Rise Against boycott pro-war gig

October 19, 2009

It seems Australian hip-hop act The Herd are not the only musicians under attack from conservatives for standing by their principles. In September, the Herd pulled out of a coal industry-sponsored concert in Mackay, Queensland to the anger of big coal (but to the delight of their climate-conscious fan base).

US punk rock band Rise Against have recently come under attack for their refusal to headline a military-sponsored event, the Buzz Bake Sale.

An October 2 statement on the band's website said, "as the date closed in, we discovered that we were scheduled to headline a stage sponsored by the US Army's Recruitment Dept. As a band that has worked in counter-recruitment in the past, we decided it would be hypocritical and inappropriate for us to headline this stage.

"In addition, we were surprised that a radio station claiming to be familiar with Rise Against thought that we would be OK with the idea that we would play a show and subject our fans to military recruitment tactics in a time of war, a war we adamantly and publicly have opposed since its bumbled inception.

"Recruiters are a part of the military [and] even many members of the military will admit their distaste for their documented unethical tactics.

"We asked if something could be done, and when we were told no, we respectfully bowed out of the unannounced show for obvious reasons, and left it at that. We assumed the station was depending on the financial support of the sponsor and so we held no grudge."

Despite this, the radio station came to the "unfounded, false and irresponsible conclusion that Rise Against is 'against the army' and decided to spread this misinformation over the airwaves, threatened to not play its songs, and called for a boycott of Rise Against".

In fact, Rise Against work closely with the Iraq Veterans Against The War who attended many Rise Against shows in the past year. "Rise Against is against the war. Rise Against is not against the military", the band said.

The band have received support from other musicians for their stand.

Chris #2 from radical punk band Anti-Flag said: "Playing Rise Against songs on a stage sponsored by the army is contrary to the beliefs of the very songs.

"Militarism is not the solution to the problems we face in this world today. That is the very dialogue that Rise Against is trying to create with their songs and this statement.

"The fact is that Rise Against care about all men and women, including the men and women that serve in the military. We have seen these very people sent in to harm's way without just cause too many times."

This story does have a happy ending. After a mobilisation by fans, the station backed down and agreed to play the band's songs on-air once again.

[To read band's statements in full, visit www.riseagainst.com/blog.]

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