Crusaders of Crust Return
Levellers take care of business like few other groups. Rarely does a
band maintain it's identity and integregrity whilst taking care of business.
A few years back the band invested their hard earned dough from platinum
selling album "levelling the land" to buy a large warehouse
space in Brighton called The Metway. This was converted into offices,
a recording studio, a rehearsal space and a haven for their political
activities and creativity...
Who said crusties were wasters?
Every week they offer local bands free studio time to develop and record.
The result has seen many successes including British Sea Power and The
Electric Soft Parade hit the indie charts.
Sorry, who said crusties were wasters?
There's also a drinks bar....
The following conversation with Jeremy, spokesman and bass player really
rekindled my faith in music being an integral part of the community
and soul, rather than a means to stardom and vanity.
Jeremy: You see, when we made our mark we were a righteous mouthpiece
for an era dominated by conservative policy and a lack of community
spirit. Everything was about succeeding as an individual at the expense
of someone else. We connected with the disenfranchised, the people on
the bottom rung, people searching for a direction. At its best our music
unified these kinds of people and brought a sense of kindred to a dislocated
In its title "Levelling the land" we are suggesting a social
move towards equality and justice.
AD: It sounds like you had a collective consciousness in the
band, a collective purpose?
Jeremy: Exactly, but make no mistake "Levelling the land"
is still a great record and I believe that our new record echoes the
vibe of that.
The record industry never interested us and I think the feeling was
mutual. We built our support from the grassroots and word of mouth and
kindred spirits were attracted to our scene. We still have a hardcore
following and we were one of, if not the first band to use the internet
to communicate with a database of fans. These things cut out the importance
of record company rhetoric and interferance...we have always had artistic
AD: So tell me how you formulated your plans?
Jeremy: I guess it started in Brighton at our local pub, The Eagle.
We all met there and would talk and talk over beers till closing time.
It seemed natural after a while to put our ideals into musical expression.
The Eagle was the only bar that allowed its staff to have mohican haircuts
and a room upstairs for smoking joints!.
It was at that bar that I sketched out the Levellers logo that is still
AD: As well as a loyal following you seem to have maintained
the original team of management and label.
Jeremy: Yeah, why fix something that isn't broken. We still have
the same manager and use his label Hag to release our material.
AD: Your first album was released through "Musidisc"
with disastrous consequences, can you tell me more?
Jeremy : Yeah, they were a disorganised and badly run label that
completely made a cock up of releasing our singles and album. The music
was all but lost to the bargain bins because they couldn't sort out
a piss up in a brewery.
We eventually had to buy our way out of the deal, luckily our next label
China records became convinced when they came to our shows and saw 2000
people turn up, it wasn't a leap of faith for them to want to sign us.
They paid off musicdisc but that didn't stop musidisc releasing awful
remixes of old tracks, trying to cash in on the bands success. We made
appeals to our fans NOT to buy that record and I think it worked because
it didn't make the top 40. After that nightmare we could concentrate
on our own future, and the next album was the making of us.
AD: Well you've a hefty tour schedule, does 14 years of touring
wear you down?
Jeremy: Well it is emotionally tiring at times but nothing beats
the buzz of a mad crowd at your gig. It's very life affirming and intoxicating,
it's become our lives.
AD: How do you maintain relationships with people outside the
Jeremy: It's difficult, but we made a collective vow that we
wouldn't put the band before our personal freedom and relationships
(all in the Levellers apart from Jeremy are married!). It has meant
that we always keep a perspective and the only way it's affected the
band is that over the years a few shows have been cancelled!
What a nice man. Since we were talking by phone I couldn't tell you
if he smelled or not, or if he had a mangy black dog on a rope by his
One thing is for sure though, that love them or hate them, the Levellers
are owed some respect and what they do means dues are long over-due.
Punk is still alive and it may not look as cool as the Strokes but it
never accepted Daddy's handouts and remembered its roots, its community.
Cue the Levellers.