By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Dennis Lyxzen, vocalist for Sweden's anti- capitalist soul-punks the (International) Noise Conspiracy, speaks highly of recent records by Bruce Springsteen and rappers the Coup, but he'd still like to see more young rockers venture into political discourse. "It's weird to see all these new bands talking about how they love the MC5," he says. "The MC5 were part of the White Panther Party, a really radical, revolutionary group, but no one mentions that; it's more about the guitar solos. I like the guitar solos, too, and I don't expect everyone who plays in a band to be outspoken about politics, or to be well-read on the economic structures of the world. But when you have a case like George Bush, you need to say something. 'We oppose the war in Iraq,' or 'We oppose a war on civilians' — you don't need to be a professor of sociology to say that."
"I THINK THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A GREATER need for voices of dissent to be raised, and for thought-provoking questions to be asked," says Morello, "whether it's in the classroom, or the workplace, or on the turntable." Or perhaps even on the awards-show circuit: Sheryl Crow, who's never exactly been rock's answer to Rosa Luxembourg, appeared at the recent American Music Awards in a T-shirt reading "War Is Not the Answer." It was a simple gesture, but a gutsy and refreshing one, coming from an artist of her mainstream stature.
Hopefully, some of Crow's peers will follow her lead; maybe a few more multiplatinum pop stars will ask the questions that beg to be addressed, loudly and publicly, instead of quietly crossing their fingers and hoping for the best. Get your licks in now, folks; you never know when the First Amendment might be suspended "in the interests of national security."
"See, it isn't Hitler you've gotta hate; that's not who you've gotta watch out for," Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister told me last year, when asked about "Brave New World," a searing track from 2002's Hammered that takes issue with the Bush administration's use of fear to manipulate the electorate. "We have to watch out for the people who did it for Hitler, without any questions asked; the normal people who were afraid to speak up and lose their jobs. Those are the people you have to watch out for, and the world's always been full of them."
As our planet teeters on the brink of annihilation, millions of us turn to music for solace, for the strength to face down our demons and for proof that we're not alone in the universe. Will our artists rise to the challenge, speak out and give us the courage to do the same? Or will they simply stand in mute witness to the madness of King George?