There is a wonderful vibration in the air today, a sound that makes its own music, an awareness that brings its own rules, a new territory for exploration and creativity. It’s the youth movement, crawling out from under the platforms of commercialism and controlled industry, finding leaders among their own numbers, confronting the world of authorities and officials with their own mistakes.
Music is the herald, reflects the attitudes, and expresses the messages of any youth movement. The music coming out of the second decade of the big 2000 mark rustles with experimentation, aches with the eve of destruction, and brings back the driving energy of classical rock. This generation has found its voice through its own initiative, its You-Tube promotions and through its popularity among the ninety-nine percent, instead of the contractual agreements for canned music.
Subversify is proud to present one of these young groups that have stood up as part of the creative youth determined to fashion their own future. Decadent Nation has been rocking the Midwest for half a decade, thrilling fans with music that incorporates the influence of metal, reggae, folk and good old-fashioned rock and roll. The band has toured U.S. on multiple occasions, sometimes sharing the stage with the likes of Chevelle, Les Claypool, Three Days Grace, Shadows Fall, Lacuna Coil, Powerman 5000, and Puddle of Mudd. DN’s visceral live shows bring the beast out in all who are present.
Recently, the nationally touring act played a guerilla style concert at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis. They played an hour of their high energy, socio-political rock to a crowd of over 500 people.
“We came here to be your cheerleaders, we came down here to pump you up a little bit, cause there’s a long way to go in this struggle,” said front man Colin LaVaute before they ripped into a cover Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Take the Power Back.’ Later in the show, LaVaute stated that while he didn’t agree with everything associated with the movement, he urged those present to “stay focused” on “divorcing all forms of special interest money from our political system.”
The concert was a result of a pledge by the band to play guerilla concerts in St. Louis, Kansas City, and their hometown of Columbia in support of the Occupy Wall St. movement. When asked where they would b going next, lead guitarist Adam Rolfes, answered, “I think we are gonna throw our equipment on a flat bed and play in front of some rich people’s houses.”
True to their word, the group performed a guerilla concert the following Thursday night, playing their high energy socio-political rock from the back of a flat bed trailer, as it was towed around affluent neighborhoods in the Kansas City area. The show was their second guerilla concert in a week, after playing to a crowd of protesters in Downtown St. Louis last Saturday.
“This is not about class warfare, this is about corporate welfare,” front man Colin LaVaute stated before the band ripped into their anthem ‘Independence Day’.
After the band had concluded their performance, guitarist Adam Rolfes provided some insight as to why they chose rich neighborhoods. “The reality is, these people are rich, but they aren’t the one percent. You don’t have to be broke to realize that there’s a serious discussion that needs to be taking place about accountability from our financial and governing institutions. It’s time everyone joined that discussion.”
I asked Colin La Vaute, “You refer to the Occupy movement as a political one, yet most occupiers are at great pains to say they do not want the influence of political parties in their movement,thus defining themselves as more social than political. How do you feel about this? Is the movement headed in the direction of a particular political drive or is it a statement for social reform? Do you feel your music is more political or social?”
“I have always referred to DN as being socio-political. You really can’t separate one from the other. Anyone who is involved with the Occupy movement that honestly feels as though they can institute any kind of change without engaging in the American political system is simply fooling themselves. I understand why they go to great lengths to state themselves as being non-political, but in order to reverse, for instance, the People’s United case, it’s going to take Constitutional Amendment stating what any rational person already realizes: corporations are not people. That’s no small feat, and will require a mass amount of politicking. I give the movement credit to the extent that it has brought the injustices taken place by the financial markets back to the forefront of the media’s attention, but there is a long way to go in this.”
Colin, I really like the lyrics to your song, Little Mushrooms. What inspired you to put this song together?
“That song was written at the height of the Iraq War. To me DN has always been about helping people let the beast out, and maybe broadening people’s perceptions about any given topic. And when I talk about The Beast, I’m not talking about some violent animal, but more the natural instincts that we all have that can separate reality from the mind-numbing minutiae of everyday life. Little Mushrooms is imploring people to get real about what was happening in Iraq at that time. As far as the other end of the mushroom metaphor, I’ll leave that up for speculation…”
Do you feel that the current “rage against the machine” expression of the youth will have a lasting effect or will sort of die out over time the way the hippie movement eventually abandoned their free for all philosophy for materialism?
“I honestly don’t know what to expect anymore. The world never ceases to amaze me. I think that as long as our political system supports plutocracy over democracy, the corruption has no end. As long as we keep on going down this path, people are going to continue to be fed up about what’s going on regardless. What really needs to happen is more of an open dialogue between people of all social and political backgrounds. Political pundits and the media go to great lengths to label people as liberal and conservative, and in turn, Americans engage in the same practice. We need to shed ourselves of such demagoguery, and realize how much we actually agree with one another. For instance take a look at Libertarians, perhaps the most “right wing” of political circles. Well you’ll find that some of the things that they deem as destructive to America as being the same things that the Occupy protesters do. They think we should withdraw all troops from overseas, and that big banks shouldn’t get bailouts. That’s not to say that I agree with everything they believe, but dammit, why do I need to draw such a clear distinction as to where I’m at politically? I’m conservative about some things, and I’m liberal about other things. Once we stop drawing lines in the sand based on our ideals, then we can grow into a nation that elects officials based on the quality of their ideas, and not whether or not they’re conservative or liberal enough.”
Although Adam Rofes, lead guitarist, defines himself as an activist, he’s not sure whether he truly feels his activism could be called political or social. “Im not sure if I really try to define myself as one or the other, honestly. I have my beliefs and I stick up for what I believe in. Above all, I believe in being a good person and helping people who need to be helped. You never know when YOU may be the one in need looking up to someone you once helped. Politically, I would say that Im middle of the road. I think that we all need to work for each other and our communities to make them the best we can. I think that bi-partisan politics are a waste of time and only serve to drive people apart… and we need to stop the contributions from large corporations or interest groups to politicians. I could probably go on for hours about my beliefs but I encourage everyone to inform themselves and form their own beliefs rather than just listening to what some guitar player in some band has to say.”
“There must have been a lot of contrast between playing for an Occupy camp and playing on the streets of the St. Louis upper crust. Would any of you like to share your impressions? In other words, how much fun was it?
Colin answered, “Contrast is an understatement. At the Occupy protest, you had quite a mixed bag of individuals. It was in downtown St. Louis, so it provided a lot of the homeless people with a place to go. There were the pompous hipsters, the hippies reliving the 60’s, but then there were some very intelligent people, trying to keep the movement on track. It was pretty amazing, playing a show in the shadow of all of those skyscrapers, housing the very corporations we were there to protest. Then, when we did the trailer bit in Kansas City(and it was KC) it was much more homogenous. A lot of people just stared at us as we drove by. Some people were amused, some were annoyed, but at least no one called the cops on us. After it was over a teenager came up and gave us a demo of his band and told us how much he appreciated what we did.”
“For me,” Zack answered, “noticing a lot of the other bigger name musicians that have been getting involved with the movement, people that I respect, it was cool to be a part of movement, that if it succeeds, can make a lot of amazing changes in this country. I’m not the most politically minded person, but to do what we do in support of the movement was a big deal to me. I had never been apart of anything like that before.”
Observed Cody, “I definitely felt more welcome while playing for the Occupy camp in St. Louis. In KC, there were some welcome vibes, but there were others there that wanted us to get the fuck off their lawn.”
I asked the group, “if you had one single message to share with us, what would it be.”
Zack Blomberg answered, “Listen to Black Sabbath….As a it pertains to our message, I hope anyone who takes the time to read the lyrics can find at least one part that sticks with them, empowers them, you know? We have some powerful thoughts in our songs, and yes, some are politically minded. But there are so many other aspects of our daily lives we need to wake up to as well.”
Adam replied, “I would say that people need to inform themselves.. Emphasis on THEMSELVES. The general media, these days, is so biased that they really seem to want to make up peoples minds for them. I meant that people shouldn’t just listen to what a musician says and form their opinions on that. People should always be on a hunt for the actual facts so they can make an informed and strong opinion on the matters that affect each and every one of us every day.’
“We are in the middle of a fascinating moment in time,” said Colin. “It’s impossible to keep track of all of the way the human race evolves on a daily basis. That being said, I don’t have any singular message to put out there. DN is here to help wake people up. The vast, vast majority of what I hear in the realm of music doesn’t engage listeners to do anything but bob their head to the beat. I want to awaken something in those who hear DN’s music. The more bombarded we are with information, the easier it becomes to be desensitized to the menagerie of it all. It’s time to step out of the fog, and if our music can help people do that, then we’ve done our job.”
Are Decadent Nation doing their job? Not only has Decadent Nation been sharing its upward beat with a generation of authority questioning youth for the last five years, it has reminded America it needs to regain its sense of humor. When a rumor circulated that the group had thrown a hot dog at Tiger Woods, the celebrity was apparently not very amused. When asked if hot dog throwing would become part of their trademark, Colin answered, “The apology and subsequent video we made was more tongue and cheek than some in the media realize. ‘Flinging wieners?’ Come on, that’s funny! We are just now beginning to experiment with new forms of performance art, and on that end, you can definitely expect to see more where that came from.
You know, the last two Halloweens I’ve played shows as a clown. In fact, there are pictures up on our Facebook still of the last show. I get so lost, and animated when I have the makeup on, that I’ve considered playing more shows as the clown.”
If the job of a music performer is to inspire, uplift and entertain, it looks like Decadent Nation is doing a very good job. Be sure to learn more about the individual performers and listen to their music at Subversify’s own Viral radio network.
You can listen to Decadent Nation right now at Subversify Viral!