Monday, August 25, 2014

Know Your Product: The Interrupters

[Please make sure to read the recent update from 9/10/14 below this post.]

Since I've never really been into ska-punk, I didn't expect to find myself writing about the new album from The Interrupters, except for the fact that their press materials trade on the band's professed love of 2 Tone--something that is lazily regurgitated in reviews like this one in AP and this one in Rolling Stone (Australia). The reason this irks me is that The Interrupters' sound is clearly derived from Rancid's popular punk rock take on ska (which, of course, Tim Armstrong--who produced this album--pioneered with Operation Ivy back in the late 80s) and bears little resemblance to the music of the 2 Tone groups. But what I find really disturbing--and what's compelling me to write this post--is how The Interrupters are draping themselves in 2 Tone's mantle while advocating right-wing and libertarian viewpoints that are the polar opposite of those espoused by The Specials, The Selecter, The Beat, et al. You should know what you're buying into before you decide to support this band. The music and the message matter--particularly in a genre of music that has a long history of decrying social and economic injustice.

I was alerted to The Interrupter's politics by my friend Matthew, who has rather cheekily dubbed the band as "Tea-Tone," since their singer, Aimee Allen (AKA Aimee Interrupter), is a libertarian (essentially, anti-tax and anti-federal government) and huge Ron Paul supporter (check out "Ron Paul Revolution," a song she wrote and recorded in support of Ron Paul's 2008 presidential bid; its words are here), and The Interrupters' lyrics seem steeped in Tea Party buzz words and phrases (more on that below). Allen also is on the record stating some pretty radical, right-wing things--check out her interviews with Patriot Movement conspiracy theorist Alex Jones herehereherehere, and here (and, while you're at it, read what the Southern Law Poverty Center has to say about Alex Jones here). She's also convinced that the CIA hired some "Mexican gang members" to violently attack her several years ago (apparently, it had something to do with her 2003 "Revolution" song and her label folding?). If you do a Google search on her, you'll find yourself in some pretty dark, paranoid places on the internet, as she's popular with that crowd.

While The Specials' and other 2 Tone groups' songs are filled with a great deal of anger, frustration, and outrage at the government, this rage was focused on the British government's policies regarding youth unemployment, the police's oppressive treatment of black citizens and non-white immigrants through the dreaded SUS law (akin to the racial profiling police policy of "stop and frisk" here in the US), and deep cuts to the social safety net (if you don't believe my take on The Specials' songs and their politics, see Dick Hebdige's "Cut and Mix" or Paul Williams' "You're Wondering Now").

The Specials weren't interested in tearing down their national government--they wanted it to do more to help the people--particularly their despondent peers. The Specials believed that government could and should have been the vehicle to solve the many dire socio-economic issues plaguing England in the late 70s and early 80s (a perfect example is how they criticized Margaret Thatcher's government for not doing enough to support working class young people in the midst of severe economic depression and massive unemployment in "Ghost Town:" "Government leaving the youth on the shelf...No job to be found in this country.") The Specials didn't believe that the free market would resolve these issues (because the purpose of business is to make money, not solve societal problems or serve the greater good--the bottom line is all that matters), nor did they think a "Lord of the Flies"/every man for himself approach would fix things either. The Specials also promoted multiculturalism, tolerance, racial unity, and actively supported Rock Against Racism (during a time when the National Front and other racist groups were on the rise and frequently attacking non-white people--including Lynval Golding, prompting him to write the song "Why?")--and later The Special AKA created the anti-apartheid movement's brilliant anthem, "Nelson Mandela" (and in 1986 Jerry Dammers founded the UK chapter of Artists Against Apartheid).

In contrast, Aimee Interrupter enthusiastically supports libertarian Ron Paul in his anti-tax/anti-"big" government quest to dismantle the Federal government and all of its agencies (more on that below) in favor of establishing "states rights," which, since the day Ronald Reagan infamously launched his 1980 presidential bid, signifies a dog whistle call for rolling back of all of the federal anti-discriminiation and voting rights laws that resulted from the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. While I don't know if Paul is personally racist or not (though his past newsletters strongly suggest he is), his libertarian goals happen to coincide with what many right-wing racists want (the reinstatement of Jim Crow laws in the former states of the Confederacy) and I don't think Paul minds consorting with them in order to achieve his vision.

