Radio Punk

Interview with Propagandhi!

-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.