Clearing the Air

There are probably 4 or 5 “flavors” of Democrats (or left leaning folks, in general). You have moderates, socialists, “democratic socialists” (not gonna lie, that term gives me a headache), old school Southern Democrats, Wall Street Democrats, and so on. I doubt a moderate Democrat would be too stoked about being called a Marxist or a socialist, right? 

Well, I’m a Republican. I’m not a corporatist Republican nor a religious right Republican nor a Tea Party Republican (whatever that means now) nor a Wall Street Republican. I’m a libertarian leaning Republican. I believe that every individual has the right to pursue their own happiness, whether they are straight, gay, green, blue or purple. I believe that the government needs to leave people alone from a social standpoint, spend as little of our money as possible (and as defined by the Constitution), and stay out of the business of using religion to drive public policy. Believe it or not, most of the younger Republicans I run into feel the same way. Before you say that makes me a Libertarian (with a capital L), it doesn’t. The reality of this country is that we currently have the best chance of advancing an ideology within one of the two major parties. I think my energy is best spent advancing liberty in a similar manner as Rand Paul and the rest of the liberty caucus Republicans. I don’t even align 100% with those guys. I probably don’t align 100% with ANYONE and that’s okay. Note: I was a dues paying Libertarian for almost a year until I realized that’s an entirely different can of worms and it’s not for me. Power to the folks who fight that fight, though. 

The GOP is a hot mess right now. To be fair, the Democrat Party is almost an equal sized dumpster fire, too. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. The old guard needs to go and that’s going to take a long time. We need to survive the Trump Administration and start putting more libertarian minded Republicans in office. This will be a long and slow process, but our government is designed to move slowly in order to avoid the whims of the masses. 

I see all this shit talking and friendships being torn apart because of political affiliation and it’s, quite frankly, stupid. Hell, if I avoided everyone with different views than my own, I’d have an extremely short list of Christmas cards to send out. And if I shunned all the bands that didn’t align with my political beliefs, I’d probably be stuck listening to Nashville country and Michale Graves. I prefer to think that I’m adult enough to hear something I disagree with, process it, and file it away without having a toddler sized tantrum.  

So, with all of that , I’m not going to hide my opinions and I’m not going to be vague about my affiliations any longer, simply because of the mess that the GOP is in right now. I wouldn’t expect you to hide because the Democrat Party is woefully out of touch, arrogant and fractured, either. 
So next time you get all high and mighty about people you “hate” – remember that it’s probably a guy you’ve played in a band with, or watched perform on stage, or turned wrenches with on a hot rod, or stood beside at a punk rock show (and, years ago, crashed into in a pit) or just had a beer with and talked about nothing and laughed a little bit.

So, you can hate and purge your social media accounts all day and that’s perfectly fine with me. I’m gonna have a beer, hang out with my wife, work on my hot rod, and lose what’s left of my hearing at a punk rock show. You might even see me letting my freak flag fly. If you do, feel free to wave yours, too, even if it looks different than mine. 

VIDEO: Eric July Talks Music, Libertarian Politics and Developing a Brand

By: Dave Cox

I had the pleasure of sitting down with singer, MC, political commentator, lecturer, activist and all around Ancap badass, Eric July, in our home neighborhood of Oak Cliff in Dallas, Texas.

Here’s a summary of the things we discussed; from his politics, to the falling out with his old band, to his upcoming record release with his new band, Backwordz, and a LOT more. You’re going to want to watch this video!

Transcript:

Dave: Both major political parties are making a rift in America that continues to grow.

Eric: “Non-Aggression, Voluntarism… We shouldn’t agress upon others just to be doing it – and being positive and being able to change people’s lives. That’s why I’m here”

Dave: Eric July is trying to right the ship in US politics with music and media.

Eric:  “That to me is what it’s about – being able to set that scene and telling you where I came from.”

Eric: “What’s good everybody,  I’m Eric July – frontman for Backwordz… Backwordz is really just everything coming together. Me as a political commentator, me as an MC… loving hardcore growing up, loving punk rock and metal. We’ve also got some hardcore MC-ing going down.”

Dave: Running track in college and running in gangs – those are just a few things July drew inspiration from. You can see it in their new music video for the song, “Be Great.” You also see him fire back at his last group, Fire From the Gods.

Eric: “The idea of what was actually asked of me was that they wanted me to be a ghostwriter.” He couldn’t take a back seat, so he left the band.  “I really just wasn’t comfortable with that considering the type of material that I wrote with Fire.  Those are things that come straight from the heart.”

Dave: But what inspired his tribute to his old band was what they did to the last song he recorded with them, “Eat.”

Eric: “They just, literally, re-recorded the song and plugged cuss words in there, because I don’t cuss in my rhymes, to try to make it a slight lyric change. Top to bottom I wrote that song and they just re-did it without my consent and just put it out there.”