This 2012 New Yorker profile by Kelefa Sanneh notes Paul's opposition to one of the most important pieces of anti-discrimination legislation in America's history: "[Ron Paul] opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and reiterated his opposition less than a decade ago, on its fortieth anniversary, arguing that, by mandating “forced integration,” the act “increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty.” Paul sometimes seeks to offset this principled stance by reiterating his respect for civil-rights heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks, even as he maintains that their political opponents were right."

In this recent piece, Nick Ramsey of MSNBC highlights some of Ron Paul's stances that are far outside mainstream political thought, are counter to firmly established American law, and some of which have no basis in reality: "In his 2011 book “Liberty Defined,” Paul wrote that the notion that everyone has a right to medical care “is an intellectual error;” in 2003, he asserted that the separation of church and state has “no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers;” he once told FOX News that Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are all “technically” unconstitutional; and in 2007, Paul told NBC News’s Tim Russert that Abraham Lincoln could have avoided the Civil War by simply buying and releasing all of the slaves in the Southern states. In a 2012 Republican debate, Paul claimed that in the 1960s “there was nobody on the street suffering with no medical care.” He’s also long said he wants the Federal Reserve, the CIA, and the federal income tax all abolished."

Paul wants all of this and more in the name of individual freedom (no matter what the cost to the common good).

Let's see how Paul's brand of libertarianism plays out in The Interrupters' lyrics (which can sometimes be mistaken for the typical--and good--"question authority" stance of most punk rock bands). Like many people on the far right-wing of the American political spectrum, Aimee Allen (based on her lyrics) seems to be suffering from a persecution complex--she thinks the government is literally out to get her at every turn (check out all of the lyrics about the FBI and CIA coming after her--though it's never spelled out why--simply for being a Ron Paul libertarian?). It's a very self-centered and paranoid view of the world. But it's the fantasy that fuels this political ideology (it's a given that the federal government is oppressive and determined to deny me my freedom through taxes and regulation and Social Security, etc., so we need to get rid of government).

Album opener "Take Back the Power" conveys the anti-tax and the we're-so-oppressed-our-rights-are-gone worldview held by libertarians and Tea Party-types:

"Whatcha gonna say
When they strip your rights away
And the taxman makes you pay
For every bead of sweat you bled today"

It appears that these lyrics were (disconcertingly) structured along the lines of The Specials' "It's Up to You" (sing the song in your head, but substitute the lyrics above and you'll see what I mean)--which is about The Specials stating that they're going to keep on playing their music and communicating their anti-racist/anti-violence message no matter what the audience response is, but it's also reminding the black and white listeners that they have to power and the personal responsibility to decide whether to unite or fight (and how this decision can make their society better or worse off). It's a moral challenge that every one hearing the song has to decide to accept: "What you gonna do, when morons come for you? They won't go away, they want the whole world painted grey..." The enemy here isn't government (or the fact that you have to pay taxes that go towards providing infrastructure or services that are used by and benefit everyone), but racists, the National Front, the British National Party, giving in to one's worst instincts or complacency--and the question is: are you going to do the right thing?

"Take Back the Power" also includes these lyrics that seem more real and relevant to black Americans in Ferguson, MO and many other places in the USA than to a white pop singer in LA (who's receiving lots of press for an album full of anti-government, libertarian lyrics that's clearly not being censored by anyone, since you can find the reviews all over the internet and in printed publications):

"Whatcha gonna do
When they show up in black suits
On your street in army boots
And they're there to silence you"

The over-the-top lyrics in The Interrupters' "Liberty" express the common right-wing/Tea Party fear that we're all terrifyingly close to living in some sort of Orwellian totalitarian state:

"Better quiet down
Don't speak your mind
Nod your head like everything's fine
Don't verbalize it
Cause if they hear you
They'll hunt you down and disappear you
They took it away, they got complete control
Where did my liberty go?"

