This week, I had a call from Steve Knopper, a writer doing a story for Billboard, about how musicians may look at their responsibility to call attention to the political anomalies around Trump and Trumpism. I'll share that with you when it's published next week. Usually when people ask me if I'm involved in the music business any longer I just say “no” or, if I'm feeling garrulous, “no, thank God.” In fact when Steve asked me a question for a post-Nirvana period book he's writing, all I could do was offer to talk about how in 1994, the midterm election after Bill Clinton's first victory, saw a loss of 54 Democratic House seats and the rise of Newt Gingrich… but that my mind was blank about anything to do with music of the period other than how we had a huge success with Candlebox in that period. He didn't seem interested in hearing that Ted Strickland, Jack Brooks, Dan Rostenkowski, Maria Cantwell, Jay Inslee, Speaker Tom Foley and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky all lost their seats that year. Alas, who would be? That said, just hours later I got three music-related e-mails.
The first came from the producer of a film, Pitching Tents who is locking down the score and trailer and is eager to use a song my own little company publishes, “Teenage Underground” by the Red Rockers. Here listen:
I should have told Steve Knopper to call them about how singers and songwriters are going to react to Trump. You can probably guess how the Red Rockers would react. They also recorded Guns of Revolution, the song that persuaded me to sign them to my little indie label, and Dead Heroes. I did mention Bodycount to Steve. That was Ice-T's rock band that got into some trouble for their song, “Cop Killer.” I was the executive producer. It's a little harsh but listen:
Why bring that up? That was the second e-mail. It was from a sociology professor at Cal State Long Beach telling me one of her students asked her to invite me to speak to her class about censorship. I'm going to.
The third e-mail was from Johnny Strike, who I haven't been in contact with in a couple of decades. He was one of the singer/guitar players in San Francisco's legendary punk rock pioneers, Crime. Crime was mostly Johnny plus Frankie Fix who I believe died about 20 years ago. But there were a delightful cast of characters over the years I lived in San Francisco who came and went from Crime and two of them– Hank Rank and Joey D'Kaye– are, according to Johnny's e-mail joining him in a new recording project, Naked Beast. LP out in 2017. I can't wait. Meanwhile, I didn't even realize that Johnny Strike is an author and has a new book out, Name of the Stranger. He described the new music as “Crimey but also experimental.” Want to hear what “Crimey” sounds like? This is Crime's classic first single, “Hot Wire My Heart” b/w “Baby You're So Repulsive” from late 1976. This is what I used to play on my radio show:
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis