MUSIC OF A MOVEMENT
Manu Chao are a amazing politico band who write songs like 'clandestini'
about refugees and aysylum seekers. However, their music is not political
faced, it is a riot of latino, samba, ska, reggae rythms , a bit of
europop and the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. They use
their success to support many radical causes around the world.
Many people in Britain heard of you for the first time during the
Genoa protests against the G8 last July. Why were you there?
Manu Chao: Because I want a better world. I mixed with a lot of people
who maybe don't think the same, but we all agree that things cannot
go on like this. We are not living in democracy. We are living in
a dictatorship of money. I want a better future for my child.
I think if we let them do what they want, it's collective suicide.
Fifteen days before the protests began we played a festival in Genoa.
Half the price of the tickets went to the Genoa Social Forum, which
organised the demonstrations, to build the Clandestino bar.
This bar gave water, apples and basic necessities to the demonstrators.
We played in Genoa the night before the protest began. All the money
from this show went to pay for lawyers to deal with any problems.
What do you think of the anti-capitalist movement since Genoa?
Manu Chao: After Genoa it was a difficult period for the movement
because people didn't know how to react. More people, especially youngsters,
think the only solution is violence. Others want to discuss other
Nobody was finding one direction to go in all together. The urgency
is to say no to what's happening so we have to be all together. That's
my politics. But I think now that it's stabilising and getting better.
The next protest is against the European Union council summit in Barcelona
in mid-March. We're trying to play there.
In Barcelona there was the same problem with different groups wanting
different protests. We don't have to be all together behind the same
flag. But all the flags must be marching together because they're
very powerful in front. The best weapon is the mass of people. The
only leader is the mass. It is the only leader they cannot defeat.
Every time the rulers of the world meet, the movement will be around.
As much as possible I will try to be there. Barcelona is my home town.
If I am not there in person, all that I am talking is shit.
You have travelled in many parts of the world. What are your different
experiences of the movement?
Manu Chao: The movement in the north of the world is more intellectual.
We are fighting for a better world-not for tomorrow, but for the future.
In South America people don't protest because of political ideas,
but because every protester will die if they don't protest.
In my last tour in South America we were in Ecuador just after all
the communities had taken the parliament. The Indians had walked to
Quito, the capital, because they were starving-they couldn't survive.
In Bolivia it was the same with the water that the government had
privatised. It is the same in Argentina now. In South America the
protests are about surviving.
Do you gain musical and political inspiration from these struggles?
Manu Chao: I gain musical inspiration because that's my job. I get
political and social inspiration because everywhere I go things are
not going OK. If everything was going OK I would not do political
things - I would just make music. But you have to react.
Everywhere you go, even more in the "Third World", this
world is so horrible. You cannot hide yourself-there's a phrase on
my record, "A resignation is a permanent suicide." There's
too much misery that could easily be stopped and is not. You always
confront a social problem everywhere you go. What is hopeful is that
people everywhere you go do not believe in politicians any more.
I don't believe George Bush is the perfect man to rule the biggest
country in the world. He is very dangerous. He doesn't respect anything
like social or environmental problems. It all comes from the craziness
of the economy. I like the front page of Socialist Worker that says
Bush is a madman planning to kill again in Iraq.
When you're travelling do you try to make contact with the different
Manu Chao: At first we used to be interested and go to see what happened.
But now people come to us. When we are in a town people come and say,
"Hey Manu, there's a strike-can you come?"
There are so many problems and strikes that I cannot say yes to everybody.
If you go to Argentina the schedule is impossible. You have to choose.
Where do you think musicians fit into the movement?
Manu Chao: Musicians have a responsibility because they can have access
to the microphone. We have access to the media-whether that is official
or independent media. That is a big chance-a lot of people cannot
do it. The musician has to earn money and show another way out.
The only revolution I believe in is the revolution in the neighbourhood.
It is the only place where we can change things. At the level of the
state we can demonstrate as much as we like, but unless it is really
massive we cannot change anything. But in the neighbourhoods we can
change minds and bring different cultures together. I believe in that.
Interview by Joe Carolan, Feb. 2002. Taken from:
- Manu Chao Online
- Radical Mestizo, música sin fronteras: Lo marginal toca en