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Email interview with Efrem Schulz (lead singer, Death By Stereo)

 

Do you see a historical evolution of politics and message in punk music?
What are the trends of the current day in political music versus the formative periods of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s? Well, I see the music taking steps backwards and the message disappearing before our eyes. But as far as old stuff goes it was kind of like "live fast, die young" all of the early stuff was: "no future, fuck you, fuck the rich, we want their money!” Now it's like, “we are all well off and we hate money!” Punk started to try and save the world somewhere along the way.

How do you feel about the impending war and current foreign politics of the
United States of America?

I feel sad. I'm afraid of how many people will die. I have an old friend from childhood out there and I don't want him to die for some bullshit. Our foreign policy is a joke. How can our country push people around all over the world and not expect to get fucked with? And meanwhile here at home people think they can just buy a little flag for their car and every thing will be all right.

Is the tending towards anarchy and government destruction in the punk scene still present or even relevant in a time where the level of expectation for articulate songwriting is raised as it seems to be in the current scene?
I think it is still present but to quote Jello, "Anarchy seems good to me but who's gonna clean the sewer" Most of the people sporting anarchy symbols bought them at the mall. I'm all for destroying the government myself though!


What do you see is the most pressing societal issue at the present time?

Healthcare. It affects all of us every day, rich or poor.

Is the recent explosion of punk-influenced pop bands on the radio and television cheapening or threatening the political and musical integrity of the punk scene?

Not really, I think that it is two different worlds now. It got cheapened a while ago and when you say punk it's just another style. Nothing scary about it. All the old reunion bullshit cheapens it too. They're not cute or poppy, just embarrassing.

Is a band's popularity chiefly dependent on their music or lyrics?

Both, I think it depends on the band.

Is there a problem with people who enjoy a band's sound but do not agree with the group politically?

Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. When they mindlessly sing along and adorn themselves with logos I think it's a bit stupid.

Is there a problem with people who enjoy a band's sound but ignore the group's message?

Yes and no. If you like a band because they sound good that's great, if you take home the message even better. In the case of racism or violence and topics of that nature it's a different story.

Who has been the most influential for the state of punk today (music and message) and why?

The press and music television. They sucked the message right out and out the bands at the top of the charts.


Does a bands signing to a major label affect their integrity and music?

I don't think so. I don't have a problem with major labels. I know how much it sucks to be broke on the road and they can really help get you out there. I think people that change for their labels let it happen to them selves.

Do you feel that it is easier to write about political and societal subjects or rather more emotional material?

For me it is always from a personal point of view and the political subjects can be just as emotional as the ones about my life.

Who/what are your personal political influences?

My parents and seeing their experience with coming to this country from Mexico and dealing with prejudice and trying to beat the system.

Have the politics of punk changed over the last twenty years developed as a result of outside influences or an internal change?

Both. It became really big and people caved in as well.

Are the majority of the proverbial "kids" really paying attention to and supporting the message of your lyrics?

I think a lot of the leave the shows thinking. Weather they agree or understand, if I can leave them scratching their heads at lest they are thinking for them selves.

The voter turnout for the midterm elections was along the lines of twenty to thirty percent of Americans, do you think this is a result of apathy among youth culture or the lack of information available on elections?

I think that it is part apathy and partly because people are seeing before their eyes that their vote doesn’t count.

Related to Fat Wreck: what do you think of Fat Mike's recent political activism against the President and the establishment of the Punk Voter website?

I think it's awesome, even though we are on Epitaph.



Thanks a lot for letting me be a part of this. I hope it works out well! See ya! Efrem