Last Requests

One of the sorriest displays of politics in recent years is winding down to it’s inevitable halt. In two days time (god willing), we will know who our new President is. George W. Bush will either have his second term, or Kerry will have his first. Whoever wins, they will have a thankless and very difficult task on their hands. I’ve laid my chips with Kerry, however, I’d like to request things of both candidates. No matter which one ends up winning out, there are things that either candidate would benefit hearing. So here goes.

To President John Kerry…

Okay, so I guess you’re wondering how you got this far. After all, you were getting schooled by Howard Dean this time last year. Thank God he’s a screamer… because I doubt he would have come off well at all in those debates. But here you are. President John Kerry. How are you liking it? Well, that doesn’t really matter that much. What matters is whether or not we like it.

And a good half of the country won’t be. Half will be screaming at you from day one, and a good quarter of the other half will be wary of you. You’re “the lesser of two evils” to these people. And how a task falls on you. You must unify them all. I doubt you will recieve a “unifying” moment, such as 9/11. No, I feel that your presidency will be very similar to the Clinton years. You’ll have a Republican congress standing in the way of your every move. And you know you lack the charisma of old Slick Willy.

But all the same, you must try. And I don’t mean donning camo and going out shooting ducks. You have to learn what your forerunner did not, that you must work for all of America, not just the side that voted on you. Democrats will be foaming at the mouth to undo four years of Republican control… and you must contain them.

And Osama remains. You must find him. You must. America will never fully exorcise the specter of 9/11, but so long as Osama remains alive, it will rattle its chains, and scream in our ears.

Iraq must be defused. But not abandoned. The answer to the snafu that took place between the Tygrus and the Euphrates must not hemorrage with the blood of America’s youth… but it must not be something we run away from. The world is looking at us right now, and only with understanding, well-thought out actions, will it grow to respect us as it once did.

All else is incidental. Tax cuts, gay marriage, and immigration. If this world… and us along with it… is to survive, then we all must work together. The outsider cannot be won over with brute force, but he also cannot be won over with a hug and a Jimmy Carter smile. It must be a balance of the two. I do not know how to do this. But you must find a way. Otherwise, you will join the forty-odd men who have failed at your job: unifying the world against the tribal politics and old hatreds that have poisoned it for so long.

Godspeed, President Kerry. Godspeed.

To President George W. Bush…

You’ve done it again, George. I seemed to know you would pull through somehow, and here you are, ready for another innauguration day in your egg-covered limo. How do you feel? Are you ready for more of this? At least you don’t have to worry about re-election now. And I know you’re not obligated to fix what you’ve broken. You can sit on your laurels for four years, until some other candidate with something to prove steps up. You can do this, and cement your place in history…

…or you can try something else. You can try redemption.
As night fell on September 11, I never thought I’d see a country as shattered as it is now. I knew we were going to band together. You could hear it in every American voice. I knew you’d get re-elected, but if you could pull through for us, I didn’t care, no matter what happened in 2000. You were our president, and we believed in you.

And for a while, everything was fine. Everything was okay. But then there were cracks in the lining. And then everything shattered into pieces when you declared war on Iraq. It was America’s first pre-emptive war. We’ve done some crass things in our history-poisining the Souix with Small-Pox laced blankets, blaming the destuction of the USS Maine on Spain just so we could take Cuba…. but this took the cake. We swept in and chased out the gremlins of your father’s failed war. We toppled the Statue. We were triumphant. You drove down on your steel bird, screaming “mission accomplished”. For those who would hear the Siren’s Song of blind patriotism, it was a shining moment.

But it didn’t last .

Fire in the night. Gunshots in the streets. Fat goverment contracts. Flag-draped coffins. The liberal backlash. Michael Moore, trying to sign up people to go fight for your war. Anne Coulter, claiming anyone who didn’t support you was a Traitor. And before you know it, we’re back to 2000, fractured into two pieces, and all we’ve got to show for it is an empty stretch of ground and four thousand new graves (and counting).

So you’ve got another four years. Do us a favor. Redeem yourself.

No more Halliburton garbage. Be open to everyone. Stop listening to the bald man in glasses, and listen to your promises from 2000. Leave no child behind. Leave no adult behind. If you want to make it certain every unborn child makes it into the world, give them the means to craft their future. And keep their future rife with possiblity, not isolation and paranioa. Stop trying to scare people, and stop trying to use Jesus as a prop. Religion is not the cure for the world’s suffering, it is the cause of it. Address your shortcomings. And transcend them.

You are a good man. You are not a stupid man. But you are not very articulate, and you let yourself be pushed around by those below you. You can do little for the first, but you must do something about the second. You know what those troops in Iraq are going through. Show them that you care about every last one of them. Form an Exit Strategy.

But your greatest task will be to build back those bridges you burned. The rest of the world stands around us. We can hate them, and spar with them, or we can overcome two million years of bickering and killing. It’s our choice, I say we make the right one now.

You’re back, but you don’t have to go down in history as the guy who just squeaked by. Or as the man who mortally wounded his country. You can be that grand uniter. But you must work with those who you disagree with. For unity is made up of the acceptance of all people… not just the ones on your side. So it should go in the United States of America, and so it should go in the world-no matter what the armchair generals, the rednecks, the nascar dads, and the spoiled trust-fund babies say.

Be the President we know you can be. And be it now, whether your presidency ends in 2005 or 2009.

Thank you gentlemen, and goodnight.

In closing…

The choice is before you now. And no matter who you choose to support, make that support known. Every vote cast strengthens America. It brings us together as one people, working together to decide our future. So vote Kerry, or vote Bush, or vote Nader, or vote for Benny Hill… but take part. Don’t do it for your party, or your agenda… do it for yourself.

The future is what we make it. So help make the future on November 2.

Punk Voter Conference – Warped Tour 2004

On August 7th, 2004 MR representatives, John Morrison and Christine Bell got the opportunity to participate in a PunkVoter.com press conference. Mike Burkett, (Fat Mike), front man of punk band NOFX and founder/owner of indie label, Fat Wreck Chords; as well as Jay Bentley of the punk band Bad Religion served as the representatives from Punk Voter.

