Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 2, 2014

Under the Radar Wades Into Senate Rules

Putting pen to paper is not something most musicians take lightly, particularly when the thoughts spilling forward skew toward the political.

Under the Radar magazine got a slew of indie rockers to do just that — and their collective rallying cries are up for grabs.

The most Congress-specific topic in the current edition comes from Death Cab for Cutie guitarist and UTR columnist Chris Walla, who shares his uber-wonky thoughts about what’s really at stake this November.

“I am absolutely convinced that the super shiny golden prize of American politics has nothing to do with the presidency or the candidates, but it’s the least sexy of all political topics: it’s Senate rules reform,” Walla suggests. According to UTR publisher Mark Redfern, that position dovetails with the group’s 2004 signage, which read, “Dissolve the Senate.”

The music-obsessed publication has strung together protest issues dating back to 2004, opening its pages each election cycle to entertainers willing to champion any cause via self-styled poster. The provocative missives are then autographed and auctioned off for charity — Yoko Ono’s 2004 painting of the Japanese symbol of peace remains the top seller — with the current crop benefiting the youth-empowering War Child organization.

This year’s class has plenty of problems on its mind.

Some advocate for awareness about climate change, while others hold prison reform as paramount.

Among our favorite marching orders:

  • “The rights of the minority should never be subject to the whim of the majority” — Canadian songstresses Tegan and Sara’s pro-parity stance.
  • “Call ur mom” — Seattle-based Paper Moon’s family-first plug.

Meanwhile, Mynabirds frontwoman Laura Burhenn advises others to be judicious when stirring the pot.

“It’s a fine line between being a compassionate person who is involved in your community and coming across as someone who has a God complex,” she counsels.

Redfern told HOH that prodding performers to wear their heart on their sleeves continues to prove challenging.

“Plenty and plenty of artists have turned us down. Some because … they ‘aren’t into politics’ or ‘don’t have anything to protest,’” he related. “In this day and age, how can you not have something to protest.”

To wit, Redfern shared that in 2004, Carlos Dengler, the then-bassist for Interpol, declined to take a stand for/against anything, even though the band was slotted to grace the inaugural cover.

“He didn’t believe that musicians should be political, that it ruined the mystery of rock music, so he was photographed not holding a protest sign. Essentially, he was protesting protest signs,” Redfren quipped.

The full catalog of 2012 auction items is available here.

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