Steve Ignorant features in today’s (7 May 2016) Guardian‘s magazine ‘Never mind the bus pass‘ retrospective; which sees six punk activists ‘look back at the wildest days of their lives’.
Steve Ignorant, 58
Then: lead singer, Crass
Punk had a purpose. Every gig would benefit something: a rape crisis centre, a donkey sanctuary, an old people’s home. It was positive. We wanted a nice world to live in. Only, this time, we weren’t asking – we were telling.
From 1977 to 1984, I was the lead vocalist for Crass. We toured the UK, playing gigs wherever and whenever we could. When Crass finished, I continued to perform and record with Conflict and later formed the bands Schwartzeneggar and Stratford Mercenaries.
In 2007, I moved to Norfolk with the intention of living quietly by the coast. I was going to sweep up leaves and all that sort of stuff – but it wasn’t to be. The year I moved, I got an offer to do two nights at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. With every gig I do, I like to donate to a cause. I knew the independent lifeboat service in Sea Palling is always desperate for funds, so I thought that was ideal: I could see where the money actually goes. They got about £1000 and bought new life jackets that went on to save people’s lives.
The crew took me out on the boat, dressed me up in a drysuit, threw me overboard and picked me up, then asked, “So, what about joining?”
At first, I was very reluctant – I worried about the commitment and imagined that I would have to go on parade. The idea of some bloke telling me off for not shaving properly went totally against my principles. But they were all scruffier than me. Now I’m a full-time member.
Being part of the crew is similar to being in a band. You’re full of adrenaline when you’re on stage, but the worst thing that can happen is that you forget the words or the lead guitarist plays a bum note. It’s not the same adrenaline when you’re suddenly out at sea and pulling someone from the water. It affects different people in different ways. It doesn’t hit me at first, but about an hour later, it’s as if I’ve taken amphetamines. I can’t shut up about it.
Also included in the feature are: Ausaf Abbas, Lesley Woods, Terry Chimes, David O’Brien and Jordan.
Nige Tassell. 2016. ‘”Never Mind the Bus Pass”: punks look back at their wildest days’, The Guardian, 7 May 2016. http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/may/07/never-mind-bus-pass-punks-look-back-wildest-days