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No one has yet realized the

photo courtesy of Graham Trott

wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity

hidden in the soul of a child.

The effort of every true

education should be to unlock that treasure.

Emma Goldman

About 7 years ago, I was working on a project to figure out what skills and attributes are going to be important for living in the worlds of today and the future.  

Bear with me

To help with some of my research and ideas, I had a conversation with a well known paediatrician about whether she thought emotional intelligence was important.  

The answer?

Yes. VERY.

I also asked her when emotional intelligence should become part of our learning.

The answer?

the first 5 years of our life

If we were able to empathise better, we might understand each other better.

If we understand each other better, we might unite.

But when we - the people - are being pitted against one another by the monoliths

- the state, the big corporations, the media -

 

so they can perpetuate their narcissistic shitfest of injustice, propaganda, abuse, oppression, exploitation, degradation and war, why would they invest in helping us understand each other better?

when love comes as violence you get used to it

when love comes as violence you get used to it

when love comes as violence you get used to it

when love comes as violence you get used to it

Ruts dc have never stopped believing. 

believing in people

believing in equity

believing in equality

believing in people

believing in equity

believing in equality

believing in unity

believing in unity

believing in passing on the baton

believing in passing on the baton

I've been giving love to the impure
I've been showing hope to the unsure

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17 November 2023 Krakow / London

ruffy 

We're in Krakow. Got here yesterday evening after a  long drive from Dresden

segs 

We're starting to lose track of time, country, language

ruffy 

And the will to live. Well, the will to get back in the van anyway

segs

 I’ve had to buy a big knife in case people need a bit more encouragement to take their seats in the van

ruffy 

Evening off last night though. Nice meal, couple of vods and an early night for me.

Interesting gig in Dresden though. Not that well attended but there were a couple of other big gigs on - a heavy metal gig and Peter Hook and The Light were playing as well. But it was a good gig though. Like a lovely big old hall out in the middle of nowhere. It was called the Star Club for 40 years or so, but apparently Universal who own everything now didn’t like it so they stopped them from being able to use the fucking name. So now they can't use the word Star. Turn is ok though….{geddit?}

giles 

I thought Germany still retained more of an independent spirit. Well, more than there is in the UK at least….

ruffy 

It seems to be the other way, sadly. What we've found in nearly every gig - not in the last one, mind – but the rest of the clubs in Germany have noise limitations so it makes it all quite tricky, really, especially playing a dead room. And he's got like, I can't remember what it was exactly - 100 and something DB, so not very much – and so it’s quite quiet. It’s not rocking, you know what I mean? 

Ruts DC Live simon drake

photo courtesy of simon drake

giles 

I’ve heard a few occasions of this – I remember one recently in Paris where the band had a bit of a battle with the venue over the limiters. And I think this venue was a social enterprise cultural centre too, definitely not a mainstream venue

segs

All the clubs have been great, absolutely great, all the people, the facilities are great, except for that, but we noticed that places like Düsseldorf, Hamburg have become really gentrified in the areas we’ve been playing for years. And one good thing about London is, you know, it got gentrified but they kind of overturned that noise thing where people move into a cheap district where there are already clubs and then start complaining and get the clubs closed down. They've actually put measures in in England to give the venues better protection.

ruffy

So what was happening was that you might get a pub that started doing music, which makes the area really popular, things start opening up, so house prices go up. Some estate agents were just moving people in there and allowing them to live there rent-free so they could just make a real fucking pain in the arse of themselves to everybody. I think that started happening a lot in Australia and then it miraculously found its way over to the UK but you can't now move into an area you already knew was a music venue and start complaining about it.

giles 

This all seems to be a bit precarious doesn’t it? I’m thinking of the Night and Day Cafe in Manchester which has been going through these sort of problems, hasn't it? I think the court case with the council is still going on. Maybe the facts are slightly different, I don’t know, but it feels very precarious for venues

segs

We use the studio above Jamm (the big club in Brixton) with Wizard, but it's not the studio that causes the noise problems, it’s the club that's open until six in the morning - was an old pub in a very rundown part of Brixton where nobody really lived. And then everybody' started moving in and then everybody start complaining about the club and trying to get it closed down. But the club won.

giles 

So...Krakow tonight....

