The Proletariat, Cafe Nine, New Haven ,CT

IMG_3544I’ve been a huge fan of the Proletariat since I was a young teenager. As a lover of words and an even bigger supporter of justice and fairness as well as an enemy of political and religious corruption, they were one of the first bands that’s lyrics  hit me right in the gut and right in the heart. Literate, witty and intelligent, they were a band that just spoke to me. And their music was no joke, either!

I was lucky enough to interview the band for the second time recently. And as usual, they not only welcoming and kind, but funny as hell. Additionally, they played a kick-ass show not to be missed.

J. Tell me what’s been happening with the band since I last saw you? Any new music coming out?

Rick: Yes! We have a single coming out and we plan on recording an album in January . It’s being produced by Lou Giordano, who produced “This Is Boston Not, LA ” and our two albums.

J.  What was the songwriting process like this time?

Rick: Either Pete or Don would come up with something musically and I’d have lyrics already written.

Don: Rick’s got a whole notebook full of lyrics. So we will have the music, Rick will come over and we’ll just flesh it out some more. Rick will listen to the music and dig through his lyrics until we find what works.

J. Tom is in California, how does that work when it comes to the writing process?

Rick: We record it roughly with a drum machine and send it out to him in California.

Tom: Yeah, they try their best to get it right and send it out to me and I put it all together ( laughing)

J. The  time I spoke with you guys, it was a few weeks before the Presidential  election. Rick, you’ve always been political. Has the election of our current President influenced any of your new music?

Rick: At our last interview I remember talking about how there was no way in the world this guy was going to win. I think I said “Trump winning would be great for my songwriting”. But man , I could really do without it. It’s unbelievable that this guy is our President.

I still use politics in my writing. The single is the subtly titled ” The murder of Alton Sterling”. Politics will always influence my writing.

J. When I saw you last it was the first show you’d done in decades. How has touring been and how many shows have you done?

Rick: This will be our 85th show… no. It’s our 17th.

Don:  We do a string of shows together and then take a couple of months in between.

J. How does that fact that you’re in California factor in, Tom?

Tom: I usually fly up a couple of weeks before we go out so we get to practice and make the whole thing tight again.

Rick: And technology really helps.

J. What have your crowds been like? Old school fans? Younger kids or more of a mix?

Rick: We consciously try to put newer bands on the  bill so that we can get more of a mixed crowd. That way we get a newer set of ears listening to our stuff and our fans get to hear some good new music. It’s kind of a win-win. We don’t want that vaudevillian nostalgia act. For the most part we’ve been about 60 percent successful with doing it that way, but some promoters want to do it differently.

Don: At our show last night, the oldest kid was about 18. We’ve also played shows where it’s mostly people from back in the day.

Rick:  The youngest kid last night was about ten. And he knew all the songs on Soma Holiday. He said his Dad liked us and he’d watched us in you tube. It was wild.

J. Tell me some of your favorite stories from the road?

Peter: Well, Stiv Bators wanted to beat up Rick once. We were opening for them and the crowd was just not into us. They were acting up and not really into it.

Rick: So I got pissed and I said, ” You guys are waiting on these fat, overblown, hippie rock stars…”

Pete:  Yeah, and after that the crowd was better… they got more riled up and the second half of the show was better. But when they show was over, Rick had taken off already and Stiv walked up to me with these two big guys looking for him.”Where’s  your singer?”. He was already gone, but they wanted to find him! ( laughing)

Don: And  there was the time you got chased by Rob Halford.

Rick: I got hit by a tomato thrown by Rob Halford. Judas Priest was looking for a local band to open for them and they were auditioning this band. I guess that was probably kind of cool, but at the time I was pissed. It was pushing back the set and delaying everything. So when I got up on stage I said something like “Oh, we have to kiss the great Judas Priests ass? Ruin our show so we can listen to this hippie bullshit?? I just  went off. Then all of the sudden, I get hit by a tomato. I guess Rob Halford was pissed as hell that I was ripping his band. So he goes upstairs to the restaurant, grabs a tomato a chucks it at me. I grabbed it and chucked it back in the audience. Some kid came up to me after the show with tomato all over his clothes and glasses and told me he liked the show, but why’d I have to hit him with a tomato?”

Don: What a British  thing to do. Here I am, in my leather chaps, chucking tomatoes at the singer of another band.

J. So you have a history of pissing off the other bands?

Rick:  Yeah. I’m not a good opening act!

The Proletariat will be releasing a new record in 2018 and will be touring as well. I’ll keep you posted on tour dates as well as posting a record review as soon as the album is out. Don’t miss them, but maybe bring your raincoat!