Generation Fucked Update

If the Rage Against the Machine Bassist's New Band Is 'Political Music' in 2016, We Are Truly Fucked

If there's a lack of political music going about, this isn't helping.

by Simon Childs
29 July 2016, 12:00am

Well, looks like my work here is done. This is probably the last Generation Fucked Update, and not because I've saved us all through the power of sheer columnism; sadly, things are still looking pretty bleak. But it's time for me to pass the torch. There is a new voice of Generation Fucked, and that voice is former Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim Commerford and his new band Wakrat.

Yep, the guy behind the bass hook on 2009's Christmas number one has started a new band and released a song called "Generation Fucked". I'm not annoyed that they chose that name five months after I started this column, oh no. I'm pleased to have been an inspiration to a musician whose early work I really love, assuming he's ever read anything I've written, which tbh is fairly unlikely. Unfortunately – and there's no nice way of saying this – the song fucking sucks. Have a listen:

You can see what they're getting at: it's angry, riffy and shouty – but RATM's catchy, aggressive groove has been replaced by the kind of maths-y progressiveness that's generally practiced by competent musicians who care more about noodling than making things sound good.

Appropriately enough, the band is signed to Earache Records. Tom Hadfield of Earache said, "We are so excited to be working with Tim Commerford. Since Rage Against the Machine there has been a distinct lack of politically charged bands around. Corruption is everywhere and those responsible for the inequality and suffering need to be held accountable. What better place than here, what better time than now?"

That fact he used lyrics from the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 sound-tracking Guerilla Radio doesn't really give you much hope than there's more to this band than the presence of a member of another band that was good. Also, the idea that there has been "a distinct lack of politically charged bands" recently is very silly; Beyoncé referencing the Black Panthers at the Superbowl is enough to tell you that, to give just one example.

But there might be some truth to the idea that there are fewer big, heart-on-your-sleeve political bands whose lyrics are overt calls to revolution and communist polemic.

So let's turn to Tim to give us a people's manifesto. He told the NME: "We are gearing up to be on the offensive, assaulting the populous with our debut album on Earache Records. We have put a shit load of blood and sweat into this and we want it back! Our mission is to attack modern music and smash the grid. Unapologetic, unrelenting, unbridled and uncensored. Understood?"

Yeah, totally understood! Smash the grid (What grid? The national grid? Fuck electricity?)! Assault the... er... populous?

Okay, maybe the lyrics can give us more clues.

Verse one:

We do a dance, until it aches/ making an enemy, a mortal enemy/ to pin omega on this allegory/ Gotta chain it to the cave dwelling son of a bitch until you make it to the pitch)

Nope, don't know what any of that means, and verse two is more of the same vagueness, but maybe it's something clever and profound that I'll understand by...

Verse three:

Human waste I hate the smell/ Who created this living hell? / Made a fist. Grabbed a knife/ Cut my wrist. Turned to Ice

Seems to be a complaint about the toilets at Reading festival?

And the fourth:

Remain confused, these ocean views/ Shadowed truth/ Unjust what we do, yeah / Who we keep, chained in caves / Lives asleep, deep within a grave

I sure do remain confused, but those ocean views bum me out too, man. Obviously political lyrics don't have to be as literal as the King Blues' "Let's Hang the Landlord", or System's "Prison Song", but what is going on here?

Then there's the chorus:

We're fucked, truly fucked/ Declaration: totally fucked / Generation Fucked/ Yeah we're fucked / Clearly fucked / Destination: somewhere fucked/ Generation fucked

Each iteration has variations on this theme:

No solution: very fucked

F.U.C.K.E.D: Fucked

Without question: super fucked

And so on. There's no specific complaint being aired here – it's kind of like they don't have much experience of being part of a dispossessed generation; that they've just been told that that's a thing. Which, not to be horribly ageist, makes sense, since Commerford is 48 and has millions of record sales under his belt.

Maybe that would be OK if they were bringing anything enlightening or interesting to the table. But as the outro rams home, you can see plainly that they're not:

You son of a bitch/ You fuckin' son of a bitch/ You son of a bitch/ you fuckin' son of a biiiiitch

Who is this son of a bitch? The guy who did a bad shit in the Reading toilets? We don't know, the band state that they do not know ("Who created this living hell?"). It's not an identify-able son of a bitch like Donald Tump or Theresa May or a racist police officer. If there's a system or oppressive structure that this son of a bitch is supposed to be personifying it's not made clear. "Explanation: It's all fucked" goes the chorus, which is a non-explanation. Question: Why is it raining? Explanation: Because it's raining.

The band topped it off by launching with a publicity stunt: An "occupation" of Parliament Square, "declaring their own sovereign state", the Republic of Wakrat (which, politics nerds might notice, has an anarcho-syndicalist flag despite apparently being a "state"). This is a remarkably fatuous gesture for someone who was part of a gig outside the Democratic National Convention with lyrics so incendiary they put the frighteners on the City of Los Angeles and caused the police to provoke a minor riot.

Well meaning and nearly-there lyrics can perhaps be forgiven with decent tunes, but if people start repetitively, tunelessly chanting "now we're fucked, totally fucked" at a protest near you any time soon, then we really are totally fucked.


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Rage Against The Machine
Tim Commerford
Generation Fucked
politcal music