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Propagandhi interview

May 1st, 2009 · post by Fred Goodsell · Make a comment

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On Propagandhi’s most recent UK tour Last Hours took time to interview Jord who plays drums in the band. We talked about the new record, the G20 protests and more. The band then went on to play a great live set confirming for many of the Last Hours collective they are indeed one of the best bands on this planet!

Propagandhi play a interesting mix of metal and punk. Politically they are outspoken about issues ranging from Veganism to Indigenous Rights. The band have released 5 full length albums to date and continue to be one of the most well respected and influential acts still touring the punk scene.

LH:How does it feel to be back in the UK?

Yeah it’s always great to be back.

LH:Is their anywhere you don’t like touring?

In not so much of a fan of cruising around the United States although in recent years we have been having good shows there but, you know, you spend so much time in a certain place, and culturally I find it strange and unbecoming haha.

LH:There has been much less of an wait between Potemkin City Limits and Supporting Caste than between previous albums why was this?

Over the years, pretty much between the first album that we did and the last one, those are the only two where we have stuck to a schedule. We actually managed to do it according to the time we said we where going to do it. The middle three albums we had a variety of circumstances that pushed them into being multi month recording sessions and some of them just dragged on for half a year or so. However this time round we really, really concentrated our efforts, we where rehearsing and sticking to the plan like we never have before really. Even in terms of the writing process with the new guy in the band and other considerations at home it was alot to do and we are all really busy but we managed to do it. That being said we do seem to have a new reinvigorated vibe in the band. Having Beaver (second guitarist- Ed) in the group now and just kind of adding depth, I don’t know, it’s just really exciting for us.

LH:So how has having Beaver in the band changed things for you in terms of song writing?
Well he brings a different style and a different way of playing. He didn’t really come up through the metal and punk scene. Chris and Todd I think primarily where into metal and obviously enjoyed alot of the punk stuff too. I was a little bit more punk and liked some metal. But Beav just has a different way of playing and he can pull off all of our stuff and he’s really good at picking stuff up really, really quickly. I think his flavour of playing just adds a different twist to everything. The ideas that he’s bringing to the table and adding things over the top is making the new stuff really good and obviously we are able to pull off the older stuff a little bit better because when we where recording we recorded two different guitar tracks on alot of our songs as well so having a rhythm guitar kind of kick in, say if Chris is doing a lead or something like that it just makes everything alot more solid and enjoyable and actually easier to play to.

LH:Tell us about the song ‘Dear Coach’s Corner’ from the new record

The economy is crumbling and people are stealing tax dollars and if people invested their attention in something else we might have a better society

With anything like that. I grew up on alot of sports, especially ice hockey, it was a big part of my life for a number of years and I still play now. I love the game and I like alot of different sporting events and it’s my little guilty pleasure watching corporate sporting events and I mean the absurdities, there are so many. Just why guys get paid, signing contracts for 40, 50 100 million dollars to play football, hockey or baseball and it’s just absurd for working class people to be supporting it and just the diversion of investing so much time and interest in something that really doesn’t fucking matter. The economy is crumbling and people are stealing tax dollars and if people invested their attention in something else we might have a better society actually.

I think there are alot of parallels between music and sport, or any kind of form of recreation where even in punk rock, hip hop or rock and roll in general its something that starts at the bottom, it’s an underground phenomenon. I honestly never thought that heavy music would ever get any radio play. In the mid eighties I thought ‘that day will never come’ then it did and all the shitty corporations started attaching themselves to these so called ‘punk’ and ‘metal’ heavy music bands. They are largely running the show now and I think they dictated a set of standards that have been so influential that people are looking at the corporate carrot, their interests are drawn from the top instead of the bottom these days. I mean in the late nighties when there was another crisis of capitalism with alot of the world summits being protested heavily, around that time there was an anti-capitalist culture that was growing substantially and its interesting to see that a bunch of big, big corporations started attaching themselves to different styles and sounds and gleaning their interests onto a structure that had come up from the bottom and they started twisting it for not only their own gain, but also I think for ideological reasons. That it’s OK for Mastercard to be setting up stalls at the Vans Warped Tour. It’s got ridiculous. Or the american army recruiting people at punk shows, it’s fucking sickening and that shit should just be disregarded.

LH:Was their any flash bulb moment where you realised things had changed so much.

