I remember when I bought my first Marilyn Manson tape. I was probably 13 or 14. I painted Marilyn Manson lyrics on the wall of my bedroom with laundry detergent so you could only see it in a blacklight. (I’m watching my “cred” disappear as I write this. fuck it.) A lot of goths wanted, I remember, to exclude Manson from their ranks, but fuck that. It’s obvious as hell. He may be a pop star but hell if he’s not fuckin spooky.
I got out of Manson almost as quickly as I got into him, mostly because I don’t honestly like most of his music very much. His cover of Sweet Dreams, though, is still lovely, fifteen years later.
After his interview in Bowling for Columbine, where he got right to the guilt of Clinton as a war criminal, I respected him all the more. I’ve no interest, by and large, in a culture that produces rockstars, and I’m not really fond of Manson’s sort of sarcastic/ironic approach to being a media icon, but I’m not going to go listening to the Clash and then talking shit on Manson.
It was pure nostalgia and youtube searching that led me to this song, The Nobodies, but I like it a lot.
Monica Richards is an amazing singer. She’s mostly known as a singer in Faith and the Muse, but she’s put out a solo album, InfraWarrior, as well. In Leipzig, I was dancing in a small darkened room at a “we don’t think it’s technically a squat, but we’re not sure” gothic dance party, and heard Monica’s voice in a song I didn’t recognize… this lead me down the path that brought me to this song.
She also sings on the studio version of songs for The Eden House, including for the heartbreaking song To Believe In Something that I’m really fond of at the moment.
An excellent stompy song (a stompy song is a song that you stomp to) from Hocico, an industrial act from Mexico. Also worth listening to, from the political point of view, is their song Starving Children. But I like this song’s doom and gloom.
As long as there has been goth there has been radical goth. And not just in little dark corners of the dark corners that goths hang out in. Some of the most prominent bands of the genre have been and are quite vocal. Skinny Puppy was one of my first real “underground” (not on the radio) bands that I got into in high school, when a friend gave me a mixtape. Skinny Puppy has always been an animal rights band, and remains explicitly political on a number of issues. This is a song they did for an In Defense of Animals fundraiser compilation.
This is actually a video of the first time I heard this song. (there go my punk points). Troops of Tomorrow is most famously covered by The Exploited but was written by The Vibrators. I first heard it at Convergence 13 in 2007 in Portland, performed by Deathline International.
I’ve liked Faith and the Muse for awhile now, long before I knew they were political people. Then, a couple years ago, I went to Convergence (a gothic festival) in Portland, hoping to meet political goths. The first night, I ran across a punk guy with a mohawk and a circle-a “support the ALF” shirt, so I started to talk to him. I found out he was in a band, I asked what band, he said “faith and the muse.” I asked if Faith and the Muse was political, and he said “well, I am.” I assumed that he was a hired guitarist or something… goth bands often hire more punk-looking folks as their extra musicians. Then, the next day, I saw them play, and I realized it had been William Faith himself. He did the anarcho-punk talking between songs thing, and he mentioned their permaculture animal sanctuary that they run outside of LA, Ars Terra.
Most of Faith and the Muse’s songs are more sort of soft/flowing gothic-rock or neo-folk or whatever. A more representative song of their style is probably Annwyn, Beneath The Waves and of course, I’m in love with their cover of Running Up That Hill, because it’s the best song ever written and they do a wonderful job with it.
Earlier this year, I went to WGT, a gothic festival in Leipzig, Germany, and saw them play again. William introduced this song with an impassioned speech about how, at last, we could be around one another, we could be something other than freaks. That these were the moments that mattered. Somehow, he did a decent job of turning a ridiculously large concert hall into a basement DIY show, and I love him for that.
KMFDM is one of the best known industrial bands out there and they certainly don’t shy away from radical politics. (For example, see their song Anarchy.) Their name translates basically to “no sympathy for the masses,” a nice post-leftist statement.
I’m going to start a new feature here on Birds Before The Storm, called Nurr Goth Isn’t Political. I’m sick of how people assume that goth has no good political music. So I’ll be posting some of the more overtly awesome and radical spooky/dark/goth/ebm/industrial tracks I can find.
First, the swedish band Covenant with their “We Want Revolution”
The Sisters of Mercy are pretty obviously influenced by Leonard Cohen. Their name is a reference to the song Sisters of Mercy, pretty simple. The name of their album Some Girls Wander by Mistake comes from the Cohen song “teachers”, which I just found the audio of them covering (above).