Killdren on being kicked off the Glastonbury line-up, death threats and “being misrepresented by the right-wing press”

"We are not violent people. We're just cheeky little activists prodding the establishment with ridiculous over-the-top statements which people seemed to have taken too seriously and literally"

Killdren have discussed the controversy around them being removed from the Glastonbury line-up due to the backlash to their song ‘Kill Tory Scum (Before They Kill You)’.

The band had been due to appear at the Shangri-Hell International TV stage on Friday June 28, a tent organised by Glastonbury’s Shangri-La promoters. However, this week saw their performance pulled due to the single’s controversial lyrics. “We in no way condone violence and will not allow this matter to overshadow the incredibly inclusive spirit of Glastonbury,” said a Shangri-La spokesperson.

However, the band claim that they have been severely misunderstood.

“One glance at our website and the artwork that represents our music would surely indicate the cartoonish and over-the-top nature of everything we do,” Killdren singer Efa Supertramp told NME. “At the end of the day it is punk music. Punk in its very nature is about being anti-establishment and provoking society. “Going ‘too far’ and using crude shock tactics to get messages across is something loads of punk artists have done in the past. I’d say we have succeeded by this recent media storm.”

They argued: “We are not violent people. We’re just cheeky little activists prodding the establishment with ridiculous over-the-top statements which people seemed to have taken too seriously and literally.”

The band claimed that Glasto’s move could set “a dangerous precedent” of censorship.

“We feel like the UK is in the middle of a political crisis, and something needs to change,” said Killdren. “Censoring artists is a dangerous path to start treading, based on whether you constitute it as ‘violence’.

“Music has long been an amazing tool for social change and radical messages. The last few decades of neo-liberalism has attempted to take the last vestiges of politics out of everyday life. Pop songs in ’80s were full of adult messages about the world around us, including politics. We are really excited to see what Stormzy uses his platform as a Glastonbury headliner for, as he’s done some great political statements recently at the Brit Awards and Radio One Big Weekend. At the end of the day, if the system is oppressing people, people are going to be angry and one way of expressing that anger is through music and art. They’ll never be able to censor all of us.”

Speaking to NME, the band said that they hadn’t officially been contacted by Glastonbury but that they had “heard through people involved in Shangri-La that the organisers of Glastonbury were ‘very upset’ at their violent content”.

“The song has largely been misrepresented in the right-wing press, completely failing to highlight the satirical nature of the piece and the underlying message,” Supertramp told NME. “The ‘Kill Tory Scum (Before They Kill You)’ music video and stage show are satirical works laced with some admittedly fairly grim black humour.

“I doubt the organisers of Glastonbury have even watched the video to the end and realised it’s a piece we created for the General Election in 2017 –  aimed at drawing attention to the double-standards of what constitutes violence in society. The piece would not exist at all if the destructive and violent policies of the Tory party hadn’t taken such a long and devastating toll on the UK.”

The band argued that their cancellation “highlights how commercial and soulless Glastonbury has become” and a sign of the festival “succumbing to the right wing press”.

“We’re really not that bothered about the set any-more, because we were only playing on a small stage at 4am,” they said. “No one would have even heard of us if it wasn’t for this media storm. This is the kind of PR you can’t buy. The KLF and Malcolm McClaren would be proud of it.

“We’re just really surprised that our stupid music has gained so much attention and got us axed from Glasto. Even though we’re not playing anymore we’ re confident that plenty of great political acts (who could be considered to be spreading a ‘violent’ message)  have performed in the past (such as Rage Against The Machine, Chumbawumba, Public Enemy or Primal Scream‘s ‘Kill All Hippies’ etc) and in 2019 we were looking forward to seeing great political acts like Stormzy, Kate Tempest and Lowkey.”

The Shangri Hell stage at Glastonbury, which won’t be starring Killdren.

Killdren also revealed that they had received “a few death threats online”, but they defended their “right to satire to undermine the establishment”.

“The media has completely overblown the whole thing, considering we are pretty much unheard of as a band and the roots of Glastonbury as a festival was from the counter-cultural hippie and free festival movement,” they said. “We didn’t expect anything like this. ”

However, the band said that they have received a number of messages of support with regards to song.

“We’ve also had really touching e-mails from disability activists saying how shit their lives have been under the Tory government, as they strip away their benefit and dignity – telling us they love us for writing the song and highlighting how many deaths are caused by these policies,” Killdren told NME.

“Current reports are suggesting that anything up to 130,000 deaths under the Tory-driven austerity programme have been preventable. No one in their right mind is going to listen to our silly rave-punk songs and actually be driven to hurt people. We are just trying to highlight the hypocrisy of the system. We think that everyone who voted for the Conservatives in 2017 is effectively complicit in generating levels of poverty across the UK not seen since World War Two.”

They added: “As much we didn’t particularly want a two-year-old video, created for the last General Election, to suddenly become the centre of a media furore it has brought our message to a wider audience. As to be expected from such a crude and provocative work, opinions about the song are extremely divided – much as the current polarised political landscape.”

A vigil for MP Jo Cox at Glastonbury 2016

The band’s appearance on the bill was criticised by The Jo Cox Foundation, the anti-violence organisation established after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a far-right protestor in her constituency in Birstall, West Yorkshire in 2016. The Foundation called the track ‘Kill Tory Scum’ “completely abhorrent”. Killdren said that they were sad to have upset the foundation.

“What happened to Jo Cox was obviously disgusting and a horrific crime,” Killdren told NME. “As our video for ‘Kill Tory Scum (Before They Kill You)’ says, ‘We do not condone the killing of MPs’ and we are sorry to have upset people at The Jo Cox Foundation.

“However, we do not equate our video as being anywhere as dangerous as right-wing media platforms, as well as politicians like Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump who are given mainstream media platforms to spread their hate against migrants, people of colour, the disabled, the LGBTQ community etc. It’s worth stating that anti-fascism, in any form, only exists because of fascism in the first place. Most people (certainly not us) would rather not waste their lives defending basic human rights – that the growing far-right are happy to strip away.”

The band went on: “For example, the recent milkshake dowsing phenomenon is something of a pacifist reaction if you consider the shooting and stabbing of Jo Cox. It is a form of humiliation that only damages their pride, and maybe their tailored suits. Our video is also supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and silly to draw attention to the violence of Tory policies whilst using satire to undermine the individuals that promote these ideologies. Some people seem to find it confusing to distinguish between the hard-left (excluding totalitarian communism, of course) and the hard-right.

“One just wants equality, and to get on with their lives in relative happiness – the other are out committing hate crimes, campaign for a reduction in human rights and occasionally seek to initiate a race war.”

Fans at Glastonbury

Glastonbury 2019 takes place from Wednesday 26 – Sunday June 30. Check back at NME for the latest Glastonbury news, and see the latest weather forecast here and the full line-up with schedules for each stage here.