Fat Mike and other members of the punk community came together to form Punk Voter after the 2000 presidential elections. Citing “illegal and ‘chaotic’ actions of the Bush administration”(punkvoter.com), Punk Voter was created to mobilize the disenfranchised youth of the punk community and beyond.

For the sake of the reader, we have edited some of the interview. We have done our best to maintain the context of both the questions and answers to fairly represent Mike and Jay and ensure that their statements are not misunderstood or ‘spun’. The interview has been broken up into two segments: politics and music, the latter will be posted next week.

Fat Mike of Punk Voter What made you organize Punk Voter?

Mike: Someone had to. Someone had to organize the scene. And I thought I was the perfect person because I know a lot of people and I don’t have many enemies. I can easily call all the bands, so it was easy.

Can you tell us more about the Punk Voter Tour?

Mike: Well, there are two different tours: Flogging Molly is headlining one and Anti-Flag is head-lining one, I think with International Noise Conspiracy, The Epoxies, and some others. But the Warped Tour, this is the most significant [tour]; 200,000 kids are seeing the Warped Tour. This is a Rock Against Bush tour, I mean, half of the bands are saying ‘fuck him’ and ‘go vote’ or whatever so, this is it, this is the big one.

Do you think Punk Voter is informing people on why they should vote or do you think your audience is already informed and planning on voting?

Mike: Well, I think 95% of these kids don’t like Bush in the first place. That doesn’t mean their angry, maybe they don’t know why. If they just don’t like him, it doesn’t mean they are going to vote. We tell them things like, ‘oh abortions going to be made illegal if he wins again, and it’s going to stay legal if John Kerry wins’ and they go ‘wow, it is important, that does effect me… and my college funding’s getting slashed and I’m gonna get drafted’ and these are things that directly effect kids. We’re helping them get off their ass. And a lot of these kids are anarchists and they don’t wanna vote for anyone, but we’re trying to show them that we’re gonna keep going downhill fast if this guy is in office.

Do you think that the traditional punk philosophy of Anarchy has gotten in they way of trying to organize support for the democratic party?

Mike: Punk Voter isn’t about the Democratic Party at all. It’s just [that] the biggest political problem in the world right now is George Bush. So how is he gonna get beat? He’s going to get beat by the Democratic Party. We have tons of other concerns, maybe some Anarchist concerns. The next big battle we’re going to fight are incest laws in this country; where if you fuck your kid you only get a couple years in prison, but if you fuck a strangers kid you get 20 years. And these incest laws are on the books everywhere and we’re going to try to get them repealed. So, yeah, we have nothing to do with the Democratic Party.

Are the “Rock Against Bush Tour” and “Punk Voter Tour” two separate things?

Mike: Well, we did a college/university tour and we called it the Punk Voter Tour, but when we played clubs we called it Rock Against Bush.

Why’s that?

Mike: Well, colleges try not to get to partisan.

There are many other politically-driven tours out there, for example, the “Vote for Change Tour.” What are your feelings about it?

Mike: I think it’s great. Punk Voter is helping set the stage for these bigger tours because we’ve been doing a lot of these [political] tours and we’re very successful, and we’re not getting killed, and our record sales aren’t going down. The Dixie Chicks said one bad thing and everyone got a little scared, but I don’t think bands are scared anymore and everyone’s doing it. And really, almost every rock band is against Bush. Really, the only ones who are supporting him are country bands, and you know, generally people who like country music aren’t smart, they’re not educated (laughs). (Sarcastically) Midwesterners (laughs).

Do you think you are smarter than Bush? Would you be better in the White House?

Mike: Uh, no, I don’t think so. He’s an average thinker. You don’t want an average thinker in the White House. I don’t think I could give a much better speech than he could. That’s why someone like Clinton, who was a ‘President’ should win, not a C-student.

A lot of people are saying you are in a rock band, and what does a musician know about politics, why should people get their information from you?

Mike: Right, well, you should get your political information from anybody. If you’re in a cab and the cab driver gives you some good piece of politics that’s great. Me? I graduated from college, I’m not the smartest guy. I’ve read a lot of books, but I’m not the most articulate person. But, uh, I have a pretty big soapbox, so I’m using it. Everyone should use it. I tell everyone… they go, ‘how can I help?’ and I say, ‘get five people to change their minds.’ That’s it. I flew to Atlanta from San Francisco and I talked to this fucking idiot for two hours and I changed his mind. He was going to vote for George Bush, but he said ‘I’m honestly not going to vote for him anymore, because I did not know all these things[about him].’ So there it is; if everyone would do that, it’s over, it’s done, you know? So just ‘cuz I’m a musician you shouldn’t listen to me? That’s ridiculous.(sarcastically) Let’s only listen to billionaire politicians.

Young people are stereotypically apathetic, do you think that young people now are more likely to go out and vote in the upcoming election?

Mike: Every one is getting excited now, because everyone is finding out what’s really going on and they’re getting angry and scared. And really, they don’t want to go fight in a war. When kids get scared that’s when they start to do something, when everything is fine that’s when they are apathetic. I didn’t vote until the 2000 election, until I was 33. I didn’t care either; things were ok. It took someone like George Bush to get people off their asses.

Punk was thriving when Reagan was in office. Do you see Bush as a bigger threat than Reagan?

Mike: Uh, Yes. Well Reagan sold arms to Iran, took the money and gave it to who? the contras. That was pretty fucked up. [He] started some small wars, had a lot of people killed. But I think George Bush is really spinning the world in a huge downward spiral, especially for America. There was not this much American hatred when Reagan was president.
Jay: And half of George W. Bush’s administration are the people that came out of Reagan’s camp. And they’ve been waiting for the right person to say, ‘here’s what you are going to do.’ I mean, this isn’t something he [Bush] thought about on his ranch, eating pretzels. This has been waiting for the right guy. It was actually ’91, when his father went to Kuwait and that was when Tim (Yohannan)… they(“Maximum Rock ‘N Roll” magazine) put out the “‘Maximum Rock ‘N Roll’: New World Order” flip-side. And there was a lot of activity in the punk world, but it didn’t last long because he [George H.W. Bush] was also a one-term president.
Mike: And when Reagan was president the punk rock world was very united. There was a “Rock Against Reagan” tour. But, you’re getting 500 kids in every big city, and that was about it. Now there’s millions of kids, so it’s a lot easier now, and it’s a lot more effective. But yeah, I think Bush is a much worse president. I mean, he’s trying to ban abortion; to make it illegal. And he will, if he gets elected again.

