2:15pm PT by Shirley Halperin
Chumbawamba 'Get Knocked Down,' May Not Get Up Again as Band Calls it Quits
Some 15 years after scoring a massive inescapable hit with the “Tubthumping,” British band Chumbawamba is calling it quits.
“That’s it then,” the band wrote on its website July 9. “With neither a whimper, a bang or a reunion. Thirty years of ideas and melodies, endless meetings and European tours, press releases, singalong choruses and Dada sound poetry, finally at an end.”
Formed in Burnley, England, in 1982 by Allan "Boff" Whalley, the band began as part of the anarchistic “Oi” punk scene but veered toward rave-ready dance and techno sounds later in their career. Even in 1997’s “Tubthumping,” you could still sense a political subtext to the sentiment presented by the then-eight-member collective. In fact, a tubthumper is British for a politician.
The song, which features multiple singers -- and instantly conjures a mid-'90s time stamp with lyrics like “He drinks a whiskey drink, he drinks a vodka drink / He drinks a lager drink, he drinks a cider drink” and “I get knocked, down but I get up again / You're never gonna keep me down” -- reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the U.K. singles chart. But in recent years, wound up more often on lists like Rolling Stone’s 20 Most Annoying Songs.
In Chumba’s 772-word goodbye letter, the band makes no reference to being a one-hit wonder, rather, it takes the opportunity to explain a mission statement that may have been lost on the music industry at large. “Chumbawamba was our vehicle for pointing at the naked Emperors, for telling our version of the truth,” reads the letter. “It gave us a chance to be part of a broad coalition of activists and hectors, optimists and questioners. … If there were ever a Chumbawamba manifesto, it would read in the inconsistent, contradictory language of the Dadaists – part strident belligerence and part foolishness. This ending is no different; it comes almost as much of a surprise to us as it may do to you. Always more clown than politician, the band trips over its outsize feet and performs its final tumble.”
Reasons for the break include everything from “squabbles and arguments along the way” to “a deal of griping, frustration, moaning, exasperation – but always alongside a huge amount of goodwill and generosity, good humour and love.” The band says they’ll play a few more times in 2012, then hang up their “guitars, trumpets and football rattles” and “worry that we’ve made the wrong decision.” Still, the group points out that they “reserve the right to re-emerge as Chumbawamba doing something else entirely,” but adds, “that’s not very likely. Thirty years of being snotty, eclectic, funny, contrary and just plain weird. What a privilege, and what a good time we’ve had.”
Read the goodbye letter in its entirety on the Chumbawamba site and relive the song via the official video below: