Ted Leo and the Pharmacists Issue Surprise Charity EP
To say that Ted Leo was dismayed by the violence at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, would be an understatement. So he decided to take his anger and do something about it. As he writes, "The surveillance, pre-emptive detention, arrest, and beating of journalists, protesters, and watchdogs by the St. Paul police department, the Ramsey County sheriff's department, and the FBI was so egregious that it couldn't be allowed to pass without comment."
The ever-outspoken punk rocker gathered his Pharmacists and hit the studio to lay down the two original songs and two covers that comprise the Rapid Response EP, available right this very instant for digital download from Touch and Go.
In the liner notes for the EP, Leo explains, "Real people were hurt in St. Paul, and real people have bills to pay, and real people need funding to continue their good works. We (the band and I) were all feeling these events as deeply as we could from our 1200 mile remove, and so as not to feel entirely powerless, and in an attempt to contribute SOMETHING to that continuation of those good works, we wrote a song and recorded it, along with another new one we'd already been working on that's pertinent to election time politics, and two covers we enjoy and that also have timely sentiments." Those covers are of crust punk bands Amebix and Cock Sparrer."All proceeds from the EP will go to Democracy Now! and the Minneapolis chapter of Food Not Bombs. It's available exclusively through Touch and Go at the moment, but will make its way to other online retailers after two weeks. Touch and Go is offering a sliding scale of payment for the EP, based on how much you'd like to donate to the cause.
[from the album's liner notes...]
EP Liner Notes From Ted Leo
For a very brief moment, it seemed like people were actually reporting the truth. The surveillance, pre-emptive detention, arrest, and beating of journalists, protestors, and watchdogs by the St. Paul police department, the Ramsey County sheriff's department, and the FBI was so egregious that it couldn't be allowed to pass without comment. I heard WNYC's Bob Hennelly compare the treatment of RNC protestors to the fact that Trojan condoms had a product booth inside the building at the Republican National Convention, saying, "It seems as if free speech exists only for those who can pay for it." I heard the name "Amy Goodman" actually spoken by, and written about in, the "mainstream media" after her roughing up at the hands of the St. Paul police. The story of the ABC cameraman who was smacked around and had his video camera smashed was about to bring down the righteous indignation of a formerly complacent press. And the license and viciousness and carelessness with which these acts and the banal bullying that seemed to be a constant around them - infiltration of peaceful (and not so peaceful) groups by police spies and agents provacatuer - the omnipresent pepper spray repeatedly maiming eyes that were only challenging with looks - stun guns, tear gas, and concussion grenades launched on a citizenry trying yet again to be heard - was finally coming under proper scrutiny. Was there violence launched against delegates, property, and police as well? I'm sure there was. And the majority of it is to be dismissed and condemned, but some of it has be to be understood as what was likely a natural response to this culture of military free-reign that pumps our protectors up to believe that we, exercising our rights as Americans, are an enemy to be crushed without concern and without reason. How they get away with it all... How they get away with anything they want to! We yammer on about the efficacy of trickle-down economics, but we ignore the trickle down effect that eight long years of example of contempt for the standards of the very same reasonable society this government claims to desire to defend, and the cynical exploitation of the populace via their fears and willingness to allow any transgression against their rights in the name of comfort (to inadvertently quote Shelter), but the proof of that trickle-down effect is all around, and was on display during the RNC in St. Paul. And this was actually being discussed somewhere other than within the remnants of punk fanzine culture and marginal message boards!
And then came the Sarah Palin Side Show, and we've all moved on (but let me dive in, yet again, for one second to relate it to the point I was making above, and ask a question: how is it that a candidate for vice president, one allied with the "anti-big government" "pro-individualism" and even pro-states' rights faction - can openly mock concern for an individual's rights in the face of government accusation - endorse a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy - and actually be considered for a post that requires deference to and upholding of the Constitution? In the world that they've created, there is no accountability). But real people were hurt in St. Paul, and real people have bills to pay, and real people need funding to continue their good works. We (the band and I) were all feeling these events as deeply as we could from our 1200 mile remove, and so as not to feel entirely powerless, and in an attempt to contribute SOMETHING to that continuation of those good works, we wrote a song and recorded it, along with another new one we'd already been working on that's pertinent to election time politics, and two covers we enjoy and that also have timely sentiments. It's a small thing, but as the particle collider that cranked up at CERN yesterday will continue to reveal, all big things are made out of smaller things. Thanks for your contribution in purchasing this EP.
A few words about the songs...
First of all, don't get on my case about recording quality, excessive compression, distortion, etc. - the point was to get this down and get it out as quickly as possible, so we just used our usual cruddy demoing set-up, and I mixed it down into, >ulp<... Garage Band. Also, I've been listening to not much but the last two Darkthrone records recently, so... that's probably had some effect on my vision of "production values." Also, I know that at one point it sounds like I'm saying "Amy GoodWIN," but it's just that I had never actually sung the song before, and I was rushing through it, not paying much attention to annunciation - I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt on that one, but you can still consider this a pre-emptive "clarification."
"PARANOIA: Never Enough" - written specifically for this event and this release. I wrote it on Thursday in Rhode Island, we recorded it on Friday in New Jersey. Hope you enjoy.
"Mourning in America" - it's about race as a campaign issue. If it makes it onto our next LP, it will no longer be campaign season, but the frustrating irony is that in a few years time, it'll probably be "timely" again.
"I Got Your Number" - it's pretty explicitly about media manipulation of political thought, I think. I also think it's about time Cock Sparrer got a reassessment and a bit of the respect they deserve in the Punk Pantheon.
"Nobody's Driving" - apparently Amebix is getting back together. I applaud that. Hugely inspirational. Daryl K. introduced me to them way back when we were in Citizens Arrest. After repeated listens to the EP with just the previous three songs, I felt like it needed another. I spent the afternoon yesterday doing a more elaborate version of this - two guitars, two tin whistles, an air organ, backing vocals, etc. - but wasn't really feeling it. I recorded over it by just playing and singing it live and alone - one guitar and one voice. Be forewarned - unless Touch and Go somehow manages to do some mastering to this before it gets posted, the first guitar chord comes in a little hot - if you're listening in headphones, you might want to turn it down a notch when "I Got Your Number" ends.
So that's it!
And again - this isn't meant to be some grand sweeping statement on our part - it's just a way for us to contribute SOMETHING real to the lives of real human beings, and show our material support for those whose actions and thoughts we value in this ideological struggle.
Thanks to James, Marty, and Chris for getting right behind this idea, along with Molly at Indivision, and everyone at Touch and Go. It feels good to work with good people!
And thanks again to you for helping Democracy Now! and Food Not Bombs.
Stay informed, stay alive - resist and survive.
xo - TL