THE HARD R: GOD FORBID’S DALLAS COYLE ON THE ROLE OF POLITICS IN MUSIC
Music vs. Politics
The last blog about the writing of IV: Constitution Of Treason received so much feedback and it blew my mind for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons was the hilarity of most of the responses. The blog was more about song writing and how our last record was written but when I was looking at the responses I realized that a LOT of people were taking issue with the events that shaped the record. Most people took a songwriting column and turned it into politics.
I got a lot of, “I can’t believe you call your fans stupid because they voted for George Bush!” First of all, I didn’t call any of our fans stupid. This was a feeling I had about America as a whole, not one person specifically. Secondly, these events SHAPED our record in my eyes so how is there any possible way for me to separate these events from the writing of the record? How is there any possible way that I was able to separate the “politics” from the “music”?
In the nature of that last blog it was impossible to separate the two which got me to thinking (again). God Forbid as a whole endorses Barack Obama for president. I don’t know if we are big enough to actually “endorse” him but as a band we all like him and have voted for him. We send out videos or bulletins from our Myspace that show some things he’s doing or we might send out some Hillary Clinton tomfoolery to turn people off of her. Lately, people have been outraged. Some say we shouldn’t mix music and politics. Some say we should keep them separated. Well, I have to disagree to a point. While I can agree that music and politics shouldn’t be the same thing, I think it’s impossible for our band to separate the two completely. We don’t sing about women breaking up with us.
I was surprised by the e-mails because our last record cover is the statue of liberty with her arm broken off. That’s pretty in your face. Obviously the people who e-mailed us knew that? Wait a minute… Do you think they bought our record? Are they true supporters of the band? I didn’t think so. I got into the idea that if we had an opinion about something whether it be politics, dancing or American Idol, a real fan of our band wouldn’t stop listening to us because of an opinion. Some of these people were literally saying they didn’t know if they should listen to us anymore because they didn’t like being called stupid. One guy actually sent a long e-mail about how our record sales were hurting because of the bulletins I was sending out.
Do you think Roger Waters or Bruce Springsteen’s sales are hurting because they support a politician or two? My answer is, ‘who gives a shit!’ If selling records was the real reason we did music we wouldn’t be playing the music we are playing. Metal doesn’t sell big. I’m not sure if it ever will but that wasn’t the point. Perspective is very important in life. I’ve been learning this a lot lately. Our band has always been about getting people to think for themselves. We want people to tell us to fuck off if they don’t like what we say. Our music is made for that purpose.
Last week’s blog turned into a political debate. It made me happy because amongst the predictable “Fuck off, God Forbid sucks” comments, I saw a real debate going on between a lot of smart people. People are starting to see the BS that is fucking our society. It’s not one thing. It’s a wide array of problems that are out there. The only thing that I can do is use the voice that I have. I wish I could do more. I think Constitution is a good record because it’s a statement. That’s all we know how to do. That’s our unique talent. Every one out there has their own unique talent to help change things. Not everything. Just something.
For the record, I say a lot of stupid shit. I’m trying my best to think more about what I say. But I do know this: you can’t be everyone’s friend. The world hasn’t worked that way for me. I want more people to speak up about what’s bothering them because a voice of dissent can turn into a crowd.
Right now Obama is getting a LOT of shit. He’s not the cool kid on the block anymore. Before he was being excoriated I would send out bulletins and I didn’t get any wild e-mails. But now that he’s not cool to like in some circles, the e-mails keep coming. Your true values become apparent when what you represent isn’t cool. Most people jump ship when that happens. I don’t.
That’s why GF fans are the best in the world. We’ve never been the ‘cool’ band but we’ve always done well. People who listen to us are going against the grain. We’re all about that. We’ve never really fit in and we’ve kind of forced our way into every scene we’ve been a part of. Once we’re there we’re pretty welcome and I’m grateful for that. I hope we can keep pushing for a long time!