ForgottenBeeBlog talks to ‘Interrobang’s’… Dunstan Bruce – this is all forward motion!

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ForgottenBeeBlog welcomes Dunstan Bruce to the hive..formerly the singer and musician with radical band of the people “Chumbawamba”. Dunstan along with Harry Hamer and Stephen Griffin are back with a bang…an “Interrobang”. Here Dunstan talks Punk, documentary production, saving the world and his new band the agit – punk – funkstorm that is “INTERROBANG”……..

Dunstan welcome to ForgottenBeeblog my first question is…

FB   1/ What for you was a significant sea-change in music?

1976 – Punk happened in Billingham where I grew up. A small new town in the North-East of England. It was an enormous moment. When suddenly everything seemed possible. I was completely blown away. I sold all my prog rock albums so I could buy Eddie and the Hot Rods Do Anything You Wanna Do and Sex Pistols Anarchy In The UK. That was it; year zero.

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FB   2/ With a long career in the music industry, how have you seen it change over the years? Have these changes impacted on the music you produce?

When I told a younger friend of mine that I had got a new band together and I was looking for a record deal and an agent he snorted derisively “What era do you live in? The 90s?!”. He had a point. I had a gap of about ten years of not performing, I did other stuff and when I came back everything was different. There’s basically no money sloshing about nowadays an agents want to know you already can fill a decent-sized venue before they’ll pick you up. So it’s harder but we have the passion, the determination, the belief; if you haven’t you bail. This is something we just have to do regardless of the music industry landscape.

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FB   3/   You and Harry Hamer formerly of Chumbawamba and Stephen Griffin from the band “Regular Fries” have got together to form a new band “Interrobang”. How would you describe Interrobang’s music?

 This is from a press release I wrote:

Interrobang create their very own agit-punk-funkstorm. It’s angular, taut, urgent, pulsating and intense. And it’s tight, terse and to the point. We’re totally wired, can’t you see?

“If it’s a question of curiosity, what’s going to happen when I hit fifty? Will I still be hungry, will I still be angry? And will I still have the energy?”

[from “Breathe” Interrobang]

Bruce and Hamer both have previous form as awkward troublemakers in the anarcho-pop-cabaret troupe Chumbawamba whilst Griffin was a former enfant terrible in the London louts, Regular Fries. We came together as Interrobang, with a clear vision to create something that is current and relevant; something that speaks to our generation who grew up in the shadow of punk, with hopes and dreams, full of rebellion. What happened to that spark? How do we express our anger now? How relevant are we? How do we make ourselves heard and where do we fit in?

This isn’t comfortable or retro; we reject wholeheartedly the idea of nostalgia, we refuse to live in the past, there’s no misty-eyed looking back; this is all forward, forward motion.

Lyrically inspired by hitting the age of 50 Interrobang address all those difficult to talk about clichés of the mid life man-crisis and so it’s sometimes slightly shirty, occasionally curmudgeonly, but always, always brutally honest. We are talking about the now; about our hopes, our fears, our dreams and our nightmares.

This baring of souls is played out via their battered and bruised uneasy listening. Guitarist Griffin has developed a style that assaults you and whose sonic complexity can shake you, rattle your aging bones and send you helter-skeltering onto the dancefloor. It’s a frantic, skewed quirky, punchy, staccato pop.

If Interrobang can create this feeling with their music then we are winning:

“the novels of dostoevsky are seething whirlpools, gyrating sandstorms,

waterspouts which hiss and boil and suck us in. they are composed purely and wholly of the stuff of the soul. against our wills we are drawn in, whirled round, blinded, suffocated, and at the same time filled with a giddy rapture.”

Virginia Woolf

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FB   4/ If you could have any band past or present support you at a major gig who would it be?

That’s so tricky because it’s probably someone who would just blow us off stage.

Early Mothers of Invention? Early Wire? Dr Feelgood with Wilko Johnson, The Redskins, Early Clash, this could go on and on…

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FB   5/ How many songs do “Interrobang” have in their catalogue now and which means the most to you and why?

We’ve got 18 songs we intend to record which will probably be whittled down to 14 for an album. There’s a song called “Do You Remember?” we do that starts as a spoken word piece then turns into a song which is about my dad dying in 1994. It’s a cathartic piece and goes through all those things like denial, anger, depression, acceptance. It’s hard to do some nights, especially when people talk or heckle all the way through but it was my decision to write it and perform it. Invariably I’ll get someone [usually a man] coming up to me at the end of the gig who wants to talk about their relationship with their own dad. That feels incredible. You know what men are like for talking about their feelings. It means a lot.

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FB   6/ Dunstan….You have also made a name for yourself as a documentary maker in recent times, including your recently released film documenting The Levellers named “A Curious Life”. How did you become involved in film making and when’s the dvd out 😉 ?

My wife, Daisy Asquith is the most amazing documentary-maker. She started when she was about 18 and has an incredible CV of films. To cut a long story short we set up our own production company, Dandy Films, about ten years ago and I started working on her films on the production side and then got the opportunity to go to China with Sham 69 to make a film about them touring there. That was nominated for a best music documentary award at IDFA film festival in Amsterdam. On the back of that I started working for the Levellers doing promotional stuff for them and then I suggested making a film about them. It went from there to the DVD now being out as a physical thing with loads of extras or available to stream or download all over the place

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FB   7/ What makes you laugh?

