Forget Kickstarter and learn from anarcho-punk-elders the Mob how to start a Co-operative Label…

In their own words, taken from their website, the Mob tell us why they have re-activated their label …

“Punk did not end when the Sex Pistols split up in 1978. It carried on into the 1980s, given a new edge by the impact of Thatcher’s government on a generation of young people. It really felt that we had ‘No Future’… Radicalised by harsh reality, punks realised that they had to work together and co-operate just to survive. A practical example of this was the creation of punk housing co-ops like the Islington based Black Sheep Co-op which the Mob and other punk bands helped to finance through benefit gigs. The Mob also worked to renovate houses for the co-op which (along with Andy Palmer of Crass and members of other punk bands) they later lived in. All the Madmen was based in a Black Sheep Co-op house for two years before relocating to another housing co-op (originally a squat) house at Brougham Road in Hackney.

Even if most histories of punk forget this hidden history, those involved have not. Against the competitive individualism which has become the norm over the past 30 years, we have held fast to the values of co-operation and mutual aid. But holding fast to a memory of what once was is not enough. Now another generation of young people are faced with a government which offers them ‘no future’.

The revival of All the Madmen as a collective on its own cannot undo the damage done by 30 years of neo-liberalism, but what it can do is offer this generation of young people inspiration in place of despair. The teenagers who created All the Madmen refused to accept that they had no future. Instead they chose to create their own future. And so the seeds of progress were not stubbed out but survived to flower again. 

All the Madmen – A Collective Record Label

After 25 long years, All The Madmen records is returning as a collective to be run by like-minded people with the ambition to provide talented and under appreciated bands with a platform to produce and release music into the public domain. By funding production, printing and publication of previously unsigned artists and reinvesting the proceeds back into helping more bands produce more records and more gigs; we hope to showcase the music we love to a wider audience.

We aim to create a community ethos in which the music we release is the main focus.

For the foreseeable future, any profits that the label generates will be reinvested into the company to help more musicians in what is currently a difficult environment to enter and succeed in.
We are asking that people pay an initial £50 membership fee to generate a start up fund, with which bands can begin to benefit from the recreation of the label. In keeping with the cooperative values of the company, all members will be entitled to one vote at meetings, regardless of the number of shares they hold. By becoming a member of All The Madmen you will automatically receive a share in the company.

But who were The Mob?

There’s no point in going to Wikipedia …

The band’s initial line up consisted of Mark Wilson (vocals, guitar), Curtis You’e (bass) and Graham Fallows (drums). Later drummers included Adie Tompkins, Tim Hutton and Josef Porta. The band broke up in 1983, but reformed in 2011 …

…is all you get. You have to go to Ian Glaspers The Day the Country Died anarcho-punk history book and to the Overground reissues of 1983’s Let The Tribe Increase and the Anti-State, Anti-War compilations.

Formed in late 70’s, the Mob were rural anarcho-punks who, inspired by ATV and Crass decamped from Somerset villages, to London squats, formed a strong alliance with fellow anarcho-punks Zounds, toured with Stonehenge/Free Festival hippy favourites like Here and Now and quickly built up a loyal following. The Mob made a unique, dark strain of folky gothic, hippy punk rock that remained well and truly outside of the mainstream (apart from one appearance on the cover of the glossy ‘Punk Lives’ and mentions in the Positive Punk feature in the NME which marked the birth of what became ‘Goth’…)

It was mainly fanzines like Kill Your Pet Puppy that spread the word and I can remember ZigZag in 1982 predicting big things for two bands, carrying the torch for intense individualistic (post) punk; a little-known band from Leeds called Sisters of Mercy and the Mob.

On the one hand you could quite accurately say that the Mob are one of the most influential yet overlooked bands of the early 80’s. On the other, (and maybe its just me) but whenever I think of the Mob, the phrase “Crusty Jugglers” springs to mind. It’s down to a classic Mick Mercer photo of Mark Wilson that is reproduced in Ian Glaspers The Day the Country Died, that originally appeared in ZigZag. Seriously though and regrettably, their detractors will tell you that the Mob were the band that (inadvertently) “invented crusty”….

On their only album, 1983’s ‘Let the Tribe Increase’ they come over as ‘the missing link between Crass and Joy Division, without actually sounding like either. At times there are distinct similarities to Faith-era Cure, only heavier and (sorry) crustier… Whilst their contemporaries sped-up, the Mob seemed to slow-it-down, whilst Conflict and Subhumans got angry and raged, the Mob seemed to brood and create a gloomy gothic atmosphere.