Dave: July’s style isn’t your typical rap metal. He changed the culture of hardcore with his political rhymes. There’s no way his style could be mimicked.

Eric: “Just from a musician’s standpoint, it is the whackest thing that I’ve ever seen – the corniest thing I’ve ever seen – of a musician. Not even up for debate – the corniest thing that I’ve ever seen.”

Dave: Doing band business independently is very important to July.

Eric: “We started getting offers. We straight up got offers and we declined them because Backwordz is a brand and a message that we stand behind.”

Dave: They’re self-releasing their new record in partnership with Stay Sick Recordings 2017.

Eric: “You see the shirt [the shirt says ‘Non-Aggression – Voluntaryism’] – we have an actual message and things that we believe in and music is more so just the driving force.”

Dave: The message in their music will reach a younger audience that may have never before been interested in politics.

Eric: “You’re impressing me when you go do a Fox News interview. You go write an article that got shared around by a lot of people. You go do some public speaking – a lecture or something – and you got your message out there and plant some seeds. That’s what’s impressive to me”

Dave: Cable TV, blogs, magazines – he’s done them all as a political commentator. Speaking his mind is second nature for July, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Eric: “I was both confused and, I ain’t going to lie, a little intimidated to be honest with you, because you have to understand the culture of blacks. Leftists have a political monopoly in these communities. A political monopoly is really what it is. I didn’t know about Libertarianism until I hit college. I had never heard the word – never ever heard the word. I was confused because this stuff is making sense, but how do I tell my family this? How do I tell my family that I came to this realization that government sucks?”

Dave: A punk rock theme many of us grew up with turned into political awareness when July went to college.

Eric: “Policies like minimum wage and a welfare state have… helped destroy black communities and black families.”

Dave: His key message is to NOT rely on the government.

Eric: “You know, it’s confusing because I’ve been led for… 19, 20 years of my life to believe one way.”

Dave: He also gets haters as a black Libertarian.

Eric: “It comes with the territory and you’ve got a target on your back. I get stripped down every day.  I’ll go to my messages right now and someone’s calling me the N word.  Black folks too, saying… ‘He’s an Uncle Tom. He’s a coon – a house nigga,’ is what they say.  They’re calling us all of these different terms not because I’m a Libertarian because I’m not a leftist. You can be a conservative – which I’m not. You can be a Libertarian, but as long as you’re not a leftist, you’re going to get called those names.”

Dave: His unique perspective growing up gangbanging, performing as MC YG Rippa and setting athletic records gives him a gift to open minds.

Eric: “I want somebody to come at me and call me one of those names and I’ll be like, ‘Well, you’re the one worshiping the same entity that you claim is suppressing you. Who’s really the Uncle Tome here?’”

Dave: Now, his words are more powerful than any diss track.

Eric: “If I’m going to claim to be real then I’m going to put it out there. Once I put it out there I got more comfortable and I didn’t get phased by all them folks talking down.”

Dave: One word describes Eric’s music and politics…

Eric: “One word – REAL.  You might not agree with it but you know that it’s us. You know that we’re getting out there – we’re putting this music out. You hear me write a lyric, you hear me lay it down, you know it’s real. You know I’m coming to you and I’m being honest with you. You know what I mean? I’m being for real with you. And THAT’S what it’s about!”

Trumps Makes Metal Band Slipknot Pretty Good Again

By: Dave Cox

Late last week, Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor told Spin Magazine that Donald Trump’s message is not in line with what Slipknot is all about. “Trump’s message is so anti-Slipknot it’s not even funny, because we have always tried to get people to stand together, and everything he does is so divisive.” Taylor went on to say that Trump’s message would tear people apart in an effort to control them.

In a shocking turn of events, Trump mentioned the band at a recent rally in Gainesville, Florida. Trump stated that Slipknot was “…terrible, just terrible. I mean, the drums and guitar are huuuuge – they’re great, they’re fantastic, but I can’t get behind the vocals. The vocals are horrible. Rosie O’Donnell could sing better than that guy! I will promise the American people right now that I am willing to take over as the lead singer for Slipknot and I WILL MAKE THEM PRETTY GOOD AGAIN!” Moments later, the curtains on the stage opened, and the members of Slipknot, sans Corey Taylor, launched into their 1999 hit ‘Wait and Bleed’. Trump sprinted to the unattended mic at the center of the stage and growled out the opening line, “I’ve felt the hate rise up in me, kneel down and clear the stone of leaves. I wander out where you can’t see, Inside my shell, I wait and bleed”

TrumpSlip

(meme borrowed from the interwebs)

It was actually happening. Donald J. Trump was the front man for Slipknot and it fucking ruled! The crowd was whipped into a frenzy as The Donald shrieked, “Well, I’m a victim – Manchurian candidate, I have sinned by just makin’ my mind up and takin’ your breath away.”