Though, if we were living in something closely resembling a totalitarian state, The Interrupters probably wouldn't be out and about singing right-wing protest songs about living in--and rebelling against--a totalitarian state. Being able make some money off of singing about living in a society without liberty kind of proves that there is a fair amount of freedom left in said society, right?

While The Specials explicitly deplored and denounced violence (see "It Doesn't Make It Alright"; also The Selecter's "Celebrate the Bullet" and The Beat's "Two Swords"), "Can't Be Trusted" asserts that you need a gun handy at all times--and to be ready to actually use it--because the government's agents are coming to get you (though it's never exactly spelled out why they'd be pursuing the singer):

"I don't trust no one
under my pillow there's a loaded gun
The CIA, they wanna put me away
The FBI just sent another spy
The FBI, get your hands off me
There's no judge, no jury--Patriot Act took our liberty
They're tapping our phones, breaking down our doors
Waging on the people, it's a civil war and it's a police state
Jefferson's rolling over in his grave
and you can't be trusted
I don't trust no one
under my pillow there's a loaded gun"

It's dogma amongst far right-wingers and Tea Party types that they all need their guns to protect themselves against the US government--and that any and reasonable and sensible attempts at gun control (in a nation plagued by an extraordinary number of gun deaths--you can read a year's worth of horrifying reports on daily gun carnage in the US here) are part of a nefarious plot to take away the very guns from "patriots" who are somehow keeping an oppressive government at bay with those very same guns. Never mind that the Second Amendment was written with the intent of citizens having the right to be armed--with muskets!--in order to serve in militias to protect the newly-formed and vulnerable United States of America--not for Americans to violently overthrow their own government--or even to protect themselves individually. (There are definitely very legitimate concerns about how the NSA is collecting and analyzing the data of all of Americans' phone calls, emails, and internet usage--in the name of fighting terrorism--but the dystopian America she's describing here just isn't anywhere near real.)

I could go on, but you get the picture.

With right-wing politics like these, The Interrupters have no right to claim/subvert/pervert 2 Tone's legacy.

Ska fans, caveat emptor. Know your product.

+ + + +

Update (9/10/14): Below, please find a response from The Interrupters' guitarist Kevin Bivona. Also, The Duff Guide to Ska will be doing an interview with The Interrupters in the near future...

"Ok here we go… Thank you very much for listening to our album and being moved enough to write this article. For better or worse, we do appreciate feedback and every listen we get. However, we DON’T identify ourselves as libertarians or Tea Party. In fact, we don’t identify ourselves as anything, as we believe putting people in boxes is divisive. I do understand how you came to your conclusion regarding Aimee’s politics, but I don’t see how you can use a young persons 2008 political song and a few interviews she did 6 years ago and apply them to a creative project they are involved in in 2014, when you don’t even know them personally. Aimee is one of the most politically open-minded and evolving people I’ve ever met and she NEVER judges or puts people down based on their political beliefs. She is on a constant quest for knowledge and if you ask her about her politics today, they will most definitely be different than yesterday (let alone 2008). As for the 2-Tone parallel. We love all those records and what we do have in common is we all come from working class families. We know a few of the Specials and a few members of the Beat. They seem to like our band just fine. The politics in their music applied to the time and place that they made those records. We never get too specific when talking about the politics in our music because we want to people to be able to interpret and apply them in any way they can. They are actually rather general (us against them, united we stand divided were fall etc..) Also, as a band, the 4 of us think different politically and like to debate issues. That being said, Aimee doesn’t even write all the lyrics to our songs, in particular the ones you attributed to her. My favorite part about playing in a punk rock or ska band is the unity in the scene.. Until I see articles like this: meant to divide or turn people off :’ they can’t come to the party because I don’t like what their singing about’ when in fact, you don’t even really know what we are singing about. We are most definitely NOT a ‘right wing’ band… but if we were , I would hope we would get the same shot as everyone else. That’s the great thing about America right? Freedom of choice and diversity. whether it be politics, religion, music.. pretty much anything. You seem to take the blog pretty seriously, so all I ask is before you slam the next band for their beliefs or lyrics (or your assumption thereof), maybe try reaching out to them to see if you can understand each other and find common ground then being just another article on the internet meant to put someone down. You play in a ska band and you are hurting your own scene. Let’s try and keep everything positive and have fun, you only live once. Not saying you have to like my band, or I have to like yours. But we need to have a mutual respect because there isn’t a lot of us left. I bet we have a lot of the same records and agree on more things than we disagree."




