New York City-based, legendary punk band Spike Polite & Sewage recently released their aptly titled EP Punk Not Dead. Consisting os Spike Polite (a vocal duo consisting of Reagan Youth and Cheetah Chrome), Michelle Shocked, Antony Romero and the iconic Beast on drums, Spike Polite & Sewage address politics and punk with their latest album. The band spoke with us about their history, an fraught time in New York City and their belief that punk is in fact not dead.
Tell me how the name of the group came about.
I, (Spike), was a punk rock teenager living in the squats amongst the communist and anarchist movements in the lower east side of New York City and we witnessed the police beating people so we stood up for our friend they were beating who did not commit a crime and people said was trash, garbage, sewage. And the masses united against that atrocity. If standing against injustice was right but you thought we were wrong? No, we are sewAge!
There is quite a history here of New York City’s punk era of the late 1980s/early 1990s and political activism. I’m sure there are some great anecdotes from this time. Care to share any?
Yes, we witnessed police brutality which was based on racism, classism and gentrification. And we used to attend protest rallies out of E. 13th St. squat run by the Yippies, anarchist, & communist squatters who godfathered us youth into the proActive direction for our musical efforts and the focus of our political songs. Now, we see the police state cracking down again as people resist racist and classist brutality. It hasn’t gone away.
“Punk Not Dead” is a salvo of insurgent punk rage: in-your-face social satire in reaction to the witless decline of western civilization. Can you expand on this?
People lost the ability to maintain social connections without algorithmic “networking” and now are in isolation and lost in power trips prompted by right wing owners of such tech agencies who have manipulated their minds. Even as runaways from broken homes, we had a functional community, with real lines of communication for mutual aid. The destruction and pillaging of our community comes from the tech bros who broke up our happy broken home. We have come to reclaim and take back the legacy of our own creative history.
I read that the band would like to use this new album to shake things up again. How so? And was the music created with this in mind?
We invoke the legacy of a scene that still survives around that mecca for misfits, CBGB’s– now a John Varvados clothing store. We are its living memory, as witnesses and survivors of relentless gentrification and consumer distraction. We used a couple of old songs, wrote some new ditties, borrowed a few techno beats and blew out our amps. “Punk Not Dead,” but AI driven social media is.
I love the one song titled “Twitter is a Death Machine.” How did this song come about?
Since Elon Musk changed the name to X, we thought about also changing the song, but then we decided, why cooperate with his agenda? Look at what Twitter has become while he has owned it. Twitter is a command and control weapon of the defense industry, privatized from a communication channel for spooks and spies, then weaponized to extract collateral damage from humanity. It’s funny that people refuse to call it X and just keep calling it Twitter.
I was reading about the history of the group. You had quite a standing in the world of pop back in the day. Where do you think punk stands today?
Punk, curated by Live Nation or Spotify, is just another microtargeting marketing manipulation for mind control. We remember the real roots of punk rock bowling. We say punk, but what we mean is mutual aid among underground communities. We have our audience. We are our own creativity. They tried to bury us alive. They didn’t know we were seeds. We ask the question: who owns a community? The people who build it, as living theater, or billionaires who believe that just because they can afford to buy an archive of props, costumes and publishing rights, that they’ve bought the creativity of that community?
And where do you hope to see punk in the future?
Punk Rock is fun,raw distorted guitar played over three chords, a little sped up still melodic though. People love to dance to punk rock. And we make a foray into Electro-punk with an in-your-face dance remix that translates that punk rage into an EDM form, which derives from the industrial club sound that also came out of punk. Its all related. Punk makes the listener aware of social situations as if they themselves were involved standing up for what was right in the face of the wrong. Punk has license to put the political/social issues in the lyric content which we as humans are striving to overcome. But we want to be fun about it. So, like in the song Florida, it comes off fun in the sun, but you get the underlying satirical point.
What’s next for the band? And will you plan to tour with the release of this album?
We are going to do a series of tours in a timely manner, write/record/release new recordings and new tracks to give ourselves enough time dedicated to our music, artistic creation…. our artwork and yet enough time to rest in between to maintain our personal lives.
The album is available at https://solidbassrecords.com/product/punk-not-dead-vinyl/
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkfbOE6dc5QPwNzbke_GKeg