As such, it would be a wise move to not invoke the ire of the punk rock milieu.
Which is why we draw your attention to ‘Bankrupt’, the brand new single from Silverstein and their first batch of new tuneage since last year’s A Beautiful Place To Drown. Aggressive, and incredibly threatening, ‘Bankrupt’ is an unflinching shirt-front that screams “where is your rage?” to the indifferent, while simultaneously to its perceived targets – “two-faced leaders and greedy elected officials” – “here’s ours.”
“This song sounds mad because I am mad…” states Silverstein lead guitarist Paul Marc Rousseau. “2020 was horrible for everyone except a select few in elevated positions who leveraged that power and opportunistically kicked us all while we were down. We watched billionaires make massive gains while our two faced-government officials either sat on their hands and looked the other way, or worse: passed legislation that actively fucked the people in favour of appeasing big business. Watching these racist, aristocrat hypocrites denounce looting in the streets while they pickpocket the working class pissed me off then and it always will. They might have the money, but they will always be morally bankrupt.”
“…It is caps lock music.”
And this is no idle threat, either. This might be the first time that “caps lock music” has been named, but it’s not the first time that it’s been deployed.
If we roll with the prevailing wisdom that punk rock was first identified in the mid ’70s, then it took all of about a minute for its potential as a weapon to incite social change to be unleashed. By the end of that decade, punk rock was the spiritual soundtrack of social and political unrest throughout the world and “caps lock music” was the pissed off sound resonating with the pissed off masses.
During the late 70s, punk rock set its sights on racism, and the wave of nationalism that swept Europe. The Rock Against Racism movement, inspired by some insanely racist and concerning remarks from Eric Clapton, David Bowie and Rod Stewart, proves the case in point, led by the likes of the Tim Robinson Band, The Ruts, Misty In Roots and many more. Recent documentary White Riot, which we dove into here back in October, explains just how crucial the Rock Against Racism movement was against the rise of United Kingdom’s then-popular white supremacy movement, Enoch Powell’s National Front.
It was a force felt across the ditch too, with French punks such as Bérurier Noir leading the charge against the French National Front and their hardline right wing rhetoric. While racism remained as undeterred then as it is now, the Rock Against Racism movement led to a protest of thousands of people, punks all of them, which sent shockwaves through the whole world.
And it wasn’t just in the safety of a democracy that punk was being wielded with intent. Behind the Iron Curtain, punk rock, which was largely banned by state-sanctioned censorship, was also dishing out music in “caps lock”. In countries such as Poland and Estonia, bands such as Kryzys and Brygada Kryzys wrote the kind of angry music that resonated with the people, oppressed by waning Soviet dictators refusing to loosen their grip.
The “caps lock” sound also found its footing in punk during the late ’90s. Following a string of violent crimes against women, and the perception that feminism had lost steam, a new wave was breaching. High atop its crest was the Riot Grrrl movement, powered by the likes of Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy and Huggy Bear. First documented in a punk zine, as many good causes are, the Riot Grrrl movement was rebellion delivered to the masses via a stirring manifesto published by Kathleen Hanna.
Unapologetic, incredibly intelligent and based firmly in great songwriting, the impact of the Riot Grrrl movement cannot be understated – or even quantified at this point, as the movement continues at full force. Zooming out, it’s a shining example of what punks can achieve not just for themselves, but for the wider community.
Now, just as then, “caps lock music” is making a stand, and nothing is outside of its purview; racism, sexism, corruption – nothing.
Anti-fascist “caps lock music” is having a boom moment in Belarus with bands such as Mister X, whose frontman Igor Bantser was recently arrested for protesting against the wildly viewed sham election of Alexander Lukashenko. Music has been used to protest against Lukashenko for his entire tenure; since the foundation of the country. All-female punks Messed Up have also captured the hearts of the countries’ youth, depicting the strife of post-Soviet life through a feminist lens.
In Myanmar, gripped by a brutal military coup, “caps lock music” has again come to the rescue with considerable results. Punk in Myanmar now is also heavily involved in the civil disobedience movement and demonstrations against the coup. Local bands such as The Rebel Riot and the entire punk scene led to the creation of Food Not Bombs, an initiative that brings food, education and basic life necessities to the regions most affected by the conflict, who, of course, are those already most vulnerable. The cause recently announced an international punk rock compilation – a cacophony of “caps lock music” – with all proceeds going to the aforementioned organisation.
In short, it would be a fool’s move to discredit “caps lock music”. History has shown that it can talk the talk and walk the walk. Indeed, once the intentions are made known that a song or an album is one of protest, change sparks.
When a band like Silverstein makes such declarations of “caps lock music” known, that change is accelerated and amplified. After all, we all have a role to play. As such, it’s advised that all those who profited from deceit during the pandemic, all those who danced on the bones of dead relatives in the name of business, all those who have been proven morally bankrupt, ask not for whom the “caps lock music” tolls. It tolls for thee.