Briefly teased earlier this year, socio-political protest band BARFBAG have recently released their debut EP, Plastic Age. The trio consists of music industry vet David Bason (vocals) with Brian Viglione (THE DRESDEN DOLLS, THE VIOLENT FEMMES, NINE INCH NAILS) on drums and Kenny Carkeet (AWOLNATION) on guitar and production. Plastic Age marks their first collection of music released and will be a precursor to their debut full-length album coming this fall, and today, we’re stoked to give you some more details about their engaged work, and special “Top 10 Favorite Protest Songs” list, delivered by the band’s singer David Bason.
Music has long played an important role in times of political turmoil and civil unrest. The 60’s had Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, the 70’s saw Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield, 80’s gave rise to The Ramones, N.W.A., Minor Threat, Black Flag and Dead Kennedys, 90’s gave birth to Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, Green Day and so on… Fast forward to the chaos of today, music remains a vital tool of the resistance and rebellion. Artists like Beyonce, Run The Jewels, Pussy Riot and others are among the few bold enough to speak out on injustices and corruption. Barfbag is doing their part to call out an administration that’s rife with racism, xenophobia, bigotry and appalling rhetoric that has divided the country over the last four years.
Barfbag’s Plastic Age is out now on Stay Gold Records, and serves a perfect treat for fans of Dead Kennedys, Propagandhi, Anti-Flag, Buzzcocks, Fugazi.
Barfbag was born when David Bason got sick at how few protest records are being released in such a politically charged time. He tuned out the social media scream, brushed up on his history, revisited his philosophy books, ingested hundreds of political podcasts and set out to write an album that documented his reaction to his environment. There is strength in numbers so he asked his old buddies to help.
Kenny Carkeet (Awol Nation) produced and played guitar. Kenny played in punk bands growing up and had been stockpiling riffs. Brian Viglione (The Dresden Dolls, The Violent Femmes, Nine Inch Nails) became Bason’s trusted musical partner. Bason had signed the Dresden Dolls when he was an A&R man for Roadrunner Records. With the comfort of a longstanding friendship, a shared love for and deep knowledge of punk rock, it was the perfect working relationship. Brian proved to be a prolific writer in addition to playing drums, guitar and bass on all songs. Another trusted friend, Joe Cardamone (The Icarus Line) mixed the record.
The record touches on everything from fascism, media manipulation, oppression and human trafficking to Morrissey being a hypocrite and the failing public school system.
Top 10 Favorite Protest Songs, by BARFBAG’s David Bason
My Country ‘Tis Of Thy People You’re Dying – Buffy Sainte-Marie (1966)
My favorite protest song of all time. Buffy Sainte Marie always takes the deliberate approach of talking about hard topics while not being preachy. She feels her message will never reach its widest audience if she alienates the listener. However, on this song she cuts to the quick. No holds barred, in your face. This is most moving song I’ve ever heard and if you don’t cry when you hear it something is wrong. This song was passed down to me by my mother, who had it on vinyl. I met Buffy and she did me the favor of signing it. I choked up and couldn’t speak so she had no idea how important that moment was for me. What do you say to a woman who wrote the perfect song about genocide?
Police in Helicopter – John Holt (1983)
I love this song for its call to action. It’s not polite protest towards to police harassment. It’s not civil disobedience. It’s an in-your-face warning. There is a call to action. “If you continue to burn up the herbs, we gonna burn down the cane fields”. I just love that this song encapsulates that moment when talking no longer makes sense. It’s action time!
The Rastas will hit back where it hurts if they continue to be harassed. They’ll hit the state in the pocketbook. If you continue to burn up our religious crops, we’ll burn down your biggest money maker.
Les Salauds – Alpha Blondie (2007)
I learned about Alpha Blondie when I spent time in France as a kid. The lyrics are in French but translate roughly to “These bastards set fire to my paradise. The pyromaniac journalists, the lying politicians, the corrupt priest and the sold-out imams…they are savage and mean, they set fire to the country and put it to blood. They don’t care about you, your parents, or your kids. They are mean beasts.” Alpha Blondie is the voice of his region and an absolute treasure.
Against Me – Baby I’m an Anarchist (2002)
“You’re a spineless liberal” has always been a catchphrase of the right but I’d never heard it coming from the left. That was clever. What an insult!! That really struck me. Looking down on liberals for not being hard enough. Co-opting an insult, using it in a new way and making it your own, very Lenny Bruce… I love that lyric more than most.
Between The Wars – Billy Bragg (1985)
Proceeds from the sale of this EP went to the striking miner’s fund in the UK. That is activism. This guy took a hard stance 35 years ago before it was a thing. He put his money where his mouth is.
There are so many lines in this song about a social safety net that are worth mentioning but we’ll just quote this one…. “I’ll give my consent to any government who does not deny a man living wage”.
The Profiteers – Spirit Of The West (1988)
I saw this band live at a folk fest upon the release of their first record. It was moving. The cynicism in the lyric “I’m within my rights, my conscience clear. I am the profiteer” was absolutely biting. You saw the same sentiment in the 2016 Trump/Clinton debates when Hilary criticized Trump for not paying his fair share of taxes and his response was “that makes me smart.”
YG and Nispey Hussle – FDT (2016)
It’s crazy to think that it was only just 4 years ago. It seems like a lifetime. Listening to this song now is like going back and looking into a crystal ball. The foresight is staggering….
Last Poets – When the Revolution Comes (1970)
Precursor to hip hop. Absolutely militant. There are a few lyrics in here that most certainly do not age well but this record is half a century old and the sentiment of “speak not of revolution until you are willing to eat rats to survive” left a lasting impression.
I certainly hope that the current climate has motivated people to stay involved. Not get involved, stay involved. It’s one thing to march for a weekend. It’s another to stay vigilant. It’s much more tiring, not profitable and can be frustrating.
Discharge – Protest and Survive (1982)
Not much to this song other than the reminder that protest is our most powerful agent for change.
The Redskins – Kick Over The Statues (1985)
While the band name is not our favorite, this song is as timely as ever. With more and more statues taking a swim, we think this should be the soundtrack to the summer. And absolute gem if you don’t know it.
“Kick over the statues and the tyrants die. Wave bye bye with a hammer to their heroes. The first act of freedom all over the world. Is to topple the statues kick the bosses over”
JU$T – Run The Jewels (2020)
“Look at all these slave masters, posin on yo dollar.”
It’s 2020, where’s that Tubman twenty???