24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, but seems like an over reaction. I really dig this band, even if they closely follow the Op Ivy formula. That is probably why I dig them. I don't know if the band "drapes themselves in 2-tone." The bio says they have a love for it and actually says they play ska punk music.

I would recommend checking out their cover of Judge Not...

Anonymous said...

They're cover of Judge Not is sandwiched in between a bunch of their Libertarian blatherings. I'm not buying it.

Anonymous said...

Their...dammit!

Anonymous said...

Hell yeah--give 'em hell, Duff.

This ain't no overreaction. Not-great things happen when right-wing paranoia meets punk rock.

Matt Wixson said...

The problem is that this whole thing is pretty circumstantial. I think the only thing you proved was that the 2-Tone bands were not Tea Partiers.

Aimee Allen's support of Ron Paul is obviously undeniable. But it's definitely unfair to make the leap to say she's a Tea Party supporter. I realize that a lot of 21st Century fascists will call themselves "libertarian" and that this is a pretty good descriptor for the Tea Party, but if you put Ron Paul in that category, I think you're wrong. Ron Paul and the Tea Party also agree with me that they're not involved in a common movement.

I feel like I must say, at this point, that I am NOT a supporter of Ron Paul, and that I find many of his ideas toxic. But you chose to use Paul as an arch-villain as a way to discredit a band and so now I have to clear their name. I find some of his libertarian ideals particularly refreshing. He's certainly not purely libertarian, but he's not NEARLY as tainted by right wing fascism (mainstream American conservatism) as the Tea Party that tried to co-op his movement and then turned it into something unrecognizable.

I don't want to go further into this, because I'm as bored writing it as you are reading it. But I feel like I agree with mainstream Democrats about 25% of the time and I agree with classical libertarians about 50% of the time. Ron Paul's libertarianism is corrupted by right-wing nonsense, so he's probably as appealing to me as Barrack Obama. Significantly different, but just as appealing. And I'm sure I'm not the only leftist who feels that way.

Matt Wixson said...

BUT! This doesn't even really matter. I think my real problem is that you can't make the case with the band themselves, with their lyrics. Regardless of who they've associated themselves with, the Interrupters songs themselves have no partisan agenda behind them whatsoever. If you didn't know about their singer's past of supporting Ron Paul, you wouldn't have thought twice about which political philosophy was informing them.

They're not singing anti-racist songs, but they're also not singing racist songs. They're not singing songs lifting up workers but they're not singing about crushing unions, either. They're singing about fuck the government and fuck the police, and that's really not noteworthy in punk. Or ska or reggae, for that matter.

Using your witch-hunt logic, we should be chasing the Toasters out of town for "Freedom" and smashing that fascist Jimmy Cliff for "The Harder They Come". Peter Tosh wrote "Legalize It," which has historically been a central issue of libertarian platforms (including Ron Paul's). NOFX sang "Murder The Government". "They Make Me Mad" might be the Selecter's rebuke of the liberal lies Americans have all swallowed.

What I'm trying to say is that the Interrupters' lyrics don't really support your claim. I don't agree with Aimee Allen's politics, but they're 1.) probably not quite as extreme as you're making them out to be, and 2.) not really even present in her band's songs in any specific way.

