Music & Politics


When I was some 13 years old I discovered something that would change my life forever – Rock Music. I was immediately attracted to the guitar riffs, angst driven drumming, high pitched male vocalists, as well as the skulls on the cassette covers.

The indoctrination system soon caught up with us. They got worried about us kids listening to subtle and not so subtle Satanic messages, corrupting our fragile souls. From school we were taken to seminars to see what danger we were being exposed to. They exposed us to bands like Deicide (kill god) and I was amazed – at the guts it takes to name a band like that, as well as that of exposing such sheer lack of talent and making good money out of it. Then came Cannibal Corpse and Rotting Christ. I read their lyrics and laughed. I was just 14, but the childishness in their lyrics was too explicit. The only value these crappy bands had was the hysteria they managed to rouse in the hierarchies of the indoctrination machine.

But these are the obvious ones aren’t they? Because the most evil did not make their message that explicit. It was hidden, very subtle, yet it creeps into your mind, damaging it. You will never be the same. Led Zeppelin. I heard Stairway to Heaven the first time during one of these seminars. I didn’t really care about the ‘covert Satanic message’ cause it was the most beautiful music I had ever heard in my life.. I’ve heard the song a million times, including hearing it in reverse. The story goes that it is only when you hear the song in reverse you will hear the words ‘Sweet Satan’. Strictly speaking it’s true, you can actually hear something similar to those words, only if you had the technology necessary to listen to it in reverse. The scientifically disproven myth is that even if you hear it properly, these messages enter into your unconscious and transform you into a monster. I listened to the song a million times and the only change it made was urging me to start playing guitar, which I still do. And I don’t regret a single moment of it.

Years later, while I was at University, I thought that this crap was over. The indoctrinators must have realised they ridiculous ways only backfired, or so I thought. I was wrong. Marilyn Manson came and the self-righteous holy teachers were in a frenzy again. Thankfully they didn’t insult my intelligence by telling me about the horror of this man possessed by Satan. I was a University student. However my brother is 8 years younger than me. In fact at home we received a three-page leaflet dedicated to the ‘Anti-Christ Superstar’. I laughed. So did my parents after I calmed them down and explained to them the whole picture. Unlike what we did with Led Zeppelin neither me nor my brother listened a lot to Manson. Not because he was too ‘Satanic’ for us but because most of his music is utterly crap. In fact, I wondered where the man would be hadn’t it been for the Catholic church.

I had also discovered Rage Against The Machine and The Clash. Unlike the others mentioned these band’s lyrics did affect me. They introduced me to socialism, as did my sociology lecturers a couple of years later. I’m still a socialist today. In fact, I believe that from the establishment’s point of view, these bands are much more ‘dangerous’. They don’t ask you to worship Satan but to question authority. To seek for the truth and not remain a gullible puppet. Which is what some of us did, and the establishment lashed back, once again with censorship and character assassination. Once again they failed.

Ironically, rather than look at the past and laugh at all this folly, they are doing the same errors today, by censoring drama, prose, and even by dressing up mannequins. Worse still people are being criminally prosecuted as well as completely unjust labels of being sexist or racist when it is more than clear that it is not the case. All at a time where real sexist, homophobic and racist messages are being completely accepted. Only as long as they are transmitted to mainstream media.

Once again my passion music has met my passion for pro-environmental, anti-racist left wing politics, this time from a Maltese Anarcho/Punk band.

Subculture started out in Sept 2001 and is still alive and kicking, soon releasing their 4th CD ‘Revolt’. The main brain behind the band is Ray ‘il-Bahri’ Schembri, a friend of mine who literally lives for the music and his ideals.

Their first CD released was ‘From the Garage to the Streets’ where each song dealt with a political issue from racism, to globalisation, to animal rights. The music is Punk, fast and urgent, yet very melodic.

Though the band focused on different political issues, the theme they deal with most is animal rights, teaming up with Kenneth Cassar one of the most outspoken animal rights activists in Malta. Their third CD ‘Resist the Abuse’ dealt only with this issue and from the funds raised, in their typical original ways they produced a short ‘cartoon’ creating awareness, aiming for a 6-7 year old audience. The characters are simple and the basic idea is that animals have feelings like humans.

Subculture also performed in various pro-environmental, left wing, 1st May and anti-racist rallies, and also for a charity raising funds for children in institutes.

Learn more about the band and listen to their music on

www.myspace.com/subculturemt

Hope to see you on Saturday 20th September for the launching of ‘Revolt’

If there is something in my teens I remember very vividly is my excessive love for Punk Rock. It was everything for me. My interest in leftist and green politics had already initiated, however back in those days, hairstyle and dress code were more important than beliefs.

Later, during my early 20’s this passion started to fade away slowly, though I still loved the music. However, lyrics and real attitude started to become important. Political activism and music were both priorities in my life, and the combination of them still gets my adrenaline flowing. And if there are a group of people who can blend perfectly both things are definitely the band The Clash, especially the late front man Joe Strummer.

Apart from a great musician, Strummer was an idealist. A man who believed in a better world. Yet, what he believed in was nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple way of life. The problem with this world was (is) that ‘we’ve become dehumanised, all we need to do is put back the humanity in’. What he asked for is extremely simple, yet we seem to find it impossible. However, as he also stated ‘If we really want, we can change anything, literally anything’. Another thing I really believe in. Ok I’m a dreamer, but it does not mean I’m dumb. I can’t change the world, and I know it, however the eagerness and urgency to bring about change keeps my fire alight, even it means going against the stream.

It’s not an insignificant utopia. People have changed things, for better or for worse. Movements such as feminists, LGBT, human rights activists, and others have brought significant changes. If, in a Western context I say women should not be allowed to vote I’d be considered insane, yet not too long ago, I would have been considered as such if I said women should. We don’t ‘hide’ people with a disability anymore, more gays and lesbians are coming out, and a couple of war criminals are facing trials. The way forward, is still hard and long. However, courageous women and men stood out, demanded change and up to a certain extent brought it.

Back to The Clash. Some things they said during their career in the late 70’s and early 80’s was even subject to ridicule. These things are now the norm. Back in those days climate change was not an issue. It was mentioned by people considered as brainless hippies who got paranoid with excessive use of LSD. Yet, in the late 70’s The Clash wrote nearly prophetic words regarding this issue, in their song London Calling:

The ice age is coming

The sun zooming in

Meltdown expected

The wheat is growing thin

No one connected with such lyrics (the verse I wrote here just gives a glimpse of what they were talking about) back in those days and it needed courage to say them. Now, three decades later we are not saying it, unfortunately we are experiencing it. Maybe if more people took bands like The Clash together with other progressive forces such as some scientists and green activists, we will not find ourselves in the mess we’re in.

Strummer’s lifestyle also showed what kind of person he was. He didn’t just write lyrics and sing them. During the early teens his family was kicked out by the landlord because he kept bringing tramps to wash, eat and sleep in his house. As soon as The Clash became significant in the music scene they created the first Rock Against Racism concerts in areas where racism was rampant. Strummer also supported Trade Union movements by attending rallies, sometimes even organising them. His fame made them more attractive and the sense of urgency was visibly alarming.

I could keep on talking about this band for hours, but that would be quite boring I assume. If this has roused your interest follow these links or pass a comment or question on this blog.

Just a little idea of what The Clash are about: Know Your Rights and Career Opportunities