SPECIAL EPISODE VH1 BEHIND THE MUSIC: USA (Incantations)

OK HI YES HELLO IS THIS THING ON - Time 4 a lil fireside chat w/Priests. ‘USA (Incantations)’ is a song we made up and people talk to us about it sometimes. After reading a related post on ‘Fuckin’ Record Reviews’ today I thought OK cool today I will talk back! So here you go: The music was written last February by GL and Taylor and Daniele. I played around with different combinations of pre-determined and extemporaneous words to ‘sing’ over it for a few months during shows. But then: one day we were slated to play at DC9 and the ticket price was $14 and I really wanted to make sure people were getting their money’s worth! It was the most expensive show we’d played yet! I’d been reading and listening to a lot of speech transcripts, particularly from people like Audre Lorde and Bill Kunstler, so that kind of style/those ideas, as well as this looming situation at DC9 influenced the lyrics.

I like the idea of disrupting routine and normative values of how public space should be used, I think this is actually a bedrock of live performance and often ‘punk’ in general (however you want to apply that broad term) but it’s often really hard to disrupt anything anymore. Like if you are a performer or you’re in a band and you shoot off fireworks indoors during your show I will probably smile and enjoy it, it will be a kinda fun thing if the cops come and try to haul you away or the manager gets mad and you are kicking and screaming, but I’m not really gonna think about it too much after the show, probably.

So anyway I guess I assumed our audience at DC9 would be a lot of people who would think this speech was weird and out of place, that it was really harshing their mellow, and I was right! The song, w/ G and D and T thrashing and me reading the lyrics off a piece of paper on stage like it was some kind of weird high school student council speech was met with confusion! I also assumed our audience would be a lot of bros in some capacity, and I think I was right about that too. Not hatin, just callin it like I see it. A lot of the going-out crowd in Washington DC, or anywhere, has disposable income and really does not want to think about historical context for structural inequality in the USA, and I feel you, Party Bro, that shit is not party vibes. I think most people who are not you would feel you on that point too. But everything is a party all the time now, you goon! It is TOO TEMPTING to NOT crash your party when the door is wide open!

Ah so yeah, as a live performance the song was meant to be confrontational but not in an aggressive ‘fuck you white man’ kind of way. More in a way that makes you as the audience say ‘this is weird and making me uncomfortable and I want them to stop’, assuming you are part of the desired audience.

We feel most comfortable performing this song live in front of the most bro audience possible. Performing it to a room of people who “get it” seems maybe pointless (or prolly like someone else could do it better than us) and definitely not the desired effect we were going for. Although, we are psyched if you dig the song’s sentiment no matter who you are, we definitely stand behind the words. It was committed to tape pretty quickly after the lyrics were written, and its recorded context really changed things in a way I did not originally consider. On the tape you’re getting a pretty literal translation of where this band is coming from and most likely a reference point for a lot of future Priests material, which is cool. We shouldn’t always have reason to be this blatant in the future, assuming we are building on this material, which is pretty direct.

Additionally, we are often trying to figure out who we are in the greater context of what is going on around us. Looking at a really big pop culture context that includes pop stars and TV and stuff, there haven’t really been a lot of bands who reach critical mass and explicitly articulate ideas and analysis on this type of material in the past decade. Please point us in the direction of a political pop star, should you know of one we are unaware of. Furthermore, even the ‘underground’ (again, however you want to define this word) has been fairly apolitical in terms of trends in the past ten years. So, it is fun for us to see where we can take this stuff. Not much ground on this turf has been recently covered in a very conspicuous way.

So, if you’re feeling like this song is NOT ENUFF4U, good! Very good. Stay tuned. We are just getting started. We will bring u all the pain.

If you’re feeling like this song is boring 2U, please check and see if you are some kind of rich/white/able-bodied/cis/het/male/etc. person, consider where u are coming from, and I will let you know if I care about your critiques or concerns (probably not, but I would love it if you guys figured out a way to have less boring critiques and concerns). If you are not some kind of spoiled person w/ boring concerns and you are not feeling this song, word, that’s cool that u read this far. Hope 2 win yr love & support in thee future

THANKS HAVE A GOOD DAY love Katie a member of yr fave band Priests