I firmly believe that every knuckle-chewing apathetic sheep in this country should be forced to sit down and have a chat with Jon McClure once a month. Ever since my minor barney with him over a column last year led to me adding my two pence worth to the Instigate Debate manifesto, it’s been clear to me that he’s a driven and charismatic force in the rebellious rock underground. Perhaps the only man capable of dragging the nation’s attention away from wondering how messed up Susan Boyle is after her Britain’s Got Talent defeat and Priory stay, and on to the more pressing issues of our times. He couldn’t have changed my mind from sceptic to believer any more vehemently – plus his new album is a work of genius.
Over lunchtime wines last week, The Rev raved to me about the success of his petition against Form 696 (the Metropolitan Police’s pre-gig form that requires promoters to detail the ethnicity of the event’s attendants, which could now be scrapped) and how the perfect storm of the recession and MPs’ expenses has presented the counter-culture with a unique opportunity to drive policy change.
Rousing stuff, and I couldn’t help but agree: the House Of Common Thieves has finally had its snout dragged far enough out of the trough to realise that, hey, it’s actually accountable to something called ‘the public’. And so, while a full-on revolution to make Westminster resemble a Coldplay album sleeve is unrealistic, Instigate Debaters beating down their MPs’ doors demanding answers might well find politicians keen to appease them with action, rather than fob them off with patronising politi-babble.
Me, I’d go further: I’d sack every MP who has squandered taxpayers’ money on luxury £16,000 pheasant palaces while pensioners have been dying in hospital corridors. Sack them all, whether they’ve surreptitiously slipped it back under the door of the Fees Office or not. Then perhaps their successors will better realise they’re there to serve the public, not scrounge themselves a life of privilege out of them.
All this, plus the dual threats of North Korean nuclear annihilation and Tory rule – a bit like being dragged to a Hot Leg gig only for the ceiling to cave in – is giving this generation more reason to rise up than many before. But the youth are rarely mobilised without a groundswell of invective from their pop culture heroes – Strummer, Lennon, Gillespie, Bragg, Edwards. Already we’re beginning to see a turn in the indie rock tide, away from quotes like, “Politics? Is that like PJ Harvey with Tourette’s or sommat?”, towards more socially aware commentary, particularly among the Toms.
Tom Clarke has been spouting social sense for some time, while the blinkers fell from Tom Kasabian’s eyes just last week. “The government and CCTV and everything, it’s not that good is it?” he uttered, like he’d just wandered back through the looking glass from 1853. “In fact, it’s shit.” Unfortunately, the mad wee drug muffin didn’t expand on his argument, but instead went on to claim the internet will breed a new race of cyborgs like in Terminator Salvation. Over to you, Tom Los Campesinos! – will you be our John Connor?
Working class lad-rock might be the first genre to express its discontent – it is, after all, their cousins who’ll be losing jobs en masse as the credit crunch bites – but the swell is definitely behind us. Carl Barât and Lee Mavers joined in an Instigate Debate house gig the other week and Babyshambles’ Drew McConnell has nailed his colours to the same mast.
But an underground niche of subversives isn’t enough for change. We need more Dave Blurs standing for parliament. We need more mainstream acts willing to say what they think rather than feign ignorance to protect their careers. We need a breed of band that, when invited to Number 10 à la Noel Gallagher, take the opportunity to demand some difficult answers rather than sneak a crafty spliff in the lavvy.
We need rock’s middle-class poshos to shut up about their sodding Neu! records and start discussing relevant issues. For too long rock music has been a place to dig yourself a tunnel to some retro bunker and hide from the horrors of the world, mewling, “We don’t know enough to comment.” Well, it’s time to get clued up, rock dullards; excuses will no longer be tolerated.
What I’ve Been Listening To
The Twang – ‘Jewellery Quarter’
Reverend And The Makers – ‘A French Kiss In The Chaos’
We Have Band – ‘You Came Out’