We care about equality and democracy within the band and outside the band. For us life is about cooperation and solidarity, not about egotism, greed, or competition. This means that we prefer to work with people and bands that have a similar sort of mentality and attitude.
Ever since 9/11, the mood has changed quite a bit, and for the worst. The main cause for this change are the merchants of fear, who want to make us believe that Muslims are the new evil. By hammering on the assumption that all Muslims are terrorists who try to destroy the American society, they make people feel so very scared that some have accepted any kind of freedom-lessening measure, as long as it makes people feel less unsafe. That’s not only the case in the U.S., the same goes for Europe.
To me, the main idea of punk was do-it-yourself, which meant that you could basically do anything that you would wanna do. You don’t have to wait to be allowed to do it. Anarchy was more or less about the same thing, so for me they were closely related.
Punk, and rock in general, is often very myopic. When people sing about “the world,” they’re generally focused almost entirely on the west and Europe. Sometimes South America. Sometimes Asia. But rarely Africa. The Ex, famously, is one of the few rock acts to travel and perform in Africa which, may be home to more musicians than just about anywhere else in the world.
Through the music and words we, as the band The ex, express our thoughts and opinions and ideas. It is not always totally necessary for our audience to clearly hear and understand every line I sing. The power and impact, the positive energy of the music are as much part of the whole thing as the words. We are not trying to convert people, but we believe in our music and like to play it in front of other people, hoping that we can get them as excited as we are about our music.
In the 1960s, people like Bob Dylan, his music and words were a threat to the society and mainstream of the time. It shook people alive, and directly and indirectly things changed. But, as I see it, the change is never through the music alone. It’s also the circumstances around the music that will cause/create the effect. And sometimes it’s just strictly accidental that a piece of music becomes a form of protest.
I think that the sheer fact that music can raise certain questions or put topics on the agenda has in itself already an effect. Just like any other art of cultural expression can do that – books, films, photos, painting – it can bring people together who share certain ideals, who don’t find their ideas expressed properly, or even expressed at all, in the mainstream media.
We strive towards a better world, but one can never do it without compromise. We can all change the world for the better, starting in your own little surroundings, together with people who believe in it, too. This way you can make it work and show others that it actually can work. That doesn’t mean that everybody has to do it like you “or else…” If there is no compromise possible, then it turns into extremism, and I don’t think that extremism ever added something positive to the world.
I believe in freedom of speech, and at the same time I think that sometimes it can be worth it to not say something. In my opinion there is a sort of limit to that freedom, but where that limit exactly lies is open for discussion. As soon as there is no longer any discussion possible, than it has reached its limits and therefore freedom of speech will no longer exist.
After 9/11, we had this “terrorist-Muslim-threat” in the US but at the same time, next to that, in Holland we had this growing awareness that the so-called integration of new Dutch people, a lot of those that had come to live and work in our country originated from countries such as Turkey and Morocco, and a lot of them are actually Muslim, wasn’t quite the success the state always had thought it was. The “new” Dutch didn’t feel totally accepted, treated as second-rate citizens, and parts of the “old” Dutch suddenly believed that the new ones were trying to destroy our society.
From what I see, nowadays punk and anarchy are still connected with “fast loud music by smelly drunk chaos-people” and, yes, I know I’m over-generalizing here. So when the occasional venue still describes us The ex as “anarchopunk” that’s a real bummer, since it attracts an audience that expects a kind of music – which we don’t play – and it keeps away another audience that actually might have liked it when they would have come. That’s a pity, for both them and us.