‘It felt so fallacious’: Chumbawamba desires New Zealand politician to cease taking part in ‘Tubthumping’ at rallies


When New Zealand’s populist Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters strode out to handle a political conference within the metropolis of Palmerston North in March, the sound of British punk band Chumbawamba’s iconic tune “Tubthumping (I Get Knocked Down)” blared over the audio system.

And whereas this wasn’t the primary time Peters had used or referenced the ‘90s hit, his alternative of tune has now attracted the vocal displeasure of the band itself.

Throughout his State of the Nation speech, Peters, the chief of the nationalist New Zealand First occasion, criticized the previous Labour authorities’s coverage of co-governance (joint decision-making with the Māori folks), and pointed to the emergence of an unspecified “race-based idea” that he in comparison with a philosophy “seen… in Nazi Germany.” Peters then went on to name for instructional reforms, together with the removing of “gender, sexuality and relationship-based training pointers” from colleges.

The controversial remarks had been met with backlash from different members of New Zealand’s coalition authorities, which largely contains the mainstream Nationwide and ACT events. However these headlines had been quickly eclipsed by Chumbawamba publicly condemning Peters’ use of its tune.

“Every part that Peters stands for is counter to Chumbawamba’s world view,” the band’s founding member and former vocalist, Dunstan Bruce, informed CNN. “And with that tune specifically, a tune that was written as an anthem for the underdog, the dispossessed, the working class — it felt so fallacious that Peters thought it appropriate for himself.”

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Photographs

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First chief Winston Peters pictured in the course of the state opening of the nation’s parliament in December.

A self-prescribed “anarchist collective,” Chumbawamba discovered its voice within the period of ‘80s punk music, constructing a model of activism by assist and funding for progressive causes — particularly after having fun with world business success with “Tubthumping” in 1997. The band additionally famously offered its tune “Go It Alongside” to automaker Basic Motors for $70,000 solely to donate that cash to activists who mounted an environmental marketing campaign towards the corporate.

Chumbawamba, which broke up in 2012, has requested its former report firm, Sony Music Publishing, to concern a cease-and-desist letter to New Zealand First. The label didn’t reply to CNN’s request for touch upon potential authorized motion.

Rights administration group APRA AMCOS NZ, which is answerable for licensing public music performances in New Zealand, informed CNN that the homeowners of the conference corridor the place the tune was performed had obtained a license to play music on the venue. However there have been situations: For one, the license didn’t cowl any use of music that might “fairly be thought to be suggesting an approval, affiliation, or endorsement by an artist, songwriter, writer or report label.”

“Anybody that is aware of this band and its views would shortly understand that such use in such context would by no means be accepted,” added a spokesperson for APRA AMCOS. The conference corridor’s homeowners didn’t reply to CNN’s request for remark.

“That is so troublesome to regulate, and in trying into methods of stopping Peters we realized that these items are legally imprecise and take time to implement,” mentioned Bruce. “If folks like Peters wish to misuse our music… we must be able to reply appropriately.”

If the matter had been ever to land in court docket, Chumbawamba may must exhibit how Peters or New Zealand First had benefited — or how the band had suffered harm — from the alleged infringement, in keeping with Peter Dungate Thrush, a associate and mental property rights specialist at New Zealand-based authorized agency McCabes and Firm.

“One of many points is that it’s very onerous to level to a number of monetary hurt that’s being finished (to Chumbawamba),” mentioned Thrush, predicting that the cash recovered from a authorized battle would probably be very small. Nonetheless, he added, the potential features for the band could not simply be monetary: “It is going to … make the purpose that they take the copyright significantly, and different folks shouldn’t use (the tune).”

For Bruce, it’s easy: “We don’t need our identify to be related to folks like Peters.”

It’s not the primary time a political occasion in New Zealand has made headlines over its music selections. In a 2017 excessive court docket determination, US rapper Eminem was awarded 600,000 New Zealand {dollars} (then round $415,000) for copyright infringements by New Zealand’s Nationwide Occasion, which had used a observe titled “Eminem Esque” in a political advert marketing campaign a number of years earlier. The court docket dominated that the tune “considerably copied” the rapper’s Academy Award-winning 2002 hit “Lose Your self.”

Extra lately, Eminem took goal at former US Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, reportedly issuing him with a cease-and-desist letter to cease him utilizing “Lose Your self” on the marketing campaign path final 12 months. Former US president Donald Trump has in the meantime confronted a bunch of complaints from well-known musicians accusing him of utilizing their songs with out their consent, together with The Rolling Stones, Rihanna, Pharrell Williams and Bruce Springsteen.

Chumbawamba is not any stranger to politicians co-opting its music. The fitting-wing UK Independence Occasion (UKIP) drew the band’s ire in 2011 when then-leader Nigel Farage walked out to “Tubthumping” at a convention.

Hutton Supancic/Getty Photographs for SXSW

Dunstan Bruce speaks onstage on the premiere of “I Get Knocked Down,” a documentary he co-directed, in the course of the 2022 South by Southwest convention.

UKIP appeared to honor the band’s request to cease utilizing the tune. Peters, nevertheless, has doubled down, taking to X, the social media platform previously generally known as Twitter, to say: “There may be nothing to stop or desist.”

Peters went on to say that the tune “labored like a attraction” on the conference. In response to CNN’s request for remark, New Zealand First Occasion President Julian Paul mentioned the occasion had nothing additional so as to add.

Whether or not music can considerably sway our perceptions of political campaigns or speeches is a matter of debate. In accordance with Emmanuel Heisbourg, a former researcher on the College of Montreal who has studied the affect music in political advertisements has on folks’s views of politicians, eradicating or altering a tune could have “a really, very small affect” on how competent or compassionate candidates appeared, as an illustration. Nevertheless it stays an under-researched subject, Heisbourg informed CNN.

In addition to an lively composition that may whip up fervor in a crowd, the lyrics of “tubthumping” (a British slang phrase for vociferous political protesting) have clearly struck a chord with these selling messages of resilience. Peters has referenced the tune’s iconic chorus — “I get knocked down, however I get again up once more. You’re by no means gonna maintain me down” — earlier than.

Final summer time, months earlier than his aforementioned State of the Nation speech — during which he paraphrased Chumbawamba’s lyrics to strike a observe of optimism over his authorities’s efficiency, evoking cheers and applause from a crowd of supporters and MPs — Peters immediately namechecked the band. “As we rise, the grime will begin another time,” he mentioned throughout a celebration conference in July, in keeping with a transcript printed by New Zealand First. “In reality, as you realize it’s already began. That’s a barometer. That’s an actual ballot, that’s an indication that our opponents are actually apprehensive. Count on it and ignore it. Simply repeat to your self the phrases of Chumbawamba: ‘I get knocked down however I rise up once more. You’re by no means gonna maintain me down’.”

For Chumbawamba, the mass enchantment and rousing message of their hit is “each a blessing and a curse,” in keeping with Bruce.

“We didn’t understand how a lot that message would resonate all over the world and the way it will be relevant in just about almost each scenario,” he mentioned. “We wish the tune to at all times be a drive for good. And to mirror what we consider and stand for. Therefore these moments when we have now to kick up a fuss when issues go awry.”

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