British folk-punk Lily Gaskell on music and politics


This music video from England is called Lily Gaskell entertaining guests at Hannah & Rob Blake’s Wedding Party. Brooklands Museum, Saturday 1st August, 2015.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

In tune with the times

Tuesday 10th October 2017

Folk-punk artist LILY GASKELL talks to Felicity Collier about how the changing political landscape impacts on her work

FROM early on in her career, when she played Rock against Racism nights, folk-punk artist Lily Gaskell’s work has been infused with a socialist attitude to music-making.

Along with like-minded people who shared her views to this and other local issues, she developed “a sense of responsibility to stand up for people and share their message,” she tells me.

Lily hails from Thatcher‘s hometown of Stamford and, if further proof were needed that the latter was responsible for millions of children’s misery, the singer tells me that aged 13 she had to clean cobwebs off the iron lady‘s clothes during her work experience at the town’s museum.

“There’s no cleaning that amount of mess off though,” she quips.

When she’s not rollerskating, the professionally trained musician tours around co-operatively run venues such as Bradford’s 1 in 12 club and Sumac in Nottingham.

She performs covers in pubs as a means of income but says that she has had to turn venues down in the past “if their political values are way off mine.”

Music is in Lily’s blood. She grew up in a musical house and both her parents — who still play — were in a band together.

“My dad got me my first electric guitar when I was 11,” she recalls.

“I couldn’t play a single chord until I started going to an after-school group and it quickly became all-consuming.

“I was gigging regularly from the age of 12, playing bass in a few bands. But I didn’t start writing or singing until I was around 14 and became more confident in myself.”

Hugely inspired by songwriter Jeff Buckley, she tried to mimic his intricacy and style. Pearl Jam, Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins have all been influences, along with The Clash, Rancid, Black Flag, Bad Religion and Misfits.

Currently, she draws inspiration from promoters like Loud Women, who encourage all-female line-ups at their gigs.

“It’s very necessary and totally awesome,” she says. “In our patriarchal society women need to reclaim space and feel safe doing so.

“While it’s great to have all-female line-ups, it’s just as much about the people who attend the gigs. The atmosphere and safe space these events create makes it more accessible and in turn will get more women involved in music. Girls to the front!”

And she’s inspired by the changing political landscape. The Tories —“every one of their sentences crawls with lies” — are on their way out, “no doubt,” and she found the June election empowering but emotionally draining.

“It woke up the youth and showed they can make a difference. We showed everyone that the Labour Party is a viable alternative and it was the start of something really significant.

This Lily Gaskell music video says about itself:

18 September 2015

A song for Jeremy Corbyn; adapted from a poem by Ian Everett.

The article continues:

“I helped my parents’ campaign in Skegness, where my dad ran as the Labour Party candidate.

“We drove around in his bright red ‘Corbyn Camper,’ with my Mum doing hilarious Thatcher impressions through a megaphone down Skeggy high street.”

No doubt Lily will make a similarly storming appearance at the London fundraiser for the Morning Star on Saturday. Don’t miss!

Lily Gaskell and rap/spoken-word artist Potent Whisper are appearing at the Constitution pub, 42 St Pancras Way, London NW1 on Saturday October 14. The event starts at 7.30pm and tickets are available from maryado2000@yahoo.co.uk, eventbrite.co.uk or on the door.

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British army recruits child soldiers


This 1978 punk rock music video from England is called FAREWELL TO THE ROXY: The Tickets: [Join The Army,] Get Yourself Killed.

By Alice Summers in Britain:

British Army targets working-class schoolchildren for recruitment

7 August 2017

The British Army recently launched a recruitment campaign that specifically targets working-class youth. Blandly named “This is belonging,” the campaign identifies its main audience as economically deprived young people, including adolescents only 16 years of age.

A briefing document section titled “Target audience” spells out that the army is primarily aiming to recruit 16-24 year olds in the C2DE sociological category. The C2DE category refers to the lowest three economic groupings, which range from skilled manual workers through to unskilled labour and the unemployed. The document specifies that it is chiefly targeting those who come from families with an annual household income of less than £10,000 ($US 13,100), meaning that many of the children targeted live below the poverty line.

