-Let’s start the interview saying that for us it is a great pleasure to interview a band like you. First of all, how would you introduce Propagandhi to those who do not know you yet?
We’re four fun-loving, (yet troubled) moderate weirdos, on the attack.
“Victory Lap”: we have waited for a new album for 5 years and we really enjoyed it. How did this record come out? What’s the purpose of this record?
Great to hear, I’m glad you liked it. After touring for Failed States became less active, we were working on a lot of new material, and re-visiting older material that we’d played with in the past. We were keeping busy, and were confronted with making a line-up change, which eventually led us to working with Sulynn. As we were figuring what to do when Beave decided to leave, we kept plugging along with the new tunes. As they were taking shape we made plans to work with the same recording engineer for Failed States, and the same person who mixed Supporting Caste. Having confidence in how the record was going to be produced, and subsequently, how it was going to be released, allowed us to put together a record that, in the end, we’re quite pleased with.
You have always been politically active, what specific issues did you deal with ”Victory Lap”?
I can’t speak for Chris or Todd. I think the songs are expressions of a number of inter-related things related to trying to be human within a human-constructed monstrosity of a society. I think they are less directed towards specific issues.
What do you think of the current ”punk” scene?
Hmmmm. I guess that depends on what you mean. Having a chance to tour with bands like RVIVR, War On Women, Iron Chic, and La Armada makes me think there’s some cool shit out there. I mean, great music and great people are what it’s all about, right?! Seems to me though, that the bigger it gets, usually, the shittier it gets. I have fun at smaller shows…recently I saw a band from Mexico and another band from Cuba play at this little place here in Winnipeg. The style of music wasn’t stuff i’m usually in to, but i really appreciated the atmosphere, so I liked it. Too often, when I see larger shows, the whole thing seems canned…too predicatable….in a nutshell, it’s boring. And the boredom turns to outright contempt when the music is simply a platform for shitty companies to make money.
We always follow and try to support the D.I.Y. philosophy and get out of capitalism logic, but how hard is it for a politically engaged but famous band like you?
Yeah, we have to ride out a lot of compromises, especially when we’re playing somewhat larger venues. We generally stay away from rooms owned by big companies, but the club circuit can be a nasty grind. So many fingers wanting a piece of the pie, from government withholding taxes, to ticketing agencies, to alternate ticketing agencies that aren’t much better than the big shitty ones, to venues demanding a cut of merchandise sales….it goes on and on. Generally we work with a lot of good people, many who have come out of DIY scenes, and now work or book at club jobs to try to make a living. But the terms are generally competitive, and I think they are getting more difficult, at least in North America. So, while we live and work in a capitalist set of circumstances, we try to sell books from radical publishers (such as AK Press and Fernwood on our most recent dates), occasionally we have speakers from activist organizations talk between sets, and provide space for activist organizations to spread the word about what they do, to sell fundraising materials, engage with the audience, etc…..Most recently we had Sea Shepherd Society, No One Is Illegal, out to name a couple, in addition to some local groups and some local radical bookshops do info tables.
May 6th, 2018 in Trezzo Sull’Adda (MI), will be your only date in Italy and one of the few in Europe. We’ve been waiting for your live show here in Italy for a while, are you excited to come back?
Yeah for sure! Italy has always been very good to us, I’m excited to have the opportunity to play there once again. We’re hoping to possibly add more dates later in 2018, we’ll see.
What is your relationship with the big festivals and what are the concerts you prefer to play?
We have played a handful of larger festivals in the past, but ones that were mainly funded by public money….we’ve mostly stayed away from larger corporate organized festivals. Honestly, we don’t receive many offers from those types of festivals. At times it’s frustrating, because we’re tried to do club shows at the same time that the larger corporate festivals are going on, and our shows suffered as a result. We simply can’t tour many places while the festivals are going on. I’m hoping more ticket driven festivals continue to have success, and that people realize that corporate interests aren’t completely necessary to have smaller, perhaps more reasonably sized events. Again, if it’s all simply a platform for corporate interests, we have to ask ourselves, why bother participating in it?? As a band, or as an individual fan of music. I can’t stand those large events. BOOOORRRRING!!
What do you like best in being part of a band? Composing, recording or going on tour?
I have my ups and downs with each of those facets of being in a band. I guess it’s a challenge to embrace it all and to try to have fun with even the things that are less appealing.
What is the political situation in Canada? What are the issues in your country and are there any collectives trying to improve things?
Bleak is the first word that comes to mind. The public seems to buy into the mainstream corporate narrative, so there you go: capitalist logic on autopilot, the system continues to produce and pollute the world with endless garbage, and we’re at the point where the world simply can’t take it. Endless growth with finite resources is a recipe for complete disaster, and that’s what we’re witnessing. I try to remain hopeful with people resisting in a number of ways, most notably in tar sands pipeline expansion by First Nations peoples, and with Antifa, especially with the current political climate in the USA and elsewhere.
With your music, and in particular your lyrics, do you think you can help people reflect, do you think you can change something in this world?
Nothing structural, which is the level that fundamental change has to happen at. But yeah, if we can help open some doors to some people and are able to contribute back to a music scene that inspired and politicized me back in the mid-late 1980’s, then I think the whole thing is worth it.
We know you made a strict selection to choose your guitarist. How did you choose Sulynn Hago?Because she rips! We had over 400 applicants, and she showed, not only her abilities as a musician, but that she’d spent a lot of time in the underground scene where she’d lived, and a that comes through in her character. It’s been cool to make a new friend through our times together!
Why did the “G7 Welcoming Committee Records project” come to an end? What is your relationship with Fat Wreck Chords?
G7 was a fun and worthwhile project, but at a certain point (which was expedited due to the onset of the digital world, and the fact that very few people would pay for music anymore), other avenues of life were worth exploring….there’s only so much time in a day! It became difficult to do that in addition to the band and other things in our lives.
After this wonderful record, what is Propagandhi’s future? I mean, besides the tour…
Over the next year or two, we’ll concentrate on tour options, and living our lives. Beyond that, we’ll see how it goes?! So far, it’s been fun getting out and playing the new material, the shows have been great, it’s always an interesting challenge.
We thank you again and leave you with the last question: is there any advice you want to give to our readers ?
Don’t pull anyone’s finger if they ask you to…even if they’re smiling and ask you politely!
Interview by T.S., J.L., E.C.