Reagan's Creed

We examine conservative rock and learn why you should never throw anything away

Jun 16, 2004 at 4:00 am
Midwest power-trio Shellac was scheduled to play St. Louis with the Conformists in October of 2002, but Shellac had to cancel due to drummer Todd Trainer's balky back. Still, interviews were arranged, and tape was transcribed, and it seemed like a shame to throw away all that work, so it was filed away for a later date. Shellac will make good on a two-year-old promise by playing the Collinsville VFW Post 5691 (1234 Vandalia) on Thursday, June 17, and we get to clean out the files.

RFT: Do you watch Inside the Actor's Studio on Bravo, with James Lipton?

Steve Albini, guitarist/engineer: I have seen it. That guy's a riot.

So, you're familiar with the questionnaire at the end? Would you mind doing it?

Sure, tear it up.

What sound do you love?

Uh, I would have to say -- I don't know if it's too corny to say "eventide." But, like the bit where all the animals are changing from their daytime behavior to their nighttime behavior, and traffic is dying down, and you're getting to hear the sound of your environment rather than the sound of your workplace. I really like the way it sounds. Like Christmas Eve, at around midnight, when there's no traffic on the streets, and there's that peaceful . . . when things are quieter and more peaceful than normal, and you notice smaller details in the background, that's what I like.

What sound do you hate?

Whenever you turn a computer monitor on, there's an incredibly high-pitched whine that comes up out of them, and it stays there, drilling a hole in my forehead. I don't like that sound.

What job, other than your own, would you like to attempt?

Um, gee. Wow. If I had the physical skills, and intelligence, and talent and diligence, I would enjoy being a professional billiards player. I think that would be a nice lifestyle. I think I would enjoy the task. I'm not good enough, and I'm not smart enough, and I'm not diligent enough, but I think that would be a good lifestyle.

What job would you never want?

Oh, there's an enormous range of jobs that are done purely for the money. You know, where you do something you detest because you need to live? I wouldn't want any of those jobs.

And your favorite curse word?

Hmmm. Lately my girlfriend started saying "shitballs," and I really like that when she says it. I kinda like "cock-and-balls."

That's descriptive and kind of classy.

Yeah, as an exclamation, it's unusual, so it's not fatiguing. Like "damn, damn, damn, damn!" That comes up a lot, like "shit, shit, shit!" And of course, "fucking" used as a sort of universal modifier, like "hand me that fucking wrench." I'm fatigued by those. But "Cock-and-balls! I dropped it!" That's more fun to say.

And finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive?

Hmmmmm? I don't know. I guess, "The deli tray is right over there." Imagine how good that deli tray would be. -- Paul Friswold

Grand Old Punk?

The phrase "conservative punk" has been popping up in the press more and more these days, with acts like Johnny Ramone and Gotham Road (which hits the Creepy Crawl Monday, June 21) making headlines with their GOP love.

This is part of an alarming trend of non-radicalization on both sides of the punk political spectrum: Just as left-wing punks have turned from vegan Marxists into Kerry supporters, right-wing punks have always existed, just not as Bush bedfellows. Guess it's just part of the polarization of America. But punk isn't the only music genre with growing conservative ties (see the Creed/Gipper comparisons on this very page). What are some of the telltale signs of Republican rockin'? We're so glad you asked:

Rockabilly: All the pin-up girls tattooed on the musicians' biceps are tastefully attired.

Hip-Hop: Instead of massive bling displays, MCs carry around stock portfolios which they are happy to show you.

Pop country: Aren't named "The Dixie Chicks."

Club DJ: Keeps beats at reasonable volume to protect the property values of club neighbors.

Noise/Post-rock: Enjoy exploring the subtle intricacies of non-standard time signatures, such as waltz time.

Jam band: Clean, neat, hair combed, drug-free -- um, you're not buying this either, are you? -- Jordan Harper

Great Communicators

Last week saw the passing of two monoliths of America: Ronald Reagan, and Creed. The former, of course, died, and the latter broke up. Gone are the vacant stares, the amazing pecs, the very impressive heads of hair. And gone are the words that united a nation, words that, when analyzed, reveal the band and the Gipper to be kindred spirits. Want proof?

Creed: The walls are cold and pale/The cage made of steel/Screams fill the room/Alone I drop and kneel.

Reagan: General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Creed: Can't you hear us coming?/People marching all around/Can't you see we're coming?/Close your eyes it's over now/Can't you hear us coming?/The fight has only just begun/Can't you see we're coming?

Reagan: Someday all the peoples of the world -- from Afghanistan to Nicaragua to Poland and, yes, to Angola -- will know the blessings of liberty and live in the light of freedom.

Creed: Is this the end for us my friend/So, is this the end for us my friend, oh yeah/But as the wind rides/As the day breaks the dawn/And as the moon hides the sun/No more sorrow, oh your crying days are gone.

Reagan: I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

Creed: Only in America/We're slaves to be free/Only in America/We kill the unborn/To make ends meet/Only in America/Sexuality is democracy.

Reagan: We should rise above bitterness and reproach, and if Americans could come together in a spirit of understanding and helping, then we could find positive solutions to the tragedy of abortion.

Creed: Can you take me higher?/Can you take me higher?

Reagan: Drugs are menacing our society. They're threatening our values and undercutting our institutions. They're killing our children. -- Randall Roberts