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On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast, we’ve put together what might seem like two vastly different musicians, but they’re connected by a deep respect and by a truly rebellious spirit that’s reflected in their names: Steve Ignorant and Sunny War.
Sunny War has been releasing bluesy, folky, virtuosic albums for years, but recently hooked up with the notable Americana label New West for the album Anarchist Gospel, which features not only some of her best songs yet, but also a bunch of notable guest performers, like singer-songwriter David Rawlings and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. You might not guess it from just a surface listen, but War cut her teeth not just on classic songwriters and fingerpickers, but on plenty of harder, more left-of-center music as well. On Anarchist Gospel she covers a Ween song and paraphrases a lyric by the legendary anarcho-punk band Crass—which is the genesis of today’s conversation. Check out Sunny War’s “Whole” right here, in which she namechecks Crass.
The other half of today’s chat is Steve Ignorant, a founding member of Crass and still the band’s flag bearer more than 40 years later. Now Crass is often overlooked by punk historians who don’t run deeper than the Sex Pistols or the Clash, but they were in many ways just as important. Crass were unapologetically political, making anti-corporate, anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-bullshit statements in both their music and out in the streets—back when that could be a much more dangerous thing to do than it is now. Though Crass split in the early 1980s, Ignorant has performed under various guises over the years, and still plays gigs that cover his vast musical history, including new material as Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life. At 65, he’s still got plenty of the anarchist’s spirit in him, as you’ll hear.
In this chat, War and Ignorant—that sounds funny together, doesn’t it?—talk about growing up as true outsiders—he in post-war England, her in drug-friendly Los Angeles. They chat about War’s devotion to Crass, including a misspelled tattoo she got way too young. And they get into their problems with how young people are educated, and offer a pretty smart, simple solution. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Steve Ignorant and Sunny War for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the good stuff we’ve got at Talkhouse.com. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!