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The Last Internationale and the essence of Rock rebellion

The Last Internationale and the essence of Rock rebellion

As the Olympic Stadium braced for an iconic night headlined by Guns N’ Roses last week, no one could have predicted the electrifying surprise awaiting the crowd. On stage as the supporting act, The Last Internationale unleashed a seismic performance that left everyone in attendance awestruck and ready for more. With heavy bluesy tunes and politically charged lyrics, this dynamic duo, comprised of Delila Paz and Edgey Pires, defied expectations, showcasing a raw, unapologetic energy rarely witnessed in modern rock. For those fortunate enough to witness their set, it became abundantly clear that this was no ordinary opening act; it was kind of a revelation. But while their music undeniably resonated with the crowd, I couldn’t help but wonder if the bands’ rebellious fervor is fueled by a true desire for change or if it’s merely a persona to appease the appetite for authenticity in today’s music. We’ve seen that before. In this era of smoke and mirrors, false idols seem to emerge from every corner, claiming to be truly original and/or rebellious.

As I delved into their actions and their choices after returning home, I was sold: they aren’t merely “posturing” or chasing fleeting trends. The Last Internationale is undoubtedly the real deal, and far from your run-of-the-mill act. For them music is not just music; it’s a battle cry for a generation yearning for justice. Yet, their journey to this musical manifesto was no easy feat. Breaking free from the clutches of major record labels, they embraced independence with a resolute determination to transcend mere entertainment and preserve their editorial integrity and vision. This embodies the true essence of rock: rebellious, authentic, and remorseless. In this candid and introspective conversation, we talk about their unwavering commitment to weaving social and political consciousness into every soul-stirring chord, and The Last Internationale’s plans to not only rekindle the flame of rock activism but set it ablaze like never before!


Tasos: First of all, congrats on being so amazing in Athens! I think the praise you received from the local media speaks volumes about the connection you’ve made with the audience.  

Can you share the story behind how this gig was arranged and what was the experience like? What was your initial reaction to being offered such a prestigious platform to showcase your music and message?

Edgey and Delila: We actually toured with Slash a few years ago in the US. It was one of our favorite tours and Slash was such a sweetheart to us. So when our agent notified us that we were being offered the GNR gig in Athens, we were ecstatic! We also haven’t played in Athens since like 2015, so that got us even more excited. We flew into Athens 2 days before the concert to make sure that we would not miss the gig due to canceled flights or something. We left nothing up to chance.

Tasos: Greece is a country known for its politically charged history and the deep impact it has had on shaping the way people approach everything, including music. Do you believe your music can resonate strongly with this socially aware crowd?

Edgey and Delila: We felt the crowd in Athens really connecting with the message of freedom and loving each other. We got an immediate positive reaction when I said, “You got soul and they wanna take it from you.” We were all one and we understood the political climate and the context in which the concert took place. It was a beautiful experience.

Tasos: You’ve mentioned before that rock music today lacks “depth and poetry”, and that there’s a scarcity of protest music in the mainstream rock scene. How did embracing your idols and older musical genres shape your identity as musicians, and why do you think these genres hold more depth than contemporary rock (whatever that might be)?

Edgey and Delila: The lack of protest music in rock is a fact that is obvious to everyone. Everyone kind of takes it for granted that great protest songs are something of a past era. We don’t see rock artists even trying to create lyrics with the poetic depth or social commentary of Dylan, Pete Seeger, Nina Simone, Phil Ochs, Son House, Lennon, and many, many others of the past. It’s strange to see such a lack of empathy for the working class in rock when there are so many great socially conscious lyrics in hip-hop. Rock lost its rebellious tendencies. It has become the status quo. Mainstream rock musicians are pushing the dominant narrative, defending draconian government policies, supporting tyrants, and attacking freedom of speech. The only solution that we can see is to embrace the ideals and values that once made rock great again. Doing so makes us unpopular in the press and within the industry, but it is the only way we can create art in any genuine way.

But to answer your question as to why other genres hold more depth than contemporary rock, we think it has partially to do with class. Many hip-hop artists come from impoverished backgrounds and have to also deal with discrimination on a daily basis. It makes sense that artists within that genre create tighter communities and write about real-life struggles. We, as a band, always felt a greater sense of camaraderie with our hip-hop friends.

Tasos: What motivated you to create a band that breaks away from the trend of… mindless fun, and how do you infuse thought-provoking content into your music?

Edgey and Delila: We naturally get turned off from trendy things, like wearing pink to the Barbie movie, haha. But I believe music with a message is the ultimate party music. MC5’s “Kick out the Jams” and some Rage Against the Machine can definitely rock a party!