What do you think about Ralph Nader running in this election again?

Jay: Do I have to get down on my knees and beg him not to, like Bill Maher?
Mike: Yeah, I just think someone should really off him (laughs).
Jay: (laughs)
Mike: He’s got some kind of crazy ego going on, because there is no reason why he could be doing this, other than ego. This is the ONE time we don’t need a third party.

You don’t think it’s possible for him to get 5% and for Kerry to sneak in with a win?

Jay: No, that time came and went. The goal right now is not to get votes to a third party, it is to get votes to get Bush out of office, and the way to do that is to vote for someone who middle America will also vote for and feel strongly about, someone who will protect them. My other feeling is, it’s not a very good idea to vote for a third party president without a third party.
Mike: Right, the Green party even rejected him.
Jay: What if Ross Perot had actually won? No one thinks that far, right. You have to be realistic about this. There should be a third party, but there should be more than just one sitting senator.
Mike; Right, and a third party should be able to take votes from both sides. You know, like the Labour Party in England, it’s the smallest party but it can swing its votes either way, depending on where it sends its people. Which makes sense, that’s the third party that helps out. This third party, it’s not helping anyone but itself.
Jay: You should see what they say on the website, they say that Nader is going to start taking votes away from Bush (laughs). It’s true (laughs).
Mike: No, I think that the Bush administration has something over Nader, they have him in some compromising position and they’re blackmailing him to keep him running. He’s certainly not helping anyone in this country. Any liberal. He should be on John Kerry’s cabinet; he should be head of the EPA. Get a cabinet post, be in government, make a difference, but you’re (Nader) just wasting everyone’s time right now. And if you like him – just not this election. That’s what we are telling all the kids, all the Anarchists, all the Green party members: not this election! We have to stand together.
Jay: Right, get Bush out, and then you have four years to build up your party and make a good presentation.
Mike: Right, I mean, you could have a Republican president, that’s not the worst thing ever. It’s this president that’s the worst thing ever.

Is PunkVoter going to be as critical of John Kerry as it has been of George Bush?

Mike: Uh, dunno. We’ll see how he does.
Jay: Well, right now, the Republicans are basically in ownership of D.C. Senate, House, President. So what happens now is, replace a Republican sitting President with a Democrat sitting President, and work from there.

Michael Moore has said that as soon as he is done with Bush, and Bush gets voted out of office he will be just as critical of Kerry.

Jay: As he should be.
Mike: Yeah, I don’t see why not.

I’m just curious if Punk Voter is going to keep its base mobilized to try and reform the Democratic party instead of just trying to get rid of the Republican party.

Mike: Sure, we’ll be on Kerry’s ass for sure.
Jay: We all want something. We all want something better, don’t we?
Mike: Your not going to get anywhere with Bush though. He’s not going to compromise on anything. You know, I think if enough lobby groups say this, say ‘we want three strikes laws to be made unconstitutional’ you might win, you might win some small battles [under Kerry]. I don’t see why not. But, you know, the Iraq situation is so bad that Kerry is probably going to do things that none of us are going to like, but it’s not a problem he made, he’s just trying to get out of it. You know, a draft could come back with him in office. What can you do?

Who did you like in the Democratic Primaries?

Mike: Uh, Kucinich, but that’s pointless. Or Dean.
Jay: I liked Dean a lot until he kinda went nuts.
Mike: He didn’t go nuts, that was a media trap.
Jay: I know, I know, but…
Mike: He’s not a weird, angry guy. They got one [clip] of him going “YEAAAAAAAAH!” And then [Dean and his wife go] on Barbara Walters and every question is like ‘why is your husband so aggressive? do you fight at home?’ (laughs)
Jay: But when your goal is to replace the Republican President you have to realize how mainstream America is going to view this guy, so he’s no longer the rational candidate.
Mike: Right. But the Democrats took him out, it wasn’t the Republicans that took out Dean. But I think the ticket right now is fine.
Jay: I agree, I like the way it stands.
Mike: Edwards might make a better President than Kerry, who knows.
Jay: He’d make a better President then Quayle (laughs).
Mike: I wish I had my shirt on right now, I have this great Bush/Quayle ’92 shirt. Some kid gave it to me, I wore it on CNN; it was great.

What would you say to college kids who are undecided between Bush and Kerry? What would you say to help them make up their minds?

Mike: I’d say, firstly, Bush is going to make abortion illegal through the Supreme Court. Kerry’s not. That’s a big reason. Well, if you’re pro-life, go with Bush!
Jay: Well he’s also going to spend your college tuition money, he’s going to spend your book money…
Mike: He cut Pell Grants for universities more than anyone else…
Jay: His whole take on the “No Child Left Behind” thing, where each school is being funded by property taxes, that’s not working very well in the inner-cities is it? People who don’t pay high property taxes don’t have very good schools.
Mike: And when you get out of college you’re still going to be eligible for the draft, so if you wanna keep fighting wars for money and oil…. You [college kids] are the ones that are going to go [to war]. So, pay attention.
Jay: And I don’t think you can win a war on a verb…. Terrorism.

Do you think that if Bush is re-elected we are going to go into other countries/ And if so, which?

Mike: Iran probably, there making some sort of case against them now
Jay: (sarcastically) Canada, because they’ve got more oil than America… and water.
Mike: They are trying to take over the Middle East, mainly to get oil and stop nuclear proliferation. And, hey, you know, I think religious fundamentalists are the scariest people in the world, and I am scared of any country whose leaders are religious fundamentalists, including ours right now, because that’s what Bush is. But, uh, the Middle East is going to be the biggest problem in the world forever, and it’s because their countries are run by religion. Including Israel…
Jay: Well Kerry said it, he said ‘it is everyone’s problem’ and he said ‘I’m going to bring everyone to the table and make them realize that this is all of our problem’s’
Mike: And Clinton was doing great in Iraq. I mean, sorta, in some respects. They weren’t a threat to anybody. And they still weren’t [when we went to war]… and that’s what you want. Until Bush pretty much ruined everything. I was eating dinner with Scott Ritter, on of the first weapons inspectors. He was one of the first whistle blowers, he was the guy who came back and said, ‘hey! there’s no weapons there! and any weapons they do have are no good anymore because anthrax has a shelf life of two years and it’s from 1991…’ the whole war is based on bullshit.

Do you think that national security right now is good? Do you think that we could possibly see another 9/11?

Mike: There’s no national security. It’s like Risk, you can’t secure a country this big. [Look at] Fahrenheit 9/11, the Oregon boarder. All you have to do is but a bomb on a big boat and put it in the harbor.
Jay: Two words for you: Timothy McVeigh, how hard was it for him to get in the country? Oh wait!
Mike: …Or make explosives? There’s no way to prevent a terrorist strike. What you have to do is make sure the terrorists are happy…
Jay: Or find out why they’re so pissed off. Maybe it’s the 100,000 people sitting in Saudi Arabia right now with American flags on their shoulders.
Mike: I mean the whole thing Osama Bin Laden said is ‘we want American troops off our soil. Thanks for helping us out with Kuwait, now can you get off our Holy Land?’ that was the entire problem. There wouldn’t be any of this if it wasn’t for that. And you can’t blame George Bush for that. Anyway, you find out why these terrorists are so upset, and try to fix the problem. That’s why I don’t understand peace between Palestine and Israel, because people on both sides will never bend.

What do you think of George Bush’s failure to capture Osama Bin Laden?

Mike: It’s not him[Bin Laden], it’s the fucking movement.
Jay: Is it possible that he’s just going to wheel him out right before the election, ‘look what I got?’ It’s possible.
Mike: I just hope everyone is ready for it and doesn’t say (claps) ‘oh, look how good he did’
Jay: Well they also have to realize that it means nothing.
Mike: It’s not [Bin Laden] though, he’s the start of it… but if the Bush administration takes me out, Punk Voter’s not dying (laughs).
Jay: That’s right!
Mike: Hey Jay, you’re the second in charge
Jay: (feigns crying) Stop it! I am not!

MR interviews Pat Thetic of Anti-Flag at Warped Tour 2004

At this year’s Warped Tour on August 7th I got the opportunity to sit down and speak with Pat Thetic, the drummer from the politically charged Pittsburgh punk band Anti-Flag. Pat was generally an easygoing guy with strong opinions who was open for discussion and knowledgeable on pretty much anything we threw at him. We asked his thoughts mostly about Warped Tour (which was celebrating it’s tenth anniversary this summer), the state of the music industry and the upcoming election.

Pat Thetic of Anti-FlagAs you’ve probably heard, early this year Lollapalooza announced the cancellation of it’s tour due mostly to low ticket sales, what do you think sets Warped Tour apart?

I don’t really know. I would think that the ticket price for warped tour they’ve always tried to keep it as low as possible. I don’t know if thats the same for Lollapalooza. And I think the fact you get so many bands that kids still come out to Warped Tour. Lollapalooza bands play for an hour or whatever, at Warped Tour you get about 5 bands in an hour that you can go see. So I think for the money it’s a much better value. I don’t know if kids really think that, but I think there is just so much going on… it’s like an A.D.D.fest you can’t pay attention to one. For young people thats a better thing that seems to, in just my vision of it, (Lollapalooza) seems to be slower than Warped Tour.

What do you guys in bands like about warped tour? Why’d you decide to play this year?

It’s a traveling misfits show of outcasts and fuck ups and that sort of appeals to us. The fact is that there just is a whole bunch of people who don’t know what else to do with themselves. And the family that Warped Tour has sorta created is sorta a unique one. We like that there is a place for screwed up people to hang out for the summer.

Let’s talk about The Terror State, you guys worked with Tom Morello on this album..

We did

How did you meet up with him?

We did a tour with Rage Against The Machine in ’98-99, somewhere in there, it was The Battle of Los Angeles tour; their last tour. They called us up and said ‘Do you wanna do these shows with us’ and it was amazing and scary, ‘cuz it was like huge rooms, it was like stadiums err… arenas. So we got to know him there and when we were getting ready to record this record we were like ‘who would we like to work with?’ and the guy who has been most successful and believes the similar ideas as us and who we really like is Tom, ‘lets ask Tom to be involved’. So we sat down with him while we were on tour in LA and said ‘do you want to be apart of this?’ He said ‘yeah, I’d love to’ so it worked out, it was great.

How was it working with him?

He’s great, he’s got great ideas, he’s got influenced people and yeah he’s just an amazing person. And he’s just a cool dude other than that.

It seems like on this album you mixed more sampling into it? Did that have anything to do with Tom’s influence?

Not so much, more Tom’s influence was in the artwork and the original writing of the songs. In the end production he didn’t really have… He was like ‘yeah that sounds good’ or ‘no that doesn’t sound good’ but he didn’t come to us and say ‘you should put samples in or something.’ That was all stuff that we came up with on our own.

Alright, what do you guys think about new production methods? ProTools and Such?

Love it

Love it?

Love it, can’t get enough of it. As a drummer who grew up.. There are two types of people, there’s drummers and then there’s people who play drums. I’m more of a person who plays drums than a drummer. And ProTools is able to take poor performances and make them good. But what we try and do is get ideas out, and sometimes the performance gets in the way of somebody hearing the ideas. And the beautiful thing about ProTools is that you can clean the performance so people can hear the ideas and not hear that you’re out of key, or off time, or whatever.

You don’t think it waters down things at all? Like some bands are manufactured almost, like a Britney Spears sorta thing?

Well yeah. But she’s going to have a great sounding record no matter wether ProTools is there or not, they are gonna cut tape or whatever. For those of us, who… It’s also, we can create a better record for a lot less money which in punk rock world is very important. Actually, we have a ProTools rig at home, that cost very little money and we can do editing and stuff on our own just in our own office. So yeah, it’s really sort of like the germ warfare of music it has leveled the playing field of music, so that everyone has access to really good sound if they want to. I don’t know if that analogy translated but in my mind it makes sense.

You guys are known for your politics. How do you think the things that have gone on in the last year with things like Punk Voter and MoveOn.org how do you think it’s going to play out in this election. Do you think there will be a significant change in things?