Segs and Ruffy of Ruts DC

photo courtesy of Tara Rez

segssegssegssegssegs

Yep. Then Warsaw tomorrow. Then Prague – Smichov, just outside of the city centre - and then, if I'm getting this right, Munich then Berlin. And then it’s Bielefeld. So I said to our guy, “where is Bielefeld?" And he laughed and said that this is a German joke because nobody knows where Bielefeld is. So we’re expecting a sell out - clearly! And then we've got a day off before the last gig in Arnhem, and then we're home to the UK. 

GILES 

How have you felt so far about the European tour?

RUFFYRUFFYRUFFYRUFFYRUFFYRUFFY

It's been really good. We’ve all got our positive heads on actually.

SEGSSEGSSEGSSEGSSEGSSEGSSEGs 

You know, the guy said, “Look, there's only going to be 50 odd people here tonight, because it's Dresden and it's hard to get people out here really, especially if there’s a gig on down the road. And he said he put Primal Scream on a while back and only 200 showed up. But we just said don't worry, we'll just have a good time which we did.

RUFFY

Yeah, it was good, we’re playing well too.

SEGS

Düsseldorf was good, Hamburg was good

RUFFY

Oh yeah, Hamburg was especially good. A really good crowd there.

SEGS 

Holland was good and even Spain was good, which you experienced first hand in Valencia

RUFFY

Yeah, Spain was good. We did alright, especially considering that we’ve never been before.

SEGS 

Yeah, we seemed to get bigger crowds the more we played… Barcelona was pretty good too.

RUFFY

I've always known it was going to be a bit touch and go with crowds, but I also wanted to prep really well for the UK/Ireland tour. We really wanted to be ready to rock. Leigh’s enjoying himself, too, so we’re all pretty happy with it so far.

GILES

Rubén (Spain promoter) was so overjoyed at the Cangas do Morrazo gig.

SEGS 

Ah, yeah, that was so nice.

RUFFY

It’s a really great club but I think the owner is selling it, sadly. But yeah, Rubén lives in northern Spain on the west coast, outside Vigo. And Cangas is on a big inlet near where he lives, so it's kind of his manor and reputation.

SEGS 

That was a long drive back from that one. “Great, we’ve got three days off, yeah but we've got nine hours in a van.”

GILES

That’s a proper test of self-belief!

Ruts DC

SEGS 

It is, yeah! It’s not like you can push your seat back so it can be a bit testing, but it’s not that bad. Having said that, something had fallen off the van so when it was going up hills it was … well, it’s all part of it

RUFFY

It was limping along but all credit to Dave Hall, he knew what the problem was because he's from farming stock and builds Landrovers, so he got some bits of make-do kit and got it going – but he said it was like this when he got it and that it’ll be in better condition when he takes it back than when he got it.

SEGS 

He fixed it the first time with a bit of tape and we went out the first day and it went “SCREEEeeeeeeek” and that was that…. it only lasted five minutes and then he did it again next day and it lasted a bit longer. 

RUFFY

And then he managed to get the real part and sort it. But he’s champion, you know, and he drives it all day and does our sound and everything at night. He’s a young man, he's not even 40, you know what I mean? 

SEGS 

So he’s a couple of years older than us

RUFFY

We offered to get out and push the first time

SEGS 

I offered to get out and get a plane.

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Ruts DC

Segs and Ruffy of Ruts DC

Ruts DC

photo courtesy of George Mackie

David Ruffy of Ruts DC

GILES

So, with Counterculture? being out about year now, and the two acoustic albums being the most recent, how do you feel when you look back at the catalogue and the band's and your own personal evolution?

RUFFY

I'm very happy with what we’ve done. We’ve got a new agent here called Wolf and his favourite Ruts album is Animal Now which is probably Segs’ least favourite, not least of all because it was done at a time when we were actually making new music - Malcolm was alive when we were making this music and then he died just as we were making the demos of it. We were under the microscope and being analysed here and compared there but I think there are some really good songs on it. But what I think was terrible was that people were saying “Oh, well Segs is just trying to replace Malcolm”. No-one was ever trying to replace Malcolm. We were going to carry on, but it was always going to be a new thing. 

SEGS 

We wanted to change the name but then we were told we weren't allowed to – Virgin threatened us with all manner of things. But anyway, we compromised on Ruts DC and we’re glad we did now. We hated the DC at the beginning but we're glad we kept it now - we’ve really reclaimed it - and people still say “Ah, but you’re not The Ruts” and we say “No, indeed we're not, otherwise we would have kept that name.”