Tasos: How do you maintain your authenticity, even if it means going against “the status quo”? Breaking ties with a major label like Epic Records (a Sony label) to preserve your independence was truly a bold move. What challenges have you faced as an independent band in the music industry since then?

Edgey and Delila: We were living in LA when we broke free from Epic Records. We also went broke and were evicted from our apartment. The worst part is that we got blacklisted by the most powerful booking agent there. So all of the doors were suddenly closing on us. A big, powerful manager took us on during this time with so much enthusiasm, but it was short-lived once he suddenly ghosted us 3 weeks into working together. He never responded to us and our career was on hold for the entire summer, so we missed out on all the festivals and other opportunities. Our lawyer had to call him to extract some kind of explanation from him and sure enough, he admitted the reason why he decided to drop us without so much as a courtesy call: he spoke with the agent who blacklisted us.

This kind of cowardly action happened to us all the time in Hollywood. We started to hate it there. We could count our friends on one hand. So we didn’t really have any choice but to pack our bags and head to Europe. It was the best decision of our lives! It was during that time that our second album Soul on Fire was written. We were literally losing our sanity and our identity.

We made the conscious decision to put all of our sweat, anger, frustrations, hate, and love into writing the album. We hated the position we were in, but we knew it was a blessing in disguise and our only salvation was to keep writing. Today we are thankful for that entire experience because it made us better songwriters and musicians and it brought us closer to each other. Not that we aren’t blacklisted in Europe, by the way. Only recently some manager blocked a record deal from going through. We laughed because it was a label that we would never sign with because of how badly they treat their artists, but the deal was blocked nonetheless. We have many more stories of challenges we’ve faced, but here’s one more.

After our move to Europe, we needed money to complete the mixing and mastering of Soul on Fire and to press all the vinyl and CDs. We tried crowdfunding for the very first time with a company called Pledge Music. It was a very successful campaign. Our fans really came through for us. We managed to raise all the necessary funds.

The album was finally mixed and mastered. We ordered all the vinyl, CDs, and shirts on our Amex and then had them shipped to Pledge for them to fulfill all the orders. We held our part of the agreement. Then Pledge notifies us that they will not be paying us the money that was owed to us because the company was going bankrupt. Just like that, all the fans were robbed, we were robbed, and we lost out on the thousands of dollars that we invested in vinyl, CDs, and shirts. And we still had to pay the outstanding studio invoices. Pledge stole over $30,000 and the merchandise that we paid for out of pocket. It was a total nightmare and buried us deeper in a financial hole. Luckily, our fans, who are really one big family to us, were understanding and really supportive. They re-bought the record and we hit the road.

We managed to recover and we are a lot stronger as a result. In case you’re wondering, nobody went to jail. No fines. Nothing. In fact, the manager we told you about above who blocked a record deal was the one who pressured us into using Pledge Music. He was somehow involved in the company. In this industry, corrupt and criminal activity gets rewarded.

Credits: Camilla Strobino

Tasos: Do you see these new avenues in the music industry (such as streaming platforms and social media) influencing the potential for music to serve as a vehicle for ideologically driven movements? How can musicians overcome self-censorship and leverage these platforms to amplify their message?

Edgey and Delila:
Streaming platforms provide a great opportunity for musicians to get their music out to people all over the world. No record label is needed. It sucks that these platforms are so greedy and pay artists very little, but that is another matter. But the problem with self-censorship is something that is easily overcome. Any artist who has any socially conscious urges should not repress themselves. It only takes a little courage to speak out on any issues that are dear to them.

But if they don’t want to say anything of social or political importance, then it shouldn’t be forced because it won’t be authentic. At the very least, we should be concerned about half of the world that lives below the poverty line. Empathy is what makes us human. Pretending as if your music is made in a vacuum and silently benefitting from a systemically repressive regime that exploits the global south, unfortunately, happens to be the norm in rock. If we as rock musicians managed to overcome this individualistic, self-serving mentality, then we wouldn’t need Spotify or Apple. We would start our own streaming services and all the artists would get paid fairly. That would make rock dangerous again!

Tasos: One of the critical elements you’ve identified as missing from music today is “community”. Could you explain why rock musicians, in particular, seem to lack a strong sense of solidarity and how this absence affects the industry and the artists themselves? We’ve seen names like man-of-the-people Bruce Springsteen charge more than $5000 per seat for shows…

Edgey and Delila: We don’t think it’s an accident that society has become more individualistic and consumer-driven. The older generation of rock musicians have abandoned the ideals of the 60s and 70s a long time ago. Generations of rock musicians were therefore left to fend for themselves. The mainstream bands of the 90s had an opportunity to create the community we so desperately needed. Instead, it was hip-hop artists like Dre. Dre, Rza, Eminem, Master P, and so many others that were starting their own labels and signing young talent that would become superstars, and then they, in return, would start their own label and sign more talent. Some of the biggest artists of today were discovered and signed by Dre.