I think it will. You know the poll numbers are like well: Kerry is down by three points or two points and Bush is up by two points or three points. But what those polls are taking into account is the voters who have voted in the last presidential election. I think that through MoveOn, I think through Punk Voter and those types of things, I think there are going to be a lot of voters who have never voted before who will actively vote and I think that those people will have a great impact on the election. I’m hoping.

I’ve been saying that for a long time and I finally heard Michael Moore say it on Larry King Live and I was glad someone else is thinking it. I read an article recently how Howard Stern is going to affect voters because he’s really under fire from the FCC and they were saying that most of the people that were into him are already from liberal areas where the state was already to go to the democrats. Do you think that may be true…

That may… The thing about Howard Stern is he’s got access to millions of people. And Howard Stern saying one thing can affect a lot of people. I know that Pittsburgh, which is where we’re from, has traditionally been a Democratic stronghold but in the last election it was close and we have Howard Stern on the radio in Pittsburgh so I think that he will have an impact with, again, people who are first time voters that never felt that their voice needed to be heard.

But do you really think that things like Warped Tour and Punk Voter are really going to reach people in conservative areas? Like Texas for example.

We go to.. We’ve plays alot of shows in Texas, and we’re doing a Punk Voter swing state tour. And so we are going to focus a lot of attention in the areas where people are traditionally more conservative than liberal.

In The Terror State you have an pamphlet that talks about taking back the Democratic Party. What made you guys really fall along part lines? Where as in the past it’s been..

Yeah, it’s sorta a change for us and it sorta leaves a bad taste in our mouth because we’re not big Democratic party fans. That pamphlet is not actually a pro-Democrat pamphlet that was a pro-leftist pamphlet, saying get these people in the Democratic Party and move them further to the left and present an opposition to the Republican Party not just Republican-lite. In having said that, four more years of Bush is too painfull for us to accept so we are helping to get rid of Bush, not really helping to elect Kerry.

Ideally who out of the Democratic Primaries would you have preferred?

(Dennis) Kucinich is an amazing dude. Kucinich was a great guy nobody gave him any attention, nobody gave him any press and it’s difficult to get the press unless you’re winning. It was interesting because Kucinich was running all the way until the convention but nobody paid any attention to him because Kerry had already won the election.

How do you feel about Nader’s involvement in this election?

Nader. People are always trying to villianize Nader and Nader is an American hero. Nader has done more for the American people than George Bush ever has. And I don’t think Nader is the enemy, and the Democratic Party is making him out to be the enemy and the Republicans are making him out to be the enemy. I think that he’s a hero and he needs to be received that way. And it’s just tragic that everyone has made him out to be the enemy.

Do you think it’s possible that Kerry could be elected and Nader could still get 5% in this election of do you think that it’s going to be closer?

I hope so. I hope that Kerry can get elected and that Nader can get 50% of the vote. If people get to hear what Nader has to say, they are gonna… as always, the American people are intelligent people, caring people and if they hear or have access to information they make the right decisions. And thats why the Democrats and the Republicans didn’t want Nader in the debates. My goal is for Nader, if not Nader than someone with similar views as Nader having a voice and being able to get those ideas out.

Let’s jump back to a bit of the industry stuff and then I’ll let you go.

Okay.

How do you guys, as a band, and you as a person feel about digital music? I don’t necessarily mean file sharing, I mean things like iTunes and stuff. I noticed that Fat and A-F Records’ content aren’t for sale there, is there a reason for this?

We are trying to be. (Editor’s note, since this interview was conducted much of A-F’s music has been added to the iTunes library) And I am interested in it, as a record company, and as a musician I want people to have access to our music. If people choose to do it digitally, I don’t care. Ultimately I want people to also have access to the information that we put in there, thats why we make records. The amazing thing about the internet age that we are in right now is that we can put out a record and then have a website that has, you know, pages and pages of information that we are passionate about. And thats an amazing thing. We don’t necessarily have to put the record out, we can just have the record come out digitally and the information be on the website. Then we’re saving resources, we’re saving trucks that have to ship around that’s an amazing world for me.”

Some bands, like Linkin Park for example have complained that it could kill the album format. That people wouldn’t listen to the whole piece and that’s what their ‘creative vision’ is.

And I understand that, but that means you have to write good music. You know Britney Spears, God bless her, she’ll be done. Because people will be like ‘alright downloaded the one song and I don’t care about the other 9 tracks of filler.’ You know, that’s our responsibility as musicians. If we can’t create songs that people want to hear, then fuck us, we’re not worth being around anyway.

That would have put someone like Lou Bega out of business.

Who’s Lou Bega? I don’t know who he is.

Mambo #5

Oh yeah. Yeah, exactly ya know, that’ll hurt the music industry. (laughs) I don’t give a fuck about the music industry. Ya know, if the people who like what we do are the kids who buy A-F records stuff, if they want to buy it in a different format and we can… or not buy it, but get it, in a different format and we can supply it to them then that’s fine with me.

Do you think that this will lead to a break up of the major music industry?

I hope so, sure. They are consolidating and getting more and more crap. Because they are only worried about record sales and they are like ‘oh I can sell more of Jessica Simpson or whatever the fuck she is, or uh whats her.. the new one, the little one’s name..

Ashlee..

Ashlee Simpson! Yeah so ‘we’re going to look for more people like Ashley Simpson’ Fuck that, that’s why we have independent music. Because we have people who care about music and ideas and not just about wether you can sell records or not. And I think the digital world has that ability a lot more, it levels the playing field, again.

So do you think, not necessarily for you guys, but for a different kind of band that is trying to make it big and spread there ideas. You guys are kinda ‘niche,’ you’ve expanded out of it, but do you think that it’s important to have the major labels there for bands to promote themselves, like a band like Less Than Jake.

No (laughs) I would love to not have the majors. I would love to not have radio that you have to spend two hundred thousand dollars, to get a song on the radio. I don’t wanna live in a world like that. I would much rather live in a world where ya know, if a song’s good it gets on the radio. We’re not in that world, if a songs ‘okay’ and it’s got $200,000 behind it kids have access to it.

But like a band like Rage, they kinda got their message by being on Sony.

