The “Take Back the Future” tour of Street Eaters and forgetters came through Olympia, WA on Monday, January 31st, 2011. Megan and Johnny were nice enough to record these monologue-style interviews…
Street Eaters are the kind of people you’re glad to meet. They’re sincere, energetic, and awesome. Tirelessly touring, playing in tons of bands, and while angry about plenty of important things, they come across as super hopeful and positive people. I dig it. Better yet, their music rules. It hits you well enough… a kind of low-fi pop.. but then it kinda grows over your brain and you hear more each time you listen. Smart, powerful, raw and uncompromising. Go check out more about them and their music at their website: http://streeteaters.com/
John Mink the other half of Street Eaters, is a prolific musician and misfit. He’s co-founder of the S.P.A.M. Records Collective and Geekfest, as well as a member of Fleshies, Triclops! and Street Eaters. Known by most as Johnny Geek, his sincere, straight-forward and political voice resonates with or without musical accompaniment.
Hi, this is John from Street Eaters. I’ve also been in some other bands, as well: Fleshies being one of them, Triclops being another one. I’ve been involved in a lot of different DIY and underground and musical activities. But that’s not really what I feel like talking about today. I was just thinking about how politics can factor into rock and what we define politics as and how we can really make them work in a context where we’re just trying to make art and do something where people can deliver themselves from the mundanities of the every day.
I guess this is a question that’s been asked for a few different generations, and so it’s not really a new thing. It’s probably been covered from all sorts different bases by all sorts of different people. I do however think it is something that needs to be brought up again. And I think it needs to be thought of in a modern context in the sense that perhaps we should realize we are in an era where things are very difficult. We are fighting two wars that are seemingly without end. We have an economic situation in the United States that does not necessarily look like we’re going to recover the in the same way we have in the past. Where globalization and its forces have created complications for people that don’t seemingly have an easy out or an easy solution.
A lot of art, as in the past when things have been difficult in more intractable ways, a lot of art has gone the way of distraction. There are a lot of people who are playing a lot of music about the beach or, you know, pizza. Or really light songs about love. Maybe they’re doing videos of them on exercise equipment or something. Something that helps distract the mind from the kinds of things that we don’t necessarily what to have to face on a day to day basis. I think that it almost makes it more important at this point when things are so bad, to occasionally remind people through art and music that there are things happening. And there are specific reasons for them and there are specific things that can be done to try to make things better. And there is some degree of hope. And that Hope doesn’t just lie in escapism. And that Hope doesn’t necessarily just lie in sloganeering either. But by telling stories from people’s perspectives, from different perspectives, from different types of people, and people coming from different places in Life. From all different walks and from all different types of people. I think that those stories and those perspectives can generate a more powerful reaction and possibly motivate people toward action that they might not otherwise do.
Trying to come into more specific contexts of how this has worked in the past, obviously with punk rock there was a powerful amount of protest music that was made in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Especially coming from England with all the Crass Records bands and bands of that ilk that had a very staunchly anti-imperialist stance and were very open about it in their music and their lyrics and often chastised for that and made fun of… which is fine because some times the polemic can be almost overwhelming and can just be reduced down to sloganeering. And it can be ridiculous. It can be ridiculous in the case of bands like Rage Against the Machine where you have a band that’s playing a Tibetan freedom concert with Maoist stars all over their equipment just because they’re using Revolution and sloganeering as a marketing too
But we have to think about the way that we do things by the way we produce art and the way we produce music and the way we reproduce it. The way we put it onto non-recycled materials. The way we put our whole… the way we put ourselves out there for people to consume. And we have to think about it in terms of the context within Consumerism. We have to think about it terms of the context within a global economy and within globalization. And we should think about the hard things. People should be writing songs about War now. And they shouldn’t just be burying their heads in the sand and pretending they don’t exist Or they’re not happening. Or that this isn’t the area to deal with it. We need more people to write more songs about the things that make them angry… that make them feel less hope.. So that they can maybe generate a means to create community and create a sense of togetherness with others that feel the same feelings so that there can be generated some form of hope. So we can try to go somewhere else in Life. I feel that art has traditionally been a place for that and that music is one of the best vehicles for it.
I’m not sure whether I’ve really said anything that other people haven’t said better, but if it maybe makes one or two bands maybe rethink just writing an Indie rock jingle about the beach and maybe think about maybe at least addressing the topic of War or economic sadness among people. And definitely other things too. Like the inequality of women in our society and around the world. About racism and all the issues that we deal with.
If I can get just one or two songs out of somebody maybe listening to this and thinking about it twice then maybe we’ll go somewhere a little more interesting.
Street Eaters are from Oakland, CA. This interview took place on January 31st, 2011.