Thursday, July 30, 2015

Meet the Bands: VOLUNTEER

This project would obviously not be possible without the amazing punk and indie bands contributing. So let's meet the bands of UNINTIMIDATED: Wisconsin Musicians Against Scott Walker, one by one.

Photo by Patrick Houdek

Milwaukee's Volunteer have been at it for a few years now, assembled from members of Milwaukee/Racine standouts like Stock Options, Forstella Ford, and Chicago's Gasoline Fight. Volunteer are straight-up LOUD, which is what noise-rock bands should be, so that works out well. The amphetamine-fueled rumble of bands like Unsane, Steel Pole Bathtub and Helmet inform the snarl that chugs and churns out of the wall of amps behind Francisco Ramirez's baritone guitar, Mark Sheppard's steel barrel Tamas, and Martin Defatte's meaty bass. On their latest, the Goner EP, you can almost see Defatte's bass strings swaying back and forth across the fretboard--they sound detuned to the point where it's shocking they still have tension. It lays a foundation of molasses that Ramirez's crushing riffs and throaty growl coalesce into a glacier of straight-up noise.

Ramirez happens to be an amazing poster artist, as well--he appeared in the excellent documentary Just Like Being There in the company of such gig poster legends as Jay Ryan, Erin Page and Daniel Danger. If you're in a band, you should seriously consider hooking up with the Bureau of Print Research & Design for your next poster. He'll kill it.

Check out Volunteer's sludgy awesome at, toss 'em a few bucks, and get ready for some straight-up volume--when we say we're gonna yell at Scott Walker through songs, this is what we're talking about.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Let it never be said that we're above sophomoric jokes.

Because we're totally not above sophomoric jokes.

(Courtesy the internet? PBS? I dunno, we saw it on Facebook...)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Doing an interview with WORT Tuesday, i guess!

Hey! We'll be on In Our Backyard on 89.9 WORT-FM Tuesday evening at 6:30 PM chatting about the project. So that's a cool thing.

In other news, we (yeah this ain't just one person planning this out, y'all--this is a collective effort. Mental note--start referring to ourselves in the third person plural more often) had some planning meetings the last two nights, and stuff is coming along nicely. It's pretty crazy how one silly little idea can suddenly resonate with a whole mess of people and start to take shape into something bigger and more awesome than envisioned. We're so excited to bring you all along as this project takes shape. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

OK, so we're on social media finally.

We finally set up a Facebook page. Please "like" us, share the page around, invite friends, all that jazz. Updates on the project will be posted here and there!

Walker Meet & Greet in St. Louis Today NOT AUTHORIZED By Store Owners

This is hilarious and comes to me via my friend Carlin in St. Louis:

Scott Walker's campaign is holding a "meet and greet" at Sugarfire Smoke House, a BBQ joint in St. Louis:

Please join us for a meet and greet with Governor Scott Walker, Sunday, July 26th, 2:15 PM CDT, at Sugarfire Smoke House!

Address: 9200 Olive Blvd. Olivette, MO 63132
Event Starts: 2:15 PM CDT
Attendee Requirements:

RSVP: You must RSVP and bring your registration ticket with you to the event for admittance.
Ticket/ID: The name on your registration ticket must match your government issued photo ID.
For press inquiries contact

Thank you for your interest - we look forward to seeing you there!
One hitch, though--the owners of Sugarfire say they know nothing about it, according to this message from their Facebook:

A little message from our owners:

We are in Austin this weekend doing some R and D on some BBQ to bring back to the Lou. We're getting some unkind messages on our social media that a politician that's running for president is eating at Sugarfire tomorrow. This in no way, shape, or form is an event hosted by us. We don't take reservations or hold tables for anybody. We also don't take into consideration anybody's politics or beliefs that want to eat here, we don't have time for that. We make delicious food for everybody, no judging or questions asked.

