Sonic Boom Six on why there are still lots of bands about that do have elements of social commentary out there

Emma Gritt

six 300x196 Sonic Boom Six on why there are still lots of bands about that do have elements of social commentary out thereAfter a few months of watching people nod their heads and shuffle to deep house, an autumn of live music is just what the doctor ordered – and an excuse to work some different muscle groups.

Dr. Martens’ #STANDFORSOMETHING tour is currently criss-crossing the UK, bringing rousing live acts to tiny venues, for the sort of adrenaline-fuelled, foot crushing pandemonium not typical of warehouse parties.

The first show saw five-piece Sonic Boom Six perform at The Deaf Institute in their home city of Manchester. Explosive and outspoken, the Xtra Mile-signings take elements of ska, punk, hip-hop, grime and metal to create angry songs that critique and punch holes in the world around them – a forgotten tradition amongst so many of pop music’s puppets du jour.

Here the band’s vocalist Barney Boom reveals what it’s like to be a band with political ideas in a world where most artists are encouraged to keep their thoughts on the mute side of neutral.

There’s five of you in the band, so where does the six come from?
The audience. There’s always six of us. The five of us and you.

You’re part of Dr. Marten’s #StandForSomething Tour, what defining moment in history do you wish you could have been a part of?
It looked like they had a hell of a party when the Berlin Wall fell. People passing through that wall that symbolised so much history and, for many, oppression and it was quite the visual. I think that would have been a very emotional experience on many different levels but it would have also a lot of fun once the party begun.

What do you stand for?
Sonic Boom Six very quickly found out that we didn’t fit into any particular scene or trend in music, so we stand for doing your own thing. It’s about being proud of who you are without worrying what everyone else thinks. That’s our approach to style, it’s our approach to music, it’s our approach to life. It’s about what you want to do, not what everyone expects you to do.

Do you think music is too much about appearances rather than social commentary these days?
To a large extent pop music has always been about visuals. The Beatles were a good-looking bunch of lads. That’s no coincidence. I think that there is room for all different kinds of music, and I certainly don’t resent artists that don’t express social commentary in their music. And I think there are still lots of bands about that do have elements of social commentary out there.

The issue isn’t so much music being about appearances as what’s presented on the TV and, to a lesser extent, radio as music is very limited in its capacity to challenge a listener, musically or ideologically. And as our media has changed, TV, and the ubiquitous talent show, has taken a far greater place in the way that the public consumes music. But I don’t know if that’s got any worse recently as much as, by definition, music that is challenging is always going to be a hard sell and it always was and always will be.

Has it been hard for you to gain recognition in the industry when so many artists and bands are encouraged to be neutral in their ideas and political views?
To a certain extent. If I said that our lyrical content hasn’t been a bone of conjecture at times I’d be lying. Certainly Virus raised some issues about the political edge of it and its suitability for radio playlists. But we as artists absolutely can’t use that as an excuse. If you get that paranoid, siege mentality that some artists get towards the entire music industry you’re kind of done for. It’s really up to us as conscious artists to make music that has a message but can resonate with a lot of people.

That’s part of the challenge of song writing for any artist. It just means that for artists who write protest songs, having a song resonate with the public whilst having a message is even sweeter and more positive.

What are your six favourite protest songs?
Between The Wars by Billy Bragg. The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen. Ghost Town by The Specials. Killing in the Name by Rage Against The Machine. Fight The Power by Public Enemy. AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted by Ice Cube.

Remaining shows on the #STANDFORSOMETHING tour:

26th October London, Birthdays SPECTOR
9th November Nottingham, Spanky Van Dykes LOWER THAN ATLANTIS
16th November Glasgow, King Tuts DRY THE RIVER

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  • Rick Cox

    Not enough bands out there creating music based on social commentary – Kudos to Sonic Boom Six.

    For more music on social commentary, google signal burden.

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