Chumbawamba split: 'Tubthumping' band calls it quits after 30 years (Video)
British anarchist rock band Chumbawamba, known for the 1997 mainstream hit "Tubthumping" and a slew of political records that diss popular singers and reference topics such as homophobia and Nazism, has called it quits after 30 years.
The group announced its split on its official website on Monday, saying: "That's it then, it's the end. With neither a whimper, a bang or a reunion."
"Chumbawamba was our vehicle for pointing at the naked Emperors, for telling our version of the truth; it gave us more than the joy and love of playing live, writing songs and singing together - it gave us a chance to be part of a broad coalition of activists and hectors, optimists and questioners," the group said in its breakup statement.
"But eventually the rest of our lives got in the way and we couldn't commit the time and enthusiasm that the band demanded," the message added. "Couldn't keep up with whatever responsibilities came with a band like this."
"Tubthumping" swept music charts worldwide after it was released, reaching No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. It was a popular radio hit often played at bars and sporting events and was both celebrated and mocked for its somewhat motivational lyrics.
The song contains lines such as "I get knocked, down but I get up again / You're never gonna keep me down" and "He drinks a Whiskey drink, he drinks a Vodka drink / He drinks a Lager drink, he drinks a Cider drink / He sings the songs that remind him of the good times / He sings the songs that remind him of the best times."
The track is from the band's 1997 album "Tubthumper," which is British slang for an abrasive public speaker. Chumbawamba, which formed in 1982, released many records with political titles and lyrics and historical themes - some extremely dark.
The name of the band's 1986 debut album, "Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records," was aimed at criticizing the Live Aid, a rock festival aimed at raising awareness for famine victims in Ethiopia. One of its tracks, "How to Get Your Band on Television," slams top music artists, such as Paul McCartney, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie and Mick Jagger, for their pro-charity performances.
Chumbawamba's 1994 album was actually called "Anarchist." Many record shops banned the record, whose cover showed a graphic picture of a baby being born. One of its tracks is "Homophobia," dubbed in its lyrics as "the worst disease."
The song was released as a single and its B-side was "The Day The Nazi Died," which contained the lyrics: "If you meet with these historians / I'll tell you what to say / Tell them that the Nazis never really went away / They're out there burning houses down and peddling racist lies / And we'll never rest again until every Nazi dies."
Chumbawamba's 2010 record "ABCDEFG," the band's 17th album, contains the track "Wagner at the Opera." The song tells the story of a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp who disrupts a recital of music composed by Richard Wagner - a favorite of Adolf Hitler - in Israel in 2000 by waving a rattle.
The song contains the lyrics: "For everyone we lost / I swing the rattle loud and long / I swing it 'til I drown out / All the music and the songs / This tattoo will last forever / And my memory is long."
In the Jewish state, playing music by Wagner, who had penned anti-Semitic polemics before his death in 1883, is considered taboo. The first major public Wagner concert was held in Israel in 2000. It was conducted by a Holocaust survivor.
The album also contains the track "Torturing James Hetfield." It is a response to comments Metallica singer made in a 2010 interview with German-language television network 3SAT, in which said he was asked about a report that said his heavy metal group's music was being played loudly to Guantanamo detainees as an interrogation method.
Hetfield said he was partially proud that they were chosen but that he was also "kind of bummed about it" because his band was trying to be as "apolitical as possible."
Chumbawamba also took its politics to the stage. When the band members performed "Tumthumping" at the 1998 BRIT Awards, they changed the lyrics of the song to express support for Liverpool dock workers on strike at the time and vocalist Danbert Nobacon also dumped a container of water over then-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who was sitting in the audience. He condemned the incident as "deplorable," BBC News said.
The outlet reported that after "Tubthumping" became a hit, Alice Nutter, who sings the line "Oh Danny Boy" in the song, said: "We're still anarchists." We still carry the idea we had 12 years ago that no one should have to go to work 40 hours-a-week and do a crap job."
"Tubthumping" was Chumbawamba's biggest hit and aroused interest in the band among mainstream audiences. The band's subsequent singles, "Amnesia" and "Top of the World (Ole, Ole, Ole)," reached No. 10 and No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart. Music released by the band after that was not as popular.
"We'll be remembered as a footnote; the band who chucked water over the Deputy Prime Minister; the band who had a hit with song about falling over and getting up," Spiral Earth quoted the group as saying in a 2010 interview. "Of course we'd like to be remembered as being part of British culture, as having played a part in talking about the changing world around us. But let's face it, falling over song will win in the end."
In their farewell message, the group members said that they "hope that somewhere along the way we've been able to pass on some of that musical finger-pointing to others" and that they "relished a role as a band that could use music to pass on information. Songs as history lessons or cultural debates."
"If others have been inspired to switch off the telly and do something useful because of all this, then that will be our measure of success (more of a measure, in any case, than record sales)," they said.