Thanks, Mike, Charlie, and Carolyn
And another line from the owners, in the comments:
never heard of the guy but he's got an evite out kind of making us look like we're involved, which we are definitely not. 
Definitely interested in what the scene will be like at the restaurant today. The restaurant says they are open to the general public today, but the Walker campaign states an RSVP is needed. Could be some interesting drama. For what it's worth, the owners also posted a photo of an email they were sending the campaign to show they didn't appreciate being made to look like they had any political affiliation (this is also from the Facebook comments on Sugarfire's page):

To be clear, Sugarfire is stating that they have no issue with Scott Walker eating there; they have an issue with being made to look like they support him, and if a Democratic candidate pulled the same stunt, they'd issue the same disclaimers, according to the owners.

If we hear any more news about how things shake down at the restaurant today, we'll share it here.

UPDATE (4:50 PM CDT): Carlin went to check out the event, and said a whopping two dozen people tops were there to see Walker:

"Turned out to be a bit of a non-event... but dude was there, in the actual building for a whopping 10 minutes MAX - him and his actual crew did not purchase or consume any food...They then spilled outside and he did a little more glad-handing and book signing outside - one of his security dudes (earpiece and everything) was holding the door open for a long time and I told him to shut the door and quit letting all the a/c out... he tried to give me some of the intimidation thing right as a waitress came up and said "Please close the door, we don't need the flies or the heat in here." And he closed it but gave me a little stinkeye."

Looks like the big event today that actually counts is the big ol' fundraising dinner Walker's attending later tonight:
Walker is to attend a July 26 event at the St. Louis home of Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield. Rex Sinquefield is a retired investment firm founder who has bankrolled initiatives to cut income taxes and curb the ability of teachers' union to negotiate tenure protections.
An invitation lists several prominent Missouri Republicans as members of the event's host committee. They include former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, who was an adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who recently launched a 2016 bid for governor.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Damsel Trash hard at work

We had a schedule bummer as Damsel Trash can't make the live recording sesh anymore, but we're still gonna throw their song on the comp, probably as a studio-recorded bonus track. I mean, how could we say no when they're putting in the work?

A future classic in the works, for certain!

We have other bonus stuff planned in addition to the live-in-studio recordings that will be the primary basis of UNINTIMIDATED. Just you wait for it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Shut Up and Sing

Our little project had a brief moment of viral explosion on Monday thanks to the Milwaukee Record blurb (thanks guys!), and most of what i saw online was overwhelmingly positive--lots of "finally!" and "I wish i was a part of this!" and the like. It felt like a nerve was struck inside people who were concerned that music and art in Wisconsin had become resigned to our state's fate: a once-great progressive bastion of open government sold piecemeal to cronies and special interests. We were immediately approached by several people asking "how can i help?" and rest assured--we'll find ways for you all to do just that!

Of course, when any artist tries in the slightest way to make a difference with their talents, the naysayers come with the snicker-fests. One friend of mine posted a link to the Record piece to a Wisconsin musicians group on Facebook and was immediately hit with "don't post political stuff here!" A few comments sneering about the success of Bands Against Bush and the like popped up here and there, because of course they did. (This is nothing new for me--when IfIHadAHiFi released "Imperial Walker," we were almost instantly greeted by this sarcastic take on our tune over at the National Review, which still stands as one of the greatest accomplishments in the history of our band.)

"Shut up and sing!" is the chorus often chanted by boring, conservative schlubs who prefer their music as mindless entertainment, art as something pretty to look at rather than an engaging brain exercise, movies as a way to shut off the brain after a day at work. And there's nothing wrong with dumb, brainless media (i'm as much a fan of Turbonegro as i am The Ex), but here's the thing--just choosing to play music, draw a picture, edit a video--these are inherently political acts, whether you recognize them as such or not. To choose to make art rather than simply consume it is a powerful choice to be active rather than passive (and to be clear, both choices are valid). 

