by Chris Jarvis
Luvdump came kicking and skanking out of Bury St Edmunds in 2007, bringing to life their aggressive mix of melodic punk rock and ska-core. 2013 saw the release of their second full length album, Age of Austerity, alongside their relocation to the North West, where they have made their home ever since. A regular on the UK ska and punk circuit, Luvdump have continuously maintained a political current to their music, lifestyles and lyrics, with the social conscience of the band seeping through almost every song.
Frontman Chris describes his and the band’s political outlook as having “anarchist tendencies”, before delving into his analysis of what he sees as the major problems facing the world: “I believe in a world with no borders or nations. I believe we are nomadic people, who wouldn’t be where we are today if our ancestors didn’t move freely. I think the problems lie in a system created to control people who can’t be controlled. People will always do what they want regardless of what the system tells them to do, so why create a system in the first place? We must be organised, but we need to remain positive if we are to push forward. I think the division of left and right politics sometimes overlooks what’s actually right and wrong. I try to have some faith that humans deep down know what’s right and wrong for their fellow creatures (humans or animals) and that’s what we should work towards. We don’t need a leader or a saviour, we need to stick together.”
These political views come out strongly in many of Luvdump’s lyrics, whether it’s “No Borders! No Nations! We need to stop deportations!” or “No Justice! No Peace! Fuck the bankers! Fuck the Police!” and they have developed into the activism which Chris and the rest of the band have played a role in – “In the past I was heavily involved in the Occupy Movement, planning direct action, squatting buildings, organising the soup kitchen. With Luvdump, we have always been happy to play benefit shows for grassroots projects and organisations and will continue to support these where required.”
I think popular music culture slows us down heavily.
It doesn’t radicalise or politicise
Evidently, therefore, there is a joining up of the politics of the people behind the music, their creative outputs and their activism on the ground. But is that coincidental, or is there an inevitable link between those playing or absorbing political music on underground scenes and those actively seeking to shape the world through more conventional means? Chris thinks it so, with his opinions on both mainstream media and underground scenes: “I think popular music culture slows us down heavily. It doesn’t radicalise or politicise and it doesn’t get people thinking about the problems the world faces. It keeps people arguing among themselves, mundane and uninspired.
“In my opinion underground D.I.Y music has and always will be the true voice of the people whether that be Punk, Folk, Blues, Spoken Word, Rave, Hip-Hop, Dub – this music comes from the bottom and it’s shouting at the people above. This music sometimes breaks into the mainstream or popular culture, it’s not necessarily a bad thing but usually the message gets watered down, filtered or censored. So it’s best kept underground and if people stumble across underground music and it gets them into politics, that is a progressive change in itself, because the people who stumble across underground music are in my opinion the people who will bring about progressive political change.”
Music, especially the DIY music scene, provides a family to the disenfranchised
This belief that somehow, on some level, no matter how small, political music can change views, can change politics on a broader level is central to the purpose of its existence. Without that, the role of the arts as an agitator, as a force for change is diminished. It is unsurprising, then, that Chris is clear that it was music that helped to shape his politics: “I was interested in politics and world affairs before finding music; my father was in the military so understanding what the military was doing started me questioning why, then the music I was finding started giving me some answers. It gave me a platform for discussion, meeting new like-minded people and putting my opinions out there. Music, especially the DIY music scene, provides a family to the disenfranchised and I think it gives people purpose and most of all something to do, to fend away the boredom of monotony.”
Luvdump are not alone in their outlook or their embedding of politics deep within their music, though, and Chris is clear that there are countless other acts on the scene pushing for the same values as they are, reeling off band after band he believes to effectively mix music and politics: “Grand Collapse, Petrol Girls, Conscious Youth, Oi Polloi, Combat Wombat, Braindead, Global Parasite, Bolshy, Autonomads, Atterkop, Hated Til Proven (R.I.P), actually any release by Riot Ska or Pumpkin Records. The list is almost endless. Rebel music for rebel people!”
Recognising other artists are working towards the same goals as you are is one of the most empowering things about the tight knit underground scenes that surround political music – the unity and the shared values and ideals is palpable. Wrapping up the interview, Chris finishes with a nugget of wisdom: “Together we can be, what on our own we can never be”, and it is that which summarises the unity and solidarity that is found throughout his music and that of his peers, both artistically and politically.