RUFFY

The last thing we did before we split up - Foxy, Segs and I – was record and release Rhythm Collision I, which was a labour of love that we did with the Mad Professor and although it wasn't massively successful, it kept us alive - we sold enough and we had a good 50/50 deal with the people who distributed it, so

we earned fairly good money out of it. But that record has meant a lot to those who bought it – so for that alone it’s a very important record. But also, Bill Brewster who wrote “Last Night a DJ Saved My Life” is a big fan of that album – he included “Push Yourself - Make It Work” on his Tribal Rites compilation – and thinks that it’s a really seminal underground record.

SEGS 

And DJ Harvey famously used to play the whole record!

RUFFY

Yeah, so that was really good for us and then when we got back together we did Rhythm Collision 2 not knowing that we'd ever do anything after that – so that was quite different. But, since then, we've done a couple of live albums – 40 Years of The Crack and Live on Stage – and then we’ve done two studio albums, Music Must Destroy and Counterculture?, both of which I think are very strong and then we've also learned to play acoustically, which is great. So, I think it's a really good body of work. And I think what we've managed to do is keep that whatever messages we were trying to put over at the beginning still remains true, we’ve still got the same values. Our new music has evolved, we're not trying to be jumping up and down playing - far from it - although of course, that's a big part of our legacy. So we'll always have that, and we’ll always be playing some of that body of work. So, Personally, I think what we've done is really brilliant because we’ve kept our integrity as well, you know. I mean, we're not wealthy from it, but I've met people along the way who’ve said that the songs have made a great difference to them, it's been part of their soundtrack and it's meant a lot and helped them get through things and that’s quite a thing, you know?

photo courtesy of Rhiannon Ifans

Ruts DC

photo courtesy of Simon Drake

Ruts DC 1981

Segs 

It's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle in reverse - you’d make a picture and then cut it up in pieces and every thing that we do is like a piece of the puzzle that we put in to see where it fits. And you keep doing that and gradually it re-creates the picture. So, whether we’ll live long enough to complete the picture, I dunno, you know what I mean?

Yeah, I’m with Ruffy on this, I’m very happy with it all really.

People ask me whether I hate playing Babylon’s Burning and I’ll say no. And I’ll tell you why, it’s because it’s near the end of the set and that means we ain’t got long to go till the end of the set! I’ll tell you what, though, the most difficult ones to do are the newer ones – like Poison Games, for example, which I’m personally very pleased with. People are getting to know the song, but, you know, we’re building up a set and then we’ll play Something That I Said, and then I’ll say that we're gonna do a new one and that’s the part I find difficult, you know. But actually it always works. 

photo courtesy of Godlis

scott-webb-b90c1cyh1b4-unsplash.jpg

RUFFY 

I think we're all confident enough to make these decisions and do these things, we don't have a boss, we only work for ourselves. We don't have a record company, it’s our record. And our template is well, we’ve got to do new music that we think is good and that we find challenging .

SEGS 

And we're very demanding of ourselves as well, so you know, so it's got to be challenging and what we like. When we were doing Dresden the other day, I’m thinking, OK Peter is working the Joy Division stuff, Rat’s just re-joined The Damned and they’ll be playing big venues playing the old stuff. And we don't do that, we do a kind of mixture of old and new stuff - thereby playing to 50 people! And I just tried to imagine what it would be like if we actually had a lighting director and some stage lights and we're singing “Hate Nobody, Hurt Nobody”,

we could have that lit up behind us getting the message across, but I think there were a couple of lights, I couldn’t see my bass, you know, and Ruffy just says “well, just take your dark glasses off”.

Ruts  dc

GILES 

I understand bands that will just play a back catalogue of the old stuff. I get that and there are some bands that I really enjoy listening to a Best Of set. And I think I mentioned something in the review of your Valencia show about the nostalgia thing: nostalgia’s ok as long as it’s used to create positivity and I think it can be a fine line sometimes between good and bad nostalgia. I mean everyone's different and sometimes you need a good dose of nostalgia to, you know, help you through whatever it is you're going through. To me as a consumer of music and where I am in my life, what I enjoy seeing is progress, an evolution, a willingness to push some boundaries. You mentioned about your integrity, Dave and that's always been there, you know, through upholding your beliefs in the way that you do things along with putting your arms around different musical styles and influences on every record you’ve done, yet still sounding uniquely Ruts & Ruts DC. There aren’t that many bands that started when you did that have done that. 

