Anger & Resistance No. 5: Joe DeGeorge (Downtown Boys), USA – „You have to know your power“

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Print issue SPEX No. 375 focuses upon anger and resistance in pop culture. For this reason SPEX invited artists from all over the globe to answer the question: Is Anger An Energy? Read the full-length interviews online only. First: Algiers from Atlanta, Georgia. Today: Joe DeGeorge (Downtown Boys) from Providence, Rhode Island.

What does anger mean to you? And how important is resistance for you?
For me, anger is an extension of compassion. The anger I put into this band is the dissonance that wells up when I see there are walls around resources, tools, and information that should be available to everyone.

Is there room for more than symbolic protest within the realm pop culture? How can pop culture bring about change, even beyond the already converted?
I joined this band with the notion that we would use rock and roll as a vehicle to enable people to imagine less oppressive paradigms in which to live. To think about making change using pop culture is the same as making change any other tool. You have to know your power and how to use whatever tools you have.

„effecting change, beyond symbolic change, is a lot of little things.“

The thing about being in a band is that we are awarded certain privileges and respects from established power structures that can amplify our voices. Victoria sometimes says that before she was in a band people didn’t listen to her or take her seriously when she would talk about racism and power dynamics, and that when she started performing this music that people’s ears started to open up. I think music can be an empathetic bridge builder in that way. She built that bridge to me when I first saw the band.

But effecting change, beyond symbolic change, is a lot of little things. Oftentimes during our set we will have local organizers get on the mic and talk about direct actions going on in town. Today in our hometown the city council is voting hopefully to pass the Community Safety Act which was drawn up by community members to lessen the unnecessary violence of police in our city. They’ve been fighting the police and the city council for three years and over that time Victoria has been shouting about them at our shows and has given organizers the mic. There’s some larger things too. Members of this band helped organize against South by Southwest, and we succeeded in getting them to drop their outrageous and threatening immigration clause in their performance contracts. There is power in organizing. Victoria and Joey have been doing labor organizing since I’ve known them and it’s really inspiring to see those skills at work.

What is the most urgent cause of your art?
I think in terms of urgency, we play to make a sound that resonates with hopes and dreams of people who are living and working against the twin power structures of capitalism and white supremacy. When I look out in our audience and see faces of the future yelling “she’s brown, she’s smart,” with hearts soaring, you can’t help but feel a long way from oblivion and a small step closer to utopia.

Alle Kurzinterviews mit Künstlerinnen und Künstlern aus aller Welt zum Thema Wut & Widerstand, die im Rahmen des Schwerpunkts in der Printausgabe SPEX No. 375 in gekürzter Form zu lesen sind, werden nach und nach online veröffentlicht. Das Heft kann im Onlineshop versandkostenfrei bestellt werden.