The 5,500-mile trip was not without its complications. “As well as all the wage level stuff, we soon discovered that the British government is racist,” Jay explains. “When we applied for the visas for the band members, we just thought it would be plain sailing, you know? In that western mindset of, 'If I want to go somewhere, I'll just go and get a visa.' So we were really surprised when all four of them got rejected outright.” Jay goes on to say that he got pro bono advice from the Anarchist Book Fair, who advised him to appeal the rejection with the power of people “clout”. So he wrote to politicians, spoke to immigration lawyers, gathered support, and within seven days they managed to overturn the decision and get the visas granted.
Jay and Roberta’s filmmaker friend Kim Ford heard the good news and immediately picked up her camera. “We had the idea to film it all because it was such a historic moment,” Kim explains, shortly after finishing a shift as chief medical photographer at Royal Berkshire Hospital. “After meeting the [Rebel Riot] guys we realised just how political it all was. They had this whole ethic of ‘do it together’ rather than ‘do it yourself’. They are a really inspiring bunch of lads, so we followed them on tour and botched together a movie, basically!”
They made No Spicy No Fun, a new feature-length tour movie released under Kim, Jay and Roberta’s collective moniker Punk Ethics. The uplifting and intimate documentary, released in March, follows Rebel Riot around the UK in 2017, starting with a visit to the birthplace of punk: London. Their excitement is infectious as they wander around the famous 100 Club, tour iconic punk spots, and play gigs with bands they love like The Restarts.
“There’s a great story in the film where the Burmese ‘Godfather of Punk’, Ko Nyan, tells us how he discovered punk in the ’90s through an old Melody Maker magazine that had the Sex Pistols in it,” Jay smiles. “So that created this moment in the film where they’re not just the first band to come over here, but they’re also fulfilling their dreams.”