You start a hard rock band with screaming guitars, pounding drums and in-your-face-political lyrics. That’s what our next guest did, and the rest is history.
Eleanor Goldfield wants to change the world with art and music. So she co-founded Rooftop Revolutionaries, a hard rock/alternative metal band that has a very direct message: Do Something. Using socially conscious lyrics, haunting melodies, driving guitars and hammering drums to back her soaring and plunging voice, Eleanor entertains, educates and motivates. And it works. People listen and act, whether it is at an Occupy event, a march or a protest, Eleanor’s voice and Rooftop Revolutionaries music is a soundtrack for action
Eleanor also finds time to blog, host a radio show and produce music/art events. She calls herself a “creative activist”; I call her a multi-platform cultural provocateur. Eleanor sat down for an interview with me today between writing her blog and prepping for tomorrow night’s concert at Molly Malone’s in Hollywood with the bands 3 By Design, Malaki, and Hidden Amongst Us.
Patrick: Eleanor, usually when I talk to artists my questions usually center on their music, but in your case, I think a different approach makes more sense. Let’s talk about the way you use the tools of culture to make political change. You front a hard rock band with a powerful social message, you write a political blog, and you create art and events with a political theme. Was I close in calling you a multiplatform-cultural-provocateur?
Eleanor: Yes you were. I actually came up with the phrase “creative activist”, which is the same thing. Using creative mediums like photography, music, film visual art to send out a message of change and engagement.
Patrick. How did that happen. Was there a change event in your life? Or have you always been aware of the need for social change and your role in it?
Eleanor: This is something just happened naturally by looking around. My parents were politically interested and active – not to the same degree I am, but active. For example, as a child I was not allowed to watch TV, but I was allowed to watch the news. From what I remember, it was more informative than the infotainment or mainstream news of today. Being engaged was always something that I was aware of. I was aware of the world around me. When something around me felt wrong I acted upon it. I didn’t think of it as activism. When I was a kid I would run around the neighborhood picking up trash because it looked bad. Before I knew it I was an environmental activist. These things happen because you pay attention.
Patrick. You speak often about your generation, millennials– young people born in the early 1980s- to the early 2000’s. They are very socially liberal, except on abortion. About 38% are Democrats, 25% Republicans and the rest Independent – which is growing. And they don’t vote. why doesn’t your generation vote?
Eleanor. Like any difficult question, there is probably not one answer. Looking back on my parent’s generations, the 60’s, when people were very politically engaged, there was a time of disillusionment after assassinations of political icons like JFK and RFK and Martin Luther King Jr., and coupled with the Vietnam War, I think a lot of people felt that they could not trust their government, they felt that the government had let them down They were disillusioned and they stepped away from the political stage and instead of taking a 5 minute break, they took a 20 -30 year break. And that’s when you saw the rise of the neo-cons and de-regulation because when people didn’t pay attention and when you don’t pay attention, all hell breaks loose. People just got comfortable in apathy. When my generation was raised a lot of us were not taught to be present in the political-social framework. We were taught work hard and you would get where you needed to go. My generation is just comfortable with apathy – they don’t understand that democracy can’t exist without participation. A Pew poll reported in 2012 that only 5% of my generation get news from any source – that’s terrifying. I wrote a piece on my blog about this.
Patrick. Is consumerism shot through our whole society the world your generation operates in?
Eleanor: Absolutely. Art today, pop culture, preaches escapism – not the escapism of a beautiful sunset – but pop culture that preaches an escapism that takes you away from reality and sugarcoats and warps things. That is what my song “Con Artist” is about. These representatives of pop culture are con artists; they are conning you out of the reality of life, both the beautiful and the not so beautiful parts of life. The song is a call to stop that sort of consumerism and the acceptance of that as popular culture and art.
Eleanor: My primary political concern and my primary message in all that I do is to get money out of politics. I think the system is broken, the two-party system is flooded with corporate money. The Democrats and Republicans alike are bought and sold to the highest bidder and the people are the ones that suffer from that. I don’t believe in anarchy or Communism, I don’t believe in pure socialism or pure capitalism. I think the best thing for this country to do is to find a combination of various forms of government…to work within the system we have. I think we can make change through a Constitutional amendment and legislation and I would like to see that happen. My politics are not left or right; I consider myself a Progressive because I want to move forward, not left or right.
Patrick. There is legislation in California to amend the Constitution to get money out of politics. Are you following this?
Eleanor. I am. Vermont was the first state to call for a Constitutional Convention on this issue. There are movements in over 40 states to amend the Constitution stating that money is not speech and corporations are not people. There is a tremendous groundswell and California is doing a great job.
Patrick: How can music help change things?
Eleanor. Music like any form of art brings people together across lines of race, religion, income, social standing – anybody and everybody appreciates music. Art brings society together – it is inclusive, not divisive. Music is a way for people to engage through entertainment. My generation needs entertainment – just go online and see the sensory overload. We need to do something that delivers that…music can call for people to stand up and get involved.
Patrick. Your new album, Red, talks about these things in music form and it is out this Tuesday. Where can people find it?
Eleanor. You can pre-order it at rooftoprevolutionaries.com and you will get a free track of “Diamonds” . People can read my blog at my page artkillingapathy.com.
Eleanor: We are part of the :LA Unsigned which promotes the best of unsigned rock in LA, The bands on the bill Saturday night are all fantastic. Check out our twitter feed @rooftopeleanor and our Facebook page,rooftop revolutionaries…we love to hear from people.=
Patrick O’Heffernan, Host, Music Friday Live!
Hear the full interview at http://bit.ly/1tAdwYg