I may be biased, but “strive to survive causing least suffering possible” has to be one of the best maxims for life that there is. You just can’t fault it. Without realising quite what a lasting impact it would have on many people, anarcho-punk band Flux of Pink Indians chose these words for the title of their seminal album. I shared my roots with members of FoPI in our small local punk scene of the late '70s (a Hertfordshire market town's equivalent to the Bromley Contingent!) and was especially close to them at the time when they recorded it and first showcased the ‘Strive...’ set at gigs up and down the country. So it really warms my heart when I hear that their 1983 release is still often referred to with reverence by fans old and new around the world. Bands like Flux and Crass may not provide the kind of music I'd actively choose to listen to so much now - at least not for its own sake - but perhaps that's partly because I was just so immersed in it all at the time. And because I'm not quite such an angry young thing any more ;-)
Anyway, about 6 or 7 years ago a very cool friend introduced me to the music of US band Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and I was immediately struck by their accessible, anthemic, punk/power-pop/ska/rock sound and Ted’s heartfelt vocals, all of which tick the right boxes for me now. Songs like ‘Me and Mia’ and ‘Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?’ are well worth a listen if you’re not already familiar – and their general melodic-with-an-edge style sometimes makes me think of early Jam. I also knew that Ted Leo was a prolific and renowned song-writer as well as a man of integrity, unafraid of coming at things from a political angle. Ok, so now you may be thinking: what’s that got to do with Flux of Pink Indians and ‘Strive To Survive Causing Least Suffering Possible’?
Well, apart from the fact that I like it as a typically strong, catchy track in its own right, I was just amazed to hear a certain reference in the lyrics of ‘Ativan Eyes’ from Ted's 2010 album 'Brutalist Bricks’. When I first listened to this and heard him sing "We strive to survive causing least suffering possible - the Flux of Pink Indians gave me words for that" (around 2 mins 9 seconds in) I couldn't believe it. I know it probably doesn't mean a lot to anyone else but it means a lot here! Boy, is my heart warm now :-)
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists: Ativan Eyes
(A special 30th anniversary edition of FoPI's ‘Strive...’ with extra tracks, including the live set from the Feeding of the 5000 gig at Shepherds Bush Empire 2007, is released on One Little Indian 2nd September 2013...)