Volume 96, Issue 100
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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12 QUESTIONS: Antibalas

Antibalas speaks out on immorality of war

Gazette file photo
FUN IN THE SUN. Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra bring their funky beats to The Forest City this Thursday.

By Megan O'Toole
Gazette Staff

Martin Perna, baritone sax player of the Brooklyn-based Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, took a few moments out of his busy schedule to answer The Gazette's 12 Questions.

1) How would you describe your band in one sentence?

Joyous rhythms of funk and resistance.

2) Do you prefer playing music in the studio or rocking out live?

Live – it's the difference between music and a musical product. An essential element of our music is the crowd's energy.

3) Does the band ever fight while being on the road?

There aren't really any conflicts; it's just more making sure that everyone is always 100 per cent there. As long as the music is there, everything's good.

4) What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

We're not a very crazy band, but crazy things happen to us. On the way to a festival sponsored by the federal government in Canada, our entire band was detained for four hours at the border and strip-searched.

5) Who is your favourite author and why?

David Rees – he's the author of a book called Get Your War On. It's a satire of current events and American complacency.

6) What is your view on the war in Iraq?

This war, like all violent wars, is immoral, and I think it's making the situation worse for Americans in the short-term and in the long-term. America's credibility in the world is dropping. It's a real disgrace because America has so much potential, but it's moving away from the ideal. I think about leaving every day.

7) What do you think about Michael Moore's attack on Bush at the Oscars?

I didn't watch the Oscars, but I think [using that event as a forum for] speaking out is completely necessary. It balances things out. Any opportunity we have as creative people, we need to seize, and try to put forth the real story.

8) What musician or artist do you have the most respect for right now?

Basically, anybody who's keeping their soul intact while sharing their art. It doesn't matter if you're independent or a superstar, as long as you can keep it together without losing hope.

9) How do you feel about the new wave of TV-manufactured bands (eg. American Idol)?

It's more of a product than it is music. These people are looking for money; they're not looking to make art. It's not the kind of music that nurtures you, it's more like a quick fix of something new and sweet – it's kind of like going to the store and grabbing a Twinkie rather than taking the time to make a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice.

10) What disappoints you the most about the music scene today?

There isn't that much that disappoints me. There's so much good music in New York, and I see so much new talent, so it's pretty exciting. The one thing that disappoints me, though, is that the industry doesn't want to pay musicians what they need to live. Rock stars get ripped off all the time, while corporations make millions of dollars.

11) What trend do you think is the most over-hyped in the entertainment world?

Materialism – the focus status and name brands, and the idea that image is everything.

12) Any last words for Western readers?

Get ready to dance! Also, I just want to add, there are millions of people in New York who don't support this war and are looking for peace.

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra will be hitting Call the Office this Thursday night. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.


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