Strike Anywhere: “We are angry and hungry, as ever”

Strike Anywhere: “We are angry and hungry, as ever”

By Glen Bushell

Jan 12, 2017 11:20

Punk and politics have always gone hand in hand. It has served as an outlet for the voice of the people since the seventies; for the underdogs, the disenchanted, and the passionate. Even though the style of punk may have changed over the years, musically, the attitude is there and the fire still burns in countless bands. One band who chose never to shy away from what they believe in, be it politically, ethically, or personally, is Strike Anywhere.

“For me, the historical disaster that is our current political climate – and the conditions which inspired the Brexit vote for your fellow citizens – has been brewing and building like a virus for a while,” says Strike Anywhere vocalist, Thomas Barnett. “We all live inside a system that demands absolute dependency on faulty institutions that don’t serve us and instead work against us; late-capitalist nations in a global military, surveillance and market state of total war.

“The newer wrinkle in this tired-ass equation, to me, seems to be an issue with information. How we process truth and how vulnerable we are to manipulation on a now global and instantaneous scale,” he continues, delving further into the current state of the world. “So, yeah, in some ways, the shock and powerlessness that the election broadcasted into a lot of our country, and the world, isn’t a question of not understanding how it manifested, but how we didn’t see it coming sooner, and clear as daylight.”

Barnett speaks with an informed sense of confidence when discussing such issues as the recent US presidential election, and last year’s EU Referendum. You get the feeling he has analysed every detail, looking for answers. His delivery and manner of speaking help you understand the importance of Strike Anywhere.

“The critical aspect of our songs has always been to engage in the deep state, expose and combat the transformation of culture into a weapon against the majority of living beings, and the rendering of politics itself as a theatre to keep us disorganised and paranoid,” he continues. “A lot of this, unfortunately, is still what we’d write about – it’s the processing of the Trump election and the deep resistance to the expected mobilisation of the far right that would accompany his presidency that we need to address, both as counter culture contributors, and physically to defend our rights and the rights of the vulnerable minorities in our community who will be increasingly at risk.”

While some bands lose their spark or the will to fight, that’s certainly not the case for Strike Anywhere, who formed back in 1999 in Richmond, Virginia. “We are angry and hungry, as ever, to do this thing with our whole heart and have those moments at shows where we feel in the eye of a storm of amazing, fearless, creative and compassionate folks,” reveals Barnett, opening up about where the band is both professionally, and personally.

“I think we are also getting really motivated to try and put together a new collection of songs and try and pull the time out of the air to make it happen. There have been some new additions to the Strike Anywhere family this past year, and my band mates who are new fathers are busy up to their eyeballs.

“Amid all the political strife and noise, and the restless weeks of working and waiting, there are bright, peaceful and beautiful moments with friends and family that also inform our commitment to this band and this scene – even as the youngest of us dawns on middle-age-for-punks,” he continues.

”I’ve had my grey hairs now for half a decade and it seems that a lot of our generation of the punk and hardcore global community are still in this fight. This sonic medicine against the Adult Crash helps! So, to sum up: HANGRY!”

Despite it being eight years since Strike Anywhere released their last album, ‘Iron Front’, their audience is just as ready for new music. After the band posted an image on their Facebook page, a quick glance at the comments showed people saying things such as “we need you now, more than ever,” or jubilant statements thanks. It’s a connection between band and audience that few could match.

“We believe this relationship with our audience to be one where we learn and are a part of a continuum of equality,” admits Barnett, expressing his gratitude. “We aren’t always going to have the perfect response, or even the clearest outlook on some issues, and need to be able to get in the mix of life and learn what we need to about social movements, individual experiences, and especially ourselves.

“We are on the same path as our audience, and won’t be put on a pedestal; This is the No Heroes Movement – although the times are critical and the level of anxiety may be higher than it’s ever been in the Digital West. We all need inspiration, and, as bands and songwriters, the courage to listen and stay connected, not proclaim something untested from a distance.”

Strike Anywhere: “We are angry and hungry, as ever”

Barnett humbly admits that he, and the whole of the band are “a little surprised, that the lyrics and what issues they connect with, and with whom, still have as much value to our audience of friends and comrades as they seem to.”

