Poster Children Cover Political Rock
Poster Children took some veiled shots at the Bush administration on their latest
album, No More Songs
About Sleep and Fire.
Now the band is stepping things up with the release of On the Offensive, an
EP of politicized covers from the late '70s and early '80s.
"We decided to record this batch of political songs because we're pissed off
and we don't feel like keeping it to ourselves," explained Poster Children guitarist
and vocalist Rick Valentin, who often expresses his progressive political views
on Radio Zero, the Internet radio show he co-hosts on www.posterchildren.com
with his wife, bassist/vocalist Rose Marshak. "If enough of us speak out, and
more importantly vote, we can make things better.
"I'm tired of hearing the line 'politics and music don't mix.' You don't
hear anyone say 'politics and plumbing don't mix' when members of the local pipefitters'
union have something to say about our elected officials," Valentin continued.
Valentin joins many other musicians ranging from the Dixie Chicks to the
Beastie Boys, Thurston Moore to Morrissey, Jon Bon Jovi to Public Enemy who
have taken an anti-Bush-administration stand. In the underground rock community,
NOFX singer Fat Mike has founded punkvoter.com and assembled a compilation entitled Rock
Against Bush Vol. 1 that features exclusive recordings from Sum 41, the Get
Up Kids, Ministry, Descendents, and The Ataris among its 26 tracks.
"We don't have any formal connections with punkvoter.com, but we're fully supportive
of their work as we are of anyone who is devoted to the registration of new voters,"
told me via email. "To me the most important goal of this election is getting
the approximately 50 percent of the voting age population that doesn't vote registered
and in the booth in November. Unlike our current administration, I have a firm
trust in democracy and I believe that if more of us vote, we'll have a better,
more compassionate country to show for it."
Considering the sheer volume of charged political rock released during the Reagan
era, Poster Children faced a challenge in selecting the songs for On the Offensive. The
band ultimately chose six: The Clash's London Calling cut "Clampdown,"
17's BBC-banned "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang," Fear's
classic "Let's Have a War," X's anthemic "The New World," Hüsker
and Conquer" and XTC's questioning "Complicated Game."
"It was an issue of finding songs we liked and could play and had something to
say about our current political situation," Valentin said. "It was hard
a Clash song, since there were so many that were relevant. 'Clampdown' just felt
right. [Dead Kennedys'] 'California Uber Alles' might have been nice, but we're
setting our sights on George Bush, not Arnold Schwarzenegger, this fall.”
"Part of our quest was to find songs that wouldn't need much, if any, lyrical
changes, because we felt it would bring home the fact that a lot of the issues
we're dealing with today are very similar to those of 20+ years ago. One
likes to think that there have been positive changes politically and socially
society, but in reality we still seem to be stuck in a collective hypnotic spell
cast by Ronald Reagan and maintained by his successors. Hopefully as a nation
we're breaking out of that spell now that we've been led into a dangerous conflict
that has no simple solutions."
While he is firmly opposed to Bush and has shared his pro-Ralph Nader views on
Radio Zero, Valentin is not endorsing any particular presidential candidate this
fall. "I'm uncomfortable talking about who I'm planning on voting for, although
I will say that in the past few elections I had decided that I was no longer
going to vote for the lesser of two evils, I was going to vote for the candidate
that best represented my views, regardless of their chances of winning. Unfortunately
this year I don't think I can afford to be that idealistic."
On the Offensive will be released on Hidden Agenda/Parasol Records on September 21. Steve Gozdecki [Tuesday, July 6, 2004]