by Armando Razo
In 1981, news anchor for NBC, Tom Snyder, asked the only band that matters why did they decided to be introduced as a “news giving group” instead of a “Rock & Roll music group” to which Joe Strummer, eloquently replied: “Too many songs have been written about love already, subject’s covered… The news is news, right? So it’s not boring, I mean… it’s what’s happening now”. So what’s happening now? It’s 2016 and we have sources of information everywhere, some of which are important, some irrelevant. Some true, some false. Some will endure the test of time and some will be instantly forgotten. But, do we really know what’s happening now?
My name is Armando Razo, I play guitar and sing in this punk rock band called Anti-Venöm from Mexico City. I don’t think Anti-Venöm is a news giving group or by any means, that we’re comparing ourselves to The Clash, that would be simply idiotic, but we’re well aware of what’s happening now and our focus as a band is keep on trying to speak, write, sing and create images that inspire people to think, and not just to think, to think for themselves.
At the same time, as a person and as the spokesman of a band based in Mexico City, I can tell you that life aint easy. It’s not easy for anyone in any place of the world, but I can assure you that some of us have it worse than others: In Mexican standards of economics, my bandmates and I would be considered lower-middle class citizens while by international standards, we would be poor or bankrupt; Which is funny, cause I think we’re in a privileged position. Our parents worked so hard for us to get a better education and better values while living in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city (Iztapalapa), which is filled with crime, poverty, illiteracy, drugs, violence and corruption. I’m really thankful for it, but as a matter of fact, it doesn’t matter. There are many who have it worse than we do, not only in Mexico, but in the rest of the world. That’s exactly what’s happening now, but people don’t see it.
Regardless of the tools at our disposition we seem blinded by our own ignorance and that’s what needs to change and what people need to be concerned about. We’re all individuals and we’re all equal, there’s no need be affiliated with any political stances, ways, parties or points of view, we try to concern ourselves with what’s right and what’s fair for everyone, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to share with our music.
It seems that we’re all abstracted in our own personal issues and conditions and it’s hard to believe that someone can get out of all that, but we’re also trying to serve as a medium for people to get out and know other things in a more simplified way, which is the same way music has helped inspire our political outlook with bands like The Clash, Propagandhi, Dead Kennedys, The English Beat, Choking Victim, Refused, Lagwagon, Sin Dios and many more. But at the same time, music can become a two edged sword with bands that promote hate and intolerance.
Music can help, in fact, to define your political points of view, but I believe that a formal education based in your own interests could help define a bit more what you want and what you know and how you see things. We’re pretty much interested in philosophy, social science, history, economics and other kinds of literature and I honestly believe that it can help people understand things in a different way, and help them out to know what’s going on in the world. You just cannot form an opinion without knowing all that’s out there and that’s what people needs to be aware of.
The moment we all start to think for ourselves we’ll be one step ahead in the right direction for making this world a better place for all of us
Bottom line, people should do what they think is right for themselves and others, and that’s what we try to do, both personal and as a band. I try to write lyrics that speak about what’s going on with people’s life in a poetic manner: how we feel, how things affect us, the way we see what’s right in front of us and most of the times, reality is a sick sad thing so my lyrics are really depressing sometimes and sometimes I try to give hope to people. I’m sick of the bands that just point out things that we see everyday in a straight forward way: “Corruption”, “Capitalism sucks!”, “Nothing”, “No Future”, “I’m shit and so as you”… That’s as boring and uncreative as a love song. “Rebellion” has become bland and repetitive, I think bands need to come with better ways to share a good message, I’m tired of that straight forward idea of “corporations, religion, the state” are bad and “our miserable existence is bullshit” we need to “Stand up and fight”, blah blah blah… Too many songs have been written about that stuff, subject’s covered (I used to write songs like that and it’s not clever at all). We need to stand out and make something different to grab the attention of the listeners if we wanna stay relevant and share something more than what we already have.
We also try to create images that reflect our perspective, which is a tolerance stance and getting things done in a peaceful manner. We often try to collaborate with songs and events in benefit of certain projects, in January we played a show collecting clothes and toys for foster kids, last year we appeared in Punk Aid, which is an annual global compilation funding money to raise awareness of certain problems and help them, last year was a kids with autism foundation. A few years ago, we sent some records to the punk kids in Indonesia arrested for being themselves, helped with a song in a comp in benefit of Kostas Sakkas, and on and on and on. But as individuals, we also try to help, we go out and protest for what we believe, for example: In 2014, 43 students from Ayotzinapa, disappeared (were killed) for raising their voice against our government corruption in policies surrounding education, and to this date, their bodies are still lost. That kind of stuff shouldn’t happen anywhere in the world, but sadly it does.
The moment we all start to think for ourselves we’ll be one step ahead in the right direction for making this world a better place for all of us and there are so many bands that try to do that nowadays, you should check out From The Cradle To The Rave, Atrocity Solution, Atterkop, DSM-Collective, to name a few. I guess we’re pretty much against all forms of dehumanized institutions, even punk rock has gone the wrong ways with elitism, fashion and pretentious statements, “what is punk and what is not” is truly a misconception of the idea behind it. We all just have to do what’s right for us and for others, but if we don’t concern ourselves with everything that’s happening, we would be cornered and stripped of our own minds and our own ideas. We’re already hopeless, but let’s try to be different and let’s think for ourselves.
This article is part of our series Music That Matters. The rest of the series can be found here.
More information about Anti-Venom can be found here.