lived in a commune. A lot of punks were living in squats, but this was out of necessity rather than out of any sort of idealism. And even though they were singing about very negative things, they were idealists who built their own world.
They said that anyone could record their own album, book their own shows. They took the awesome things that started in the ’60s – political ideals of gender equality, animal rights, collectivism and environmentalism – and made them apply to punk.
Fucked Up came about in a post-Crass world. They influenced everything we did because they were one of those paradigm-shift bands. Crass pretty much invented this idea of a DIY distribution network that was independent to the major labels.
Suddenly you could have a record that was entirely in the hands of punks from start to finish. It could be put out by a punk label, distributed by an independent network, sold at a punk store or show and wind up in the hands of punks. This was something that we took for granted.
If you’re into Rolo Tomassi, Gallows, The Bronx and Fucked Up, then you need to listen to ‘The Feeding Of The 5000’. This was a record that got to Number One in the independent charts. Now, God love those other bands – but none of us will ever do that.
With Crass it was the sound of a movement being born and it’s a record that should be considered as being up there with ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ as being the definitive album that was the birth of a genre and an ideology. And the logo still looks amazing on a patch!
Crass’ ‘The Feeding Of The 500’ has been reissued with loads of extras, and is out now
This article originally appeared in the September 4 issue of NME