SEGS 

I can't believe we actually had the cojones to do some of that music, really, when I look back, I think bloody hell, what were we thinking?..... you know….I just don't have that bravery now. Well, I do, but I look back and think, Christ that was amazing, because it was a very cohesive band and even when Malcolm died it stayed cohesive, and Foxy, although fearsome of his own talents,

he was fearless when it came to the band. We felt really strong together. It’s good to have that whole arsenal to take songs from and we try not to do the same thing all the time. We try not to say the same things in between songs. And sometimes it goes off on a different tangent altogether. And all of that keeps it interesting for the fans and us.

RUFFY 

Well, that song, Pretty Lunatics, that was a kick around jam to start with. But it just felt really important, it was just him and me jamming it, and we did it with this whole bass thing, there were no lyrics at first, and then he put this little song around it

SEGS 

I wrote it that night. Never thought for a minute it would go on the album. 

RUFFY

And he wrote it about certain politicians, or one particularly hideous one at that time…

SEGS 

Well, one of the words in the song title rhymed with her name…

 

 

RUFFY

….so you get the idea…..and who I have to say was completely surpassed in hideousness by her successor. But then we realized that that song, actually, it’s more about us, the people, that are seen as the pretty lunatics and the government really doesn’t give a damn about anybody unless you’re rich. So, really it’s the same message of unity that we’ve always talked about.

What we’re saying, it's about us, it's about the people,

 

those that come to our shows because we do have to have look out for each other. It’s an old message and

 

maybe a boring one, but it's true and it’s still the same now. We're all led into this belief that we will be taken care of, and nothing's being taken care of.

HATE NOBODY
HURT NOBODY

 

SEGS

There’s a bit of a suspended reality at the moment for me. I mean, usually, like everybody, I pick up my phone to see what’s going on – I’ve turned off on my newsfeeds but I've still got this thing called The Conversation which I really like. And so, I've got the things that I like to read about but obviously there's a lot of horror at the moment and, on tour, I haven't really been engaging.

Leigh came down this morning and said it was just awful on the only English channel and I realised then that I haven't been watching stuff and obviously I feel bad because I’m thinking about what tonight’s hotel is going to be like but you know it's not really turning yourself off reality it's just that you’ve got to get through and, like you say, do the show. 

You can only do what you can in your own way to change your immediate environment. But before you even speak, you should read about it if you don’t already know about it. And one of our lyrics says Get to know what you don't know”, because most people just speak and don't know. I mean, half the people that are speaking about things haven't even looked at the history.

You need to understand first.

HARM NOBODY

all these photos courtesy of Simon Drake

GILES 

I remember your old mucker Henry Rollins, saying -  slightly different context, but the principle is the same - that education is the great leveler of the playing field and the reason that the establishment, governments, systems, don’t allow proper, equal access to education and advancement opportunities is precisely so they can control population, the jobs, the power, the wealth and the whole media narrative. 

SEGS 

He’s right. For all these situations, if you read about it, you can decide what’s and the only thing for the future is to never do that again. But that won't happen….

when shit

happens

it's always about money

s

s

s

a

a

RUFFY 

I totally agree with you. What we get told is bullshit and all that Daily Mail / tabloid sweeping statements and the rise of these kind of trolls on the right I mean, it's terrifying. I’ve been getting this twitter / x feed and there’s just loads of them just talking the same old fucking nonsense. Divide and rule.

 

SEGS 

And suddenly everyone’s going, well if that's the way I think then I am right wing, and it's just like, how did they do that? Have we really come to this?

 

RUFFY

“That’s my achievable goal, yeah, I can be right wing.” How fucking stupid. I mean, it's always been like that. The more I read about it, it's always been that way, even those fucking Eton lot, they’re as institutionalised in their own way. An education system based on the old Greek system of corporal punishment, keeping everyone in their place. 

Have we really 

come to this?

PEOPLE UNITE

PEOPLE UNITE

PEOPLE UNITE

PEOPLE UNITE

PEOPLE UNITE

PEOPLE UNITE

PEOPLE UNITE

PEOPLE UNITE

It’s

like

different

sets of

dominoes

all on

a big

fucking

pyramid

MUSIC MUST DESTROY

SEGS 

Our politics are our own personal politics. The politics of our life, Ruffy and me as friends living our lives. And we do what we want to do and what we think we should do. The more of history I read, the more complicated it gets. And I'm sorry, but money is underneath it all - as ever.

