A play for today set in Sixites Liverpool from Leeds' Red Ladder

THIS tale begins in Leeds in 2004 and somehow ends up in Liverpool in 1960. Six years ago the band I was in – the band I'm still in, in fact – changed its spots overnight, from a full-on (I quote), "jumpy shouty" live pop spectacle to a quieter acoustic band. Chumbawamba always was a changeable old thing anyway.

The band started life in the early eighties in Armley, in a huge squatted house next to the old swimming baths. We bounced from benefit gig to benefit gig, from Haddon Hall to Hyde Park, from Cosmos Club in Chapeltown to the old Trades Club. Before they were famous we had both Pulp and Bjork stay at our house, sleeping bags on sofas.

We started to make records, getting a distribution deal with a company. Within a few years, two or three albums down the line, we ventured for the first time into the murky world of the London music business.

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We've always been a Leeds band, despite not coming from Leeds. We gathered here because of the house, the music, the culture. Through it all we carried on touring and putting out records, winning over John Peel and getting to play everywhere from Dewsbury to Japan. And then there was Tubthumping, which took us completely by surprise and kept us hanging around the fringes of the soiled black hole of the music industry a little bit longer. It was fun for a while – chatting with Dolly Parton and sneering at the backstage excesses of the supergroups.

By 2004 we decided we needed to change, and four of the original band members went off to try other things. Most of us are still living and working in Leeds. Alice Nutter now writes fantastic TV drama scripts – she had an episode of Jimmy McGovern's Accused on earlier this week, and me – well, apart from remaining in the band, I began to write for theatre around three years ago, helped by a course at West Yorkshire Playhouse called 'So You Want To Be A Writer?' run by the brilliant Alex Chisholm and Mark Catley.

For a while I wrote with local author Dom Grace, but have recently immersed myself in the task of reclaiming the musical – and music theatre – from the clutches of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

I first met Rod Dixon – director at Leeds-based Red Ladder Theatre – when he played a part in the West Leeds Festival production of my play Armley – The Musical. Rod's a fired-up enthusiast; together we've plotted to create an agit-prop comedy singalong theatre that's right for these times; relevant and entertaining are our watchwords. The latest play, Sex & Docks & Rock 'n' Roll is a romp through the living room of a family in Liverpool in 1960 – at the time of a historic dock strike and a time when the world was changing for each member of that typical (and utterly dysfunctional) family.

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It's a play that suits the current economic climate wherever you're from, and is full of songs, ad-libs, cookery demonstrations, 'mucky books' and ukulele-playing. In short, like everything we ever did, and still do, as Chumbawamba, it tries to be down-to-earth, relevant, two parts angry and one part funny.

Next year we – that's myself and Red Ladder – are planning a Music Hall revue that aims to subvert The Good Old Days image of Music Hall, and yes, it will have a run at Leeds City Varieties. I haven't written it yet, but I can't wait.

Sex & Docks & Rock 'n' Roll, various venues, see www.redladder.co.uk