The Guide To A Protest Band

General guide to writing for / being in a protest band.

0
Protest bands come in many different genres and forms, e.g. Punk (Dead Kennedys, Black Flag), Rapcore (Rage Against The Machine) and Metal various songs by various bands. The general idea behind a protest and is that you have musical talent, and a message, and you feel that combining the two is a good way to get your message out there.
  • Step #1: Pick a Focus One thing that is crucial is picking a focus for your band. By that I mean what you are going to "protest". Rage Against The Machine focused mostly on social issues, but they were not isolated to the U.S.A's issues. There were songs about South Africa and Rwanda, as well as injustice at home. Dead Kennedy's largely focused on issues in the U.S. and political issues.
  • Step #2: Musical Style This is going to be mostly determined by what kind of music you like, but also consider what kind of lyrics you are writing, and what sound would fit with them. Metal, Punk and Rap are good types of music for protest bands. Metal and Punk generally are already big, mean and angry sounding, while with Rap, you can spit lyrics with speed and emotion.
  • Step #3: Lyrical Style Again, this will largely be governed by your tastes, but here are a few guidelines. Your lyrics must make the listener want to keep listening. This is true with any kind of lyrics (obvious) but especially so in this genre, where the lyrics should be the main driving force in the song. Don't be afraid to use metaphors, but don't bog the listener down with a speech. This is a song, here. The lyrics may look great on paper, but nothing is a nastier suprise than trying them out and finding that they are boring to listen to. Sometimes, less is more. By simply letting the listener know what you are getting at, you can make a song totally blow someone away without using any words except names of third-world countries, and gradually starting to scream their names. Reads lame, sounds great.
  • Step #4: Stay consistent In your songs, don't change your views from song to song. If you change what you are saying too much, it's hard to figure out what you are, a protest band, or a George Bush endorsment. Hope this helped any people thinking of making a band, and if no one or hardly anyone is, I hope you enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed writing it.
  • 47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    comments policy
      da_loyde
      Dude this is a disgrace there are no such things a guidlines to becomign a protest band protest bands dont have 2 have anything they dont wanna. pro choice. take ur pick but dont try and cage in soemthign that is about breakign out of your cage and rebellign with music instead of words or violence
      bucky_2300
      this is not a "guide", all. It's rather guideLINES. you wouldn't believe how many crappy garage bands I've heard who tried to do that protest stuff, and sucked. Made no sense. This is for them, not pop-raised kiddies. These are general reccomendations. Not hard-and-fast rules. That's why I said "this will mostly be governed by your choices..." so much. Thank you.
      letsgomurphys06
      good article especially about the point of changing your views, over time this can happen, but too many bands are bogged down by the media into saying "I dont really hat GWB" (just an example *******s, dont get on my case) and it takes away the validity of the points they try and bring up.
      scumfuc_69
      you cannot have a so-called "guide" to tell you how to be one way or another. That's the real problem with this article.
      shinkyo00
      all bands nowadays are a mixture of genres it cannot be defined as a band of a single genre and guides are for fools it sets rules basically music is about expressing yourself and bending the rules when necessary
      bucky_2300
      if the author feels the need to defend the article this much, it sucks
      you have a very valid point there. I just think some people are interpreting it wrong.
      zack d la rocha
      JIMIJACKRABBIT- YOU ARE FUKING RIGHT, i think you where the only one who post the comment that this idiot deserve!! "pick a focus for your band"? lol. i think he wants to say: "creat a band with guys that FEEL the same as you on some cause"
      amunspawn
      antiflag and punk suck. they whine and sound really shit. i dont mean that protesting sucks. its the whole punk style that is annoying. anyone who says that bands like sex pistols are good should have their heads checked. rage against the machine and SOAD are proper "protest" bands.
      all_or_none
      You know, the idea that a 400 word column could have a list of comments 4 times as long, half of 'em flaming on the other half, is kinda stupid - i'm just gonna add to it by sayin that protest bands are a better way to get ur view across than knocking someone's block off, but some bands just protest for the sake of protesting, which is dumb
      allenm
      i rekon the best protest bands tend towards the more mellow sumtimes and dont always sing about just protest stuff. for example michael franti/spearhead and the john butler trio write sum of the most meaningful protest songs ive ever heard but dont only focus on one style or genre.
      ebashnitzil
      eh, it seems like a good little article - i'd only listen to an original protest band though
      jimbo66
      what about anti flag and f*cking nofx i mean there real pollittical. i just came back from the warped tour yesterday and the entire concert rocked but it grew into more of a political power hour or .. hours whatever sooo long. yea they were like the most politacal there bad religion talked a little about it but not as much as nofx and anti flag. oh yea how can you just pick somthing to go against you have to purley hate it so much that it forced you to do sh*t like this.
