Mixing Music and Politics in the US: Pickups, Rage and Mega-What??

There’s been some interesting examples of “when music meets politics” in the last week, one particularly unexpected development being being that of the wacked out rant by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine. If you missed the content of his outburst then I advise you read this blog by Chris Hearn – it’s a corker.

My oh my, what a week it has been for music and politics in the US; or shall we say music VS politics. It is election time in the US, which means the gloves are off on the campaign trail, and even musicians are in the fray.

First off, Silversun Pickups sent US right-wing Republican Presidential candidate and London Olympics favourite Mitt Romney a cease and desist letter warning him against using their song Panic Switch (see below) on his campaign stops. According to a representative of the band, a statement that has been quoted in a number of sources, “Seems as if the GOP is once again whimsically ignoring our great nation’s laws to do whatever it wants to do, and shooting itself in the foot in the process.” OUCH! I think it’s fair to state that Silversun Pickups aren’t fans of Romney. Campaign spokesperson, Andrea Saul, said the song was inadvertently used at a campaign stop, was not played while Romney was on stage, and that they would no longer play the song in the future. So, it seems that everything has been straightened out.

Then, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine came out swinging after Republican Vice Presidential Candidate, Paul Ryan, a staunch fiscal and social conservative, stated that one of his favourite bands is Rage Against the Machine. RATM?? Seriously? Does the guy not listen to the lyrics? Tom Morello wonders the same thing. He basically chewed up and spit out Ryan in a Rolling Stone article he wrote saying “Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.” Furthermore, he bluntly stated, “Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment.” Good questions indeed. Maybe Ryan also forgot the last Republican National Conference in 2008 when Rage got shut down and was prevented from playing in protest of Republican policies. I wonder if Paul was in the crowd yelling “Fuck the Police”? I’m thinking not.

And then, of course, there is Dave Mustaine of Megadeth who has been developing a habit of making head scratching statements. This week he went on a rant on stage in Singapore, stating “Back in my country, my president is trying to pass a gun ban”¦So he’s staging all of these murders, like the Fast and Furious thing down at the border and Aurora, Colorado, all the people that were killed there. And now the beautiful people at the Sikh temple.” (See video below). Wait. What? Let me get this straight. Obama is doing what? Clearly Mustaine is taking the David Icke route to fame here.

This was all in one week. There are still a couple of months to go until Americans take to the polls. Election day is November 6th. That gives plenty of time for more artists to jump in here and let their voice be heard. And, I’m sure Mr. Mustaine has plenty more ideas fermenting in his head. What will he think of next?

All words by Chris Hearn. You can read more from Chris on LTW here.

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