RUFFY 

What we’re all seeing more of is this dehumanisation of people. And it’s just falling into the trap. You can’t dehumanise people because that's what Fascism is. That's why people end up killing because you’ve made them less than human and worthless, which is bollocks.

RUFFY 

I think I’m going to vote for anarchy next time.

GILES 

I'm really glad you mentioned that actually. That's something that I've been reading about in the last couple of years. I started with Emma Goldman’s pamphlet from 1909 I think. I just think if you could strip everything away - all the bollocks that you've been indoctrinated with, conventional ways of living everything that society deems acceptable, then living as self-governing, peaceful communities that help each other as the fundamental principal – because that’s what anarchy means to me  – then why would you want what we’ve got now, which is pretty much the exact opposite – hatred, division and fascist dictatorships. To start with, I struggled with all the different definitions and variations of anarchism and sort of variations, but then I started to tell myself that it’s ok to take a blend of things that work for me – maybe some of that one, some of this, not so much of that….you know what I mean?

SEGS 

And what you thought that word meant, might not actually be what it does mean. Meanings of words get changed over the years. I mean, anarchy was adopted as a punk word, largely by Mr. Lydon. I think the word we embrace most is ‘autonomy’. That’s the best one for self-rule that I’ve found - pledge allegiance to autonomy

RUFFY 

I don’t know how our political system works. It's totally broken. I was brought up a working class socialist but I couldn’t vote for this system. I mean, I could arguably vote just to stop the worst one getting in, but I don't believe in them. But I do believe in communities and I do believe in art. And I mean, in a small way we don't work for big brother. We don't play O2 or Ticketmaster venues, unless we're supporting someone who has got a gig there, so we're not going to say we'd never play there, but we're not going to do one of our shows in one. So we try to do our bit through actions like these. We want to play community based arts centres, places like that that are run by people who care about music and art, because that's what we do. We’re not human beings without music and art. In Ireland, it’s part of the culture; in Holland, the government put huge things on, our gig in Hoofddorp was at this massive cultural centre – theatre, dance studio, massive library, a beautiful place, refugees go in there to learn to read, write and speak Dutch and really to write induction, it’s all “can do” stuff, and to top it off, the gig was really great. We have nothing, we're going back to another austerity thing. They're shutting down the fucking library in Uxbridge where Leigh lives, we don’t have anything for the people to get into other than misery and fucking chasing the buck, you know. 

All the

All the

communities that I’ve ever known, there's always differences and

that's what makes us a society.

Embrace the fucking differences, you know, and

get on with it

get on with it

IMG_4972.jpeg
RUTS DC 1981 at virgin

SEGS In my eyes, if we have to have a“government”, they should represent the people equally. It’s not about ruling. 

But this lot have taken that to the extreme and are just ruling for the rich, that's all they're doing. They're just representative of the people with money. People do think we are a political band, but we have never adhered to any political party, because we thought they were all rubbish. We were doing punk and it was autonomy. It was “anarchy” to a certain extent. And that was it. No-one had represented us and that's why that movement came through. Now it's become something different. Now everyone's begging us to take a side and it's just like, we're obviously left wing, that’s who we are.

Paris 1981

Paris 1981

Paris 1981

photo courtesy of Julio Antunes

annie-spratt-xvU-X0GV9-o-unsplash.jpg

GILES 

Getting caught up in "sides" is a distraction from instinctively knowing what's right and what's wrong, from having empathy, from separating state violence from the people - all political leaders are thugs, full of chest beating self-interest. The questions always boil down to what's the most equitable answer for the people and fuck privilege. I wonder if it's because our brains like things to be compartmentalised that we insist on picking sides. We’re always putting things in boxes, especially music genres (don’t get me started!) and this is starting to get really dangerous because many more things are much more nuanced these days. I mean when I started voting, it was labour or conservative, that was pretty much it apart from the Monster Raving Loony Party (which is much more sensible with hindsight that it was ever given credit for). 

SEGS 

Yeah, I think it’s a primal tribal thing. I'm not into football, but if we didn't have football, we'd probably be killing each other you know. Because everybody hates each other. 

