Brooklyn punk rock band The So So Glos are set to release what they describe as their ‘most mature album yet’ Kamikaze on the 25th of November across the UK, following shortly after with their UK tour that will take place on the 5th to the 9th of December.
As a well-known politically outspoken band, I was curious to hear how they were feeling after the recent shock of the American elections and, after renaming their UK tour ‘Brexit from the USA’, I spoke to lead singer Alex Levine about his views on the importance of expressing controversial topics like these through music.
The last time The So So Glos played in the UK was two years ago, in 2014, is there any specific venue you are looking forward to playing at?
We’re looking forward to playing in King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, in Glasgow, we’ve played there a couple of times before. Every show is different, but I think in general in the UK you have this glorified version of us simply because we’re from ‘across the pond’, because we’re New York. We would feel the same when we were kids and we listened to British music, there’s this kind of mythology that comes when you’re looking over the pond at other bands. Just going to different cities and hearing lyrical references from so many songs is great too.
You renamed the UK tour ‘Brexit from the USA’, what are your opinions on Brexit and do you think it’s affected the USA at all?
I think the global economy and everything is so intertwined nowadays that we are feeling the effects of this year and we’ll be seeing them for years to come. I think even just from a social point, the rise of populism, nationalism and extremism from both ends, from the far left and the far right, everything is so extreme at the moment. We’re just living in such an extreme world and I think we need to have some music that reflects that, because I’m tired of music that emotes nothing, that says nothing, that’s just fucking re-verb that ends up drowning out all the lyrics so that you can’t even hear them. I think that now is going to be an exciting time for music hopefully and also for the youth. It’s time to get more active and organised in composition to some stuff that we see that’s not really going the right way.
Do you feel like incorporating political messages in music is important to change people’s views, especially in the current climate?
I guess it’s important, but I don’t think we can get around it in some ways, I think it’s just something that’s always come hand in hand with the band. Having said that, I don’t think that all of our songs are particularly political, but I do think that they have a political undertone. You know, once a song is written, it’s not just ‘your song’ any more, it’s not just up to me to say if it’s political or not, but it can definitely be interpreted that way and I like that. I think a good political song is also a love song and I think the true revolutionary spirit is about empathy and it’s about love, so they’re political songs but they’re also love songs.. and some of our songs are just love songs.
”I think the true revolutionary spirit is about empathy and it’s about love.”
You recently covered the Barry McGuire song ‘Eve of Destruction’ for Kerrang, what made you chose that song?
Well, I just think that, at the moment, there’s never been a more relevant song. The song was written in the 60’s and it’s just comically tragic how little has changed since then. It’s funny because it’s actually a pop song and that’s saying something.. It went to number 1 in the Pop Charts, and I think that says a lot about what was going on back then. I just think we’re coming closer and closer to the Eve of Destruction. Plus, it’s a great song and we just wanted to cover it! We want to put out a couple of cover songs with the new record and with the urgency and the darkness felt at the moment, especially in New York with the election, I really feel like something is about to give.. It’s really strange, I feel like there’s something boiling under the surface.. It’s a very strange time. It’s that feeling that inspired the song I think, in a very real way. I’m glad that we got to put it out this week, I hope that people find some comfort from it even though it’s brutally real at the moment.
With the upcoming release of your new album Kamikaze, can you give me an idea of what the album means to you?
The album was a triumph, it was difficult to make. It was emotionally and spiritually exhausting, it took a lot out of us and I think it shows in the record. It’s more mature than anything else we’ve ever put out before and there’s some very personal songs on there for me. If we were to talk about it from a political point, then it does comment on the extremism nowadays and on this explosive feeling inside of you that you want to unleash, hence the title ‘Kamikaze’. It’s got a lot of negative imagery, thoughts and feelings in there but overall, I think it’s very much an optimistic message. It’s important to have a narrator who is a pessimistic optimist or an optimistic pessimist, however you want to say it. It’s a very dark record but it has a bit of light coming through the crack, that’s how I see it, a glimmer of light in a really dark time. It’s a fun record too, our shows are fun and who wants a revolution if you can’t dance? It’s bittersweet, which is my favourite type of music.. it makes you laugh and cry and feel inspired and angry, all at the same.. I hope we accomplish that.
The So So Glos new album Kamikaze will be available to purchase in the UK from this Friday, meanwhile don’t forget to check out their new song ‘Missionary’ below: