An Open Letter To Russell BrandDear Russell,

Your flouncing, charismatic presence suddenly seems to be everywhere -like a superannuated modern day jester- using humour to switchblade serious points whilst no one notices.

You truly are the master of self publicity! It’s like some kind of modern version of Andy Warhol – where the real art is the attention and the publicity and the other art lurks in the background.

Russ! You sure know how to tweak those gears of attention don’t you! Not that it’s a bad thing – I like the cut of your gib and your infernal skinny rock star energy is a positive thing. In the world of crummy comics you seem like a true revolutionary – a crazy, cut loose, firebrand with a fiery intellect and a nose for causing trouble – what is there not like?

Your current live show is an examination of messiahs and iconography and revolution and you seem to carrying this on into ‘real life’ like a freaky jester with too much IQ and a nose for trouble. It’s sometimes tricky to guess where the jesting ends and the real politik starts – not that that’s a bad thing.

Russo, I really enjoyed your sparring with Jeremy Paxman on TV last week and your idealistic spiel / rant / speech / manifesto was very interesting, was it a new act, a pastiche of political fervour and idealistic dreaming from the heart of the counter culture served up for the internet generation, or did you mean every word of it?

Every generation needs a Wolfie Smith, a hairy-scary to middle England, a neo-hippie idealist with a mouth full of platitudes and an oddly uplifting take down of the dusty corridors of power. It could even be argued that Che Guevara was one of these Wolfie Smiths as well, but one who ended up picking up a machine gun and running around in the middle of a real revolution.

This has been a week, Russell, when you grabbed the zeitgeist or whatever it’s called now and sauntered into the centre stage with the your own manifesto – politicians are bad, bankers are worse and we need a revolution as you said…

“Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”

It’s the cry from the heart of youth culture that emerges every decade – so you have certainly hit a raw nerve.

Russell, you speak beautifully and eloquently but experience in the counter culture has taught me one thing – beware the silver tongued revolutionary even if it’s your own tongue that is painted silver!

I want to believe in you Russell and I do to certain extent, I would probably say a lot of the same stuff myself, my heart is with you, after all, we have been saying many of the same things for years in our punk rock world.

Just like John Lennon singing ‘imagine no possessions’ in his 72 bedroom mansion the monied counter culture icons quickly find that the real trouble with changing the world is that it’s actually a lot more boring in real life than in Hollywood life.

Not all politicians are bad – many of them are doing an unforgiving job in tough circumstances and their hands tied behind their backs, but then that’s the beauty of being a super rich showbiz entertainer – you are free to say what you want when you want and we need that voice, the court jester flouncing around the TV studios.

Being idealistic is a beautiful thing, but getting beyond the all politicians are bad / bankers are greedy and entertainers have the keys to paradise shtick is always going to be tough.

It’s the day to day grind of trying to keep the NHS going and make a system that somehow works for millions of people, of course Russell I loved your words and I still love my Crass records as well and I still believe in the beautiful dream but the harsh realities are many and grinding in their complexity – maybe the attraction of the jester is that this talk of revolution is a distraction from the greyness of reality… great glowing words in a sea of despair and there is no harm in that…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Genuine revolutionaries are usually accidental ones. It’s not like training to be a driving instructor, though I am sure there are similarities. Earth-shattering things like being a revolutionary are usually thrust upon a person whether they want them or not. And considering the hate and prejudice and damned inconvenience of the role it’s sometimes not what they want. They start of wanting to change a little thing and it becomes something else.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Russell Brand. I’m from the Peoples’ Republic of Essex like he is. But it’s funny how he has started all this after he split up with Katy Perry. I suppose he couldn’t go out and get catastrophically drunk like anyone else because of his addiction issues so he fills his time with this instead. Whatever his motives, it is good to hear someone say ‘socialism’ like it’s a good thing though, which it undoubtedly is.

  2. Realism is not idealism when it is only mentioning that the emperor is naked. “Oh, haha. We’ve known the emperor is naked forever but we must pretend because, you know, the situation is so complicated blah blah.” And this is the mature stance/rebuke? There is the possibility of hiding behind compromise and pragmatism so much that it creates a culture of denialism.


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