At the precise time the U.S. seems to have put up the “batshit signal,” radical rabble-rousers RACETRAITOR return. RACETRAITOR is back to take aim at this crazy election cycle with “By The Time I Get To Pennsylvania,” the first new music the band has released in roughly seventeen years. The Chicago agitators deliver a musical Molotov cocktail with the same incendiary spirit as the band’s metal/hardcore punk missives last heard in the late nineties. The band’s first show in nearly twenty years is set for the International Day of Action Against Police Brutality, October 22nd, 2016, where fellow nineties hardcore veterans, Detroit-based EARTHMOVER, will join RACETRAITOR at the Cobra Lounge in Chicago.
Reuniting RACETRAITOR‘s classic lineup of Mostofi, Hurley, guitarists Dan Binaei and Eric Bartholomae, and bassist Brent Decker, the brand new track “By The Time I Get To Pennsylvania” will see release online and on a flexi disc via Organized Crime Records, together with a new recording of an early demo, “Damaged.”
“We had discussed playing a show or doing something else over the years, but nostalgia was never all that motivating, so the idea died,” explains drummer Andy Hurley. “But with everything happening in the past couple of years, from the way things heated up in Ferguson, Missouri, to the rise in xenophobia and bigotry reflected by the popularity of Donald Trump, making new music withRACETRAITOR felt important again.”
“We needed to respond to this moment in history in our own way.”
Over the course of a brief but iconoclastic career in the late nineties, RACETRAITOR challenged audiences to confront issues like systemic oppression, white privilege, the broken criminal justice system, neocolonialism, globalization, and the effects of Western foreign policy. Born within the progressive punk scene yet famously malcontent with the genre’s often substance-free stagnation,RACETRAITOR took as much inspiration from Liberation Movements and revolutionary mysticism as they drew musical influence from grindcore, thrash metal, power-violence, punk, and early metallic hardcore. As young activists in Chicago, they had seen the effects of economic injustice and racial prejudice.
RACETRAITOR heard the insults thrown at them by white supremacists and other neo-fascists and adopted it as their band name, defiantly resisting the legacy of privilege their fairer skin afforded, even as the band’s various lineups were made-up of diverse ethnicities. Put simply, they rejected the entire social construct of “whiteness.” The band’s radical approach to organizing was about encouraging greater participation.
“There is far more to democracy than voting. When you see movements building around Black Lives Matter, the Standing Rock Sioux, or Democracy Spring, you see an antidote to the jingoism and cynicism of the election cycle,” says vocalist Mani Mostofi. “Yes, there is a lesser of two evils from one of the major parties on the ballot,” he continues. “But come January, we all need to be ready to do more.”
Landing on the covers of both Maximum Rock N’ Roll and Heartattack fanzines before they’d released a note of music, RACETRAITOR incited spirited discussions and loud debates with a series of confrontational performances. Burn The Idol Of The White Messiah, the band’s only full-length release, was a shot across the bow at the status quo, both within the restrictive confines of the hardcore-punk scene and toward the larger mainstream world. Even as they transitioned toward a more inclusive strategy and straight ahead sound with their half of the Make Them Talk split EP with fellow Midwestern firebrands Burn It Down, RACETRAITOR never softened their message.
After RACETRAITOR disbanded, each member of the band continued working in some form of social justice activism outside of music, working on issues ranging from inner city violence to human rights in the Middle East. The guys continued to follow musical pursuits as well. Hurley is best known as the drummer of Fall Out Boy and has also drummed for legendary animal liberation/radical environmentalism advocates Earth Crisis and in his own socially conscious bands like Burning Empires and Sect. Binaei and Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz started Arma Angelus, whose lineup also included Hurely and Rise Against co-founder Tim McIlrath.
“Art and music are part of any movement, so we wrote a song,” Mostofi says simply.
“It’s not going to change the world but it might help motivate one person to get involved in the fight.”