I’ve spent most of my punk rock life avoiding the temptation to write political songs; it always seemed like politics is the obvious go-to subject of punk and thus not of interest to me. Unfortunately, after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election I find myself virtually unable to write songs about anything else. In general, when I write a song I try to tap into some feelings I can’t shake, the most intense feelings that keep me up late at night. So yeah, my feelings about the state of this country have intensified over the past four years (I’m sure many others probably feel likewise), and writing about food, girls, etc. just isn’t cutting it for me now. Problem is, a “political” song can have an extremely short half-life if it’s commenting on current events, so adept songwriters will instead try to convey some more universal message that’s not going to have an expiration date. I must have skipped that day of Songwriting 101…
I don’t know if I even have any universal message about our current political situation, I just know I feel completely outraged and had to write about it. Hence these three songs, with a likely expiration date of November 2020. They were written for the Descendents and were to be part of our next record, but due to their time-sensitive nature I realized they needed to be released sooner rather than later. Plus, I was enjoying playing my ukes, especially my six-string “guitarlele,” and thought it would be fun to try an ultra-stripped down approach. And thus RebUke was born. All the stringed instruments I used are ukuleles: the aforementioned guitarlele, a small uke (naturally), an electric uke, and a bass uke that Bill Stevenson donated to the project halfway through. For percussion, I had some tabla drums from a trip to India and a cowbell lying around, and that’s about it. Hopefully it doesn’t sound too plinky. Maybe punk rock doesn’t need to have Marshall stacks? You be the judge.
Having gotten these political screeds off my chest, I’d like to return to the sunnier (i.e. apolitical) topics that have defined my writing in the past, but I just don’t know. It kinda depends on how things go in November, really. If you believe, like me, that 45 is not a LP, we ALL need to VOTE to make that a reality. Only then can we hope to see a return to sanity, a turning of the page. These songs are my personal attempts to turn the page on our national nightmare…if only I could will it through music.