British bands and artists talk to NME about politics and the respective merits of voting
A host of British musicians have questioned whether or not protest music is dead ahead of the upcoming UK general election.
Before the British public goes to the polls next week (May 7), artists and bands including Muse, Savages, Noel Gallagher, Emmy The Great and Young Fathers have spoken about their political perspectives in this week’s issue of NME, available digitally and on newsstands now.
Speaking ahead of his band’s new album ‘Drones’, which has been described as “a modern metaphor for what it is to lose empathy”, Muse’s Matt Bellamy has stated that he is “against the concept of party politics”, suggesting a new system of government in the process.
“I was thinking the other day we should start the Direct Democracy Party,” Bellamy told NME. “The way to play the existing system is to be an MP and say that ‘every vote I take in parliament, I will take an app vote from my constituents’. The argument that MPs should decide because they are better researched on the topic at hand, to me, really supports the old idea that the masses are not clever enough.”
Some artists quizzed were more politically engaged than others, with Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods stating, “What’s going on around us is a driving force for the music we make but we don’t offer solutions… All you can do is practice a bit of compassion and a lot of intelligence and that can be more powerful than getting on a podium and telling people they should do this or that.”
Williamson added: “There are some specific issues that I think are important in this election – a solid rent cap, the end of the bedroom tax, tuition fees, among other things.”
The Horrors frontman Faris Badwan held a different view, speaking of his disillusion with politics. Badwan claimed that voting is “for people who don’t have their own imagination”, continuing, “Politics doesn’t mean anything to me,” the singer says. “The stuff that gets discussed on Newsnight isn’t relevant to me, and it’s pretty much not relevant to anyone. I don’t think you gain anything from voting.”
Badwan added: “I find it funny that someone would vote for another person, whether it’s on Celebrity Big Brother or as a politician, on the basis that they could imagine going for a drink with them. I just think voting is for people who don’t have their own imagination. It’s for a different generation. You’re not accomplishing anything. The problem is, my opinion on it isn’t fully formed – the only thing I do think is that, realistically, voting doesn’t make a great deal of difference.”
Other artists to discuss with NME whether or not politics affects their work and debate the health of protest music in 2015 include Ghetts, Du Blonde, Noel Gallagher, Drenge, Johnny Marr, Chilli Jesson of Palma Violets and Everything Everything frontman Jonathan Higgs.