Horrorshow: ‘It’s Important That Artists Talk About The World We’re Living In’
Written by Meshell Webb on 21st October, 2016
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Horrorshow have always been a duo with a lot to say. While things may have been a little quiet on the homefront with the immense success of the One Day collective, the duo are back in full swing with recent single If You Know What I Mean and a national tour currently underway.
MC Solo [aka Nick Bryant-Smith] carved out some time in a very busy schedule to talk new music and deliver a very important message to both fans and our political leaders.
You’ve recently performed with One Day at the Keep Sydney Open Rally, how was that for you?
MC Solo: Yeah I was really stoked to be able to contribute and rock the stage with all the boys. It’s a unique chance to get to perform in the middle of Taylor Square. Using music and culture to bring people together in a safe environment is exactly what we were out there fighting for so I was proud to contribute. I really hope that Mike Baird and the state government wake up and realise how ridiculous these laws are and what a negative effect they’re having on our city. The fear is they do realise, they just don’t care, so it’s up to us to keep showing them that we care and that we’ll be keeping that pressure on until something changes.
Have you seen a significant change in your shows since the lockout came into effect?
Solo: Well this is the first Horrowshow tour in over a year and we’re lucky enough that we have a connection to our audience where they’re quite loyal and interested in what we’re doing so they’re not generally dissuaded by lockouts. What I will say is that I think there is a real narrative of negativity swirling around Sydney where all we’re talking about is what we can’t do. I’ve noticed my friends and other people I associate with are going out less and less because they think they can’t. Even at the One Day Sundays, we’ve seen a police presence and an attitude at our events.
Solo: Definitely, there’s a lot of merit in the theories circulating about Mike Baird and Andrew Scipione and the way that they’re informed by their religious beliefs… you barely need to scratch the surface to see the state government using the law as a way to push their own agenda onto the people of Sydney and, personally, I don’t believe that is the role of local or state government. The way they’re behaving, it’s not the way things should function. It should be all about making citizen’s lives better, the excuse about making streets safer and eradicating drunken violence is absolute nonsense. When you take a look at the statistics, nothing has changed. The problem has just shifted to another area. I think it’s shameful that the tragic deaths of some young men have been hijacked by our state government to push onto us how they believe we should be living, shutting nightlife down to put more property in the hands of developers.
The city is meant to be about the culture and its people, not real estate prices. I wish our government could remember that. The loss of lives is, of course, horrific. Of course! One of the young men who was killed in a coward punch incident was actually a Horrorshow fan so his family reached out to me and I got the opportunity to meet them. I really got to see first hand the pain that has been caused by that violence and my heart goes out to them. It’s definitely a tragic thing what happened and I do believe in trying to protect people in the community but the problem is way deeper than installing a curfew. We have to be looking at the construction of masculine identity in Australia and the connection with binge drinking and aggression, all of these things are in a way linked and if we want to fix it we need to be going a lot deeper
As somebody in the spotlight and having a dedicated fanbase, do you feel an obligation to speak up on things like the lockout laws?
Solo: I do feel a responsibility first and foremost as a person. In my mind, I put an equal value on all human life whether [it’s] a young man from Sydney or somebody who is fleeing from a terrible situation overseas. Who am I, or who is anyone to say one is worth more than another? When I look at offshore detention policies and I look at our federal government and how leaders are approaching the issue of asylum seekers, I do see a devaluation of human life and it makes me so sad, it breaks my heart. Our leaders, who should be setting the tone of the nation’s attitudes, are giving us messages of fear and rejection of human lives. Turning them into statistics and numbers doesn’t make locking them up indefinitely any better. It’s all for political gain, instilling fear into average Australians and hoping to secure votes in exchange for protection. When really, immigrants and refugees are a huge part (and have always been) of what makes this country the strong and diverse place that it is, so this new message is a load of shit. It disappoints me to see people like Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton failing to show leadership and compassion.
Their huge salaries are being paid by us and so we should expect more from them, we should hold them to a standard that we want to see. These are some of the most desperate and vulnerable people on the planet, we shouldn’t be turning our backs on them! We should be seeing more effort into facilitating the means to creating the correct infrastructure to be able to bring these people to Australia.
Speaking more on the matter of refugees, I saw you recently held a sold-out screening of the film ‘Chasing Asylum’ at the Factory Theatre.
Solo: Any Australian can host a screening of this film and once you’ve seen it I promise you won’t be able to support our government’s inhumane approach to refugees. It’s a breach of basic human rights and our government is doing it in our name. To anybody reading this: if you want to understand more about how these people are being treated please look up Chasing Asylum and watch that film and tell your friends! Write letters to your local or federal MP because it’s disgusting what’s happening and it’s in our name with our money.
You seem to have a very defined sense of responsibility!
Solo: I feel that responsibility not only musician but as somebody lucky enough to have a roof over my head and as somebody who is fortunate enough to be safe. As an artist I have a rare opportunity to broadcast my thoughts and have them heard, it’s a real privilege and one that I don’t take for granted, we work hard for it but we’re lucky too, and it’s so important that artists are making music that reflects our time and that we talk about the world we’re living in. For me, this is one of the most important and tragic issues we’re currently faced with and it’s my responsibility to raise my voice on it.
Let’s talk about your music, you’ve released a new single so there must be more on
Solo: Yes! We’re going to be sneak-previewing some new material on the tour, we’ve been working really hard on the new record and we have a whole bunch of finished tracks and others boiling away. So with the tour, it’s a mixture of this and the old. Classics, fan faves and some material we haven’t played in a really long time, but we will be sneaking in the new tunes to road test them but also reward those who support us. For everyone coming along, they’ll be getting some brand new material which we’re so excited for. It’s great seeing how people react to it.
So the response has been quite positive so far?
Solo: The response has been awesome, to go away from it all for a minute and be so busy with One Day stuff then to come back and announce the tour at the same time as the single, it’s been great. The tour has a whole bunch of dates, we’re going all over the place. Our support guys are pretty much our family so it’s gonna be great vibes. The song Right Here we threw together was just a bunch of fun. I mean I’m rapping about Hulk Hogan’s moustache! We didn’t take ourselves too seriously and that’s a side of making music too.
Not every song needs to be an anthemic political statement so we do try to cover both angles. We want people to come down to our shows to think and feel and be moved but we also want them to come and have a good time and a bit of a party.
Is there anything else you’re hoping fans will be able to take from this run of shows?
Solo: Ultimately, I’d love for people to go home with sore feet, having yelled their lungs out and feeling like they had a really great time.