The premise of using 2-Tone and the Tea Party as the either-or influences on the band is a huge stretch, and ultimately empty of any real content. The band sounds like a punkier version of the 2-Tone sound, but doesn't adhere to the same politics as a lot of those bands. This we can agree upon, I think. But the rest is pretty flimsy, and ultimately not even a real presence in their music.

Finally, though, I will concede that I think Aimee Allen is a paranoid, tinfoil-hat-wearing crazy person. I didn't know she was so tight with Alex Jones, and I thank you for digging all of that up. But I think I would even tolerate that if it were to creep into the next Interrupters album. Until the band actually writes legitimate right-wing anthems, I will enjoy them for what they are: an incredibly catchy ska-punk band who nailed everything I liked about Rancid, sometimes better than Rancid themselves.

Anonymous said...

This band is awful. No doubt about it. However I think this review is a bit much. To say a band can't adopt a sound without adopting the ideals of a few select bands is absurd.

I think you have to much free time in that band you are in. To me it appears you just stand around and contribute nothing so I'm assuming that's when you came up with this review and logic.

Lawless said...

Wow I think this is one of the first articles I've seen in a very long time that actually brings up any sort of discussion about the music. THAT'S WICKED STEVE! Great job. We need a lot more of these sorts of articles about what is happening in the music of today.

Me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve from Moon said...

Matt,

Thanks for your comments.

My question to you is why are The Interrupters singing about an oppressive/totalitarian government, liberty denied, the CIA/FBI pursuing them, hating big government and paying taxes, needing to keep a loaded gun under one's pillow? What is the message here? Without any context, all of these lyrics are pretty meaningless (is it all merely an empty rebel stance?).

I really do think there is a political message behind these lyrics and have attempted to explain it all based on Aimee Allen's very public--and on the record--support of Ron Paul and his brand of libertarianism. And I do think that whatever a band is singing about is relevant. (If a band--and I'm NOT referring to The Interrupters at all here--is spouting some racist, homophobic, or misogynistic crap, it doesn't matter how good their music is--you can't dismiss it; there are instances when you can't divorce the message from the music.)

And if you're going to declare that your band is influenced by 2 Tone, you are associating your band with acts that had pretty specific political messages--and, based on these lyrics, I don't think The Interrupters necessarily share those ideals. They're certainly not singing about them.

In the end, this is just my take on it all. If you don't agree with me, that's fine. I'm not calling for a boycott of this record or anything like that. I just think that it's important for people to think about what they're buying into (knowingly or not) if/when they support a band and its message/politics...

Steve

Matt Wixson said...

It really seems like you started at “Ron Paul supporter” and proceeded to build a case against them with anything you could find. And all while using 2-Tone as some well-defined movement of thought instead of what it was: punked up covers of Jamaican dance music. If you were really doing an objective piece and examining how “true to the 2-Tone movement” this band is, you would compare their lyrics about, say, the idea of a police state to a similar song from the Selecter or something. If the Interrupters say “We’re afraid of the cops” and you claim that to be anti-2-Tone, then you need to produce some canonical lyric that says “the police are nothing to be afraid of”. You can’t just make the ignorant leap from Ron Paul supporters to Tea Partiers and then use that to color your interpretation of every lyric you pull out of their songs.

How about a game. It’s called “What might this person have meant if they were a right wing extremist?” We take a quote from a song and then extrapolate a meaning based on our predetermined assumption that the person who wrote it is a Tea Party supporter.

Round one:
I'm living in a world where I don't really fit
Every day walking through the same old shit
I'm gonna get my gun, gonna get prepared
I'm not impressed and I'm not scared
Don't let the bastards grind you down

Shit. This is like Waco, man! This is that anti-government rancher who didn’t want to pay taxes!

Round two:
Well I'm running police on my back
I've been hiding police on my back
There was a shooting police on my back
And the victim well he won’t come back

Come on! Everyone knows that only the paranoid subscribers to Sarah Palin’s television station think the government men are after them. Get out of here, you lunatic!

