IF there’s a story of punk perseverance, it has to be Chelsea, the band that formed in 1976 and once included Billy Idol as a member.

They played the infamous Roxy Club in Covent Garden and released one of the first truly independent singles, Right To Work, on the Step Forward label.

Incredibly, 47 years on, the band are still fronted by original singer Gene October and still draw crowds across the UK and Europe.

Chelsea will headline the middle date of this year’s Undercover Festival, which will feature a host of punk bands old and new and run from Friday 14 April to Sunday 16 April at Guildford’s Holroyd Arms.

For Mat Sargent, Chelsea’s bass player for more than 30 years, being a punk still means something.

“It’s a bit strange,” he says. “I like being a reminder that we challenged the system. I don’t think there’s enough challenging of the system any more.

“People just comply with everything for good or bad. I just think more people need to make a statement and stand up and publicly disagree about things.”

For Mat, punk was and still very much is about protest. “People should protest, whether it’s the clothes you wear or the music or going on demonstrations, people need to be seen to be not going along with everything,” he says.

And what should they protest about? “Brexit,” he says adamantly. “We’re touring in May doing 10 shows across Europe, so we’re about to find out how hard it’s going to be to work in Europe now.

“Also, there’s the whole social media thing ruling people’s lives, plus you don’t seem to be able to say or do anything nowadays without someone saying they’re offended.”

The band have now released 13 studio albums, four live albums and a startling 11 compilations and still have appeal across the ages.

“Our audience is a bit of a mix because there’s a hardcore of fans that know us from way back when, but we’ve picked up a following of younger people over more recent years too,” explains Mat.

Chelsea play at the Undercover Festival on Saturday 15 April, when they will be joined by Peter and the Test Tube Babies, Menace and Spizzenergi.

The festival opens on Friday 14 April with Future Shock and Citizen Fish, and Sunday’s line-up will include XSLF and The Lagan.