Sean McGhee – compiler of the Anarcho comp albums:

The album never closes its eyes on the filthy blood-soaked world it inhabits. Although the words offer little hope of escape, the Mob did something powerful that goes almost unnoticed beneath the gloom; they conveyed hope. Not just in their carefully chosen images of rising suns and birds taking flight, but in the way they came together to make music for people like them.

Andi Dalton – formerly of Tottenham AK47’s

I saw them (play) loads when I was younger and again last year. …live more anger comes across… There was an air of oppression about them but ultimately a sense of power to change things. When I saw them last year they were as good as ever.

The Mob’s legacy, apart from Blyth Power (formed by Josef Porta and Cutis You’e when The Mob split in 1983) is their influence on bands like The Levellers and Zion Train, plus a whole host of American bands like Ceremony (check out their song ‘Doldrums’ says Andi)… but also the fact they politicised and empowered individuals to ‘do-it-themselves’, form labels, do-up squats, form co-operatives …

I asked Nathan from Aggro-Culture, an expert in the field, how Co-operatives work:

“Co-ops provide a great way for people to pool their resources to achieve common aims. They are catching on in the fields of community energy and buying buildings for community use so why shouldn’t the punk scene harness that model as well? After all it is what we have all effectively been doing for years.”

All the Madmen have forthcoming releases from the Astronauts, Kill Pretty, Hagar the Womb and new material by The Mob themselves early next year…. Who, yeah, sorry, I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of back in ’83 (I preferred the Sisters) but I am glad they have survived, have stuck to their ideals and have re-emerged to release some surprisingly brilliant records; Kill Pretty’s Dark Heart is one of my favourite albums of the year … (review next week.).. A band they describe as being equally as influenced by Groucho as by Karl Marx… and who sound very unlike the Mob, but do have the same love of humanity and hatred of injustice wrapped up in their inspirational songs of (personal) freedom.

All The Madmen proudly present the re-launch gig!

To celebrate the re-launch of All The Madmen records we will be hosting all of the artists releasing through the label on one night.

The Mob, Kill Pretty, Andy T, Hagar The Womb, The Astronauts on November 30th 2012 (Doors 7.00pm)

At Boston Arms
178 Junction Road
Tufnell Park
London N19 5QQ

Tickets HERE.

This just in from ATM:

“We will be offering more shares in the co operative that evening at the show and possibly online.
The Kill Pretty album and single will be available at the end of November.


All of the singles will be on vinyl and the Kill Pretty album on CD at the moment. All available for download. 
Singles Club subscribers get there’s 2 weeks in advance and on coloured vinyl.

Steve Lake’s book is scheduled for the new year. 
The Mob’s first single in 30 years will also be with us at the start of the new year.

Full info on the website”

OTHER LINKS

All The Madmen label

Join the Collective / Co-operative

Seven Inch Singles Club

Overground Records – Mob cds and Anti Anarcho-Punk Compilations Vol 1-4

The Day the Country Died Book

All photos ex Zigzag by Mick Mercer whose website is here.

All words by Ged Babey. You can read more from Ged on LTW here.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Enjoyed reading that. I could never claim to be the Mob’s biggest fan, but it does seem they are doing this in the right way and fair play to them for that.

  2. Great band, very inspirational when I discovered them via the Ian Glasper book (I was born the year they broke up). Don’t think they invented crusty though – surely that goes to Antisect?

  3. Saw The Mob at Weird Tales in Brixton last year. Grown men wept. Quite simply the most incredible inspirational thing I’ve seen in over 35 years of gig going.

  4. I always cry when I see the Mob …emotional stuff …used to see them loads as a kid and hung around the ace centre where the practiced… the early gigs were at village halls around Yeovil, always awesome Im not sure about crusty or goth I was into pistols crass and joy division and they seemed to gel all of that together . The original Mob fanzine was all the madmen its so apt that this has been ressurected… Ive been to most of the gigs that have happened recently and when I got the opportunity to buy shares in the label I jumped at the chance …Bone, I agree this is the correct way to do this , Its the fans that keep the scene going . I ve promoted lots of events over the years and due to rip off merchants and money grabbing venues who don’t care about the music I have had to stop , but at least with all the Madman I can do my bit and feel part of it , what more could a music fan want =8-) LET THE TRIBE INCREASE

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