Yes

And they probably wouldn’t have gotten as much of a following if they weren’t.

That’s correct.

Do you think that’s important?

No, I think good music, if everybody has an internet connection in their house, which at this point, it’s not true, but in the future, if everybody has access to an internet connection and can access to good music, people will find good music and good music will find people. And you don’t need some creepy dude in New York or L.A. to tell you wether it’s good or not and that’s an amazing world for me. I’m excited about that world.

Guns N Roses Tribute: Bring You to Your Knees

Guns N Roses Tribute: Bring You to Your Knees
2004 Law of Inertia Records

Being a fan of both hardcore and Guns N Roses, I was excited when I heard there was going to be a tribute to G’N’R by hardcore bands. I was even more excited when I saw the lineup of bands who were taking part in the tribute. Bleeding Through, Every Time I Die, Unearth…this can’t be bad. Hardcore bands covering Guns N Roses songs? Can’t get much better than that, right? Wrong.

Zombie Apocalypse leads off the album with their version of Welcome to the Jungle. When the guitar intro to the song started playing, I had memories of junior high. They pulled it off really well. Unfortunately, once past the intro they completely butcher the song. “Do you know where you are,” the vocalist rings out. “You’re in the graveyard, you’re dead!” No, but any hope of the rest of this compilation being any good probably is. Skipping past You’re Crazy by Haste brings us to the third track on the album, which is Vaux covering 14 Years. This track was actually pulled off well, mostly because they stuck somewhat to the sound of the original song. Vaux isn’t an extremely heavy band, so this song suits them well. Unearth cover It’s So Easy, which isn’t very good either. I like Unearth, but this song just isn’t very good. In fact, the only shining moment is when the vocalist screams out, “Hey Axl, fuck off!” Odd that he would say that while paying a tribute to the band, but whatever. If you want a good laugh, skip to track number seven and listen to Most Precious Bloods version of Sweet Child O Mine. This album isn’t a complete loss really, as there are a few good songs on here. The Vaux track I mentioned, as well as the superb cover of Nighttrain by Break the Silence, Every Time I Die going acoustic on I Used to Love Her, and November Rain by Time in Malta are all really great tracks. However, five or six good songs out of fourteen just doesn’t feel like money well spent. Good thing I downloaded it.

As I said, the album does have some good tracks that make it worth listening to. Not counting the ones I mentioned, The Beautiful Mistake and Bleeding Through pull out some decent tracks as well. I wouldn’t recommend paying full price for it though. Download it like I did and if you like it, drop five bucks on it in the used bin. Otherwise, skip it.

Recommended tracks: Time in Malta November Rain, The Beautiful Mistake Estranged, Bleeding Through Rocket Queen

The Gut: Faking it

You know we have all heard the stories. Stories of women telling their man that they were an absolute stallion in bed and then giggling to their friends their boyfriend was a minuteman hung like an ant. Guys go to their friends and brag about how great their woman said they were in bed and she flat out lied to them. It’s because since the beginning of time woman have been faking it. Faking the screams and the deep scratches in the back

If they can fake it then why can’t I? And no, I’m not talking faking good sex, because we all know that a woman’s role in bed is fairly simple. Warm, wet, thrust, repeat. I mean faking something much more sacred, something much closer to the soul. I mean lying about something so important that it hurts my heart just thinking about it. Let me explain.

I am a New Yorker trapped in Pennsylvania. I live in the Lehigh Valley, for those of you who don’t know where that is NYC is only 10 miles farther from me than Philadelphia, so I’m right in the middle basically. You would think that this would bring some balance in the world of sports up here. Well it doesn’t, while most of the area is hardcore Yankees fans, and I’m not sure if I would rather them be Phillies or not, when it comes to my passion for football everyone up here is Eagles fans. This makes it really had to go to a sports bar and pick up any of the really fine women in the area. Now I know that sounds weird but for some reason the sports bars around me are filled really fine woman.

So this brings me to my dilemma, do I go through life bored and alone or do I swallow my pride and pretend to like the Eagles in hopes of meeting that special someone, or even just a someone at this point? Do I break a cardinal rule and pretend to like the team that I hate more than anything. If Fred Durst did it all for the nookie can’t I claim the same right, I mean I am way cooler than him. Do I sell out and buy a McNabb jersey to wear when ever I go to Rookies?

So many questions that I just don’t know the answer to, but here is what I am thinking. I do need an Eagles jersey at some point to complete my collection of one from every team. Buying a Randall Cunningham jersey wouldn’t be selling out because I loved that man, even though he broke the Giants hearts on a few occasions. I could just wear it out on Friday nights, I would look like an Eagles fan but since there would be no game on I wouldn’t actually have to cheer for them. Plus if you listen to most Eagles fans all they do is bash their team anyway, so its like I would be undercover. I could say things like “if the Eagles only had a player like Shockey” or “isn’t it heartbreaking being a fan of a team that has never won a Superbowl?” I would fit right in with out selling out! But I would still feel dirty, I think I would rather be alone forever than be with an Eagles fan…

In closing I would like to say sorry to my friends for even thinking about this and E-A-G-L-E-S CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE!!!!

Enjoy The Silence 7

The world we live is a very dangerous place sometimes – fact. The saddest fact of all is that our children may never leave our shores for fear of what may happen to them.

In my recent artictle I discussed my objections to the western world playing god to the Arab lands, but in more recent thoughts I have come to think the tide is turning and it will be the other way around… to a certain degree anyhow.

Today it was revealed that Kenneth Bigley, the Briton held hostage in Iraq had been executed by his the rebel group lead by Iraq’s most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. After a torturous few weeks for the Bigley family the incident today concluded with his family confirming on national news that Ken had been murdered.

The power of Terrorism becomes more and more strong with each act of violence they endure upon the innocent. They kill, the public become scared, President cannot do anything to stop it, public lose faith and Terrorists score a victory over the Democracies attempting to eradicate them.

