Racetraitor guitarist Dan Traitor on connecting hardcore and union organizing | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

Racetraitor guitarist Dan Traitor on connecting hardcore and union organizing 

Plus: Fern X Decline on his inspiration as a front man, the Reader’s Jamie Ludwig on the outsiders who seeded the Australian punk scene, and more

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

A Reader staffer shares three musical obsessions, then asks someone (who asks someone else) to take a turn.

click to enlarge Deniz Tek (top) and Rob Younger of Radio Birdman - COURTESY THE ARTIST
  • Deniz Tek (top) and Rob Younger of Radio Birdman
  • Courtesy the artist

Jamie Ludwig, Reader associate editor

Descent Into the Maelstrom: The Radio Birdman Story Protopunks Radio Birdman have a special place in my heart. The group emerged in 1970s Sydney with a transgressive attitude, smarts to spare (two members are doctors), and an ambitious sound that merged garage, surf, and high-energy Detroit rock 'n' roll. This 2017 documentary explores all that, plus how their outsider status and rejection of industry convention helped inspire a movement. I would've liked a closer look into the band's songwriting, but the film's wealth of concert footage and straightforward interviews make it a must-see for Birdman fans—and anyone else who loves independent culture.

The Hideout Few venues enjoy the Hideout's well-earned reputation for high-quality bookings, community atmosphere, and integrity. The cozy club has been there for us, and it's inspiring to see artists, fans, and industry folks alike helping it defend our city's musical culture against the Sterling Bay/Live Nation project threatening to swallow its neighborhood.

The Quietus on extremist ideologies in underground music The global surge of the far right has inspired a new Quietus series exploring how fascism and its cousins have appeared in underground music since World War II. The stories aim to push listeners to reappraise the past and to hold present-day artists accountable. Dylan Miller wrote the first two installments—an introductory essay and a feature about satanic-fascist group Order of Nine Angles and its ties to neofolk—and they're both sobering, essential reads.

Jamie is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge Ray Cappo fronting Youth of Today - TERRORMACHINE/FLICKR
  • Ray Cappo fronting Youth of Today
  • terrormachine/FlickR

Fern X Decline, vocalist of Decline

Galaxie 2.0 My favorite DIY venue in Chicago is definitely worth mentioning. Located in Ravenswood, Galaxie 2.0 is a community art space used for dinners, wedding receptions, swing-dancing nights, dance lessons, and of course alcohol- and drug-free all-ages punk and hardcore shows whose positive atmosphere makes the venue unique. Shows at Galaxie 2.0 are mostly booked by FYR Booking, so you can check FYR's Facebook page for more info about upcoming events.

Ray Cappo from Youth of Today, Shelter, and Better Than a Thousand I'd like to share this funny/silly fact about myself, which is also the answer to a question people frequently ask me: my main influence as a front man is Ray Cappo. He's the most energetic front man I've ever seen, with his intense screaming and high jumps onstage. When I first saw the album cover for Youth of Today's Can't Close My Eyes when I was a teenager, I said I wanted to be like the guy in that photo; I'm now in my 40s, and I'm still not like the guy in that photo.

Midwest hardcore In the U.S., hardcore scene people unfortunately tend to look at bands from the coasts and overlook what's going on in the midwest. But here are some midwestern hardcore bands that I think are worth mentioning: Abraxas, Inclination, 2 Minute Minor, Redbait, Time & Pressure, Better Days, New Heart, Bystander, Through N Through, Shots Fired Shots Fired, Vortex, Burdened, Bitter Truth, Spine, La Armada, Justice Decays, Death of Self, and Treason.

Fern is curious what's in the rotation of . . .

click to enlarge Redbait - VERONIKA REINERT
  • Redbait
  • Veronika Reinert

Dan Traitor, guitarist of Racetraitor

Nicholas James from Redbait Nicholas James met his comrades in Saint Louis hardcore band Redbait through activism, and he's a union organizer with the SEIU. When I asked him about connections between his music and work, he said, "I represent 6,000 black workers in a post-Jim Crow state. The institutional racism I witness daily makes the job's influence unavoidable." James invites coworkers to address the crowd during setup at the band's shows. "White male punks are not used to having middle-aged black women tell them to get their political head out of their collective ass," he says. "I love to watch this."

The Defiant Ones This HBO miniseries focuses on the collaboration between Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Its portrayal of Dre is compelling—he was exploited by Jerry Heller, Eazy-E, and Suge Knight, but never gave up. He reinvented himself by working with artists who pushed the envelope and created a sense of danger. And he seemed genuinely regretful about assaulting Dee Barnes. Also moving was Iovine's commitment to Dre—a big part of their friendship seemed rooted in values they developed growing up in harsh environments.

The search for "heavy" It's a driving force in black metal, death metal, and metal-influenced hardcore. Old Man Gloom's No, Nails' You Will Never Be One of Us, Behemoth's The Satanist, Nile's Annihilation of the Wicked—lo-fi or hi-fi, they're all brutal, aggressive albums in different ways. Is it the guitars, bass, or vocals that drive a record home? Rawness and energy or precise, mathematical polish?  v

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Jamie Ludwig

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories