Forthcoming presentation at the Punk Scholars Network 1st Annual Post Graduate Symposium

PSN Postgraduate Symposium Poster Final-page-001PSN Postgraduate Symposium Poster Final-page-002

As well as being a member of BCMCR/Interactive Cultures I am also a member of the Punk Scholars Network, which is, as it’s name suggests, an international network of scholars academic and non academic that research and write about punk rock in all its different manifestations. The PSN has organised its first  Annual Punk Scholars Network Post Graduate Symposium for the end of this month and is being hosted at The University of Leicester and I am going to be presenting some of my Phd research into anarcho-punk. Specifically it will be reflecting on my methodological approaches. Here is my abstract for my presentation;

“Where There’s a Will There’s a Way”: Methodology, investigating memory and the life-courses of 1980’s British anarcho-punks.

Matt Grimes

Birmingham City University


Taking its title from 1980’s British anarcho-punk band Discharge, this paper investigates some of the issues faced by researchers conducting qualitative research interviews focussed on memory and the politics of everyday life. I will draw on my on-going doctoral research into a group of participants of the 1980’s British anarcho-punk scene and what significance that their engagement with British anarcho-punk has had on their lives. My doctoral research aims to build upon work about fan identities and practices within life-course transitions and the negotiation of fandom and identity amongst older fans produced by Hodkinson 2013, Harrington et al 2011, Bennett and Taylor 2012, and especially Bennett 2006, Davis 2006 and 2012, which examined the wider punk rock scenes.


Drawing on the work of Harrington & Bielby (2010) and Vitale (2013) I aim to contextualise my study and discuss the application of the life-course framework to my research. Additionally the presentation will raise some of the issues involved in memory studies as highlighted by Wang & Brockmeier (2002), Van Dijck (2006) and Labelle (2006). Drawing on the work of Rubin & Rubin (1995), Wengraf (2001) and Kvale & Brinkman (2009) I discuss the processes of and issues involved in conducting qualitative in-depth research interviews, the ethical considerations involved in this approach and managing interview data.

What is equally exciting about presenting at this conference is that Sophie Sparham, a recent graduate from the Birmingham School of Media, where I teach, will also be presenting for the first time at an academic conference. Here is her abstract;

How Close Is Too Close?  The role of the punk rock ethnographer and their relationship with their research subjects.

Sophie Sparham
Birmingham City University

Drawing on my personal experiences of touring with anarcho-punk band Addictive Philosophy in 2013, this presentation firstly discusses the significance of gaining and presenting subcultural capital as a way of gaining a more in-depth insight of a specific music scene, and therefore seeks to uncover the sometimes blurred distinction between researcher and research participant. In doing so it raises issues around the ethical dilemma of involvement and participation for the ethnographer and their relationship with the research subjects in the documenting of reality.

Secondly I discuss the role of the radio documentary producer; from the interviewing and recording process to the editorial decisions that were subsequently made to enable the creation of the documentary.  This also raises issues of the documentary producer’s desire to present reality whilst contending with regulatory broadcasting restrictions.  I demonstrate how my initial intention of making a radio documentary of the tour soon expanded into a much larger documentation and critique of the current anarcho-punk scene in the UK and Ireland.  The finished documentary was shortlisted for ‘The Charles Parker Radio Awards 2014’.

I have really enjoyed teaching Sophie and similarly I am enjoying working alongside her in developing her presentation. I am hoping it will be a really valuable experience for her and may encourage her to return to academia and engage in some post-graduate research and study .

No Sir I Wont: Reconsidering The Legacy of Crass and Anarcho-punk. Punk Scholars Network Symposium.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the third Punk Scholars Network event organised and hosted by Pete Dale and the Oxford Brookes University Popular Music Research Unit. The title of the symposium was “No Sir, I Won’t”: Reconsidering The Legacy of Crass and Anarcho-Punk. The day started off with a pleasant taxi ride from the station with Pete, Penny Rimbaud, drummer and one of the founder members of Crass, and Sarah McHendry, musician and activist, member of Mwstard and former drummer of Curse of Eve, Baba Yaga and Witchknot. On arrival me, Penny and Sarah went off for a coffee at which point I started testing the ground with Penny about the paper I was to deliver that day on Crass and the documentary “There Is No Authority But Yourself” directed by controversial Dutch filmmaker Alexander Oey. My reason for broaching the paper with Penny, in advance of my presentation was because I felt quite nervous discussing somebody in the first person whilst they were there in the conference audience. It seemed from our discussions that my interpretation of the documentary was along the same lines as what Penny and Alexander were trying to convey through the documentary. Whilst this was reassuring I was yet to see how the audience would respond to my reading and the line of questioning I might get from Penny et al after I had presented.


Before the papers were delivered there was an excellent exhibition of anarcho-punk graphics from Russ Bestley of the University of The Arts London who pulled together some great examples and created a set of really powerful photomontage posters. To accompany the exhibition he also designed and printed a beautifully crafted limited edition ‘zine’ that was full of some great anarcho-punk graphics and an interesting historical perspective of the anarcho-punk movement/ scene in the UK in the late 1970’s to the mid 1980’s. You can see his excellent work here:PSN Oxford Booklet Layout PDF LR and here and throughout this blog post:

01 Crass Poster LR-page-0 copy copy


The first presenter of the day was Rich Cross whose paper was focused around discussions on the anarcho-punk/ peace punks’ relationship with the 60’s hippy counter culture and the development of political violence in the anarcho-punk movement. In his discussions he proposed that the singular fixed view of pacifism being integral to the early anarcho-punk movement misrepresented a more complex and contradictory reality, within the movement, where adherence to pure pacifism had become a contested principle. He drew on examples of the movements involvement with varying political groups including anti- fascist, animal liberation, anti- capitalist, Class War, Stop The City etc  and how that involvement challenged the original pacifism of anarcho-punk and saw some anarcho-punk militants adopt newly confrontational approaches.

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Second up was a stimulating paper from Jim Donaghey who discussed anarchism as a politics of punk and punk as a culture of resistance. He proposed that there is a supposed gulf between ‘lifestyle’ and ‘ social’ anarchism where anarcho syndicalist’s ‘workerist’ interpretations of anarchism are somewhat in conflict with the social/ cultural interpretations of punk. In his paper he mapped out the anarcho-syndicalist principles of Rudolf Rocker onto DIY punk where it could be argued that the ‘workerist’ means of production are in the hands of the producers within DIY punk. In doing so he argued that a major foundation for successful struggle is a culture of resistance in which DIY punk contributes to in the contemporary anarchist milieu, as DIY punk bridges both political/personal and cultural/material.

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After lunch it was my contribution where I discussed how music documentaries are used as a way of presenting and documenting popular music history, specifically punk for the screen. I argued that particular stylistic devices and tropes used in popular music documentaries engage in canonical processes that contribute to the formation of a punk canon. Alexander Oey’s documentary about Crass “There Is No Authority But Yourself” steers away from these stylistic devices and rather than presenting a ‘history’ of Crass presents us with a different insight.  In documenting Crass, Oey becomes more interested in the contemporary lives of some of the band members and  how the ideologies of the band are still, for some, core to their  lives and lifestyle. This raises the issue about an investigation and documenting of Crass being a vehicle for a broad range of ideologies that members of the band had before the band formed, and continue to live by today, rather than an intention to document history per se. The full paper is available here:

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After me was Ana Raposo, who also presented an interesting paper on how  politics are represented in anarcho-punk music graphics. The core of her paper investigated how content and stylistic devices of music packaging are utilised as a propaganda tool and used for specific purposes such as loyalty or allegiance to  a scene,  strengthening an existing scene or recruiting people into the scene. In doing so they also present a critique of contemporary realities or utopian environments. she drew on some interesting graphical examples to demonstrate these processes at work. In some respects it was a way of also articulating or putting an additional  voice to  some of the graphical content of Russ Bestley’s exhibition.

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Last presentation of the day was from Pete Dale. He drew on the work of Ian Glasper’s series of books on underground UK punk, which  provides  an oral ‘history’ and a useful document of the politics of punk music and culture. In this insightful and at times amusing presentation Pete explored the notion of punk being about ‘more than music’ and pieces together some of the verbatim quotes of  informants and contributors to Glasper’s books to paint a picture of the  relationship between punk’s music and political affiliations and the way they changed over time. In doing so Pete pieced the quotations together to show how  a clearer understanding of where punk amounted to ‘more than music’ and where it also failed to amount to such.

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To end off a really stimulating day there was a round table discussion with Penny Rimbaud, George McKay and Sarah McHendry. (photo courtesy of Rich Cross ). I wont go into detail of the discussions as you can listen to them here (they were recorded on a mobile phone-not brilliant quality but the conversations are audible):

George McKay
Sarah McHendry
Penny Rimbaud

Here is also a link to Rich Cross’ presentation slides from the conference and will also take you to his excellent blog.