BONUS ROUND:
[Any song about burning or mashing down Babylon]

Well, I don’t think I need to say any more.

Steve from Moon said...

Matt,

First of all, 2 Tone was very political--and it's not just me saying that. Have you read the two books that I linked to in my post? Secondly, they were singing about things that were ACTUALLY HAPPENING to them and their peers (high unemployment, racial violence, police harassment of non-white people, deep cuts to social services, etc.) during a very turbulent time in British history. And I do compare/contrast some of the 2 Tone songs with The Interrupters'. Go back and re-read the post.

Aimee Allen is a well-documented supporter of Ron Paul. Her album is filled with a lot of paranoid, anti-big government lyrics and incorporate a lot of common themes that many--though not all--libertarians and Tea Party types use. It's not that big a leap of logic to assume that there is a big libertarian message in this album. Why does that upset you so much? What's YOUR opinion of what the album is about?

"Police on My Back" was originally written by Eddy Grant when he was in The Equals--and as a black man in the UK in the late 60s, this song, no doubt, was written from his first-hand or his peers' experience with the police.

The Toasters' "Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down" can be read as song about how oppressive the capitalist system is on people who are on the bottom rungs of society (and historically, the police have been used to suppress anyone who challenges the status quo). Bucket's on the record as being a socialist...

And all the reggae songs about mashing down Babylon reflect historical enslavement and the continued oppression of Jamaican/black people (hell, the Rastafarians were outcasts in black Jamaican society for years!).

All of these songs have a context to them that explains why the songwriters wrote them and what their message is. I know what they mean. Why is it so wrong if I try to do the same for The Interrupters' songs? What exactly are they singing about?

Steve

Matt Wixson said...

"All of these songs have a context to them that explains why the songwriters wrote them and what their message is. I know what they mean. Why is it so wrong if I try to do the same for The Interrupters' songs? What exactly are they singing about?"

Brother, it would be fantastic if you actually tried to know. You actually apparently did your research on the other songs. You could write off the Specials as being soft on racism for working with Elvis Costello, who may have possibly been a serious racist at the time. You could call the Clash poseurs trying to cash in on a rebellious fad by appropriating the stylings of noted gun nut and George Bush supporter, Joey Ramone. But you know the actual motivations behind some of these songs. Why not actually do it for this band? Why not actually look into it, instead of this flimsy character assassination piece?

This is Fox News-level bullshit right here. Is Obama a radical Muslim? Well, what do you think of when you hear the name HUSSEIN?! Sure, Saddam Hussein wasn't a radical Muslim himself, but doesn't Obama's middle name just FEEL incriminating? Doesn't supporting Ron Paul just FEEL like this band is a bunch of right-wing wackos?

It's certainly easier to feel things than to prove them. And hell, our tent was too big anyway and someone's gotta go.

Chuck Wren / Jump Up said...

Regardless on how you slice it politically, this record is just plain awful. The best part is that the pain lasts only 28 minutes. I special ordered the LP at a local store so I could give it a spin on the radio...you know, support the music. But after playing "Judge Not" and "Family" on the show it's time to retire the album solely on musical merits. All hype (how many Tweets did Tim Armstrong send out?) little to no substance.

Steve from Moon said...

Matt,

I find it fascinating that you never respond to any of my direct questions to you. It speaks volumes.

And I cite plenty of examples to back up my thoughts about The Interrupters and the politics of their songs. You may not agree with my conclusions, but I didn't make things up. Why don't you pick apart my piece using facts that prove me wrong instead of blowing all this smoke?

To set the record straight, The Clash were actually much more influenced by the Sex Pistols than The Ramones (in multiple interviews over the years, both Mick Jones and Joe Strummer cite seeing the Sex Pistols perform as the reason they started The Clash). Also, it was Johnny Ramone who was the conservative in The Ramones who loved Ronald Reagan (though that didn't stop The Ramones from recording "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" (look it up--it's about when Reagan laid a wreath at a German WWII cemetery that contained the graves of members of the SS).

