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Wednesday, October 27, 2004
And then, in the midst of all this thinking about politics and music, I did an interview with a local magazine today in which I was asked about, er, politics in music. I thought it might be interesting to relate my reply. It's below.
Q: The cover of your first EP was actually a picture of a thrift shop; also, your name implies some kind of interest in "left wing" values. Music seems to have lost most of its political impact and interest in the last few decades. Do you think it’s time for activism again?
A: I've been thinking a lot about this lately. There is actually a good bit of activism going on in music right now (aside from what was always there in hardcore, underground hip-hop, etc.), and, quite frankly, it's crap. The protest songs are just horrible, the tours are embarassingly lame, and the actual political speech is like self-parody. The problem with musicians being activists is that, by and large, musicians are morons. Or, at least (or additionally), morons when it comes to thinking in any sort of political way. I mean, economic issues drive politics, but do you really want to talk economic policy with someone whose career choice was probably made on the basis of the availability of free drugs and/or sex? (Or, even worse, a mild obsession with the Smiths or Tortoise or someone.) When going to work involves arriving at a club at 5 pm and ordering a beer, you're just not going to have a whole lot of credibility talking about the kind of populist issues musicians have been trying to address lately, not anymore. And lord, the irony of people who bitch about disposable pop stars embracing music that's going to be irrelevant in two weeks, don't get me started...uh, anyway, what I'm trying to say, I guess, is that musicians should tell people who to vote for, and then shut up, at least when it comes to taking policy positions. Now, as for politics (not activism), I think music is an expression of politics at a level most people aren't willing to dig for, but let's not get into that, or this answer will be even more needlessly long.
Anyway, as for the name, yeah, it's a bit lefty, but hey, we are musicians after all. I don't want it to come off like some dumbass anti-corporate thing though--I really am interested in the idea of musical production as this mechanical process, as this corporate thing, in a positive way. But.
ADDENDUM: Article in Flagpole asking local Athens musicians about politics in music, for comparison.