Julian Brimmers. 2014. “Crass’ Penny Rimbaud on graffiti, jazz and John Lennon”, Red Bull Music Academy, 3 April http://www.redbullmusicacademy.com/magazine/crass-interview
‘There is no authority but yourself’ vs. ‘I don’t really know who I am anymore.’ Somehow, the wild ride that has been Penny Rimbaud’s time with anarcho punk/avant-garde ringleaders Crass is best displayed through the tension between these two sentences. While the former are the last words from the band’s penultimate album Yes Sir, I Will, the latter summed up the individual mind state of the Crass members before the group’s disbanding in 1989 [sic].
Just as Dial House was operated as a loose community without a lock on the door, Crass saw their musical activities as an extension of direct, political activism, and the band itself as a collective bigger than the sum of its parts. With slightly changing line-ups, the group recorded six albums, ranging from the undiluted, pissed-off early recordings Feeding of the 5000 and Stations of the Crass to the feminist punk manifesto Penis Envy, and the avant-garde and free-jazz leanings of their later works. Over the years, Crass and Crass Records became a synonym for actual, philosophically informed anarchy in the UK, creating an important counterpart to the nihilism and hollow slogans of some of their contemporaries. In this edited and condensed version of his recent interview for RBMA Radio, Rimbaud charts a course through his remarkable career.