Although the campaign is UK-wide, the army document indicates that there are “up-weights” to cities in the North of England and in the West Midlands, such as Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham. Urban centres such as these tend to have high rates of youth unemployment, at 22.8, 19.4 and 22.5 percent respectively, compared to a UK average of 14.4 percent (figures from August 2016).

Speaking to the World Socialist Web Site, Rachel Taylor, director of programmes at Child Soldiers International, condemned the army’s recruitment drive for targeting “the youngest and most vulnerable people for its most dangerous roles. Many children in these towns and cities have grown-up in communities with little economic capital or career opportunities and are easy targets for Army recruiters who are desperate to fill recruitment shortfalls.”

The fact that the armed forces are “preying on communities where unemployment and social deprivation is high … is a brazen, calculated policy to recruit 16- and 17-year-olds who have few options in life for dangerous infantry jobs that others do not want.”

The “This is belonging” campaign uses a series of short video clips showing staged scenes of young soldiers undergoing training or participating in mock combat situations, attempting to present the armed forces as a supportive, family environment. These videos were shown on social media, on television and in cinemas.

The army describes “This is belonging” as “a new inspirational and motivating creative campaign” to convey the message that recruits would be joining “a brotherhood and sisterhood formed of unbreakable bonds which … will accept you for you.”

Labelling these videos as “cleverly engineered propaganda which glamorises army life,” Taylor insisted that “the reality could not be more different.”

“Morale among the armed forces is plummeting. Forty percent of recruits are actively looking for other employment, while issues of bullying and abuse are commonplace, especially for the 24 percent of recruits who sign up under the age of 18.”

ForcesWatch, a non-profit organisation that scrutinises military recruitment practices, also criticised the army for targeting young people and for “appealing to the adolescent child’s need to belong.” The organisation argued that the army “have latched onto a very popular recruitment tool, powerful in particular among those who feel isolated or marginalised, or who have a sense of non-belonging and potentially low self-esteem.”

The UK is the only country in Europe, and one of only a handful in the world, that allows the recruitment of minors. The enlistment process into the armed forces can begin at 15 years and seven months, although training does not start until the child has reached 16 and these recruits cannot be deployed into active service until they reach 18 years.

According to a report by Medact, a non-profit organisation of health professionals, there are serious long-term consequences of child recruitment by the army. The study showed that these young recruits are more likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcohol abuse and self-harm after leaving the army. Male under-20 recruits have a 64 percent higher risk of suicide than their adult civilian peers and have a higher chance of being wounded or killed during their career in the armed forces.

The report concluded that military recruitment techniques “[take] advantage of adolescent cognitive and psychological vulnerabilities” and that current child recruitment practices “do not meet the criteria for full and informed consent.”

The UK government has actively promoted army recruitment within schools, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announcing the creation of 150 new cadet units in schools last October. There are now more than 300 cadet units across UK schools, in which children as young as 12 are taught battle planning, weapon use and military discipline.

According to ForcesWatch, the military make thousands of visits to UK schools and colleges each year and even to primary schools and nurseries. These visits include recruitment stalls at careers fairs, curriculum and career-related activities, sessions with staff members and interviews for pre-recruitment courses at army bases, among other things.

Some schools are either sponsored by or have partnerships with the armed forces or arms industry.

ForcesWatch coordinator Emma Sangster rejected the Ministry of Defence claim that the army does not directly recruit within schools. She told the Guardian: “Recruitment is a process, it’s not a single event.” During visits to school, armed forces recruiters, “drip feed things of interest to children of school age. They sanitise what conflict involves, and also glamorise it. They focus on adventure, which young people are desperate for.”

The British state is attempting to indoctrinate and prepare the next generation of working-class youth to be cannon fodder in their imperialist wars abroad. This is confirmed by the analysis of Veterans for Peace (VFP). In its report, “The First Ambush? Effects of army training and employment,” VFP asserts that British Army policy is to “channel the youngest recruits and those from poorer backgrounds into the infantry, which uses the most coercive training methods … [and] carries the greatest risks in war…

“To ensure that recruits will follow all orders and kill their opponents in war, army training indoctrinates unconditional obedience, stimulates aggression and antagonism, overpowers a healthy person’s inhibition to killing, and dehumanises the opponent in the recruit’s imagination.”

The VFP report notes that recruitment policy is rooted in class divisions, with army recruiters “creaming off” high-achieving adults from English universities to become future officers, while “dredging” poorer areas to fill the lower ranks with working-class youth whose lives are seen by the ruling elite as more dispensable.

This recruitment drive and the militarisation of education comes in the context of the escalation of British and NATO operations in the Middle East and on Russia’s borders, with the British Army currently deployed in some capacity in over 80 countries across the world.

It is not just within Britain that the militarisation of social life is taking place. In 2011, the German Bundeswehr began recruiting in schools and universities as part of a broader drive by the Defence Ministry to recruit thousands of new soldiers. Last year, the Swedish Parliament voted to bring back conscription and French President Emmanuel Macron … included the return of the draft as an electoral promise.

More than 75 years after the outbreak of World War II, ruling elites across the world are again seeking to create powerful armies able to enforce their geostrategic and economic interests through war. A century after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the international working class is once again confronted with the necessity of building a revolutionary socialist and internationalist movement in order to prevent the descent into a catastrophic world war.

Pro-Greenpeace music videos


This music video is Greenpeace, by Dutch band Teach-In.

This year the Eurovision Song Contest was a pretext for a British Conservative politician for anti-Irish racism.

In 1975, Teach-In won the Eurovision Song Contest. Since then, there have not been any Dutch winners of the contest.

In 1979, they made this song about Greenpeace. The song mentions the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior; in 1985 blown up in a murderous attack by the French secret police because of opposition to French nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific.

This music video by English punk rock band Sham 69 is their song Rainbow Warrior; on the Greenpeace ship.

The Clash’s first album, forty years ago


This video shows the Clash playing live in Munich, Germany in 1977.

By Mark Perryman in Britain:

Celebrating the politics of punk

Tuesday 4th April 2017

Next Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of The Clash’s debut album. MARK PERRYMAN reports on a notable event to mark it

FOR most people, the birth of punk happened on or around 1976 with the November release that year of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK. Music and movement were catapulted into the “filth and fury” headlines via the band’s expletive-strewn Bill Grundy TV interview.

The Pistols and the rest were key to the detonation of a youthful mood of revolt alongside the not entirely dissimilar The Damned, Manchester’s Buzzcocks and the more trad-rock Stranglers. Giving the boy bands a run for their money, The Slits pushed perhaps hardest at punk’s musical boundaries, their Typical Girls track quite unlike what the others were recording.

But it was The Clash who more than anyone symbolised the punk and politics mix, showcased on their debut album The Clash, released 40 years ago on April 8, 1977.

Its 14 tracks, played at furious speed, were two-minute classics. Boredom with the US, hate, war, non-existent career opportunities and an angry demand for a riot of their own all featured. And there was an inspired cover version, backed by a pitch perfect reggae beat played slow, of Junior Murvin and Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Police and Thieves, with the lyrics almost spoken rather than sung.

The album cover shows the youthful threesome of Strummer, Jones and Simonon in their artfully stencilled shirts and jackets that were to become their signature stage wear uniform completed by the obligatory skinny jeans, white socks and black DMs.

The print quality is purposely poor to add a degree of authenticity that this band hardly needed. But it was the back cover, a scene from the 1976 Notting Hill carnival riots with the Met’s boys in blue, that’s the more telling. It shows them in hot pursuit of black youth who are retreating and regrouping under the Westway flyover in west London.

It was that reality in ’76 that inspired The Clash’s anthemic White Riot and the lines: “White riot! I wanna riot. White riot! A riot of my own!”’ At the time the National Front’s streetfighting racist army was laying waste wherever they marched. Their leaders John Tyndall and Martin Webster were pretty much household names and the NF was getting an indecently high enough number of votes to suggest an electoral breakthrough might be a possibility.

The potential for White Riot to be misinterpreted then — and now too — is obvious. But the band’s intent couldn’t be clearer.