      Abstract_Man
      This article is alright. One of those, not too good, not too bad ones. 3 stars is probably right...
      >>AlbiN<<
      Hey, let's not forget the folk protest of the 60's.... That's the most valid of all. you can't talk about protest and leave out CCR and BOB DYLAN i mean come on now.
      Good point. Also most reggae was protest, Pink Floyd did a lot of anit-government stuff... a good article but I wouldn't advise naming bands because no-one will ever know enough. Oh yeah, i liked the comment
      biohazardous56: well if you need a guide to protest you probably shouldnt be protesting
      AVRIL IS GAY
      biohazardous56: well if you need a guide to protest you probably shouldnt be protesting
      Thats a good point enyway theres only one good thing to protest now its the terroism like where is the love (the gay black eyed peas) it does make sense though but protest os just worth less
      socialtool
      Hey, let's not forget the folk protest of the 60's.... That's the most valid of all. you can't talk about protest and leave out CCR and BOB DYLAN i mean come on now.
      ShoeLaces907
      Everybody in punk rock seems to be in a protest band nowadays. It's not relevant. It's stale and often the band members themselves are hypocritical in some way. In short, it's a sham and roughly anyone can attach their political views/fanaticism to music. If a protest band can write a timeless humanistic statement, then I'm all for it, but most don't seem to have anything to say beyond "Bush is an idiot". That's fine cause he is, but once that guy is out of office, no one is going to give a damn about the music anymore just like no one today gives a rat's ass about the majority of those "*** Reagan" bands that were the "in" style back in the 80s.
      AngusYoung4ever
      Every one who writes articles suck at writing. Learn to ***ing write properly, a retarded monkey with a pen in its mouth could do a better job.
      abass
      these type of bands dont work if you focus on one topic. kinda like ragan youth. when regan left office the had nothin to write about. so you should really cover more than one topic.
      Blackbullet
      Kool, its good has potential to be really good if you go into more depth about some things. Good article nonetheless (sp?)
      JimmyJackrabbit
      So, this is an article about "how to get big in a band without actually believing in some kind of injustice". You can't just pick some random injustice to rap/sing about, you have to actually feel something about it, or the whole point is lost.
      bucky_2300
      Haha! A guide to a "protest" band. Just pathetic .
      it's a genre, idiot. it's just as valid as rock or punk. now, go to hell and have a nice day.
      AngryBen
      Actually it's a good article, good job dude. Maybe you could have gone into more depth and more examples and more different approaches...but you got some good points there mate.
      bucky_2300
      Okay, I admit, it was pretty damn lousy. I wrote it on a whim. Anyway, thanks for the retarded monkey comment. I'll look up some of your articles.
      Ramco
      There should be a NOFX Protest band who makes valid points about how all this mindless "I hate Bush because Fat Mike told me to" shit is idiotic.
      playonforever
      Ok. Supaly captain obvious! Well neato article. Rage will forever be the greatest protest band, and they're up there for greatest band of all time, along with Coldplay, MxPx, POD, Blindside, and Five Iron Frenzy. While I'm at it I'll add Rush, Bleach, The Who, Project 86, Newsboys, ill stop now in fear of goin on forever.
      bucky_2300
      protest bands are short lived. specially if it's just about the president, so if bush doesn't get re-elected i won't have to hear crappy punk bands bitchin anymore hmmm but if he's still in office it'll piss them off even more damn. SOAD is the only protest band that i like.
      Interesting. I think that bands beeatching about Bush is stupid too, it's overdone. But, if people think that's the only thing to protest like NOFX..well..
      Rattlehead
      protest bands are short lived. specially if it's just about the president, so if bush doesn't get re-elected i won't have to hear crappy punk bands bitchin anymore hmmm but if he's still in office it'll piss them off even more damn. SOAD is the only protest band that i like.