And whether it's pure entertainment or more ambitious "art," music is full of thought-provoking political action. I mean, i know i don't have to say this to anyone searching out this blog on purpose, but it's so strange to think that anyone in a group of Wisconsin musicians would say "leave politics out of my music!" Whether John Lennon's asking us to give peace a chance or Jello Biafra's plotting to lynch his landlord, politics are everywhere in music. Hell, Elvis shaking his shit on live TV was a political act that pushed society forward (contrary to the consternation of concerned parents everywhere). Hell, those goofy dumb dumbs in Turbonegro pushed social and political buttons by working a gay gimmick in the dangerously-macho Scandinavian metal scene (although, given their early tendency to misguidedly wear blackface as a button-pushing challenge to racist attitudes in their homeland, arguments could be made about the motivations for their other gimmicks, but hey, the best art causes discussion, right? Anyway, i'm digressing). 

Bottom line--most people who gripe about politics in music are griping because they don't happen to agree with the politics. So, yeah, if you're a fan of ol' Governor Scotty, you're likely to think we should stick to songs about, i dunno, relationships and parties and good times or whatever. Well, as my pal Jilly from We Are Hex once sang, "I never wrote a love song and i won't start soon." ...What's that? A female singer giving love songs a kiss-off? Sounds like an act of rebellion to me. Sheesh, she should just shut up and sing, right?

(That photo above of the band on the Wisconsin capitol steps, by the way, is of Madison band United Sons of Toil, of which UNINTIMIDATED band Tyranny is Tyranny's Russell Emerson Hall was a member, and to this day, i'm super jealous they got to play the Capitol during the 2011 protests. Just, damn.)

Monday, July 20, 2015


Jeff Moody is not only the lead singer of Kenosha trash-punk-rockers Fowlmouth (one of our UNINTIMIDATED bands!), but for years he rocked it as the cartoonist behind STRIPWAX, a record review comic strip that was syndicated in several periodicals for a number of years. He's back at the cartoonin' again with GALOOT COUNTY, a strip about...well...i'm including it on this blog, so take a guess. Here's some of the goods:

You can expect more of these from time to time and they'll definitely be in the 'zine that accompanies the physical version of the UNINTIMIDATED COMP. I fucking love Wisconsin.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why We Fight

So if you're reading this post on or around July 20, you've been directed to this blog shortly after its official launch--probably by one of the bands involved in this project. So hey! Hi there. Welcome to UNINTIMIDATED. If you're wondering what the hell this project is, i explain it in a fairly high-level manner in this post, also permalinked in the "About the Project" link over on yonder right. But hey, we're building content over here, and this is the first day i've made this blog public, so let's talk more about why we're writing anti-Walker protest songs and performing them live in a recording studio in August with the intent of releasing said performances on a live, in-studio CD and DVD.

Back in 2011, my band IfIHadAHiFi recorded and released a protest song during the Madison Act 10 protests. That song was "Imperial Walker," and the $1 Bandcamp downloads of the track raised over $500 that we donated to Russ Feingold's Progressives United PAC. That song and project were born out of a sense of helplessness and desire to accomplish something while proud, hardworking Wisconsin citizens were having the right to collectively bargain stripped away. 

See, it's really easy to resign yourself to Internet slacktivism--the idea that the best and only course of action in response to enraging political activity is to share an article about it on Facebook, get a bunch of "likes" and maybe a couple shares, and go about your day, satisfied that you got to express your outrage, and leave it at that. But when day after day produces a new outrage--the idea that a minimum wage is a "lame idea," a certainly unconstitutional ban on abortions after 20 weeks, a corrupt State Supreme Court halting an investigation involving political advocacy groups that have donated money to those same justices--it's harder and harder to stand by and simply share outraged articles with clickbait-crafted headlines. 