Yes, years ago Elvis Costello said some terrible racist things about James Brown and Ray Charles. He was drunk and was trying to needle members of the Stephen Stills band (whom he viewed as the enemy). This, of course, doesn't excuse his comments and he has apologized publicly for it. And he has been active in my anti-racist causes before and after the incident (including many Rock Against Racism rallies) and throughout his career has collaborated with musicians of all colors.

Steve

Matt Wixson said...

I'm not responding to your questions for good reason. It's your argument to make, not mine. I haven't done the research any more than you have (except, well, I apparently know more about American politics) and it isn't my wish to do that. I'm not trying to make an argument about the specific content of a stranger's character. You are. And you are doing a terrible job at it. That's my point.

I was hoping the Sex Pistols would be brought into the discussion so I could ask these questions:
1.) Is anarchism allowed in punk music, or is that also not allowed in your music scene?
2.) If so, isn't it quite possible that the Interrupters are singing from an anarchist perspective?

Steve from Moon said...

Matt,

I've made my case, so if you think I'm wrong, take it apart point by point. You haven't really made any argument beyond that you think I'm wrong, but then don't back it up.

Clearly, I've upset you by suggesting that the libertarian political path may not be the best way for our country to go and while I haven't claimed to be an expert on libertarianism, I know enough to see some of it echoed in The Interrupters' lyrics. Please tell me where you think I'm wrong about my statements regarding libertarianism in this post. (Interesting side note, a very recent Pew study found that even Libertarians are a bit unclear as to what its political agenda/philosophy entails: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/25/in-search-of-libertarians/.)

Aimee Allen made her own, very public political statements. I didn't put any words in her mouth. And then I quote her lyrics on an album released to the general public. Aimee Allen hasn't stated that she's an anarchist, so why should I assume that this is the message in her songs?

I never stated that The Interrupters should be somehow excluded from the ska scene (you jumped to that conclusion; but even if I did, I'm just a ska blogger--I don't have the power to make it happen). I said to be cognizant of the message of their lyrics. If you agree with it (or don't really care about it all), have at it. If you don't, then maybe you don't want to support the band.

Steve

Matt Wixson said...

Aimee Allen hasn't stated she's an anarchist? She also hasn't stated that she's a right-winger or a Tea Party supporter, but you had no problem attaching those labels to her band's music. Fact or fiction?

I don't really care to argue this. You're getting desperate. I regret ever paying this much attention to a blog about ska music. I'm sorry for holding you to standards you didn't expect to hold yourself to. But you took a pretty hard stance against a different-thinking-yet-totally-benign band and backed it up with misunderstanding, misinformation, and a biased opinion. Now... standing up for strangers against a willfully ignorant bully? That's the spirit of 2-Tone.

Steve from Moon said...

Matt,

I didn't say that they were members of the Tea Party--my friend Matt called them "Tea Tone." (While not accurate, I find it kind of funny.) And some libertarian positions do crossover into right wing or left wing political thought. Aimee Allen isn't singing about legalizing pot or ensuring equal rights for gay Americans (two things that I'm all for--but approach from a very progressive/liberal democrat position).

I don't see how I'm bullying The Interrupters--I've expressed my OPINION about them and what I think their songs are about--but if you think you're the better person for standing up for them, go for it.

Steve

Clashcityrocker said...

As a longtime fan of ska and punk music I find the interrupters like a breath of fresh air in our current stagnant music scene..angry,young and great musicians and I don,t care for any of the political correctness crap.

Anonymous said...