My son, Lenny Bruce. That’s his name. Really. He’s got a lot to live up to. And Lee Kern. Oh and Mave Mills; he always makes me laugh. And Alice Nutter; she always, always has some amazing misadventure to tell you; she’s hilarious.

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FB   8/ Who have been your main influences on your musical direction?

On the original Interrobang?! moodboard: Gang of Four, Wire, Grinderman, Dr Feelgood, Sonics, the Fall, Art Brut, MC5, Fugazi; that sort of thing. There’s a Spotify list which also includes The Pop Group, Frank Zappa, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. You get the idea.

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FB   9/ If you weren’t working in the music industry what would you like to be doing now?

Like to be doing? Oh saving the world, successfully creating an equitable society, eating the rich; that sort of thing.

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FB   10/ What instruments do you play? Have you got any favourites?

I’m the world’s worst musician; I play everything badly. Guitar, bass, double bass, ukulele; all really, really badly. I am fond of the cello. Which luckily I don’t play. Our guitarist Griff mesmerises me with what he does; he’s pretty awesome.

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FB   11/ What’s your view on social media and how it fits into modern music?

It’s essential isn’t it? We use it all the time. Griff is a front end web developer luckily for us so he keeps us up to speed.

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FB   12/ If you’re stranded on a desert island …….which band would you want to have stranded with you and why?

Chumbawamba. The people I love with a passion are all contained therein.

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FB   13/ This is your opportunity to rant about something preferably Music or the Music industry based…ready? Go!

My friend, Dominic Grace, wrote this the other day on Facebook. This will do nicely:

Don’t bother reading this if you are turned off by:
  a) football analogies
  b) rants, or
  c) the self indulgence of using a facebook status to talk about my beliefs as if they were important to anyone other than me.
 I wake up today feeling like a man who watched Bayern v Barcelona last night and is now on his way to buy a season ticket for Brentford after being promised a season of Rinus Michels’ inspired Total Football when really what’s on offer is long-ball, route one shite on muddy pitches.
I can decide to not buy the ticket or to fool myself that I’m really going to get real change.
 The poverty of ambition, the lack of exciting ideas, the narrowness of the agenda in this election debate has been stunning. Depressing. Revolting even. Watching identikits argue about “the deficit”, borrowing, the false flags of immigration and Europe. The realisation that whoever wins, we will be led by pygmies.
For what it’s worth I still believe that there are bigger issues and better solutions.
I still believe in old ideas like the collective ownership of the means of production. In the nationalisation of energy and transport. In social housing. In class action. In tearing down the establishment and old hierarchies of them and us.
 I also believe in complete free movement of human beings. Let people live and work wherever they want. I think the West and the former European colonial powers should not just acknowledge that their wealth was built and exists only because of what they stole from what we now call the Third World but that we repay that debt in real terms and by acknowledging that people from those countries have already “paid into” our system. They paid in terms of their resources, their labour, their lives.
And I know that free speech and license to speech are different. I want to be free to offend. I’m utterly godless and if you are offended by my having an opinion on that, then that is your issue not mine. I don’t believe that all cultures, beliefs, value systems are equally valid and I will say so. Clearly killing people because they are different to you, don’t believe in the same things as you, love differently from you, is wrong – no matter who is doing it. I will exercise the right to say that. I will not respect the feelings of those who defend any of these things. They are wrong and I am right. 
I see, looking on facebook, that many of you feel there are important choices to be made, and I agree that another five years of Cameron is sickening. Lets get him out. But then let’s think about a new and exciting politics of bigger ideas, not just the smoke of mirrors and narrowness of 2015’s choice.

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FB   14/ As a poet I wonder if you would be willing to accept the ForgottenBeeBlog challenge and write a poem of no more than 20 words to include the word John Prescott 😉 …..?

“ I might mark Chumbawamba’s split by going out and buying their greatest hit album #boom” tweeted John Prescott #Idiot.

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FB   15/ What do you do to relax?

Walk the dogs by myself. Have a bath. By myself.

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FB   16/ Thank one person for something they did for you, not necessarily music related, that meant a lot to you.

Daisy Asquith. She saved me.

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FB   16/ Do you have any new projects on the horizon that you would like to share?

Well, I still regard Interrobang as a new project! But yes, I’m now trying to make a film about Chumbawamba and what happened to them when they had a hit single in 1997 and what you can possibly hope to achieve as a political pop group when consumed by the music industry beast. ! do an illustrated talk about this already [actually it’s a Powerpoint presentation but I know that’s a rather uncool thing to say] and I want to turn it into a film. It’s an amazing story and I don’t want it to be forgotten. There’s lessons in there as well as stacks of hilarious archive footage.

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Dunstan ForgottenBeeBlog thanks you so much for taking part in this interview. Your final thoughts in 5 words please? 😉 Fbee X

Colourless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously

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Photography courtesy of Interrobang Press release and Live Photography Lloyd Spencer @Briggate theheartofleeds.com/photography

Website: http://interrobangband.co.uk/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/intrrbng

twitter: https://twitter.com/intrrbng

youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/intrrbng

Email: tinterrobang@gmail.com

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