Yes, Daily Express, I’m looking at you and the Evening Times with your “Britain’s most offensive t-shirt” cobblers and demeaning “Little known death metal act tries to drum publicity with appalling T-shirt” nonsense. While at least one of them took the time to talk to the band, their headlines – something many internet readers don’t get past – were pretty misleading and put a band with a genuine political grievance into a very poor light.
We’ve encountered Burning the Dream before – in the run-up to Bloodstock 2016 and witnessing their highly entertaining performance at last year’s Wildfire. Coincidentally in the latter article I mentioned their t-shirts, but in a very favourable light. I saw loads of people wearing them around the festival, certainly not making them “little known” in our local circles. Ross bumped into them at Bloodstock itself, where “the” t-shirt was worn and a nicer bunch of guys you couldn’t hope to meet.
Let’s make one thing clear about the story at hand, though. The t-shirt in question reads “F*** the poor, F*** the disabled, F*** refugees, F*** gays – T. May Circa 2016” (our asterisks). It’s not denigrating minorities, it’s a political statement supporting them. We’re not going to say whether singer Paul Kelly was right to make such a statement – we’re not a political website – but what the newspapers and their associated websites have reported is wrong, or at least misleading.
So, a few words from Paul himself to clarify things. Oh, and if you want to buy the shirt you can get it from their online store.
Is this an updated design of a shirt you had available before? And can anyone buy one of these or did you get it made custom?
Well it is and it isn’t. That is to say I had a one off made solely for myself to wear at a gig we were playing that was the same on the front but with “F*** pigs” in place of “F*** gays”, and one Mr. Cameron’s signature rather than the current signature of the Star Wars Emperor in drag. So in regards to that it is, but not in the sense that we didn’t sell any similar tee prior to this one. That custom one seemed to go down so well on the night I wore it, that several people asked me where they could get one and since there was so much shit going on regarding the Tories’ bullshit policies and with our song “12 Gauge” going down increasingly well at gigs we decided we would get a run of them made up. By the time we got around to it we somehow had a new (albeit unelected) Prime Minister so we figured we’d update it and now yes, anyone can get their hands on one either at a gig of ours or at burningthedream.bigcartel.com.
Do you personally think the shirt is offensive? What message is it actually conveying?
I find the things it refers to offensive. I’m offended that the economic gap between the richest and the poorest in our society continues to grow under The Conservatives’ stewardship and that mine is the first generation that can expect to earn less in our lifetimes than the generation that preceded us. I’m offended that The Conservative government has changed what is considered disabled and as such taken away countless people’s Motability vehicles and home assistance. I’m offended that, after all our actions in the Middle East, the government have binned a pledge to take 3000 unaccompanied child refugees after taking only slightly over one tenth of that number. I’m offended we currently have a government headed by someone who voted against an equal age of consent and against same-sex adoptions and only changed her opinions on such when it was clear the tide of public opinion was against her and her party’s views.
Offended by a tee-shirt that highlights these things with a few naughty words? F*** that. If someone wants to turn a blind eye to all the things I just pointed out and then get pissed off at a tee then I really think they need to re-evaluate what is important in life.
Do you feel that in these days of social media and clickbait journalism that some headlines can deliberately mislead to generate click-throughs and revenue?
Absolutely, yes. Anyone who read that article knows the headline, and indeed the first paragraph were designed to invoke a feeling of misinformed indignant outrage. The first paragraph said we were “hitting out at” the poor, the disabled, refugees and gay people. The reality is I’m hitting out at the folk who consider the aforementioned groups to be lesser than they are, but f*** it, never let the truth get in the way of a good scandal, right?
Given the teacup-sized storm that’s been created, would you wind back the clock if you could and wear a different shirt for the gig?
No way. Sure it was a total hack job and was clearly set out to be to our detriment but I expected that from the moment I received an unexpected phone call from the journalist. The reason I still provided comment despite expecting that? I was positive that for every one person sucked in by it there’d be five, perhaps even ten, who’d see right through the bullshit. It feels pretty good to be right. People, both those I know and those I’ve never met before, have been largely amazing. I’d like to thank them all for that. One love, bitches.
Is your music at all politically motivated?
We’re not a political band as such. For all twelve songs we have, there’s two with a political feel to it: “The Thoughtless” and “12 Gauge”, the latter being the song that’s linked to the tee-shirt. A few of our songs have been around since before I was ever in the band but since I joined I’ve been the primary lyricist and so that means I’m gonna write about whatever is on my mind. Whilst I’m not a politician or scholar or social commentator, if what happens to be on my mind is current events and the politics they are rooted in then so be it.
You’re working on your new EP at present. Any clue as to when it’ll be available?
It’s a time consuming and costly process but we finally just released one track [scroll down to listen] last week to hopefully whet people’s collective appetite and we’re hoping and expecting to have the whole thing out within a few months. No later than this summer.