Hostage Calm suggest punk solutions for modern problems
Please Remain Calm, the October 2012 release by Hostage Calm is more than the band’s opus: it’s their manifesto. It is a punk album for the looming recession, by a brave band who aren’t afraid to bring tough issues to the table. The follow-up to 2010’s critically acclaimed self-titled LP, Please Remain Calm combines elements of Springsteen-esque heartland rock with the band’s signature blend of ‘60s pop melody, ‘70s punk energy and ‘80s new wave panache.
Hostage Calm’s honest approach is precisely what gives them their appeal; they have substance in a punk landscape where depth isn’t necessarily around every corner. In fact, on Martin Luther King Day, while most of the country celebrated the equal rights movement in this country, Wes Breedwell was being terminated from his job of seven years at Tennessee punk venue Rockettown for wearing to work a t-shirt – produced by Hostage Calm – that said, “I Support Same Sex Marriage.”
Despite this unfortunate turn of events – which has found many bands boycotting the venue – the band at the eye of the storm, Hostage Calm, announced a split 7” with Anti-Flag, benefiting charity organizations in their hometown. Appropriately, Hostage Calm’s participation benefits Music Haven, an organization that believes music brings together people of all races, ethnicities, socio-economic classes, genders and ages to support each other.
Dayton City Paper recently caught up with Hostage Calm vocalist Chris Martin to discuss Please Remain Calm, the split and being young and punk during a recession. Here’s what he told us …
What was inspiring you when you began writing Please Remain Calm in January 2012?
I felt like our generation was going through a defining moment with this recession and that punk was absolutely absent from discussing the pain and heartache going on all around me. I felt responsible. And I began to see this sort of movement in my head in which punk finally woke up to the depression of being young in such a stagnant time. –Chris Martin
Is there a theme that ties Please Remain Calm together?
I think there’s this constant fear of abandonment across the record. There’s this longing for something better, but this oppressive feeling that things will never get better. We wanted it to sound like never getting out of the town that never felt like home … the sound of the foreclosure sign going up in front of your childhood home. -CM
What is it like to be a band in America while it is on a decline?
I think we feel a special responsibility to capture something about this time. Our favorite records are always great records in the timeless sense, but their greatness is even deeper when you consider the context in which the record was released. Born to Run coming out in stagnant, empty 1975 America. Or London Calling coming out in the darkness of 1979 UK. The story of this generation needed to be told through music. It’s a sad time to be young, and everyone with a pulse knows it. It’s time we start talking about it. -CM
Same-sex marriage is a cause that Hostage Calm has embraced and even emblazoned on merch. How did you become involved in the cause?
The injustice is so obvious and I think most people in punk are waking up to that. We made shirts and got involved with Equality Maryland with the donations. We’ve always been singing about it, but since our S/T record brought us more into this national scene, we’ve had a lot more opportunities to speak our minds and get involved with this topic. America is stuck in an intractable problem, a real malaise, and I don’t think we are seeing any real solutions on either side. -CM
Were you surprised – having performed at Rockettown in the past – that they fired an employee for what one of your shirts said?
We had played there a few different times, and we were aware that they were a Christian organization, but I don’t judge and it seemed like a tolerant place. There are really two issues at work here, the ethics and legalities of Wes being fired and the fact that all these punk bands are playing there. It represents something very different than what we’d originally thought. Punk can be a safe haven and be an ideal representative place where we can work on the problems passed on by the rest of society. It can be a role model. That’s my hope. -CM
You guys were involved in a tour with Anti-Flag and you are releasing a 7” split with them that is benefiting some hometown organizations …
I think Christopher 2 mentioned that they were interested in releasing one of the B-sides from their most recent record on a split. We had a B-side that was written while we were working on Please Remain Calm that we’d never recorded, so we went back and finished it. Promoting music in underprivileged areas was something that we’d always wished that we could do more, and that we wished that punk did to a greater degree. So, it was something that had been on our minds for a while and Music Haven seemed like the natural fit for an organization to benefit from this. -CM
Hostage Calm will perform on Tuesday, March 12 at The Basement, 391 Neil Ave. in Columbus Also on the bill are The Wonder Years, Fireworks and Misser. Doors at 7 p.m.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@daytoncitypaper.com