Music

Chumbawamba Tells NZ Deputy Prime Minister to Stop Using ‘Tubthumping’ at Rallies

“Tubthumping,” Chumbawamba’s hit from 1997, has been thumping from loudspeakers at public events led by New Zealand’s deputy prime minister Winston Peters. And the politically-charged British group is having none of it.

Last weekend, Peters, whose party New Zealand First is part of the country’s coalition government, walked on stage to “Tubthumping” ahead of his controversial “state of the nation” address.

During an hour-long speech, the veteran right-wing politician reportedly discussed plans to remove gender and sexuality lessons from the school curriculum, and referred to the song’s lyrics, telling the audience “we got knocked down, but we got up again,” the BBC reports.

Chumbawamba’s members want the populist politician to stop all references to the song. “Some mini-Trump in New Zealand totally not getting how egregious we think he is,” reads a post on the now-defunct band’s official Facebook page, linking to the BBC article.

Speaking with the Corporation, Boff Whalley, the band’s lead guitarist, said the act did not give Peters permission, not does it share his ideas on race relations.

“Chumbawamba wrote the song ‘Tubthumping’ as a song of hope and positivity, so it seems entirely odd that the ‘I get knocked down …’ refrain is being used by New Zealand’s deputy prime minister Winston Peters as he barks his divisive, small-minded, bigoted policies during his recent speeches,” Whalley remarked.

“[We] would like to remind him that the song was written for and about ordinary people and their resilience, not about rich politicians trying to win votes by courting absurd conspiracy theories and spouting misguided racist ideologies.”

On Wednesday, March 20, NZ online news title Stuff reported that rights society APRA AMCOS would forward a cease and desist notice to New Zealand First, from Sony Music Publishing, the band’s music publisher.

Peters used the platform of X to return serve at critics – including Chumbawamba.

“It seems the media care more about the Chumbawamba story than we do. We actually don’t care,” he writes in one post. “There’s nothing to ‘cease or desist’. The song worked like a charm for our first public meeting after the election. The over 700 people in the crowd thought so too. We will be sure to file the ‘cease and desist’ letter in a safe place if it ever arrives. I would use another of their hit song titles as a quip at the end of this post but unfortunately they only had one.”

The group’s signature song, “Tubthumping” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Pop Songs chart. Chumbawamba’s Tubthumper album hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200. In the U.K., the song reached No. 2, one of the band’s two top 10 hits (1998 follow-up “Amnesia” peaked at No. 10). Aside from that stirring fight song, the band is long remembered in their homeland for an ice-cold moment during the 1998 Brit Awards when drummer Danbert Nobacon tipped a bucket of water on then deputy prime minister John Prescott.

Chumbawamba disbanded in 2012, ending a 30-year career.

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