With the USÂ Presidential election fast approaching punk band Street Dogs talk to our writer Hannah McFaull about whether politics has a place in music and why they think the GOP is full of shit.
The relationship between music and politics is immortally entwined in some of the fundamental building blocks of our musical history. From plantation blues through to Pussy Riot, those with a skill for songwriting have often used it to speak on issues of local and global concern.
As a punk, the outspoken nature of band members is something that I personally respect. It speaks volumes that my favourite band is The Clash and my favourite songwriter Billy Bragg.
But my view isn’t one necessarily shared by other music fans. Alternative Press are currently running a poll on whether musicians should be activists and the results should be interesting when published. You can have your say here.
The Street Dogs are one band who have always put their politics at the centre of their music, their live shows and their message. Their next single ‘GOP’ is a cover of Menace’s ‘GLC’ originally released in 1978, shifting the condemnation of corrupt power abuse in politics from London to America.
For those of you who weren’t sure, the GOP is short for the ‘Grand ‘Ole Party’ – another name for the Republicans. The single is being released on November 6th, the same day as the US Presidential election.
As if that weren’t enough, fans around the US have been handing out copies of the single – printed on a special flexidisc record postcards – at GOP events, to ensure the message gets in the hands of those who need to hear it most. In an huge undertaking, there are 20,000 copies of the flexi being distributed!
I talked to frontman Mike McColgan about this release and why it needed to happen now.
LTW: Why are you particularly singling the Republican Party out for damnation, isn’t there an argument that both sides are as bad as each other?
Mike: I do believe that both sides are too beholden to corporate interests and corporate campaign money. That is clear. However all things considered, ie legislative initiatives, party ideology and proven track record, fiscally I will take the Democratic Party any day over the GOP.
The Democratic Party is more of a ‘we’ party while the GOP is more of a ‘me’ party. I really feel that the Democratic Party at the end of the day is the better of the two.
Also campaign finance reform and a swift end to the Citizen United era of corporations buying elections must happen.
LTW: Why do you think young voters traditionally don’t turn out?
Mike: I think young voters are either busy with collegiate life or some cases intimidated by the process of physically voting, being a newbie etc.
Or in many cases young people to do not believe either party speak to them and have just tuned out entirely from the process.
Part of our message in releasing this single is that all voters should use their vote to take a stand for what they believe in – whatever that may be.
LTW: How important is your vote to you?
Mike: My right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. If you look into the annals of history you will see that a lot of blood was shed for us to have this right and to preserve it as well. I hold the right to vote sacred.
LTW: How do respond to some of the people online who responded to the announcement of this project with criticism?
Mike: People are entitled to their opinions and for the most part, conversations between us and our fans have been constructive. We appreciate all the time and effort put in by our fans in making this project happen.
LTW: There are murmurings online that you’d be up for playing on the Daily Show if they asked, what do you think about this? Would you do it?
Mike: I honestly believe that a lot of Americans watch The Daily Show to get the ‘read between the lines’ version of the news and they watch it because the show is hilarious. I love Jon Stewart and I love the show. We would love to play the show.
So if you’re listening Daily Show, the Street Dogs are up for coming on and explaining in person why the GOP is full of shit. Until then, you can find out more about this by visiting this website.
Interview and words by Hannah McFaull. You can read more from Hannah on LTW here.