So yeah, a bunch of Wisconsin bands are going to write angry, pissed-off songs about our rotten, corrupt governor (who is running to become our rotten, corrupt President--hence the timing of this project), and raise money for a worthy cause. We'll be announcing that cause soon, but be assured of one thing--it will not be the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. This is a non-partisan project, and frankly, the way the Wisconsin Democrats have performed in recent years (running Tom Barrett twice? Running a centrist businesswoman in Mary Burke and expecting her to win over fanatical conservatives statewide?), we don't trust them with the proceeds. The money we raise will directly assist people feeling the brunt of Scott Walker's economic policies--people like you and me.

Don't get it twisted--we realize that a few angry protest songs won't change the state by themselves. This record isn't going to force Walker out of office or convince anyone in Waukesha to rethink their alliances. But hopefully our project is one of several that spring up across the state to spread information & awareness, fire people up, and encourage people to DO SOMETHING. Volunteer for a progressive candidate for local office, fundraise for progressive causes--hell, even just start a civil dialog with someone across the aisle politically. As artists and musicians, we feel like we have to do something to let people know that Wisconsin isn't just rolling over and staying quiet while the Republican party destroys transparent government and makes the lives of working-class Wisconsinites more difficult while lining the pockets of special interests and power-hungry millionaires and billionaires. 

We're humble, working-class punk rockers. We all have day jobs. We pay taxes and we contribute to society. But because we have to work for a living, we don't have a lot of extra time to devote to the fight. It's hard to work for something bigger than yourself when you have a responsibility to provide for yourself or your family. But we're musicians, and we can at least do this, and hopefully inspire more activism in Wisconsin. Isn't that what all the best protest music does--inspire?

Hopefully we inspire you too. What will you do to help win our state back?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Wisconsin is a no-nonsense bastion of integrity and transparancy in all things and is not corrupt at all

In today's "stuff to yell about" file, for anyone poking in from out of state wondering what the big deal is about this Scott Walker yahoo:

Justices who dismissed John Doe investigation received over $8 million from the groups being probed

For those who haven't been paying attention: Walker's been the target of internal state investigations surrounding "alleged" collaboration with various advocacy groups during his initial campaign for Governor and during his recall battle in 2012. One of the groups his campaign is accused of collaborating with is Wisconsin Club for Growth, who have also doled out plenty in contributions to many Wisconsin supreme court justices' campaigns.

The main issue in these probes involved the Walker campaign coordinating with these groups regarding how they spent their money, which is a no-no under Wisconsin campaign finance law.(You can read more about the reasons behind the investigation here. It's all sortsa fun bedtime reading.)

This article from The Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch summarizes what this all means. If you couldn't guess, it means that Wisconsin has become a freer and more awesome state for corporate interests to exercise their political speech their checkbooks:
For years, Wisconsin has banned corporations from donating to campaigns.
Yet the majority’s opinion just opened a giant loophole. Because the court held that “issue advocacy” is entirely beyond the reach of Wisconsin campaign finance law, foreigners, corporations—and foreign corporations—can now spend on Wisconsin elections, as long as they bankroll groups whose ads stop short of saying “vote for” or “vote against.”
And the public will have no idea this is happening, because their donations won’t be publicly disclosed.
Here's a list from our initial link showing which justices have had how much money spent on them:
 Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce spent about $5.6 million on these four conservative justices:
$500,000 in support of Roggensack
$1,100,000 in support of Prosser
$1,760,000 in support of Gableman
$2,200,000 in support of Ziegler.
Wisconsin Club for Growth spent about $1.75 million on the four conservative justices:
$350,000 in support of Roggensack
$400,000 in support of Ziegler
$500,000 in support of Gableman
and $500,000 in support of Prosser.
Citizens for a Strong America spent about $1 million in support of Prosser in his tightly contested reelection race against JoAnne Kloppenburg in 2011.
But hey, nothing to see here. All's well in our sleepy little Midwestern paradise or whatever.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Waukesha Republicans are Creepy as Hell.

Wanna see something creepy?