As Barnett reflects on nearly two decades of being part of Strike Anywhere, it’s clear he is still modest about the impact the band has made. “After 17 years, It moves us beyond words to have the opportunity to sing along with everyone at the shows, and be there for specific personal and community details the songs’ meaning have picked up along the way.

“For the songs that discuss social injustice, police brutality, and toxic psychological conditions – which, to be honest, are nearly all of them!- it’s painful to have to face that many of these issues have seemed to get worse and the problems are evolving,” he continues. “This just means we all need to evolve the solutions, too. And we will, all of us, survive and make the most of this moment in history.”

Not everyone shares the same thoughts as Strike Anywhere, but then, we aren’t always going to agree on everything. Barnett takes a constructive view on this, saying that “if it is a good conversation, I will be there for it and listen,” and that if someone is simply just not listening and only after provocation, then he will ignore it until they tire themselves out.

“I don’t have a strong need to prove my point to people who I disagree with,” he continues. “I think a lot of folks aren’t necessarily sure of their worldview, but just need to have a moment where they have your attention and can exercise some demons. Again, if it’s not messing up the night for other people, I’m usually happy to listen and see what remains after. That’s usually when a decent dialogue can start after someone’s got their moment of catharsis and frenetic emotion articulated.”

The emotion that Barnett speaks of has been at the core of Strike Anywhere since their inception. He believes that “everyone has a fire in them that knows that something’s wrong with the state of life as it stands in our time,” but admits there are other factors that drive their music. “There is also a need for reflections on love, anger, beauty and death, as there’s always been, in the arts that we create to connect to each other, through and beyond time,” continues Barnett.

“The perfect protest song by every group or artist is only as effective as how truthful and authentic it is coming from that person, with their context embedded in it,” he adds. “Revolutionary songs just need the song to brave, and speak truth to power, born of experience and love. They can even be love songs. Or songs that transcend the outrage of the moment, that aggressive listing of current events that numbs the listener and sometimes causes more distance, that illusion that we are ‘doing something’ when we’re often just pacifying our guilt or angst.

“This unique quality is what makes the connection for player and audience to become the fabric of culture and change. Going to Fugazi shows in DC when I was 17 definitely taught me this.”

Strike Anywhere have their chance to make that connection with their fans in the UK once more, as they return to our shores in the Spring for the first time in nearly seven years. Barnett expresses his enthusiasm about getting back to the UK, saying that both he and his band mates cannot wait to get back here.

“The U.K. Punk scene, and the shows and regional character we’ve had the privilege to experience and be a part of over the years have been an important and unique part of our lives, and this band’s history,” he beams. “We have a lot of memories of shows, and just hanging out between the times of fury and passion from so many that feel like a strange kind of other home; a familiarity and kinship, as well as a proving ground, which shaped the band from our first tour in 2001, to the present moment.”

As part an extensive European tour, Strike Anywhere will be here for four dates, including their first ever show in Bristol. “It feels like a rare and crucial thing,” says Barnett. “Getting the chance to play for and share our time with new and old friends in the four cities we are playing in this April is something we weren’t sure was going to be able to happen for a number of years.”

So as we wrap things up, and Strike Anywhere prepare to take on the world once more, Barnett lets slip what we can expect from the shows in April. “Well, we will be playing songs from all of our records, and probably a pretty dynamic set list that most likely will include a new song or two each night,” he admits. “I am really, really excited to get to watch Petrol Girls and hug our old friends in Bear Trade! We are all very happy with how this tour has come together.”

Strike Anywhere will tour Europe in Spring, which you can see the dates for below.

21 MANCHESTER Manchester Punk Fest (w/ Petrol Girls, Bear Trade)
22 BRISTOL Exchange (w/ Petrol Girls, Bear Trade)
23 LONDON Underworld (w/ Petrol Girls, Bear Trade)
24 EXETER Cavern (w/ Petrol Girls, Bear Trade)
25 UTRECHT, NL Ekko (w/ Petrol Girls)
26 HAMBURG, DE Hafenklang (w/ Petrol Girls)
27 ZWIESEL, DE Juz (w/ Petrol Girls)
28 SAARWELLINGEN, DE Flexibel (w/ Petrol Girls)
29 MEERHOUT, BE Groezrock Festival