Jolly Protest Rocker - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Jolly Protest Rocker

Jolly Protest Rocker

Published January 13, 2006

/// Three bands, three costume changes. I bet that was fun.
– It was hectic. Schizophrenic.

/// Rass is known for being a political band, yet you didn’t make any political statements during Rass’ performance.
– That’s true. We avoided this for two reasons. Number one, we wanted to end on a jolly note, in keeping with the festival setting. That’s why we did “Congratulations.” Number two, we wanted to avoid preaching between songs. We prefer to keep the politics within the songs and not shout about them between songs. That kind of behaviour gets on our nerves, frankly.

/// Do you think this was the most significant musical event you’ve ever taken part in?
– In many ways, yes. It was a big concert, a successful concert, and the crowd enjoyed themselves from start to finish. And seeing such a blend of musicians get together to convey this message was refreshing, too.

/// Do you think the message got across?
– Yes. Even if the only message we managed to deliver to the government is that there are people who care about this issue, this does a lot. [Minister of Industry] Valgerður Sverrisdóttir softened her views the day after the concert.

/// Do you find that convincing, or do you think it’s more PR?
– Well, yeah, it is PR. But at least it’s acknowledging these views. Sadly, that hasn’t always been the case. Usually, they just dismiss any criticism.

/// Were you surprised to see international acts like Damon Albarn so interested in this issue?
– No, not really. These friends of Iceland are involved in what’s going on here, and they seem to have an engaged relationship with the country. In many ways, they’re maybe more in tune with the situation than the Icelanders.

/// How so?
– Maybe because our world view is so narrow. One thing I can tell you that did surprise me, though, was all the star treatment these big names got. But every time they got media attention, they used the opportunity to talk about this issue, which I thought was admirable.

/// Was this concert a one-off, or do you think it will get the ball rolling again regarding this issue?
– I think it will energise people to try things again. The concert itself might be a one-off, but the artists all enjoyed themselves. Most importantly, this showed that when something is well thought out, it can work.

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