Even Ed Sheeran was helped by Jamie Foxx when he was first starting out. We can cite some stories of rock musicians helping each other, but these are the exceptions. It’s not embedded in our culture. Tom Morello has been a tremendous help to us as a mentor, for example, but his background is also in hip-hop and metal. We’ve met many cool musicians on the road.

We’ve witnessed a very tight rock community in Seattle who have treated us like family every time we played there. Examples like this can be found in many places around the world. But it is not ubiquitous or organized on a massive scale. The feeling of solidarity is not something that is always shared by the big rock artists. Thousands of smaller rock bands have big hearts, but we don’t know how to organize ourselves and push our way up in an industry where the gatekeepers ignore us, and the bands who have made it fight to keep the spotlight on themselves. The only way to change this, in our opinion, is to give every kid in the poorest neighborhoods instruments and offer music programs where they can learn how to play the blues and roots music. It would take only one generation to reinvent rock and inject the communal values that they already possess.

Tasos: I know you are somewhat hopeful about the potential for ideological ruptures and change. What do you think of the current resistance and protest movements in the US? Your thoughts on the SAG-AFTRA strike? Do you see AI as a tool for artistic exploration or a potential threat to the uniqueness and authenticity of creativity in the music industry?

Edgey and Delila: Our hope doesn’t come from the mainstream movements in the US. We have been let down by corrupt leaders and the left’s unwillingness to take on the military-industrial complex or the deep state. Our hope is in the many working-class people across the country that have never considered themselves “political” or part of any movement but who have come to realize just how corrupt the government and the elite have become. The people are losing all faith in the system, while liberals and Democrats are trying to convince them otherwise. If we can stop allowing the media to divide us on cultural issues, then we can truly create fundamental changes that we have been trying to achieve for decades. AI will have devastating consequences way beyond the arts. We are already seeing robo-dogs in the streets of NYC. We are entering a dystopian nightmare that Orwell could only dream about.

Tasos: How do you respond to critics who argue against musicians expressing political views through their music? How do you see the connection between the personal and the political in your own work?

Edgey and Delila: Can you imagine a world without the song “Imagine.” Or without Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, Bessie Smith, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, Victor Jara, and the many, many folk heroes of every country? The critics you mentioned are the cancer of the music industry and they should be ignored entirely. For our own work, we understand that the personal is political.

Politics intrudes into every aspect of our private lives. Anyone who wants us to stick to only writing love songs is denying love itself and the experience of life. Bob Marley was a master at merging love with the everyday struggles and hardships of people from all walks of life. We tried to follow in the footsteps of other artists like Marley when we wrote our song “Devil’s Dust,” which is a topical love song about a dying miner and his wife. The company, only concerned about profits, was slowly killing the husband (and implicitly many others) and there wasn’t much he can do because that was the only way to put food on the table. This love story is inadvertently political because the family was being torn apart by a greedy corporation and bad government policies. We purposely wrote this song to highlight how the average, “non-political” American family is being exploited and torn apart by the ruling class. It’s the reality for many, if not most, American families and there are thousands and thousands of stories to back this up. Why anybody would want artists to not tell their stories is just plain ignorant or evil. The fusion of music and activism can be a powerful force for social transformation.

Tasos: In your journey as musicians who stand for meaningful change, have you experienced the impact of your music on your audience’s perceptions, beliefs, or actions? Can you share any inspiring stories of how your songs have connected with people and sparked discussions?

Edgey and Delila: Especially after releasing “Soul on Fire”, we’ve been getting more and more messages from females. I think as we wrote songs that opened up more personally, our female audience has grown. We get messages all the time about how the lyrics helped someone out of a personal struggle or inspired them to start their own project. We were surprised when we started seeing girls getting tattoos of our lyrics. This kind of connection with people is what keeps us going.

Credits: Athanasios Maikousis

Tasos: Your aspirations for the future of The Last Internationale? How do you see your music evolving alongside the social changes?

Edgey and Delila: Our aspiration is to keep going and see how far we can take this. The ultimate goal would be to inspire global movements and protests. We will keep talking about issues that affect our communities and fighting against current injustices.

Tasos: What message would you like to send to your new Greek fans? I know your recent appearance in Greece left the crowd wanting more, so let’s say that was just a teaser for a future full-scale show! Thank you again for finding the time to do this!

Edgey and Delila: It was a magical experience playing in Greece and we are working on coming back for a headlining show. So, we hope to see everyone again! Much love.


StreamThe Last Internationale’ from

https://www.tlinyc.com/music

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