Formerly they were "The Blaggers", a British Punk band founded in 1988.
Main vocalist Matty 'Blagg' Roberts had previously fronted Oi! band Complete Control, who released an album on Oi! Records in 1985 while original second vocalist Tim 'Bilko' (aka 'Teething') Wells had previously been in the band Anti Social Workers, who released an album on Mad Professor's Ariwa label in 1983.
Blaggers I.T.A. were also cited as having been part of the whole Grebo movement.
Blaggers ITA were noted for their strong anti-fascist and left wing lyrics and activism.
Although the band initially played in a generic Oi! style, they later added a trumpet player and incorporated influences from Hip Hop and Electronic Dance Music, including sampling, and added the letters ITA to their name ("In The Area"), rumoured to have been inspired by Adrian Sherwood's On U Sound Records.
The band had close links with Anti Fascist Action (AFA), donating money to the organisation and promoting its ideology.
The band's support for revolutionary politics and AFA, along with their earlier association with the Oi! scene and support for Irish republicanism, meant that in the early 1990s they became a target of Neo-Nazi groups such as Blood & Honour and C18.
In 1993 they signed a record deal with EMI and enjoyed some commercial success with three minor hit singles. Stress and Oxygen benefitted from promotional videos, while Abandon Ship saw an appearance on The Word.
The record deal resulted in some criticism due to EMI's status as a major label and large corporation, and its former links with the arms trade. In a debate strongly echoed four years later in the case of Chumbawamba, the band justified the move with the argument that the financial and promotional support of EMI would enable their political message to reach a wider public; they also argued that the deal gave the band more money to spend on political causes. For example, money earmarked for promotional events was used on full page adverts in the national music press promoting direct physical anti-fascist action, while creative use of tour support funds went to aid political groups throughout the country.
In the summer of 1993, the group embarked on a high-profile UK tour supporting Manic Street Preachers.
In July 1993, frontman Matty Blagg allegedly punched Melody Maker writer Dave Simpson, as a consequence of Simpson stating that Matty could never reform his fascist past (as a teenager Matty had been associated with the British Movement but while in prison was enlightened by another prisoner and subsequently dedicated the rest of his life to educating others) resulting in a court case, which was dismissed on legal technicalities. The incident led to the cancellation of many of the band's biggest supporting tours and festival slots (inc. main stage slots at Reading and Glastonbury), an effective boycott by the music press, and the consequent cancellation of their EMI contract.
Shortly afterwards Matty Roberts left the band, which for a short time continued without him. Roberts died on February 22, 2000.
A new version of the band named Blaggers AKA formed in 2002. This line up has played gigs and festivals across Europe, including benefits for the Independent Working Class Association and Antifa groups, but has not released any records.
Tim Wells is still active as a ranting poet.
1) On Yer Toez (released as The Blaggers) (1989)
2) Blaggamuffin (1991) [Mini-LP]
3) Fuck Fascism, Fuck Capitalism, Society's Fucked (1991)
4) God Save the Cockroach (1992) [Mini-LP, aka New Kids On The Blag]
5) United Colours of Blaggers ITA (1993)
6) Bad Karma (1994)
Members Name Check
- Matty Blagg - lead vocals
- Christy Robson - rapper/DJ
- Steve Serious - guitar
- Paul The Pig - guitar
- Matt Vinyl - bass
- Jason 'Wrist Action Jackson' Cook - drums
- Brendan 'Rimmer' Hodges - trumpet, samples and design (credited SIT Inc)
- Carlos Coutinho - keyboards
- Bilko - second vocalist (1988–1989)
- Jez the Jester - drums (1988–1989)
- Cab - drums (1989)
- Gary the Squatter - guitar (1989–1990)
- Olaf - sax (1992) + sax and vocalist (since 2001)
- Marcel - guitar (since 2001)
- Brian Hayes - guitar (1993-1996)