"CLASHCityRocker"+Not caring about P.C crap and just liking a certain "brand" of music as a breath of fresh air=a midfle class suburban GenXer from the late 70s-late 90s, or a 80s loving Millennial who believes things were "better" when late-late Boomers (born early 60s) and GenXers (mid 60s to early mid 80s) were gypsing, living in squats, hitting 'ludes, Black Beauties, Mesc, Dope, etc, and love the music that came out of it (which, from punk-2Tone to Hardcore Punk to Grunge ALL where progressions of the Detroit Scene if the late 60s to late 80s. Remember the MC5 and Kick Out The Jams, members of the White Panther Party who actually WERE targeted by the CIA and FBI, along with their brother group, the Black Panther Party, and have 2 Federal Judgements within their favor to prove it?). Of course not. Those from the suburbs, born 60s- mid 80s haven't a clue what was going on outside their zip codes of 10-20000 people, and Millennials, well, to me, in comparison to a time long ago, anyone born after 83 is of little or no use to ANY form of Socialism. Another mathmatical equation, Supporting Ron Paul and/or AMERICAN Libertarianism (as, in the rest of the world, it means anarchist-communism. Search Galleanisti)+Suggesting your not Right Wing=More degenerate than Screwdriver who never hid from the public what side of the bird they laid their flea eggs. Then again, their dignity also didn't make them much money, and when the tax man is taking so much, you may not have much left, as like it or not, most Rockers, as well as people, are ideologically Communist whether they hold the education or not to know it

Todd F said...

This lame twats opinion ( duff guide to ska ) is exactly why I washed my hands of ska and skinhead reggae ,the leftist crybaby attitude , the something for nothing crowd , the lazy ass sitting class and the just plain dumb , I refuse to befriend anymore. Let's get some facts straight.First off, The SPLC is just like the cunts in antifa, they have stared so long into the abyss that they have become what they hate, everything that is right of communism is fascism to them, I won't waste more time in stating how much shit the SPLC is full of. Secondly, Nelson Mandela was a communist prick and his wife a cowardly , murdering bitch , there. Rest in hell alongside Che , Nelson. .
Third , the owner of this blog does not know jack about reality , you're just another bleating sheep waiting to be turned into sausage. Libertarianism is the ONLY viable political ideal there is , period and Fuck "the collective" , keep your commie shit to yourself.
Quite sincerely, Todd Fries Fresno City Skinheads

Anonymous said...

Members have stated that Aimee never claimed to be a part of the Tea Party and even stated that they have voted for Obama twice. I'm quite liberal and find some solace in their lyrics because I feel it's a pretty general feeling in the punk scene.

Overall, the Interrupters are not a right-wing band. They even spoken out about this. They said their songs are pretty much universal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article. I had just begun listening to the Interrupters and notice these exact issues with their lyrics. Since they had a lot of Tim Armstrong's backing I assumed the best since Tim and Rancid's politics in my eyes have been solid. Clearly paranoid, anti tax (tea party) sentiment which is always worrisome in a democracy were we are trying to eliminate (I hope) a have an have not society but I live in Canada where like in Europe we aren't afraid of a social safety net. Ironically, had her previous support for Ron Paul ever assisted his rise to power we would see much of these misguided views come into place. Ron Paul has in the past and probably still quietly supports segregation and would have likely moved to privatizing libraries, fire departments and jails (again) and of course continue to work against a national health care system which is still insane that the USA spends more on defense then the health of its peoples.

The response from the band was good to see, however saying you don't take a political position is non-sense. Many of their members clearly do, so own them. How right wing this band is, is hard to say. Keep in mind that Aimee is a former victim of assault and suffers from PTSD which usually creates a great deal of paranoia and confusion afterwards. That being said, like Kevin Bivona's response touched on, some of Aimee's interviews are from 2008 and may have changed. Until we hear from her on that directly with a clear position, i'm not convinced. I can get the easy ability for conspiracy theorists to follow the tea party and the likes. Aimee has interviewed many times with Alex Jones which is completely messed up.

I do like the article acknowledgment of years of the rocksteady and ska movement steadfast support for the most part of social justice. That's what got me into punk/ska in the first place.
Hopefully the Interrupters are moving away from these right wing ideals and conspiracy theories because I like the band. I just don't see evidence yet of it other than at least they do state that they are not a right wing band, which is weird because they have some pretty right wing lyrics.

just can't support them to they clean up their politics.

thanks for the article.