Three incidents in recent years come to mind,

1. Madrid Bombings
2. Beslan school massacre (Russia)
3. The recent hostage scenario in Iraq

What do all 3 of these have in common? They are attacks against countries whose leadership is in the balance! Spain have already changed leader, believed strongly to be down to their support of the US & UK in the Iraq war, the Madrid bombing further solidified the public’s demand for a change in power. The same in Russia, where President Putin’s reign looks to be in danger in a forth-coming election. The Chechan rebels are inflicting as much damage to his credibility as possible to ensure that the Russian public demand a withdrawl of Russian troops from Chechnya. Then we have Iraq, both George W Bush and Tony Blair have come under massive criticism for the Iraq war and their inability to secure the freedom of the 3 hostages add further fuel to the fire that could proverbially burn them out of office.

So to me appears that the Terrorists have taken a more sophisticated method of converting people to their cause. Rather than bomb countries into submission, they are now using politics to aid their cause. They are doing their utmost to significantly affect the outcome of elections in the world’s most powerful nations to ensure the next era of leadership do not stand in their way.

As a democratic world we must not allow these people to influence our decisions when we vote, if you want Bush or Blair out make sure it’s for the right reasons. But this again may change our lives forever.

Open Mic: "The Musical Sphere of Influence"

On November 2nd, American citizens will choose who they want to lead their national and local governments. For the past twelve months, political rallies took place so candidates could gather support and discuss issues. While everyone has done their task to get support, one of the most encouraging voices in this political season has been the music industry. Whether it’s through song, protest or public speaking, artists have always made their political opinions known. Their messages have been so powerful, they have setup their own organizations to promote voter registration.

An important influence has been MTV’s Choose or Lose campaign and every four years, the movement keeps getting stronger. The aim of “Choose or Lose” is to get 20 million voters in the 18-30 demographic to the polls this November. Following in their footsteps is Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. Since the curtain drop of A Raisin in the Sun, he started the “Vote or Die” crusade, which accomplishes the same objective of alerting young people about politics. Combs made it known he has wanted to talk Bush and Kerry, but the opportunity never arose. He did however speak to Hillary Clinton during the Democratic National Convention.

Combs is not alone in his crusade. Plenty of punk rock bands have played a role in voter registration. At the 2004 Warped Tour, young citizens went to the booths and signed up to register. Aside from the ever-so-popular Rock Against Bush CDs/DVDs, the Rock Against Bush Tour is taking place right now, featuring Anti-Flag and Tom Morello. On top of that, the cornerstone of this brainchild, PunkVoter.com, started becoming even more popular. This association is headed up by prominent punk bands like NOFX, Bad Religion and Green Day, but members range from the Foo Fighters to No Doubt. Their target is to educate, register and mobilize over 500,000 of today’s youth as one voice. Several factors caught this group’s eye, which include protecting personal freedoms, restoring the environment and overhauling the justice department. PunkVoter.com even provides solid facts as to why they established. Did you know 60% of 2003 graduates will move back in with mom and dad because of the lack of jobs? Did you know the unemployment rate has reached nine-year highs? Did you also know the 18 to 24 year-old voter demographic has dropped to an all time low? Punkvoter.com provides various kinds of information.

America Coming Together (ACT) is also getting in on the act. ACT is a liberal group, which has concentrated on the swing states in an attempt to persuade those citizens to vote on the Democratic ticket. To aid in this mission, Bruce Springsteen has launched “Vote for Change” concerts. Artists performing on the bills include Dave Matthews, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam, James Taylor, R.E.M., Jurassic 5, Babyface, Ben Harper, John Mellencamp and many more.

Rappers voicing their opinions on politics isn’t anything new either. One of the biggest breakthrough songs in this genre (“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5) was about problems in society and how change was wanted. Jadakiss is a prime example of today’s artists being political in rap. In his single “Why?,” the lyrical reference is, “Why did Bush knock down them towers/Why you around them cowards? (referring to 9/11)” This was so controversial, some radio stations edited out the lyric. Public Enemy was very vocal in years past, going back to the Reagan administration. And if you have heard the latest Beastie Boys’ album, To The 5 Boroughs, then you know of their disgust for the Bush administration. It is safe to say hip-hop has been doing their part in raising awareness for this year’s election. Russell Simmons has thrown several summits to get people involved. At one summit in particular, Eminem made an appearance to talk about the importance of this year’s election.

While musicians have done their part to make the general public aware, some won’t encourage voting because they don’t know enough about the arguments. In the October 2004 issue of XXL, there was an article narrated by Dave Chappelle entitled, “Amerikaz Nightmare,” where Chappelle sat down and talked to a few of his favorite artists. Although there were a lot of other issues discussed, politics was an element. Kanye West added his two cents in the conversation-type periodical. “That was one of my main points why I wouldn’t want to go to a lot of summits. It ‘s because I’m supposed to be speaking to 3,000 kids about something that I didn’t really know about and they be using my face,” said West.

Participation by musicians in the political arena isn’t anything new. Social issues have always been at the core of rock ‘n’ roll and it became evident when the Vietnam War broke out. Multiple artists who disagreed with the war took part in the first ever Woodstock, back in 1969. The card included acts ranging from The Who to Jimmy Hendrix and attracted what is believed to be over one million people. For three days, the small town of Bethel was host to a festival of peace, love and music, which impacted a generation.

Entertainers are role models and whether they ask to be or not isn’t the point. When fans buy their albums, go to their concerts, wear their merchandise and sing their songs, music artists instantly become role models. A lot of fans will purchase anything to do with certain talents. For example, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs has his own clothing line called Sean John. Some of the clothes could be the ugliest thing in the world and people would buy it anyway. Same goes with Jay-Z’s Rocawear and every talent’s clothing line or car line or whatever. Fans listen to these artists and hear what they have to say and honestly, if people didn’t like what they hear, they wouldn’t pay any attention to them.

The people decide who sits in Congress and who sits in the White House. Over the past couple of years, many leaders say, “your vote counts,” but maybe some citizens haven’t been educated on the issues. That’s what entertainers are trying to do with their organizations, concerts and songs. These musicians are using their voice for more than just singing. They’re vocalizing a message they hope people will hear: To get involved, make a difference and make a better America. I don’t think it’s a bad thing … I think it’s courageous.

-Special thanks to John Morrison for research

Enjoy The Silence 6.5

Slipknot/Slayer European Tour review

Yes my friends, I was called up my good hard rocking buddy at 13:15 yesterday afternoon and he asks me a really stupid question. ” How’d you fancy going to see a Slipknot/Slayer gig tonight?” My as normally casual response was “sure”.