My buds at Milwaukee Record sent photographer Wendy Schreier & writer Tea Krulos to Scotty's presidential announcement rally. It's some of the best photojournalism i've seen come out of Monday's event, and some of the best journalism Milwaukee Record's done, period. Some of the people in these photos are unnerving as hell, too.

That said, shout out to this lady for promoting our project:

Just for fun, see if you can spot any people of color in any of the photos. (Hint: you'll have a better shot finding Waldo on a map of Wisconsin.) Although, they had at least one minority audience member in the house for a little while.

He was invited in, but then asked to leave. That’s the story from Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee), who tried to attend Governor Scott Walker’s presidential campaign launch on Monday, July 13th at the Waukesha County Expo Center.
Barnes told FOX6 News he was inside the Waukesha County Expo Center prior to Walker’s speech. He had been chatting with Republican colleagues and snapping a few pictures. Right away, Barnes says he was singled out — he suspects, by a member of the governor’s staff. 
“And then she asked, would you like to stand on the stage? Would you like to be seated behind the governor? And we kind of looked and laughed because we were shocked. One, we were shocked and two, the irony of it all,” said Barnes.
Eventually Barnes was recognized as who he is--a Democratic state representative, at which point he was asked to leave, because god forbid any filthy libruls besmirch the holy proceedings. But man, dig the money quote:
As to why Barnes was asked to be on stage in the first place, Barnes is guessing a different kind of politics was at play.

“I took it as an honor that I was randomly selected. You know, how people get randomly selected in an airport, sort of like that,” said Barnes.
I like this guy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

We're bringing protest back to punk rock.

Here's the deal. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States on July 13, 2015. Waukesha County and rich white conservatives across the state rejoiced. But a lot of working-class, common-sense Wisconsinites listened to that announcement speech through gritted teeth, as we've watched this dangerous, power-obsessed sycophant systematically dismantle our state's government, our educational systems, our state parks...we could go on.

So what do we do about it? Sure, we can get mad. Sure, we can post clickbait articles from liberal blogs on Facebook and feel smug in our desktop slacktivism. Or we can do something tangible.

13 Wisconsin bands convened in a Milwaukee recording studio at the end of August 2015 to perform protest music that will be documented in CD and DVD form. The music on these discs will be used to distribute and disseminate information detailing exactly how Scott Walker has been a disaster as our Governor (and at the time, how he would have been equally disastrous as President, but fortunately for the country that's no longer an issue for this cycle). The proceeds from these documents will be donated to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and local Milwaukee soup kitchens, in the interest of helping those at the bottom of the food chain whom have been most directly affected by Walker's regressive policies. Here's how it's going to work:

WHAT THIS IS: A CD and DVD compilation of anti-Scott Walker protest songs performed live, in-studio, accompanied by an old-school, xeroxed fanzine. Punk!

WHO THIS IS: A murderer's row of angry, loud, Wisconsin indie and punk bands:
Body Futures, IfIHadAHiFi, Heavy Hand, Volunteer, Soup Moat, Holy Shit!, Tyranny is Tyranny, FowlMouth, Drillers, Midwest Death Rattle, Haunted Heads, Donoma, & Lady Cannon! Testa Rosa, Damsel Trash, and Venus in Furs have also donated tracks.

WHERE THIS HAPPENINED: Howl Street Recordings, Milwaukee WI!

WHEN THIS HAPPENED: The bands convened at Howl Street the weekend of August 28th, 2015, to record their protest songs live in the studio and on film.

HOW THIS HAPPENED: Each band had a two-hour block of studio time to play their song live, with minimal overdubs, if any. Each band absolutely killed it and we're excited to share the results with all of you!

WHY: Because dammit, we've gotta do SOMETHING.

Watch this space for updates, information, and all sorts of anti-Scott Walker goodness. The Weasel Governor of Wisconsin has been a disaster for our state, and he would be a disaster for our country. As musicians, we're not rich, so we can't really play politics. But we can scream really loudly. So we'll do that.