With a shock general election being announced by Theresa May recently, social media is once again rife with political views. It’s hard to scroll down your timeline without seeing something related to the election, which is usually strongly opinionated. With musicians having a huge voice and influence over their fans, we caught rising indie stars Xockha after one of their shows to talk politics.
The gig was held at the funky Zigfrid Von Underbelly in Hoxton. On one floor is a quirky decorated bar pounding 90s tracks, whilst downstairs has an underground room with a small stage.
Xockha finished around 11pm after that we were led by lead singer Ben Jones into the equipment room where we set up for the interview. We had a chat with frontman Ben and guitarist Frankie Baker. Alongside them was their friend Josh Leal who participated in answering our questions as a former music enthusiast and friend of Xockha.
Typically, industry genres in the past such as rock, punk, and alternative bands have all been seen as those who are most politically outspoken within the music industry, especially when it comes to political involvement. With indie rock becoming one of the most popular genres of this generation, we thought it would be appropriate that we would ‘talk politics’ with rising stars Xockha.
Within this interview Xockha speak on behalf as an indie/rock band on their thoughts on politics.
“I’m Benjamine, I play guitar and sing.”
“I’m Frankie, I play guitar, synths and backing vocals.”
Unsure for a few seconds whether or not he would class the band as politically involved within their music, Ben shuffles around in his chair whilst looking over to Frankie and Josh for reassurance. “Yes, In terms of music, maybe not lyrics and stuff. I haven’t really thought about it much but yeah. We’re both definitely involved with reading about politics.” Eager to defend Ben and support Xockha from his own perspective Frankie excitedly agrees, “yeah, we’re both average readers of current affairs.”
Following through with their political conversation the boys move onto discussing which parties they support and why. “Labour, I just believe in the basic values of labour, I think Jeremy Corbyn has been a major influence with me getting into politics around 2-3 years ago. I didn’t use to read that much into it but since he’s been the leader of Labour, I just think he speaks the truth.” Says Ben in discussion of the political party he supports and why. Although the band are all very close friends, there is a slight contrast of thoughts and opinions on politics. Frankie goes onto explain. “I’ve gone through a lot of different phases, like when I was younger I was definitely more lenient towards left but as I’ve done more research into things I don’t really think I still think that.”
“Yeah, I vote leave.” Says Frankie eagerly, laughing at Ben and Josh slightly as it appears he understands there is a huge contrast in agreement. The complicated understanding of Frankie’s political outlook it that he isn’t a UKIP supporter, nor is he in support of right wing values highlighted within the Conservative party and so struggles to explain his debate to leave. He continues “my reasons towards voting, I personally view the EU wholly as an undemocratic body and personally I think the UK should be able to make its own laws, but then we have our own problems with democracy in this country with unelected house of lords and stuff. I don’t know, a lot of people hate me for it but I try to argue my point, it doesn’t always work sometimes.” Says Frankie whilst laughing.
“Remain, just the fact when Theresa May was in as Prime Minister and Brexit took a massive turn to the right, I wasn’t in for that.” Ben adds.
Nodding in an agreement, Ben continues to talk amongst the others. “I’m sure Josh thinks the same but I don’t think the EU is perfect or anything, but just in terms of being a young person here I don’t see myself as just a British person, more like a global citizen, European or whatever.”
“As an outsider, I got into music as an escape from the real life stuff so it’s nice to use music and escape from bullshit. Having political things shoved in your face through music can be a bit of a punch in the face of reality when all you want to do is relax. Saying that, what really got me into music were bands like ‘Enter Shikari’ who speak about real political views. If you’ve got a pedestal and you have views, then let your fans listen to them. I think music is an art form that is meant to be a relaxing thing for people to take a step back from real life.” Says Josh in attempt to explore the compatibility between music and politics.
“Music and politics have gone hand in hand for decades, how far back are we talking?” The band stare deep in thought. The long silence from thought is broken by Frankie: “Suppose you could say genre’s like rap, that’s quite political! Bit more so than rock and roll.” In continuation of rap and hip hop genres, Frankie former guitarist enthusiastically remarks “I think the staple rapper right now is Kendrick Lamar, like the stuff that he says and creates I think is genius.” I nod my head in agreement.
Muttering slightly, Josh interrupts Frankie. “Also it depends how you define political because like political means different things to different people, a lot of people will associate political with party politics but no band really talks about party politics. But there’s a lot of underlining topics that do come up in music like feminism and racism. Kanye was always put down as a kind of political hip hop artist which I always kind of questions but there are political themes within his music. Maybe they aren’t so explicit but he has a song called terrorism and he goes through a textbook definition of what terrorism is and how it’s stereotyped.”
A silence fills the room as Ben and Frankie glance at one and other in hopes to try and read both facial expressions in attempts to agree telepathically on an answer to the final question. They hesitate for a while until Ben speaks out. “I don’t think I’m that rock and roll.” The boys all laugh loudly.
It was a pleasure to interview Xockha for a second time and get a bit more serious and earthy.
Their set was energetic and ‘vibey’ as always. Having Josh Leal, former friend of the band was a funny yet unexpected experience. The boys will be playing at this year’s Common People Festival Southampton on the 28th May. Make sure to get your tickets here: http://www.ticketline.co.uk/common-people-southampton#bio
Follow Xockha on their social media sites!
Words by: Laviea Thomas
Photography: Lauren Mcdermott