INTERVIEW: Propagandhi

Published in The Music (WA, NSW, VIC, QLD) | 28.05.14 | Issue # 40

Propagandhi 2


Propagandhi frontman Chris Hannah runs Daniel Cribb through the morbid reality of the current prevailing order. Warning: It seems we’re all screwed.

For most bands, it’s a solid week or so of jamming to prepare for a tour. For Canadian band Propagandhi’s frontman Chris Hannah, the approach is a little different. “Before we head out to a place I really start poking around and getting a sense of the temperature; the political, social temperature of where we’re going,” Hannah tells.

It’s no surprise the left-wing political figure hasn’t been too inspired by Australian headlines as of late. “I feel like you’re going on the same path [Canada] is and it’s not necessarily the way that is going to benefit future generations… I think often about the connect between our countries in terms of the colonial history.

“We’re so similar, it’s almost like our countries are leading the way in a race to the bottom in terms of appealing to base human overreactions and prejudice, and it’s going to fuck up our countries. I mean, our countries are fucked up to start with; we colonised these places and displaced people who lived on the land and destroyed their way of life… Now we’re just doubling down on the stupidity.”

It’s not by chance the band’s sixth and most recent album, Failed States, approaches political issues in a broader manner, placing the focus on long-term issues involving future generations. Hannah had his first child around the time of its release, and welcomed another son at the start of the year. “I talk about it with him in the gentlest way and the least nightmarish way possible because I want him to have a childhood too, and not just have this cloud hanging over him, even though the other side of me thinks I should just tell him the truth right now.

“For now it’s just trying to put it into kindergarten terms for him, and relate it to his world and try not to extinguish his hope and his idea that there is goodness in the world.”

Last year the band celebrated the 20th anniversary of their first record, How To Clean Everything, and in a couple of years they’ll be celebrating 30 years together, yet Hannah believes they haven’t done nearly enough.

“If this band hadn’t happened, I would have just been another fucking guy sitting in front of the TV, getting drunk, watching hockey and just deferring to the prevailing order and doing nothing, so I think we’ve had more of an impact this way than I would have otherwise. But what we’ve done isn’t really sufficient.

“I try not to think of it like that because otherwise you just feel like a piece of garbage, so I try to concentrate on whatever stuff I think has been good, like connecting people who are doing that sort of direct action, connecting those marginalised political activist groups with a more sort of a more mainstream grouping of people who don’t necessarily have that connection.”

Daniel Cribb