“Now is really the time for people to speak their mind,” says Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney. “It’s a shocking difference to go from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. I hope younger musicians are inspired to get involved with politics.”
At the onset of every wave of political strife, musicians worldwide have responded. The waves of punk music, particularly those of bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Le Tigre, and Sleater-Kinney, have always responded to the infractions of civil liberties that politicians can create. The early millennium ushered in a wave of anti-establishment feminism in music with riot grrrl bands, and after attendance of the Women’s March greatly outnumbered that of the inauguration, the Trump administration’s recent practices of bigotry and sexism could be a preamble to a new wave in punk music that stems from the women’s movement.
“Now is the time to step out and say, ‘This is what I believe in. This is what I’m about,’” Tucker tells BUST. “Step out and put yourself on the line for this. Most musicians have that kind of values system.”
From songs like “George Bush Is A Pig” by Bikini Kill’s Billy Karren, to lyrics like “Giulianni/the fucking jerk/shut down all the strip bars/workfare does not work” in Le Tigre’s “My My Metrocard,' punk music, continually led by female bands, has stood up to political norms throughout history. Today we look back at Mayor Giuliani’s work in Manhattan and other areas of New York as a distant memory, and George Bush’s war efforts in Iraq, however misguided, are almost met with a sigh of nostalgic remembrance, when held in juxtaposition with the fearful-inducing idealism of the new administration. With protests happening almost daily across the country, and particularly in the President’s native New York, punk bands have been on the rise in their response to the new administration’s policies.
Pussy Riot, the Russian punk rock group, released their own protest song and video to match called 'Make America Great Again,' in which, under the new administration, women are augmented and controlled under Trump’s warped standards. At a recent concert, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong started the chant, “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA,” to a crowd of roaring fans. The new punk movement has a muse, whether he knows it or not. Crocheted pink caps and the thousands of women marching on Washington are an impressive and important introduction to a resisting movement, but musicians have an even greater ability to bring those sentiments to every earbud and dorm room speaker of every schoolgirl, office worker, radio listener, and mom stuck in traffic in the nation.
While younger bands are rising to the cause of fighting against the new administration, Tucker sees the future in the younger generation that’s witnessing this. “Young women absolutely need to work together to find their voice. Really understand that these ideas they’ve gotten about women’s roles and their bodies are not normal or acceptable,” says Tucker. “Music is important, but some of those women are going to have to go to law school. Some are going to have to run for political office and more are going to have to start organizing active work and create a force for change.”
Top photo: Facebook/Corin Tucker
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Tim Latterner is a writer and editor living in New York. He is the leading expert on pizza folding strategies, expert on all things Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, and runner-up of the 2013 Jonathan Safran Foer Lookalike Contest. He's a nice guy, you should get to know him. See what he's up to on Instagram at @timlatterner.