Here is also a link to some photos from the conference courtesy of Sean Clark and his blog post about the event


Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change-A cross disciplinary symposium

Thursday 15th/Friday 16th September I attended a conference about subcultures and subcultural studies at London Metropolitan University. I was presenting on a panel chaired by Pete Webb from Goldsmiths college, I am a big fan of his academic work especially around Bristol music making/Massive Attack/Smith and Mighty et al and Nick Cave. I still use his work on Bristol music milieu as one of my core texts in my Popular Music Culture module when discussing ideas about how global music influences local music making practices and then is uniquely developed and re-positioned back into the global music milieu. Great to have finally met him and looking forward to some future meetings and discussions with him. Anyway I digress. On the panel were 2 of my colleagues from the BCMCR Andrew Dubber who did a presentation on his ‘Monkey On The Roof’ project and Jez Collins who talked about Hip Hop as a force for social change in Colombia’s favellas, particularly in Medellin.

Keynote speakers were Dick Hebdige-writer of seminal book ‘Subculture:The Meaning of Style’ who did an interesting talk on punk rock, his time running a clubnight called Shoop in Birmingham in the late 70’s early 80’s, Japanese a popular art/manga and living out in the Mojave Desert.

Day 2 saw an excellent and at times moving keynote speech from David Hesmondhalgh about how music makes our lives better, improves our well being and that there is not enough love in the world. Clearly demonstrated by his use of Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ always a winner in my book.

It was an excellent conference and very diverse covering many areas of subcultural studies with presenters from research  areas such as criminology, philosophy, theology and more. Highlights for me included:

  • ·         The keynote speeches
  • ·         Paul Hodkinson presentation on ageing goth’s and goth  subculture
  • ·         Michelle Liptrot  from Bolton Uni on DIY punk as Resistance
  • ·         Dr Herbert Pimlott with a really interesting talk on music ephemera , cultural memeory and work around Raymond Williams and ‘structure of feeling’. Very useful for my work around histories/the canon and popular memory.
  • ·         Alex Ogg-DIY and Independence. Development of Independent record labels in the post-punk era. Wanted to have a chat with him but unfortunately had to run for the train.
  • ·         Jonathan Llan from the University of Kent-the criminality and commercialization of UK Grime music.
  • Melanie Schroeter. University of Reading. Discourse analysis of the lyrics of punk band Golden Lemon
  • ·         Andrew Bengry-Howell from University of Bath. Interesting presentation on Criminal Justice Act and the free festival/free party scene


I presented a paper on anarcho-punk fanzines which was a further development of the research I had done with Rob Horrocks that we presented at Oxford Brookes earlier in the year.  I have included the paper here on the blog without the powerpoint as the powerpoint kept freezing the blog page. It is available on request however.


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Also my colleague Andrew Dubber has blogged his thoughts on the conference, with accompanying photos/ videos etc- you can get it here:


UB40 Symposium

A colleague of mine Dr Paul Long, from the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, is organising a symposium on and around the Birmingham band UB40 in association with Birmingham Popular Music Archive. This is in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the release of UB40’s album “Signing Off”
Although UB40 were not a punk band it would be fair to say that they came from the same era of Thatcherism, high unemployment and social division. Their lyrics at times reflected the same anger and frustration of those of the British punk scene so they deserve a mention here.
The symposium will take place on March 18th 2011 at Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University.
For further details follow this link:


On Friday 25th June I attended a one day symposium on Popular Music Fandom. The symposium was at the University of Chester and organised by Mark Duffett from the School of Media at Chester. As I will be conducting some research around  fans as part of my PhD research I thought it would be useful to attend along with some of my colleagues from The Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Studies Prof Tim Wall, Rob Horrocks and  Nacho Gallego Pérez a visiting researcher from Madrid who has recently joined the centre for research.


The keynote presentation was from Matt Hills from Cardiff University who is one of the UK’s key thinkers in Fan Culture and Fan studies. I had worked with Matt in the past as part of a research team that conducted some research about audience/fan online interaction with the BBC Radio websites as part of a Knowledge Transfer Project.  Matt’s presentation was around considering new ways of looking at and researching fan culture based on three ideas of post-popular music, mnemic communities and intermediary fandoms. What I particularly liked was the area of mnemic communities drawing on the work of Bollas (1993) and how music has personal and/or community memory stored within it. He also touched on the idea of whether those memories are imagined and /or a community narrative. I thought this would be very useful to my research as my object of study centres around cultural/popular memory.


Mark  Duffett delivered an interesting paper on moving towards a new vocabulary of fan theory in researching and investigating fandom. He laid out a 9 step vocabulary model which due to my deep interest in what he was saying I failed to make any notes-doh!! I am hoping he will e-mail me his PowerPoint slideshow and if so I will comeback to discussing his ideas on a future blog. What was great about these two presentations was the fact that I am new to fan studies and it seems that I am at a point of entry where the ways of thinking about fandom are taking a new turn and I am getting current and future ideas from two of the leading UK researchers and commentators in the field.


Alexei Michailowsky from the University of Rio De Janeiro delivered an interesting paper about when the researcher is a fan and methodological points in carrying out research into your favourite artist. This was based on his experiences into researching Brazilian musician Marcos Valle. This brought up some useful strategies for me regarding my own research as a fan of British anarcho-punk.


I also met two very interesting people John Harries and Lisa Busby from a band called Sleeps in Oysters who have released music on Seed Records. John had attended to present a paper on David Bowie: A Case Study of the Established Artist as Fan and ‘Musical Conscience’ for the Mainstream which I unfortunately missed because it clashed with another presentation about Northern Soul from Dr Nicola Smith from UWI Cardiff which was really interesting and informative.  Lisa is not only a musician but also an academic who teaches music at Oxford Brookes University. We had some interesting conversations about their band and performing their music live and also the revival of the audio cassette (which was a topic in my previous blog posting) and interesting ways to package and market music in the digital age which is something that they and Seed Records really like to explore and develop.


We also talked about her course and she has said that there may be an opportunity to talk to her students about marketing, PR and promotion of music and musicians. She discussed a future conference she is organising and said that there would be an opportunity for me to present at it which will be a great opportunity.


A real coup of the day was meeting a fellow punk Michelle Liptrot from the University of Bolton. She is in the final stages of her PhD research into the longevity of anarcho-punk and hardcore. She hopes to submit in November but from our discussions we determined that some of her research and research findings would be really useful in informing my research. She has generously offered to send me a list of useful texts from her bibliography which I am really grateful for. I wish her the best of luck with the completing stages of her thesis and look forward to reading it once it’s published-if not before. We will definitely keep in touch.


All in all a really informative day that has given me some great ideas and very useful contacts. Thanks to Mark Duffett and his team for organising the symposium.

Sights and Sounds: Interrogating the Music Documentary Conference

Tim, Paul, Oliver, Sam, Rob and I went to the Sights and Sounds Conference which was held at Salford University last Thursday and Friday. I presented a paper based around my research into Anarcho-punk. I talked about the Alexander Oey film about Crass‘There is No Authority But Yourself’. The paper was around how the film could be seen as an intervention into the canons of punk history through the retrieval of memory. The Powerpoint slides can be viewed below though the embedded video may not play. The conference was also filmed so hopefully I will be able to post that up at a later date.


I felt , for my first academic presentation, that it went really well though i did get a bit tongue tied at one point but managed to retrieve my place in the delivery and continued. The feedback I received afterwards from the audience was really positive and encouraging. I was 1 of 3 on a punk/post punk panel, the other 2 contributors on the panel, Ailsa Grant-Turton and Erich Hertz also delivered 2 really good papers that complimented some of the issues I was addressing in my paper. I am hoping that I will find the time to finish writing the paper over the next few months and that it can be included in a forthcoming text on music documentary published on the back of this conference. The other delegates covered a broad range of subject/musical genres of which there was something interesting in all of them. Tim and Paul did an excellent presentation about Tony Palmers 1976 series ‘All you need is Love’ examining the impact of the series as a seminal documentary that established the form that most subsequent popular music documentaries have since taken. Sam and Oli also did a co-presentation examining how Sam’s audio documentary about David Bowie’s visit to New Zealand has been appropriated by fan cultures and re-versioned. The other delegates were very friendly and i made some useful contacts. I met with Mark Duffett a scholar who teaches at Chester University who’s website and blog I have been following with interest. He has done some great work on fan cultures and I am going to meet up with him later in the year to discuss my research and see how he can give me some solid insight into fan culture and cultural memory. Due to the conference programme we didn’t have much time to have an indepth conversation but I am excited at the prospect of spending more time with him to pick his brain and tease out some useful knowledge to aid my research.


What was really great about this conference was the opportunity to spend time with my work colleagues and I felt really proud to be part of a team that represented the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at the Birmingham School of Media in such a good light. We had the largest group from any institution present at the conference and arrived in a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ style.


Ben Halligan who helped organise the conference has asked my to present a paper at another conference he is organising in July titled ‘Noise, Affect, Politics’
-so I thought if I have time I would like to put a paper together about the political lyrics of bands such as Crass, Discharge, Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death and how they are mostly undecipherable in their lyrical delivery but central to their ethos and agenda.

Punk’s Underbelly.ppt
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Here are my conference presentation notes

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