In recent months Chumbawamba received a request from General Electric to use "Tubthumping" in a commercial for $750,000. Its was promptly turned down due to the companies involvement in producing parts for Fighter Jets flying over Afghanistan, but it still shows the band are still relevant in the the year 2002. Designer Magazine heard an exclusive playback of the new album "Readymade" which mixes up traditional folk sample with contemporary beats. We caught up with Dunstan to check out what's happening in the Chumbawamba camp.
Q: No pun intended but you've got the "Readymade" album ready. I believe although you're signed in the States, you're having problems finding a suitable record label in Europe. What's happening right now?
A: We finished it quite a while ago but because of the problems of were having with record labels in Europe. We get so caught up in this idea that you've got to have a hit single, you can't just have an album that can stand up on his own. We should have been a prog rock band in the 70s where you just put out albums.
"Tubthumping" was a total fluke and a total mistake really and really we just do albums and its almost as if we get pushed into doing singles which apart from that one have never really had any success anywhere. What's happened is a load of record companies have said we love the album but were not hearing a single on there.
You just get caught up in that business of whether we purposely write a single or we just flounder around waiting for a label to take the risk of putting the album out.
Q: "Tubthumping" is still quite an important song for you isn't it though. You're still getting offers coming in from multinational companies for use of the song in adverts. Could you tell us a bit about the offer of $750,000 from General Electric?
A: Which we turned down. It was strange that because we'd just accepted one from General Motors and gave the money away to an organization called Corp Watch and an organization called Indy Media who sort of expose what big companies are up to....so its kind of like turning it on its head really, doing the advert and giving the money to organizations which keep an eye on what they do.
But the General Electric one we turned down because it came at a time with the war going on in
Afghanistan and General Electric involvement in producing parts for fighter jets that were being used by the US Military. It just didn't sit well with us so we ended up saying no.
Were totally inconsistent as far as deciding what to do and what not to do. Nike made an offer for Tubthumping years ago and that's easy to say no to, there's not really a discussion about that. I'm presuming it would be the same with Gap and McDonalds. But when something comes along that is a company that people aren't aware of and there isn't a campaign based around its a total adhock process.
Q: "Readymade" is different to what people may expect from say "Tubthumping" or "Enough Is Enough" or "She's Got All the Friends". It reminds me in parts, but in a good way, of those terrible Ibiza chill out albums?
A: (laughs out loud) That's the nicest insult I've ever heard, the way you said that. I totally know what you mean though and I have got a Ministry of Sound Volume 2 chillout session, but the market just got flooded with those sort of things and its a bit painful wading through them all. Do you think that should be our ambition? To get on volume three.
I'll have to go to Ibiza next year to see if I can hear Chumbawamba getting played at 8 o'clock in the morning!!!!
Q: The album is based around a lot of folk samples including the likes of Elliot Smith and Kate Rusby. After all the problems in the past clearing sample did you really want to go through all the troubles again?
A: We've always been dogged by it and even now were having problems with this album, where we've gone and back and record things ourselves and changed things. Either artists, publishers or record companies have asked for so much money for the use of their sample.
Q: "Don't Pass Go" is a song highlighting the plight of Saptal Ram. I know you've been involved in the campaign with ADF and Primal scream for a few years now. Was it a case of mixing up modern issues and history?
A: The album is a mixture of modern issues like Saptal Ram and Harry Stanley and then things from the Second and First world Wars. But that's because were combining the folk samples and having an historical aspect to it as well as an up to date one as well.
We actually released an album of English Folk songs in the late 80s and its funny because a lot of people still mention that album just because it came after a couple of really punky albums we did. What happened then was that we'd become very interested in Irish Politics and became very interested in a lot of Irish Folk music and we though there must a tradition of English folk music or rebel music as well.
This album we've done brings it round full circle really because its still going back to a lot of English folk music but incorporating it with music that has been made digitally as well.
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