Setting Things Straight

I return from the wilds of Birmingham, where I have been availing myself of the talents of Mr Matt Hunt, tattooist extraordinaire. I got a Hans Holbein Jr woodcut done on my right arm to match the Nambucca Rooster on my left. Pics when it’s not covered in ink and blood, haha. Also, Matt is awesome, and so is his shop – check it out.

In continuing discussions, kicked off by the 2000 Trees / Offspring thing, some points have been raised. Some of my friends have been telling me to leave off getting involved in this discussion, but it’s important to me and I don’t want to come across as aloof or not bothered. Anyways. The first thing is, people have been making comments about what I “represent”, and in some cases about feeling let down by my recent decision. In the first instance, I’m uncomfortable about “representing” anything to anyone – I do this because I want to make music and share it. The rest is trimmings. Secondly, if I am to represent anything, I’d like to be thought of as an honest, hardworking and humble musician, nothing more and nothing less. Within that I do my best to play as much as I can for as many people as possible, to be totally accessible to anyone who wants to talk to me (I note that none of the haters have actually emailed me), and to do this in such a way as I’ll be able to keep doing this and even be able to pay my rent too. I feel uncomfortable when people project much more than that onto me (though I recognize it often comes with the territory), and I’d respectfully ask that people respect me and my choices.

That then brings us onto the other thing I want to talk about – politics. There’s been some discussion of my politics over the years, and more intensely recently. I don’t actually want to go into a massive exposition here – it’s actually no one else’s business and I can’t be bothered – but some ground points serve to be made. Most of all, I am not, nor have ever, ever been, a socialist. When I was younger, say, in the first half of Million Dead’s existence as a band, I was a pretty convinced left-anarchist. Those days are long, long gone – the very first song most people heard by MD (“Breaking the Back”) was about my disillusion with that scene (and the second, “I Am The Party”, was about how my personal politics are irrelevant anyway). Nevertheless, there was some political and social commentary in that band, but I’d characterize it as left libertarian. There’s an important difference.

In the time since then, my ideas have shifted – as most people’s do between the ages of 19 and 27. A little more experience of real life has changed the way I try to find solutions to what I see as the essential problem – people’s capacity to be horrible fucks to each other, whether as organized government or in the form of large monopolistic corporations. In the past I guess I thought that boycotts and demonstrations might “smash the system” and then we could all live happily ever after. I don’t believe that any more. I started having to pay taxes, rent and so on, and stopped only hanging out with other middle class anarchists. My essential libertarianism is more in the middle ground now.

I suppose it’s an easy assumption in some ways – I have songs with words like “anarchists” and “Thatcher” in their titles, and I sing angrily whilst playing acoustic guitar. That makes some people immediately I’m a leftist / socialist or whatever. Well, here it is. I’m not. Sorry. And most importantly of all, so fucking what? I’m a musician, making music. When I creatively address politics, I sing about being a normal person trying to find their way in the world. Please don’t try and make me a flagpole for whatever it is you want to salute. I will make the choices I feel are right for me, and it is not now nor ever will be anyone else’s business. If you find that disappointing, it’s your problem I’m afraid, not mine.

Sorry if this comes across as harsh or petulant, I’m just trying to be thorough. It’s also a disconcerting experience, seeing vast assumptions being made about you and your personality on the internet by total strangers. Also, thanks to the people who have commented / mailed being nice about things. Hugely appreciated.

In final news – an interview here, and tickets for the Cheltenham show here. More festival news (for the UK) in my next update.

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