Yeah I think I was at a friends place and he has satellite TV and he had a station called VH1 on . They did this segment on Vans Warped Tour. This band from Canada called Blink…no Sum 41 (easily confused with Blink 182). We have done interviews over the years asking what where your influences or the defining moment of when you got into punk rock. They asked Sum 41 the same question and he was basically saying ‘if it wasn’t for Vans Warped Tour, I wouldn’t be here today’ and it just seemed like ‘holy fuck’ this thing is just a different level of existence, completely different from what I recognise and valued so deeply as a kid getting into this stuff. It just seemed so perverse and fucked, silly and stupid and detrimental, everything I hate. Mass consumer culture is now running the show for alot of bands. I think its similar with sport. I think sport attracts a more conservative element historically. But in the United States at football games they are flying fighter jets over top while the anthems being played and all that kind of stuff. The advertisers and sponsors are so militaristic it’s unbelievable. Unbelievable that people don’t see what it’s being used for outside of the game itself. It serves this huge ideological role. In Canada that didn’t exist with hockey until recently, I think in a post 9/11 sort of situation. Canada got involved in Afghanistan and Don Cherry, on this weekly 5 minute presentation where he dissects the game, saved the last 30 seconds to ‘honour’ the troops over seas. It just started to happen every week. I thought ‘where did this come from?’. It’s really disappointing to see alot of Canadians going along with it and not questioning it.

LH:Tell us about the song Human(e) Meat?

To love the animal and then cut its head off at a time of your choosing doesn’t really make sense

I think generally the members of the band shop at local, organic grocers and some of the people we have known have set up local food co-ops and we have seen free range meat, eggs and dairy carve itself a niche market into aspects of things I want to support with my money, now there is this sort of side industry that has crept in. I think it would be interesting to talk to some of those folks about it and some of them are hardly hanging on. The big supermarket chains are trying to put these little companies out of bidness all the time. I think there are economic consideration for them having this stuff on their shelves. I think there is a substantial difference between factory farming and say free range stuff. Maybe environmentally its not quite as bad. But you don’t need meat to survive and to have it humanely produced just seams like this weird middle ground that doesn’t need to exist.

LH:People always say ‘It’s had a good life, it’s fine!’

Yeah, yeah. To love the animal and then cut its head off at a time of your choosing doesn’t really make sense.

I encourage people to get interested in the topic and self educate. In North America food production is one of the big evils, the genetically modified organisms in food without you even knowing it. It’s not required to be labelled or anything. Corn in the US is almost 100% GMO by this point and it’s sickening to see local farmers go against the grain and being bought out, dragged through court cases and all this stuff.

LH:How important is your album artwork to you? Do you think it makes much of a statement?
Yeah I think in this case it’s wonderful that Kent Monkman has allowed us to use his art work, he is a gay indigenous artist from Canada and I think that it’s excellent for us, being able to use his stuff. I think it’s an incredible piece of art and for a guy like that to be gaining popularity in the art world is great.

LH:What role do you think art plays in punk in general?

If it can help inspire thought. And I think that it relates to alot of concepts we promote as a band. I respect political and social commentary in art in general and that’s the kind of stuff that I want to support in my tiny slither of life.

You have arrived in the UK at an interesting time with the G20 protests recently taking place. Do you think that after the media spotlight fades away everything goes back to normal?

Capitalism has proven itself to be a huge failure and we need something else to take its place

I think if we are going to get beyond capitalism or something like that and try to save this world, I think a huge thing that has to happen is that people have to realise that corporate media are working for people with vested interests. There is a whole lot of things that have been omitted from the media coverage that aren’t even in the ball park of being included in any sort of questions about why do the G20 or G8 exist? They are self appointed things. The whole world has many many more nations and it’s just this select few that put it upon themselves to solve the problems of the world, benevolently for everybody. This is neo-colonialism. This is just the same old white mans club trying to control the situation and I mean look at what’s going on. Goldman Sachs in the US posted 1.6 billion dollar earnings for the first quarter. And it’s like those are our tax dollars! It surprises me on one hand that people aren’t traveling to wall street and just burning it down to the ground but on the other hand people have been brought up in front of the TV, this is all they understand. They see on Fox or CNN the coverage of the G20 protests. There is no coverage of any substantial issues or the idea that this is capitalism in crisis or something, it was just a couple of people punching in a couple of windows.

Capitalism has proven itself to be a huge failure and we need something else to take its place so we can move on. But that’s not even brought up at all.

It’s similar in Canada and the US. We live in a country where media concentration is amongst the highest in the world. What passes for the free press is the corporate line. I think that that is a huge thing. If corporate media was de-legitimised and seen as just the mouth piece for capitalism.

I think we are at a point, both here and in the US, where people are so fed up. They know that politicians and business people are greedy fuckers and they all have interests in their own pockets. And now we have to move on and change things. I think people feel isolated to the point they have no power. They’re not happy but they’re in a situation where they can’t do anything about it. Its a ripening point and if that can be harnessed then we can move past that. I think if the ball starts rolling there could be a snowball effect and maybe we could have a re-enlightenment of sorts, where democracy and the constitution of the US are not just words on a piece of paper.

Thanks to Jord and Propagandhi for doing the interview. Make sure you check out propagandhi.com

Related links

Supporting Caste – [review]

Propagandhi (past interview from Issue 15 of LH) – Interview

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