Activist Rockers "Outernational" Talk About Their New Political Album "We Are All Illegals"
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That’s kind of the question. If there’s one thing to talk about, it would be that. To pull the lens back, the way I see it, the way the world is right now is completely unnecessary. In the sense of like, the production relations of reproducing the basic necessities and requirements for human life and human sustenance, they exist. It’s not like the 1600s with basic cures for diseases. There’s tremendous productive capacity to feed everyone, to clothe everyone, and yet you have this disparity in terms of distribution of things in the world. So when I say no borders, for example, that comes in my song, “Fighting Song,” I’m trying to imagine... no divisions between countries. Obviously we’re not trying to say obliterate oppressed nations. For example, we were on the reservation the other night and we did “Fighting Song,” I had to give a little disclaimer and I’m completely sad that we have to do disclaimers, but I still had to give a disclaimer where I said, “Hey, there’s a part in this song where I scream out, ‘No nations! No nations!’” and I’m sitting here on a Native American nation, and it had to be very clear so that they could appreciate it. I don’t mean let’s get rid of your nation, or other oppressed nations. We’re trying to sing about a world where people actually aren’t separated into different nations or My People or Your People.
There’s always this talk, Oh there’s no political musicians, which is complete BS and I always think all music inherently is somewhat political because it’s a reflection of society. But I wonder, when you’re distilling these big ideas, social and philosophical ideas into music, are you thinking about, because your music is very accessible, your ideas are accessible through that. Are you thinking about the best way to communicate with people?
I agree with you that all art is political. You can just, you know, when people say, That’s a political band, I know what they mean and I don’t beef over that, but it’s not the way I like to think about it because all art is political in the sense of politics is the lifeblood of society. If you can see the way it might challenge someone to see or to think or even how you perceive in different social contexts, it can have tremendous implications.
You talk about Occupy pretty early in Todo Somos Ilegales. Obviously Occupy has had an element of indigenous and border liberationist movements, but I wonder if you’ve had anything thoughts on how it’s come together. I know you’ve performed there.
Yeah. We were actually in the midst of the most intense part of making Todos Somos Ilegales right when Occupy kicked off on September 17 on Wall Street. And so, I was up there a lot in the first week. Then we performed at the one in LA and a couple other cities. Occupy was refreshing and at the same time broke the ice and was breaking the freeze over of Americans and a lot of young and the fact that it has a defiance that is hard-wired. I thought that that was really inspiring and it was a lot of defiance.
I would say there was a lot of limitations and there was a lot of also sort of too much Americanism in the Occupy Movement. It was a start for a lot of people that it woke up a lot of people.
Lastly, do you feel optimistic? Your album seems that way. I am optimistic in the sense that I feel like people can be confronted with reality and people can be transformed. People can transform themselves and people can transform other people and based on that can transform the world. One of the problems we have right now, though, is that you have whole generations of people who have been taught not only through the schools but even a lot through a liberal thinking and left politics that real revolutionary, radical solutions are beyond the pale. The best we can do is tinker around the fucking fringes of the system. Non-profits and NGOs, many of whom are people trying to do very good things. How many sincere people I’ve met who become doctor or how many sincere people I’ve met who become lawyers or how many sincere people I’ve met who become teachers because they want to help people but they get fucking confined because the monsters are so much bigger. I’m just trying, we’re trying, there’s five of us here, we’re trying to fucking crack that egg open. By the egg, I don’t mean people but that bubble. That safety zone. If you live in America, you live in the projects with no money, you still got two words that half the planet doesn’t have: Clean water. Even the most depressed people, living in this country, it’s like living on the top of the trash heap of humanity. So we’re really trying to get people to stop thinking like Americans.