The songs ridiculing, denigrating, and satirizing Donald Trump have been coming for a while. On the one hand, does Trump even listen to music? It's doubtful. Swindling at a world-class level demands that one not be distracted by beautiful sounds. On the other hand, Trump has the thinnest skin of anyone in the history of the epidermis, not to mention the self-control of a 12-year-old boy. If he gets even the slightest whiff about these protest numbers, he'll likely fire off insulting tweets that will further enhance his reputation as America's pettiest narcissist.
From CocoRosie's elegantly swerving, orchestral synth-pop confection, "Smoke 'Em Out" (according to the band, written "to inspire the weary-disappointed hearts of so many crest-fallen citizens"), to Fiona Apple's "Tiny Hands," which unspools a basic, declamatory chant—"We don't want your tiny hands anywhere near our underpants"—over an ominous piano motif and robust, fuck-off beats, these songs of protest will surely continue bubbling forth, now that Trump is officially president, and tries to implement his panoply of wrongheaded ideas with help from the worst cabinet candidates imaginable.
Danbert Nobacon's "Revolution 9.01"—another recent anti-Trump song that appears on his Stardust to Darwinstuff album, due in April—is a surprisingly jaunty, acoustic-guitar-powered folk tune that champions science and disdains the incoming ignoramus-in-chief. He advises listeners to "overthrow this demagoguery" and chides that this "president couldn't even get a job in a public high school." I recently conducted an e-mail interview with Nobacon, who's now living in Twisp, Washington, and he had some choice opinions and words of wisdom to offer beyond his song.
You lived in England under Margaret Thatcher. Does the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency strike you as equally bad or even worse than that regime? Do you feel the same sense of terror and rage as you did back then, if I may presume?
I did grow into political consciousness in Northern England under Margaret Thatcher. Chumbawamba formed in 1982 right before she basically rescued her own unpopularity by declaring war on Argentina. But I do think Trump is proportionately far worse because the US wields so much more power in the world. And it is worse again because of the people whom Trump has surrounded himself with, "of the billionaires, by the billionaires and for the billionaires," which is basically a coup d'état, and means we have the moral and constitutional duty to overthrow his government. His chosen cabinet is one of documented sociopaths, meaning that they are mentally incapable of caring about what effect their predatory capital free market orthodoxy [will have], with regard to making the lives of ordinary people miserable or with fast-tracking the environmental destabilization of our planet.
What tangible effect do you think "Revolution 9.01" will have? Do you think it can go beyond just preaching to the converted?
When people see art or hear music (myself included) that reflects and challenges what is happening in the world, it is inspiring and gives us the strength that we are not alone in this struggle. I would say that by talking about science in "Revolution 9.01," I am hoping to encourage my own audience to think wider and beyond the simple truism that Trump is bad.
Maybe some of them will pick up some of the science literature, the authors of which are referenced in the song. I did that. I went out and read books about anarchy after hearing the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK." Also, I think along with Bernie Sanders and the "Our Revolution" movement, it is good to call a shovel a shovel, and say, look, if we are to survive as a species, there needs to be an incredible revolution in terms of how we do things, and let's not be afraid of the word. Yes. Let's many of us agree that we can and need to overthrow the neoliberal/neoconservative world order (of which Trump, whatever he says, is born and bred) that has proved to be disastrous for people and the planet over the last 40 years, not least in the scientifically measurable terms of global warming and spiraling wealth inequality.
How else do you plan to resist the Trump administration?
My main form of resistance is, as a writer and an artist, to generate and stimulate ideas and thinking that might help us survive beyond this century. But I am also a human being. I will be in the streets in Seattle protesting the inauguration, like I protested Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush outside the US embassy in London when they came to town. I am also a teacher (high-school theater), and while I do not preach to my students, we do discuss current events and it is quite obvious from my example where I stand on the political spectrum. As "Revolution 9.01" says, (citing H.G. Wells), and as the election of Trump has proved (capitalizing as he did on people's enforced ignorance and non-truth), it really is a race between education and catastrophe.
Shouldn't you have called your forthcoming album Trumpthumping? (Sorry.)
He-he-he. Well, I didn't think of it, but then I did specifically not name Trump in the song, so the song maybe perhaps creeps up on the listener a bit more. On the other hand, one of the other songs on the album had a working title "Karma Won't Save Us" and I just renamed it "Karma Won't Save Us from Rex Tillerson," because in the lyric it talks about the CEO of ExxonMobil earning $40 million a year, meaning that he earned minimum wage literally in the time it takes to say the words "minimum wage." My job as a narrative artist is to explore the human condition in all its forms, and sometimes the ideas come as a slap to the head, or sometimes as a thief in the night.