Interview with Steve Contempt

Could you give a brief history of Contempt and a discography?

Haha a brief history? 30 years in there so I’ll try. Formed in 1984, in Wolverhampton, playing lots of local gigs and a few further afield and then went through a few line up changes, all the time gigging, even further afield. Some UK and European tours followed as well as releases of demo tapes, a track on “Words Worth Shouting” on Radical Change (The Disrupters label), more gigs, more line up changes, albums, tours, singles, line up changes, tracks on compilations etc. And so on, until this day. You get the picture!
Discography, well albums there was The Hunter becomes the Hunted on cassette, Still Fighting On, Live in Hagen, Shouting the Odds, Who Needs Diplomacy, and Decay. We’ve got a double LP on vinyl due out soon, “We Got Nothing” which compiles tracks from the past 30 years, and also a new studio album coming out hopefully later in the year. A few singles too, the Familiarity Breeds Contempt EP from ’86, ACAB EP, 12 Years On, War on the Poor, Justice for Who? all on 7″ and the Fanatic EP on CD. Loads of compilations as well.

How would you describe your sound?

Old school punk rock I suppose, fast, angry, anarcho punk, but not too “growly”, still retain a bit of the sing along kind of sound, I don’t know, hard to say really. I suppose we mix up styles a bit as well.

Who makes up the band and what do they do?

Mart – Guitar/vocals Steve – Vocals Sam – Bass/Vocals Craig – Drums

What other bands have you all played in before and play in at present as well as Contempt?

There’s a few, Martin’s been in Contempt since the beginning, but was in a couple of bands before that, I’m currently playing guitar for Hotwired, while Sam’s in about 12 bands or something, er, Alcohol Licks, Balsall Heathens, Screaming Abdabz… Bands we’ve been in include Eastfield, the Disrupters, Cupid Stunt, Sensa Yuma, and loads of others.

Do you have any problems getting everyone free at the same time for gigs with the other band commitments?

Sometimes it’s a pain, but actually I’m surprised it isn’t more often than it is. It’s just a case of first come, first served, and if we get asked to do a gig and one of us already has one booked, we just can’t do it, and we think no more about it. There’s quite often other reasons too, maybe it does happen quite often, but it’s not remarkable enough to remember!

Contempt has seen quite a few members come and go over the years, how have you managed to keep momentum with the band?

I don’t think we have haha! It always sets you back a bit when you change personnel, sometimes more than others. The line up has been fairly stable for a while now though, and I think that shows.

What’s in the pipeline for Contempt?

New album/single release this year, compilation LP as well, lots of gigs, short European tour, beers, the onset of old age…

Animal rights, anti-racism, anti-fascism, anti-capitalism, anti-war etc play a big part in the bands lyrics, do you think that singing about such things makes a difference are you preaching to the converted?

What else are we going to sing about? Love songs? I think a lot of the time it’s just venting, rather than really expecting to change the world. I don’t think it’s the same sort of time now as it was 30 years ago, we’re never going to have the same impact on people that bands like Crass and Conflict did in the 80s. Although people have come up to us and said that they’ve gone vegetarian because of one of our songs, and stuff like that which is always nice. But you just sing your stuff, if it makes people think, then great, most of the time I just think people can relate to it, which is equally valid. There are still bands I like to listen to because of what they sing about, it stops you from getting too apathetic. Plus we’ve grown up now, and have a slightly different take on things, a bit more experience. As long as we’re being truthful to ourselves then I think it’s still valid, the world isn’t a better place now, is it? We still need to fight back, probably more than ever now to be honest.

Contempt have toured Europe a lot now, how do you find the scene differ from the UK?

Places like Germany have a great scene, really love going over there. They seem to have a good thing going on in Europe for squats and squatted venues; we’ve played some great places that have been squats. That rarely happens in the UK, the authorities are just all over things like that too quickly, whereas in a lot of places in Europe they actually get support from their local councils or whatever! Although a few of the places we’ve played have now been shut down, and of course there’s been some quite high profile squat evictions in Europe too. But other than that, punks are pretty much punks everywhere, still like a big family wherever we go!

Contempt have not just spoken about issues that concern them but also been politically active, do you find this to be rare in a band?

Maybe, but then it’s quite rare in all walks of life, people love moaning about shit, but always want someone else to do something about it. The most politically active most people get is voting, and all that says is that you want someone else to sort stuff out, and in exchange you’ll let them run your life for you. Fuck that. If everyone who didn’t vote became politically active in their own way, there probably wouldn’t be any problems getting rid of this corrupt and antiquated system, but it has its own power, its own inertia, and unless people challenge it, find ways round it and help to bring it down, it’s just going to keep lumbering on until everyone and everything is extinct, apart from a few fat cats who’ve colonised the fucking moon or something. I think people feel powerless and don’t really know what to do, but the only power the leaders and politicians have is ours, we just need to reclaim it a step at a time. Anything I can do to make that happen, I will try to do.

What gigs have you got coming up?

Bristol punx picnic is the next on 13th June, along with Left for Dead, Inner Terrestrials and loads of others, and then we’re off to Europe for a few gigs from 22nd to 28th June. Telford punk and ska fest 5th July, Punks against Cancer weekend in Derby 13th July, Worstead festival near Norwich with English Dogs and Hotwired 27th July, then Rebellion Festival in August (on the Sunday).

What’s the best and worst thing about being in an anarcho punk band in 2014?

The best? I love it, it’s about the message, yeah sure, but we’re in a band to have fun and play gigs, entertain people, and that’s what we do. Playing gigs, meeting people, drinking beers with them, it’s why we’re still doing it. The worst? Drummers.

What state do you think punk is in today and what can if offer today’s generation?

A tough one really, It’s okay I guess, but maybe showing its age a little. I don’t think it holds the same threat any more, and I wish it did. There are loads of great bands out there though, and loads of great people, there’s still a good scene. I think there’s fucking loads on offer for today’s generation, whether they want it or not I don’t know. The younger generation need to get more involved in the political side of things, they’re the future, and it’s their turn to run around getting arrested now, haha! I think we need punk, and as long as we can keep the right wing element out of it, have fun, maintain the unity and look out for each other, it’s going to get stronger. More and more people are finding out how corrupt the authorities are, and how we’re constantly being fucked over for the benefit of big corporations. It’s punk’s job to fight that I think.

What bands should we keep an eye out for?

All of them. Support all the gigs you can, it keeps the scene vibrant and alive, and creative. Sneak drinks in to the venues if you can’t afford bar prices, but support the bands, they’re the life blood of the scene.

Any final comments?

It’s not the fault of the immigrants or the benefit scroungers. It’s yours for not challenging what you read in the papers or see on the TV. You’re constantly being told what to think, how to feel, what you should be. Don’t pay attention to the lies and deceit. You have more power than you think, be strong and use it wisely. Fuck the government, fuck authority, fuck the police; only fear makes us think we need these things. Anarchy and peace!

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