Saturday, June 14, 2008

Portland's extreme independent music scene, do you think you we need to get more political?

Portland, OR and it's surrounding areas has what I consider a insignificantly political music scene. Am I dumb? Can you point me to the super dope band whose rage is relentless? Not everyone in Portland is into transcendental meditation here in Awesometowne, USA. We are allowed to freak out. You are all almost completely brilliant, brave and wise!

Nobody has to be on the freedom train. Democracy or Marxism, in this day and age, shouldn't be taboo musical topics or centers of art right now.

But if you like either one very much you might want to talk about it as much as you can right now.
There are many people listening.
The internet is the only widely accessible platform for organizing, televising and idolizing by everyday men and women, young and old or varied economic backgrounds.

A little commentary might be nice. Am I right?
Should I mix music with politics?

If you have any words you want to share please leave a comment and let the world know what you feel.

I'm a nerd:

If I was at a show right now I would be at, you guessed it, Westfold. I wonder if Evy Metal will be there?


Ben Meyercord said...

I think it would be great for there to be more political bands. I currently am not aware of that many overtly political Portland bands. I know that Portland has several benefit shows every week for various causes (some of them political). Which I feel is a step in the right direction. But at the same time I don't think that you should force bands to be political in their songs. I afraid that you might be right about the apolitical climate in the Portland "scene" I know that I have never, as a musician, written a political song and honestly , I not sure that I will. Its just not what I am drawn to write about. That is not to say that I, as a person, don't care about politics. I am glad that you mix the politics with the music here on CIMTB because I know that they may reach some people who might not ordinary read about such topics.

Ste. Goldie said...

Ben - Portland isn't called Little Beirut for nothing. This is a vastly political, namely progressive city. The music doesn't reflect this. I'm worried that it's generational.

I don't think I can force bands to do anything. If I could I would be forcing them to do something right now.

Benefits aren't exactly political. The tables set up to educate people at benefits are either unnecessary because the people showing up already know what the issues are or they inform people who are all ready driven to educate themselves. Whereas Music ignites the imagination. Music is a force which inspires people to act, react, think, respect... I don't know I'm not going to pretend that you didn't grow up listening to Rage Against The Machine.

Clearly there is no equal (to RATM) in this town. If there was I'm sure I'd know about it.

If musicians only write about the things they feel deep passion or drawn to then doesn't that mean that most of the musicians in down don't feel deeply passionate about anything except for themselves?

I don't buy it but I am frequently fighting the urge to believe that this scene is a little bit too in love with it's self...

I appreciate your honesty on this topic. Only having been in Evil Doer for a short time I realized that 2 out of 9 songs were overtly political (see Call to Harm and Sad Day In Hell). It wasn't that hard to do. It came easy to me.

Future generations will look back at this time and say "Yeah, the music was okay but they just didn't seem to care." Basically indie Rock will end up looking like Glam rock. Frivolous and self indulgent.

Apathy is insidious and hard to combat. It's easier to look away than to open your eyes and take responsibility.

Amber Dawn said...

on the one hand, I have very strong political feelings.. and think it would be cool for perhaps myself or other people to express those feelings in a musical fashion. However, in my opinion\experience, it's really hard for a song to carry an overt political message and not be too preachy or just plain suck as music. There's some sixties stuff that definitely disobeys that theory, and you (if you're me) can't say no to riot grrl bands like bikini kill or bratmobile, or classic punk rock like the subhumans.. but I have yet to hear current music with a strong political message that isn't kinda lame otherwise. I'm not often a big fan of preachy even if someone's preaching something I agree with.
Like in all things of this nature, though, I certainly wouldn't mind being proven wrong. I just feel like the political thing has been really done, and done really well, and that it's a lot easier to be original and interesting if you go in different directions.

Ste. Goldie said...

Amber Dawn - ... it's really hard for a song to carry an overt political message and not be too preachy or just plain suck as music.

I totally agree. Maybe being able to write a 'good' political rock song you have to have the talent to pull it off.

I feel like music is the platform that would be most well received by anyone younger than 30.

Blogs and Music. That is how we can provide information and comfort and ease the suffering of our neighbor.


emilywilde said...

goldie-i've got a zine to share with you. do you ever read Doris?

Ste. Goldie said...

Emily Wilde -- I don't know who Doris is... Show me!

emilywilde said...

Goldie--Doris is this awesome zine by cindy crabb, and almost every issue i've read by her has a lot of good ideas for getting more involved with the community. she's very thoughtful and shares personal essays as well. this one i want to give you has more specifics on starting groups for getting politically active. remind me to bring it the next time i see you!

Kevin Maloney said...

In the 60's, people like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez seemed to grow organically out of the ferment of the era. Today, when I hear someone sing a Dylan-esque anti-Iraq song (I recently heard one by Sherryl Crow that was embarrassing to listen to), it just sounds out of place... an anachronism.

I think that this generation isn't singing protest songs about Iraq because the war is slightly different than Vietnam (there is no compulsory draft to fire and unite people in opposition). Yet we can't forget the incredible political changes that a decade of music have created. The nineties didn't seem very political at the time, and yet bands like Nirvana and old-school MTV brought the queer movement and environmentalism into the foreground. Or think of the voice that rap gave to the African American community in the late eighties.

I think similar, if quiet things are happening now. Count the number of bicycles outside of a show (I've just started riding mine to shows). It is encouraging. Also, consider what MySpace, Blogging, etc have done for music. I feel like the DIY (do-it-yourself) ethic has returned music from the corporations and record labels to the people. Folk music has never been so folk. That is a political statement. If you think this an exaggeration, just try to remember the eighties when the music industry was an industry. I think politics are intrinsically interwoven into music, only we often have a hard time stepping back to see how truly radical we are.

Just my two cents.

-Captain Clio

Ste. Goldie said...

Kevin! Your two cents is like a dollar man! Yeah I don't even like folk music anyway. Even when Bob Dylan covers himself these days it sound horrible. I think it would be cool if instead of emulating a bygone era the music scene of music scenes produced something radically different... But obviously this scene isn't Walmart where you can get what you want when you want it for a unrealistic low price. This scene is all about dishing out a bunch of shit like THE GOODWILL BINS and then I have to sort through it often walking away with an ugly sweater and an allergy attack.

So Kevin... Does this mean you are not secretly Captain Clio? Because when I blog about you I don't want to blow your anonymity!

PPS -- Just an FYI one of my favorite defunked Portland bands is Ape Shape and they were magically political and fun to dance to!

Anonymous said...

anyone remember Jacobin?

Ste. Goldie said...

Anonymous -- Yeah. I guess I just think of Jacobin as Westfold... that is not cool right? A totally separet entity... does that mean Jacobin is gonna play a show one of these days? People from Philly seem to know a thing or two about democracy and freedom of speech... Maybe all those years not hearing the liberty bell chime or something...