Back in February, RVA Mag first gave you the scoop on Friends for Equality, a local music and zine collective that raises money for social justice and civil rights organizations, just a few months after the group released its first music compilation.
The collective was started by lifelong activist Nancy Kells as an outlet for her outrage and shock after the election, which resulted in a 42-song release featuring artists and bands from all over the world. Proceeds from album sales were split between the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Southern Poverty Law Center. You can read our interview with her here.
Next week, Kells will put out the second volume of Friends for Equality and RVA’s postpunk/rock band Hoax Hunters have dropped the first single, “SAD!” ahead of the release.
“I had this song and it didn’t make sense for the new record we were working on, and it made a lot of sense for the comp, and of course we wanted to support the great cause,” said PJ Sykes, guitarist/vocalist for Hoax Hunters. “Plus, there’s some incredible other music on there, so to be associated with anybody like that would be a good thing as well.”
The compilation features 50 songs by artists from 39 different cities in nine countries and spans an eclectic mix of genres including punk rock, improvisation, hip hop, experimental electronic, noise, electronic music, trip hop, ambient, improv, dark ambient, psychrock, experimental, lo-fi, folk, bedroom pop, indie and prog rock.
Besides Hoax Hunters, several local musicians were featured including Erik Schroeder, Scott Burton, Ceremonial Scissors, Jonathan Hicks, Gutter Collective, and Elizabeth Owens and Spartan Jet-Plex, a moniker Kells has been using for several years to put out experimental music.
Most of the songs for Hoax Hunters’ upcoming release were written pre-election, and Sykes, who was very active during the campaign season, penned this song as a way to cope with the outcome of the election as well as local politics.
“I sat down and this song just flew out of my fingers and obviously, it’s a reaction to what’s going on,” he said. “The lyrics came straight out of me too, it’s definitely a song we’re really proud of and wanted to get out.”
And the title may be “SAD!”, but the track is anything but that. It’s fast, in your face and comes from a place of anger and pent-up emotion. It drives with this sense of urgency and power.
“The words are kind of taken from Trump, I tried to use his language and put it in a different context,” Sykes said.
Hoax Hunters didn’t just go after Trump in the song, the band also takes some shots at Congressman Dave Brat.
“That’s what the song leads off with, my congressman actually stopped campaigning, did not debate his challenger and started stumping for Trump and helping him win the election,” he said. “He constantly ignores us; he’s constantly ignoring his constituents and now he’s complaining in the news that we’re terrible people. We’re not cool with what’s going on and we feel that he should be representing us better.”
Sykes said he hoped this song would stress the importance of being vocal about the current political climate and issues and provide some healing for people who continue to be discouraged or angered by what’s going on.
Friends For Equality Volume 2 was curated completely by Kells. Besides Sykes, Hoax Hunters bassist/vocalist Ben Nicastro is also featured on “SAD!”, along with NO BS Brass Brand’s Lance Koehler on drums and backup vocals by Jeff Roop.
He asked three women, credited as the “perSisters” to sing backup vocals which included a speech-language pathologist, a member of the local Jewish community, and a recent nationalized citizen.
Photo credit: PJ Sykes
“They’d never sang before, they’re all moms, they’d never been in a band before, and I needed them on a track, they’re a very integral part of what’s going on in my district and they’re very active in keeping up with the congressman,” Sykes said.
RVA Mag got a little sneak preview of the comp and “Trump Drums”, “Evangelical”. “Gas Mask”, “Unity in Action”, and “Trigger Warning” are definitely some standout tracks. This is a stacked, powerful compilation that needs to be in your rotation.
“For me, it rings very reminiscent of anti-Iraq war kind of stuff, you had shows and zines or protests it just seems very similar for me like ‘oh we did this 15 years ago and here we are again’ but its seems more dangerous and more urgent,” Sykes said.
Just as before, proceeds from Volume 2 will be split evenly between the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACLU and Planned Parenthood. The sale begins on May 30 when the album drops, and will continue indefinitely. Contributions will be sent to the organizations monthly.
A release show is in the works for later this summer, but you can pre-order the album here for $10.
Hoax Hunters plan to release their third album through Cherub Records in late summer or early fall so keep your eyes peeled on RVA Mag for that.
image credit: Jason Simpkins