Naked Raygun: A New Generation of Political Awareness

By • Jan 1st, 2009 • Category: Interviews

Naked Raygun’s Jeff Pezzati has long been an ambassador for the original punks and their hometown. Even today, more than a quarter-century since his days in fellow seminal Chicago ensemble Big Black and almost 20 years since his last Naked Raygun album, the hard-spun vocalist isn’t afraid to dish out a few quips about the state of the music industry — and the state of the state. When Chicago Innerview got the singer on the phone in mid-December, he was all too willing to chat about a couple of very famous Illinois politicians who happened to be making news that day…

Chicago Innerview: Illinois is a tale of opposite politicians right now, isn’t it? President-elect Barack Obama and an embattled governor.
Jeff Pezzati: Illinois is an embarrassment. From the upper echelon all the way down. [Politicians] embarrass themselves and certainly their state.

Chicago Innerview: There’s a bit of political hopefulness through the city — and country — for that matter, too.
Jeff Pezzati: I don’t think there is a better person for the task than Barack Obama to recognize the problems of the country right now, and maybe get something done about them. We’re in better shape than, certainly, the past eight years. Bush screwed things up so badly with the idea of having a strong fist and a big army.

CI: Is this political climate affecting your writing?
JP: It is affecting the new material. We’re writing a new album and a lot of the lyrics have to do with the current climate in our country.

CI: How?
JP: People seem excited. Despite the state of the economy, you can see that there might really be some amazing people if society just uses its brain and selects the right ones…People complained for so long that Democrats spend too much money, but it can’t be any more than the billions spent daily now on [wars].

CI: What is music’s role in that? For example, if punk bands today write more about tomfoolery and losing their high school sweethearts, does that really raise any awareness?
JP: The thing to remember is a lot of the bands today are not really punk bands, but rather bands that were influenced by punk who are playing pop. They aren’t the other way around, like bands like The Buzzcocks and Ramones were.

CI: Does that mean today’s music won’t have the staying power of bands like yours?
JP: …If it were the ’60s and this type of shit was going on in our country, that generation would have an uprising. Now, for a lot of those bands it just seems like they have a general sense of acceptance. But some things give me hope for the future for that generation.

CI: Like what?
JP: For one, there was a spike in population. One way to get things moving is to have more people involved in the movement. And today’s kids do seem to be more aware now of things — economically, environmentally — than that age bracket had been in the past. They seem to care about the state of the world.

CI: But that shift in thinking could take a while.
JP: Kids still might want to take out their muscle car and rev it up, but at least they seem aware of the cost of processing a gallon of oil compared to a gallon of water.

CI: Who knows, though, the auto industry might not exist in a decade the way it has in the past.
JP: …It’s a shame really because so many people have relied on that industry for so long, or on the offshoots of that industry, that it’s going to cost a hell of a lot of jobs.

CI: But bad times create good music, right?
JP: There always will be good music. Even if it takes a while to find, bands will be out there always making great songs.

Chicago Innerview Magazine, January 2009

Email this author | All posts by

Comments are closed.