RUFFY 

Football’s a really good example of keeping the lid on people - and I'm not saying anyone shouldn't enjoy a game of footy or anything like that - but without that we wouldn't be putting up with this shit. So what we have is, it’s ok, we’ve got the Saturday footy, let them have a few jars…it’s containable, if it gets a bit rowdy, we’ll get a few more horses to stop them etc, etc. and then the rabble go back to their houses, and so it goes on for another week, and another….

RUTS DC Counterculture poster
RUTS SUS

SEGS 

They should give them all ecstasy like back in the 90s and turn them back into ravers. Everybody would love each other! 

GILES 

Can we talk a bit about the influence of the Rock Against Racism movement cos I'm interested in how or whether activist movements today can and should learn from RAR...

SEGS 

It just felt natural to play with black and white musicians, so I’m not sure we really did a lot other than be part of something that we were already doing and using the music to present this united front alongside our mates.

RUFFY 

You know, being a father you get to know that children really like things to be steady, like don’t break the feeding times, the waking times and I think in many ways, this question of what side are you on, I think it's a bit of a throwback to that because it simplifies the choice to this or that, I believe this or I believe that but there’s also situations when you don't believe any of the sides. I believe in humanity and I've also seen how quickly humans can start eating each other when they follow the path of they’re right or they’re right.

GILES 

It’s part of the divide and conquer ideology that governments use, isn’t it….

SEGS

Well, you’ll then get infighting within that which leads to more division… you know, it's just division all the time. It’s always about people unite with us.

RUFFY

I love people unite, that’s totally right. One species.

RUFFY 

Yeah, we were involved, not in a kind of going to meetings and signing up for things, but the reason we did it is because we were working class boys and Malcolm and Foxy were from Southall way and Misty In Roots were a local band. Malcolm got to know their manager Chris (Bolton, sadly died in 2019) and Clarence (Baker) and so they give us couple of gigs, we’re doing gigs for the miners with Misty and we realised how alike we were, although they were rastas and we weren’t. I mean this is another story, but my family was fucking poor. I came from a large family, I’d steal food to feed the children, you know, and at the same I was head altar boy at school, you know. It felt like a real contradiction but I felt righteous cos I've got to feed the kids, you know. And I have to say that I was a really good fucking tea leaf as well! But as I say, that’s another story. The point is we felt we had common ground with Misty. And we were doing gigs for the miners and we're having a laugh and we're out with people. I've always very much resented middle class and upper class people telling me what it is the working class needs because they don't know what working class is, you know? 

RUFFY 

I remember a couple of young black kids getting really picked on when I was at school and that really bothered me, I thought it was really out of order, so I sort of took them under my wing. The first band I was in (the Star-Keys played soul and rocksteady)) were from Dominica. In fact, Angel (Andrews, guitarist) produced the first Ruts demos and we’re still good friends. He was tough and they made him head boy at school. But just the music we liked, you know, the soul, the rock n roll, the funk, the first time round ska and rocksteady…

SEGS 

I felt the same. I was into that first time round – Prince Buster, Skatalites and stuff – when early skinheads were into it - this was before Two Tone came around, which was also a great movement. And my sister had all this great stuff as well that I was listening to. But I remember at the age of 14, I couldn’t work out why there were these fellas who would listen to black music and then they would go out and try to kick the heads in of anyone with a darker skin colour. So in my young mind, I was like, ‘Hang on, you’re doing that and you're listening to this?’ I just couldn’t understand it. So that was very, very early so by the time I met Ruffy and Foxy, we were all on the same page. 

PEOPLE UNITE

RUFFY 

I used to go to the Roaring 20s club in Carnaby Street as a young lad. I was always fascinated in music, so I really wanted to go to those places and obviously I was going in much younger than I should have been because I had friends were going there. The original skins that Segs mentioned weren’t racist, they were just following the Jamaican Rude Boy look with a tabbed collar and braces which came out of the American Ivy League look from dancehall and their hair was more of the suedehead style because, you know, the West Indian guys would have had shorter hair, y’see? And then the white skins’ hairstyle started to turn much shorter, the movement started to splinter, divisions got wider and the racist violence started growing. I mean I spotted very early on that my nan was openly one of these “they bloody come over here” types. But she wasn't a nasty person. 

SEGS 

It was ignorance

RUFFY 

Yeah, it was ignorance. She didn't know any black people, she just worked hard cleaning the trains and all that sort of thing. Angel’s mum and dad owned their own house. I didn't know anyone who owned their own house. His dad couldn't read or write and they found it difficult to get anywhere to live so they worked really, really, really hard and bought their own house, so it was like ‘fuck you, we’ll have our own house”. His dad died about 10 years ago, but we went back to Dominica before that and I managed to see him. I was on the back of a pick up truck driving through the island and I saw him going into church. He was always a really sharp dude and he had on a really nice fedora with two tone shoes, and a suit with an iridescent check  

SEGS 

I think I was

there wasn’t I?

Ruffy

You were, yeah! We stopped to see him and he was like “Hey, if you guys need a lift, just let me know” and he was about 86 then. 

 

segs 

His mum still runs a shop doesn’t she? Or is that his aunty?

 

Ruffy

His aunty, I think. So yeah, going to those blues and soul dances, hanging out with my friends, they sort of changed my life really.

giles 

There’s a community centre where I live and every Sunday morning, there’s a religious service where everyone gets dressed up, sings really loudly, it’s really colourful, noisy and everyone's just having a lot of fun meeting their friends and stuff.  

SEGS 

Ahhh, fantastic. I love the tambourines.

giles 

Yeah, tambourines as well. I love watching it all. I’m not religious, but I always feel like it’s a reminder of what community can be like when you find that common ground.

SEGS 

Yeah, I lived in Brixton for quite a long time, and the windows would be open, reggae on in the morning and I still do it now, you know, lets get the speakers out and open up the windows

giles 

SO HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE IMPACT OF RAR?

RUFFY 

I mean when we started,

gigs were very violent

The tribes weren't mixing at all so you know, gangs or kids from different areas would go to a different area just to have a ruck you know, it was really, really bad. We really got a lot from RAR. We got these great gigs with like the Gang of Four and Misty and we felt we were getting really good. 

And also we really noticed that the fans were getting educated from the movement as well...they were all meeting up there and getting into it. And then we watched the transition to two tone....

SEGS 

There was quite a big Asian influence in the beginning. I met an Asian guy the other day and he said, “Oh, you really changed my life because I was terribly depressed in West London, getting loads of racism and then I came on your gig and it really changed things for me” but there were also Asian bands and stuff like that. And then it sort of changed. But they put on amazing concerts and stuff and I was like 21 or 22 and we’d be like, wow, you’ve got your Asian dancers on stage,

 

it was wild.

ruffy 

Yeah, I remember we had two Muslim girls who used to come to our gigs. They’d got thrown out of their families for coming to gigs in binbags and stuff,

the punk rock thing at that time. But, we

really felt that we were going somewhere because we could visually

see that a lot of people have been awoken to the simple message of love music, hate racism and that it's great. It's like

the music is joyful, it's uplifting

and racism is just fucking miserable. So, we really thought that we’d got somewhere, but of course these things don't go away.

You have to constantly evolve as a person, you know? 

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SEGS 

We did so many gigs with Misty. When we started off, they’d be playing dominoes down one end of the dressing room, and we would be at the other drinking vodka and getting drunk. Gradually, they got more into the Bible and Rastafari and then if you stop framed it, we’d meet in the middle, where they had a big newspaper bag full of weed and just say, “help yourself”. So, they'd be reading from the Bible, we'd be smoking weed and giggling. It was just fantastic. And then we used to basically play different headliners, and we always used to jam at the end. So what happened in the end is so many people were putting up banners - you know, this against racism, that against racism - that both bands sat down and said that we weren’t going to use RAR anymore, we're just going to set an example of a black band playing with a white band. And that's what happened in the end because it got taken over.

RUFFY 

Yeah, it got taken over by people who wanted to have an axe to grind and that weren't the message, the message was always people unite, really. And it just started to splinter into all these different factions – anti-nazi league was one I remember – and it became largely the middle class sitting round trying to solve the problems of the prole. Well meaning but, you know…

SEGS 

Remember when we did that march to Hackney where Rude Boy was filmed.? We were on the back of a flatbed truck with Misty. And there’s pictures of us, playing a set, Misty playing a set, then us both coming together

RUFFY 

Yeah, we played all the way from Hyde Park to Hackney

SEGS 

Victoria Park was so big - I think The Clash might have been playing – we could hear it. And then someone shouted “Play! Play!”. So we started playing and this sort of - I'm gonna keep coming back to the class thing – but this middle class type comes up shouting, “Turn your music off, you’re worse than the fascists!” And we're like “Ermmm…ok?”