Living and recording in and around the Westway, they embraced the changes the local community had undergone since the 1950s. Caribbean music, food and fashions were as much a part of who The Clash were as rock’n’roll, Sunday roast and safety pins.

It was a spirit of Black defiance that they sought to share, not oppose: “All the power is in the hands/Of people rich enough to buy it,/While we walk the streets/Too chicken to even try it./And everybody does what they’re told to/And everybody eats supermarket soul food!”

A year after the album’s release, The Clash headlined the first Rock against Racism carnival in London’s Victoria Park.

The dayglo politics of this musical culture of resistance fitted perfectly with the agitprop look and lyrics of the band, as it did with Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex’s punk feminism, Tom Robinson with his liberatory number Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay and Birmingham’s Steel Pulse’s Handsworth Revolution.

This wasn’t just a line-up that commercial promoters in ’78 would die for, it was a platform to challenge prejudice both without and within that we could dance to, or jump about to.

Of course, like all successful musicians, The Clash became celebrities and the venues became bigger and bigger. But, through force of circumstance, the band bailed out before they reached U2’s overblown proportions or outstayed their musical welcome like the Rolling Stones.

1977 is a moment to look back to and remember but not to fossilise, that would be the antithesis of everything The Clash represented or, as the final track from the album put it: “I don’t want to hear about what the rich are doing, I don’t want to go where the rich are going.”

Garageland. That’s where they came from and never entirely left either. Its why more than anything else the ’77 Clash still matter four decades on and to mark the 40th anniversary there’ll be a night of live music like no other at London’s Rich Mix on April 8, hosted by RMT and supported by the FBU.

The album will be played in both the original 1977-era Clash style and a 2017 remix on a bill that mixes bands, solo performers, discussion and spoken word. Syd Shelton’s incredible photography of ’77 punk and the rise of Rock against Racism is on show and among the artists appearing are 48 Thrills with Steve North, Dream Nails, Emily Harrison, Sean McGowan, Nia Wyn, Joe Solo, Captain Ska, Attila the Stockbroker and Comrade X.

’77 Clash Night is at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, London E1, with a 6pm start. Tickets, price £9.99, are available from philosophyfootball.com or call (01255) 552-412 to reserve.

Greek punk bands raise money for refugee squats


The Free

exaarchia

Around a dozen squats provide housing for refugees and migrants in the Exarchia neighbourhood of Athens.

by   Patrick Strickland via Al Jazeera

@P_Strickland_

Athens, Greece – On a cold night in late December at a smoky venue in the Greek capital, Anfo takes to the stage and immediately launches into a song.

A tall, thin man in a Soviet beret, guitarist Nikos stands on the edge of the stage. The vocalist, Sotiris, lowers his head and looks downward between guttural screams.

Behind them, Giorgos Chloros pounds away at the drums. Anfo, a leftist punk band, is joined by a handful of other punk outfits.

“Everybody [in Anfo] is involved in the anti-capitalist struggle in some form,” Chloros, a 45-year-old socialist, told Al Jazeera, explaining that they perform at anti-racism festivals and other pro-refugee events. 

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Green Day anti-Trump music video


This Green Day music video from the USA says about itself:

16 January 2017

Official Lyric Video for “Troubled Times” from the new album ‘Revolution Radio.’

By Lee Moran in the USA today:

Green Day Rips Donald Trump In New ‘Troubled Times’ Video

Green Day takes aim at President-elect Donald Trump in its latest video.

A clip from the “Troubled Times” video, which the punk rock band posted online on Monday, shows a  Trump-like figure in a red “Make America Great Again” cap apparently spewing antagonistic rhetoric to crowds.

… The clip ends ominously, with someone pressing a big red button to cause a gigantic mushroom cloud. …

While the group doesn’t mention Trump by name in the video or song from its album “Revolution Radio,” it has not been shy about criticizing the former reality television personality in the past.

At the 2016 MTV Europe Music Awards, the day before the presidential election, they changed the words to their 2004 hit “American Idiot” from “subliminal mind-fuck America” to “subliminal mind-Trump America.”

And two weeks later at the American Music Awards, the rockers added the extra line of “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA” while performing “Bang Bang”.

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