In truth I was fucking hopping around like a one legged chicken on viagra (you see, I’d have 2 legs then, so it’s correct). So it comes to 17:30, five hours earlier I was prepared for a night of BPing and some possible Battlefield Vietnam perhaps, but I was now on my way to the Birmingham National Indoor Arena to see 2 of the greatest bands in metal. Oh how I gleefully rubbed my hands together with delight.

We get to the venue (great building) and sadly we missed the first supporting act due to traffic, they went by the name of ‘Mastadon’ and from what we heard went down pretty well. However I was yet again pleasantly surprised to see the next support band were none other than the awesome ‘Hatebreed’. By that stage I was stoked, beer in each hand and rocking away to great tracks like ‘I will be heard’ and their new single ‘Live for this’.

So after Hatebreed left the stage it was a case of hanging loose for around 30mins while the crew set up for Slayer. But when they came on they did not disappoint! I’ve never been quite so impressed with a band’s energy as I was with Slayer, they were relentless! They pumped out a few classics like ‘Bombs away’, ‘Mandatory Suicide’, ‘Angel of Death’ and my personal favourite ‘Seasons In The Abyss’. I was impressed with Slayer although the best was yet to come.

After what seemed like forever Slipknot finally came on stage and I was at this point mesmerised! As much as I like Slipknot I’ve always admittedly been one to criticise them for being a gimmick (the masks etc) and should act like Taylor’s other band Stone Sour but when you see it for yourself it has so much fucking visual impact it’s out of this world. I’ve never been so convinced by a band in my life by the music and the image.

Sadly I was wasn’t familiar with a few of the early songs played as they were from the new album: The subliminal verses, which I yet to purchase but I still rocked my socks off.

A few songs in Corey Taylor was quick to point out that band member Craig Jones was missing due to vital surgery but the band were determined not to let the Euro fans down and continue the tour….. quality!!

Corey Taylor is one scary mother-fucker close up but my god he knows how to play a crowd, they were eating out of his hand! Highlights of the night were hearing a great track from the new album called ‘Three-Nil’, ‘Duality’ and the beautifully performed ‘Vermilion’.

A few classics were thrown in for good measure such as the Heretic Anthem (amazing track live), People = Shit, Wait & Bleed, Spit It Out and my personal favourite Slipknot track ‘Surfacing’ to finish off.

Amazing gig, a few more tour dates are left for any Brits reading this so get yourselves to them,

A much deserved 8/10

Enjoy The Silence 6

Before I even get into the nitty gritty I’d just like to point out something about what you are going to read. It envolves Religion and religious beliefs. I know alot of people take their beliefs to the utmost degree and would like to say I am not attempting to make any judgment or mockery of your faith(s).

A few days ago I stumbled across an intriguing piece of television. It discussed The Bible and how it has affected the lives of those who read and attempt to live by it. But what if this ‘devine literature’ were able to tell us of events that might shape the future as we know it? This particular programme discussed at length the work of a Mr Michael Drosnin, author of the bestseller ‘The Bible Code’. Michael Drosnin’s work consists of taking sequences of letters in the bible text and using them to predict the fufure.

Just a little bit strange I’m sure your thinking! Well let me go into slightly more detail about how he uses the bible to do this. Many individuals have taken it upon themselves to try and ‘de-bunk’ the bible, most even dedicating their lives to it. One example of this is Sir Isaac Newton who of course went on to discover the theory of gravity whilst staring at an apple tree, he himself spent many years attempting to find hidden codes in the bible and whilst not completely fruitless (no pun intended) his efforts did not come to any firm scientific conclusion.

However an Israeli Mathetician named Dr Eliyahu Rips too has dedicated his work to unlocking the mysteries of the bible. He uses a technique called ELS (Equidistant Letter Sequencing) to find hidden passages in the Torah (Hebrew Bible). This technique consists of taking a single letter as a starting point and then counting a set number of letters ahead (say 50) and using that as the next letter of the sequence. So he counts 50 letters and uses each Fiftieth letter to form a grid, similar to a word search puzzle and begins to search for words attributed to world events, such as 9/11 etc etc,

Using this technique Rips & Drosnin have found many startling ‘coincidences’. Within a small margain of pages they were able to such words grouped together as “Kennedy” – “Dallas” and “Assasination”. They also found “Twin Towers” – “New York” and “September 2001” extremely close together. These events obviously could not have been known by the writers of the bible over 2000 years ago! Now these discoveries have many people doubting the relevance of finding old events so Drosnin used his technique to predict something in the future…. and it worked!

He predicted that former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would be assasinated precisely one year before it happened. Naturally he warned Rabin of this but to no avail and he was shot during a peace rally in 1995.

Surely this is the biggest discovery of all time? Well maybe not quite.

Whilst many scientists have attributed to Drosnin’s discovery claiming that the words found such as for instance “Kennedy, Dallas & Assasination” are too close together in the text to be coincedence, many are still very sceptical to this technique.

They liken his methods to that of a tarot card or palm reader who will take small pieces of personal information and attempt to tell you a story. Your mind will fill whatever blanks are left by what they are telling you and will make it relevant to yourself. Many claim that Drosnin is doing the same as the discoveries are not conclusive enough (enough detail such as exact dates etc). Another who was famous for this is Nostradmous who predicted many modern events such as the rise of Hitler and possibly 9/11 but again was this luck or a mind trick?

One sceptic even went as far as using Drosnin’s own technique against him by decoding Moby Dick. He found similar coincedences as Drosnin did in the Bible.

So is it possible that God left us clues in the Bible to help us survive worldly catastrophy? Or is it a case of scientists forever more attempting to be bigger than the holy faith? Personally I cannot decide, I want to believe Drosnin so very much it’s scary! But logic tells me this surely cannot be!

Whichever we choose to believe it just goes to so even in the modern world how much of an impact the bible still has on us all. We should also perhaps take heed of Drosnin’s most shocking discovery…. the end of the world by Nuclear Holocaust in 2006. Live each day as if it’s your last I say!

The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin can be purchased from Amazon by clicking here.