The Protest Survey: Slow Club’s Charles Watson
On the Election, Pussy Riot, and His Favorite Protest Song
Nov 30, 2012 Issue #42 - The Protest Issue
In conjunction with our Protest Issue we asked several artists the same set of politically-themed questions. Charles Watson of U.K. band Slow Club provided these answers. Last year the duo (which also features Rebecca Taylor) released their acclaimed second album, Paradise, via Moshi Moshi.
What, in your opinion, is the most pressing U.S./global political or social issue?
I reckon getting U.S. politics to be completely secular would be up there for me. You know like it says in the constitution?
What, in your opinion, is the most pressing worldwide political or social issue?
Distribution of wealth.
What are your thoughts on the Occupy movement? It’s been almost a year since it started, has it accomplished anything yet?
The education of millions is a huge accomplishment on its own. I guess we will have to wait and see for the real effects of the movement. Hopefully the next generation of stealing nepotists will be more thoughtful to his fellow man.
What are your thoughts on the U.S. presidential election?
I'm sorry I did this after the election but I'm very relieved to see Obama back in and that Romney got smashed.
Did you watch the Republican and/or the Democratic Conventions? If so, what were your impressions and did they alter your perception of either party?
I missed most of the conventions but I was pretty confused by Ron Paul's policies with him being Republican/Libertarian. I do think decriminalization of drug taking would probably be worth trying as the war sure as hell don't work.
Are you satisfied or disappointed by President Obama’s first term in office thus far?
He didn't quite do what he said he would which is always disappointing. When you have a system made up heavily of Republicans having the last say on policy implementation it's not surprising he didn't get much passed. The whole filibuster thing was explained to me recently. Seems pretty pointless.
Do you think the United States has changed at all since Obama's election? If so, how?
The first time I went to America was in 2009 so it's hard to say. Yes?
Does openly supporting a political candidate (i.e. Obama) represent a tacit endorsement of all of that politician's positions (drone strikes, indefinite detention of terror suspects, etc.)?
I don’t think being for far-reaching reform and progress should mean you endorse the opposite but as long as mainstream politics isn't transparent you don't know what you’re voting for. Take the whole coalition mess in England. People most definitely did not vote for liberal to get the Tories in. Sad times.
What role do you think artists should play in political movements? When does an artist cross the line and become essentially a spokesperson for a politician or political party?
I don’t think artists should be expected to use their fan base for political means but sometimes it is the most effective way of highlighting issues. Spokesperson should be avoided at all costs.
Do artists have a responsibility to use their work or public platform to positively influence voters and push for change?
I don't know if it’s more of a responsibility than anyone else has but if you’re going to get up on stage and say a load of political stuff make sure you know what you’re talking about!!! Please.
What are your thoughts on the Pussy Riot conviction?
It's awful. Hopefully the worldwide attention will spark some debates in Russia.
What is the most overrated political or social issue of our time?
What is the most underrated political or social issue of our time?
Human rights in North Korea.
Does a single piece of art (a song, a film, etc.) have the power to change people's minds and create societal change?
Music, especially, is a powerful force. It can give context to an issue on an emotional level that speaking cannot do. So yes, I think so.
What is your favorite protest song?
Robert Wyatt: “Shipbuilding”
What are your thoughts on the state of U.S. political coverage (i.e., television and print media)?
Although it’s sensationalist I think it can inform people who wouldn't normally read about it. I do like watching Bill O'Reilly for a laugh. LEFT, SUBVERSIVE–ARRRH.
- Listen: Local Natives - “Coins” (News) — Local Natives
- Listen: The Raveonettes - “A Good Fight” (News) — The Raveonettes
- Plutona (Review) — Image Comics
- Take It, It’s Yours (Review) — Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan
- Listen: The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam - “When the Truth Is…” (News) — Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, Hamilton Leithauser, The Walkmen, Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanlij