When, in 1976, punk first spewed itself across the nation's headlines with the message 'do it yourself', we, who in various ways and for many years had been doing just that, naively believed that Messrs. Rotten, Strummer etc. etc. meant it. At last we weren't alone.
The idea of becoming a band had never seriously occurred to us, it simply happened. Basically anyone was free to join in and rehearsals were rowdy affairs that invariably degraded into little more than drunken parties. Steve and Penny had been writing and playing together since early '77, but it wasn't until Summer of that year that we had begged, borrowed and stolen enough equipment to actually call ourselver a band....CRASS.
Having finally managed to rehearse five songs, we set out on the road to fame and fortune armed with our instruments and huge amounts of booze to help us see it through. We did gigs and benefits, chaotic demonstrations of inadequacy and independence. We got turned off here, turned down there and banned from the now legendary Roxy Club. "They said they only wanted well behaved boys, do they think guitars and microphones are just fucking toys?"
By now we had realised that our fellow punks, The Pistols, The Clash and all the other muso-puppets weren't doing it at all. They may like to think that they ripped off the majors, but it was Joe Public who'd been ripped. They helped no one but themselves, started another facile fashion, brought a new lease of life to London's trendy Kings Road and claimed they'd started a revolution. Same old story. We were on our own again.
Through the alchoholic haze we determined to make it our mission to create a real alternative to musie biz exploitation, we wanted to offer something that gave rather than took and, above all, we wanted to make it survive. Too many promises have been made from stages only to be forgotten on the streets.
Throughout the long, lonely winter of 77/78 we played regular gigs at The White Lion, Putney with the UK Subs. The audience consisted mostly of us when the Subs played and the Subs when we played. Sometimes it was disheartening, but usually it was fun. Charley Harper's indefatigable enthusiasm was always an inspiration when times got bleak, his absolute belief in punk as a peoples' music had more to do with revolution than McClaren and his cronies could ever have dreamt of. Through sheer tenacity we were exposing the punk charlatans for what they really were, a music-biz hype...