Shortly after the rally, Slipknot issued a press release stating that Trump was taking over lead vocal duties permanently and they are currently planning a world tour in early 2017, pending the results of the election and the final design of Trumps human flesh and saw blade mask.

PREVIEW: Descendents “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”

It’s been 12 years since seminal punk band Descendents released a new record. I’ve been lucky enough to see their live show twice in the last two years and they never disappoint. With their increased touring schedule in recent years and the fact that they previewed some new tunes in 2014 when I saw them in Pomona, California, it looked like they had some new music brewing. Now, we have a July 29 release of Hypercaffium Spazzinate. Fortunately, the fine folks at NPR are streaming the new record today and it is nothing short of fantastic.

10277755_803985762954911_8503097819743164730_n

You would never know this is a band that has been together for 39 years. The new record has an urgency to it that wasn’t seen as much on 2004’s Cool to Be You.  It’s more raw and energetic than anything they’ve released in years. Imagine the musicianship of their 1996 release Everything Sux and the rawness of Milo Goes to College and you’ll be able to see where things are headed. Here’s a quick song by song breakdown:

  1. Feel This – 1:13 of fury, extremely catchy guitar riffs and vocals that grab you from the first line.
  2. Victim of Me – This song was released a few weeks ago as a teaser and I can’t stop listening to it! This song has the best bass line I’ve ever heard in a Descendents song, and that’s saying something because Karl Alvarez is probably the most melodic punk bassist in the history of the genre. I’ve been a bass player for more than 30 years and I’m still blown away at how creative Karl is in his songwriting.
  3. On Paper – Typical Descendents  – and I mean that in a good way. Catchy, edgy and fun with clever lyrics. Self-effacing lyric writing at its finest.
  4. Shameless Halo – This is one of those songs that the crowd will sing along to at every show. Big riffs, super precise drums and a lead guitar riff coming out of each chorus that will make you pump your fist in the air.
  5.  No Fat Burger – The old guy’s response to “Wienerschnitzel” – 44 seconds of concerns about greasy food and high cholesterol.
  6. Testosterone – Driving bass line and guitar work similar to some of my favorite tunes from Cool to be You but with an extra edge. Milo’s vocals on this one are edgy and impressive.
  7. Without Love – this one reminds me a lot of the minor chord progression of “One More Day” from their 2004 release. Solid song with fantastic, introspective lyrics.
  8. We Got Defeat – This song could have been released on Milo Goes To College.  Seriously. The tempo changes are insane and the double beats in the chorus will have the pit going crazy.
  9. Smile – this song was written as an ode to drummer Bill Stevensen when he was dealing with a life threatening illness a few years ago. Heart wrenching lyrics, but twisted into a sweeping, driving melody. Typical Descendents, juxtaposing dark lyrics with catchy melodies.
  10. Limiter – kicks off with a great bass solo with another one at the breakdown in the middle.  Rapid fire drumming and urgent lyrics carry it the rest of the way through. This is a raw song in the best possible way.
  11. Fighting Myself – Upper register, frantic bass playing to kick it off. Very melodic tune and one of the more interesting guitar progressions on the record. Stephen Egerton is probably one of the most underrated guitarists in punk. He has a very unique style and consistently puts out unexpected chord progressions that just work.
  12. Spineless and Scarlet Red – Excellent song from start to finish. This one has a drive and darkness to it that feels sooooooo good. Honestly, songs like this one make me wonder why the Descendents aren’t wealthy men right now. Better than anything you’ll hear on the radio.
  13. Full Circle – This is a PIT SONG. The Descendents don’t normally have hook lines where the whole band is shouting together. Well, this one does. When the whole band yells, “Keep Me Alive!” you’ll find yourself yelling along with it.
  14. Comeback Kid – GREAT bass line throughout. By this point in the record, it starts to sound like a “How to Write a Great Pop Punk Song” lesson. It’s that solid. Very catchy chorus and another sing along break in the middle of the song.
  15. Beyond the Music – This sounds almost like an outtake from Cool to be You. It’s a great tribute to each other as the song talks about their 30+ years together  as a band and their friendship, “This is our family and it will always be that way, beyond the music.”

As a Descendents fanboy, I could’t be happier about this record.  There are things about all of their records that I love, but it always felt like the early releases were completely different than Everything Sux and Cool to be You. Hypercaffium Spazzinate seems to bridge that gap by capturing the energy and reckless abandon of their early work with the skilled musicianship and songwriting of their last two releases. They already have some festival shows scheduled in the late summer and fall and I’m hoping that turns into a full headlining tour after that. This band has meant more to me than I can put into words. They’ve gotten me through some hard times and celebrated with me through the good times. Hypercaffium Spazzinate just sums it all up in a big celebration of top notch music!