RUFFY 

People get apoplectic quickly don’t they? 

giles 

Seems to happen a lot though, doesn’t it? A movement or scene just gets too big, and it starts to lose its focus and its original meaning gets a bit lost because of vested interests, egos and stuff

GILES

Talking about movements has just reminded me of this young Palestinian group that's using a traditional Arab folk dance called the Dabke as a means of political resistance by taking performance and participation into communities also using it to help with cultural identity. I think those kind of things have more impact cos you’re actually going into communities and sharing face to face…it’s the human touch. 

SEGSYes, I’d agree. It’s an autonomous tack for change in a way.

RUFFY 

Well, this is why small acts of kindness are much bigger than you think. It’s all well and good having a big flashy headline and spending half a million fucking quid to get X to publicise it, but Misty In Roots had this old cinema, where you’d walk in one room and there'd be a Bangladeshi band and in another room there’d be a Sikh band and all this variety of music going on. We've met people along the way who’ve told us that we’ve had a profound effect on their lives

SEGS

Yeah, we’ve met people all across the country who’ve said “we had to come and see you and let you know that what you’ve done” 

RUFFY

There was a kid who told us years ago that he had a really hard time growing up as a black kid and and he was kind of suicidal at the time. He told us that In A Rut being released on Misty’s label really helped him and when we re-formed 30 years later he came with his son. That just makes you so humble, and you think “Really? That's so great”. That's why the little things you do are so important. And don’t give up. We can all feel so powerless with all the shit that's going on, but I really think it’s the little things that really matter a great deal, and the things you do every day as an individual

SEGS

We started off talking about our whole journey at the start of this conversation, but, you know, if we've done nothing else, our first record came out on the People Unite label, which was the black community label. So that was and still is a very big deal for us. It’s been a long way since, but just that alone is like, wow, that really happened. That and people wearing the People Unite t-shirt.

SEGS

Yeah, it does and also, the bigger the movement gets, it's like it gets okayed by the government, and then it becomes like “you can demonstrate here and here and here, between this time and that time, don’t make too much noise and we won’t kettle you”. And then you look round, and it’s like “where’s everyone gone, they’ve all disappeared”

Ruts DC

photo courtesy of Raven Berlin

giles 

So powerful. Those are all big,

formative influences, the things that

stay with you for 40 years and longer, a

lifetime probably. They matter to you and the

people that follow you. I think it shows the depth of

impact not just for one generation but the next. You can’t put

a price on that.

RUFFY 

Again, it's that thing of you just put a little bit in that you think

is right. I mean, we're still on a journey trying to play for a few

new people, and we’re still kinda trying to do the same thing, although

I’m not quite sure what it is often (laughs). But I know when it’s wrong!

SEGS 

Going deeper into it…. of course, it still exists but all I can say is my daughter,

who's 22, doesn’t see people like that. She just doesn't see that. And that's good, because

that attitude of, you know, the “coming over here, taking our jobs” thing, was everywhere when I

was growing up. As Chris Bolton from People Unite used to always you have to keep passing the baton on.

And I think that's really what we’ve tried to do in our lives and in our music. Small but important victories

giles 

I really think that championing and passing the baton on anti-racism,

the actions that you're taking on playing more community and arts places and less

corporate venues, how you distribute your music, I think people do notice and remember it. Taking a

stand does have an impact.

SEGS 

It’s just been the natural path really. Once again, it's like that jigsaw thing - you never know what the next piece is gonna be. Luckily, we've got people around us that say “no, but if you do like this, we're going to earn all the money from that”. What we say is Sell Less, Earn More. And it's not about the money, it’s just that I’d rather sell a thousand records and get the money for that ourselves rather than it go to a record company who are never going to give me any money. 

RUFFY 

We’re not trying to be the next best thing, because we've been around forever. So we'd like to continue as we have been doing. I'd like to do one of the big Spanish festivals next year so coming to Spain now will hopefully mean that people will know who we are. It's really, really liberating what we’re doing now. It's very hard for young musicians now. We’re lucky that we’ve got a small but very dedicated fan base that as long as we keep doing quality stuff they’ll buy it and that really helps us keep going. That's why we can do a tour like this. I mean we don’t make any money at all, you know, but we're investing what we do make in ourselves to allow us to come here, play to a few more people and help pass on the message.

one people

one message

PEOPLE UNITE

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