The state of the world is not exactly at its best.Politics and the greed of corporate machines are suffocating the little bit of life that is left out of our planet and draining it of all purities. Injustice seems to be everywhere yet most people are content to sit at home and watch the latest reality TV shows.This is what fuels the fire behind Burnt Cross, a two piece anarcho-punk band from Brighton, in the United Kingdom.The duo formed in 2007 never really expecting much of a reaction.They have since self-released two albums, The Reality of Sacrifice and Carcass of Humanity and have received an overwhelming response.I recently had the opportunity to talk to BC’s Robert Marriott and get a better insight as to their views on life, music and where they are headed in the future. Interview with anarcho punk band Burnt Cross.
Q: What are the most important issues that you try to convey in your music?
A: The loss of civil liberties has always been something that has concerned us.As an activist, seeing how the police are behaving and the new laws that are constantly coming out to try and silence any sort of protest against the companies that seek profit no matter the cost to fellow humans, animals or the earth, it makes me so angry.They have brought out terrorist laws against people just for leafleting on the streets over here and I know it’s just as bad in America.Things like the state database with ID cards soon to be in place really scare me, though not as much as the fact that people seem to be so apathetic about it.We don’t want to be seen as a preaching band but I find it hard singing about love or how great it is too be drunk when all this shit is going on.
Q: You guys write some pretty angry songs. Has having children changed the way you view these issues now?
A: Paul has three kids ranging from 5 months to 17 years and although that means he can’t be as active as myself he still finds time to get out and do things.His daughter who is 12 has been out on lots of animal rights demos with us because she’s very passionate about animals.It hasn’t changed how we view these issues. In fact, not wanting the kids to grow up in this type of consumer, capitalist madness makes it even more important to do what we can.
Q: I know that you and your brother were doing music over 15 years ago. Is the music similar to what you were doing before? Did you always have such strong messages?
A: Yeah we were in a band called Active Response which really was just a teenage punk band who mainly played local shows.Our lyrics and sound were similar to what we are doing now, so not much has changed.This is why we found it fairly easy to do two CD’s in the first year of forming.We never released anything in our old band so that’s also why we did Burnt Cross.We didn’t expect other people to hear what we were doing and we wanted to have something for ourselves to look back on. The fact that people seemed to like it spurred us on to release it.
Q: You have a couple 7 inches out now, tell us a bit about those.
A: We released two 7 inches in Jan/Feb of this year thanks to a friend near where I live who liked our song, “”(S) mother Earth”". He has his own record label called Tadpole Records and releases local hardcore/punk bands.He was a bit dubious about putting out a single of a band that doesn’t gig so we limited them both to 200 copies due to financial reasons.The first 7?” has two tracks and the second has three, all from our Carcass of Humanity CD.There seemed to be lots of interest from people who mainly get vinyl, wanting us to do this so we went for it and we’re glad to say they are going really fast. In fact, I think they will only be around for about 4 months!
Q: For a band that uses a drum machine you seem to have gotten a really great response. Did this surprise you?
A: Haha! Yeah, really surprised.Like I said, we weren’t going to release anything, maybe just put it up on my personal Myspace site, but we started to get lots of mail from people saying they love it.Not many bands were doing this type of music since the early eighties so we got lots of interest for that reason, and dare I say some people like the fact that they can hear what we are singing about. I have always loved anarcho-punk more than any other punk music so I wanted to do this type of music somehow.Even if it meant doing it with a drum machine. To be honest, we really didn’t care what people would think about us using a drum machine.If people don’t like it then it is no loss.I’m not a great guitarist.I rescued a guitar from being thrown away and play the bass by using one guitar string.The only thing we have brought is a £275 Eight-track and a cheap microphone.Although we are limited in some ways we are just happy to have the chance to do something.We are offered gigs all the time but I can’t see that happening. Paul lives a good distance from me, which means he’ll visit me once a month just to record vocals on one track. We don’t really have the time to rehearse and I’m not much of a scene person.I hate pubs and have no desire to be out and about.I’m much happier roaming the woods!
Q: You also made your songs available as a sliding scale down through Moshpit Tragedy Records, can you tell us why you decided to do this? How do you feel about the ethos of the label?
A: I think that what Moshpit Tragedy is doing is a cool thing and I can already see it’s going to catch on.We have always given our music out free.I still have about £400 to make up for what I lost last year giving 250 CD’s away. I’m not that bothered though, at least it got us out there a bit. I totally support what they are doing because not everyone can afford to buy CD’s all the time.Also it makes it easier on me not having to get all the CD’s out myself.That was hard work for the first few months.Now we can just direct them to Moshpit and they can pay what they want and download our sleeve, which is important to us.
Q: Are you happy with the help you have received from Moshpit Tragedy? Do you think they do a good job of promoting their bands?
A: Yeah I’m very happy with what those guys have done.They seem to have good promotion going on which is so important.Around 500 people have downloaded our CD in the first 3 months so that’s really helpful to us.I get lots of mail from people saying they have downloaded the CD and that’s great.They also have lots of other cool bands on their label so it’s nice to be put alongside them.
Q: What are your views on the way music is now easily accessible due to the invention of the Internet and Myspace?Do you think it is a positive or negative change?
A: Well sometimes it means there’s a lot of real shit going around, but I guess that’s fine that people have an outlet now to be heard by people worldwide.For us, it was the only way to get our stuff heard around the world with little effort and meant we got picked up by 4 different labels and managed to get on lots of comps too!I still have a fond affection for the old days of tape trading and the sound of a package dropping through your door.This is why we will always release tapes, vinyl and CD’s that we can send to people. I used to be really into that so to do it with my own music is a dream and to give our music to bands that I used to write to years ago is even better.I’ve found lots of people on the Internet with whom I used to get tapes from so now its payback time.
Q: Do you think that anything in the world has changed for the better?
A: I don’t want to be seen as a negative person.I love life, family, friends, nature, etc. But to be honest, I just despair at the way things are going at the moment. Maybe I’m getting more cynical as I get older but what’s going on in the world is a sorry state of affairs. It just seems to be driven by power and money which is totally against my nature.I know its always been that way but as of lately it seems to be going crazy as leaders try desperately to secure the dwindling resources of this planet.It really makes me sad sometimes but I can vent that in my activism and music and try my best to be happy in my personal life.
Q: What are your plans now? Will you continue to do Burnt Cross, and if so, what goals do you have?
A: We have been busy over the last year so this year will be a bit more chilled.I want more time to do things that I put aside whilst doing the music.Things like growing my own food, camping or helping out in animal rescue centers.I reckon we will release another 7?” of new songs and another CD at the end of the year.Now we are out there and I don’t have to spend so much time promoting the band or panic trying to release anything quickly.We have 1000 CD’s just about to be put out in independent record shops, so although Carcass of Humanity was released 4 months ago it’s only just getting out there, so that gives us a bit of a break. Hopefully the new 7?” will be put out in June on Tadpole Records again and we will do some patches and T-shirts when I can get the money together.We will also be doing a split EP in summer with five other bands and trying to get on as many compilations as possible.Don’t hold your breath for gigs though!
Carcass of Humanity is available for whatever price you can afford at moshpit-tragedy.com and a cassette version is available from www.fight thesystem.de.Stay tuned for more Burnt Cross releases in the upcoming months.You can also check them out at myspace.com/BurntCross.