Beastie Boy Yauch Pledges To Hold Concerts Until Tibet Is Free

Next summer's Tibet Freedom Concert will likely include a large-scale demonstration.

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch said he plans to keep holding the annual all-star Tibetan Freedom Concert "every year until Tibet is free." Period.

"Our goal is to keep raising the profile of what's happening in Tibet," Yauch told Addicted To Noise Monday. "And to let more people know about it, because the more of us that can get together and demand that China let Tibet be free, the faster it will happen."

To that end, a three-CD Tibetan Freedom Concert album and a film, Free Tibet, both of which chronicle the Tibetan Freedom concerts staged by the Milarepa organization over the past two summers, will be out this winter.

Yauch said the 90-minute film, directed by Sarah Pirozek, intersperses interviews with the artists, footage of Tibetan monks and nuns wandering through the crowd, and historical footage about the abuse of the Tibetan people. "I think it will appeal to an audience," said Yauch. "It carries itself as a film, you know, most people would be entertained by it, like (the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman fight documentary) When We Were Kings. You don't need to be that into boxing to be interested in that film. People not necessarily into the bands (that performed at the Tibet shows) would still be interested in the movie."

London-born Pirozek said she sees the film as advancing "a very clear-cut argument about a mainly monastic, peasant society that is being overun by an incredibly imperialistic government. There's no question that it is morally and intrinsically wrong and you can see that in the footage of the nuns and monks at the concert and in how they affect everyone around them."

Pirozek said she hopes audiences come away with their own point of view on the situation, but that they get enough information so that, "they can invest, vote and/or buy in ways that make a difference."

The three-CD Tibetan Freedom Concert (Nov. 4) album features a song from every artist who played this year's concert including Patti Smith ("About a Boy"), Radiohead ("Fake Plastic Trees"), U2 ("One") and surprise second-day openers Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam ("Yellow Ledbetter"), along with some of the 1996 shows' performers.

Yauch said he started to learn about Buddhism and the Chinese government's brutal oppression of the people and culture of Tibet at the beginning of this decade, after several years of studying a number of different "religions and spiritual practices."

"I was just trying to learn what exists in all different cultures that is a significant part of humanity -- the similarities and differences," said Yauch, 33, who became a Buddhist about a year and a half ago, after being raised with "morals, but no real religion" in a Jewish/Catholic household.

"I first went to Nepal in 1990, then I took a second trip in December of 1992 and met some Tibetan people and started to learn about the oppression and what was going on," he added. "I stopped learning about the other religions and studied Buddhism for the next 4-5 years."

The rapper, also known by his Beastie Boys alter ego, MCA, said the seeds for the Tibetan Freedom Concert idea were sown several years ago during a conversation with Milarepa director Erin Potts. "We talked about doing a concert in (Washington) D.C. to influence President Clinton on his MFN (most favored nation) status decision on China. That didn't lead directly to the concert idea, though, which came two years later."

Yauch said the first concert, held in 1996 at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park (featuring Rage Against the Machine, Bjork and the Smashing Pumpkins, among others), attended by 100,000 music fans over two days, didn't necessarily make him want to do it all over again. "We needed to relax for a while, but then we knew we needed to do more," said the soft-spoken Yauch. "We couldn't just rest on it."

Once the organization had a successful concert under its belt, Yauch said a movie seemed like another effective way of reaching an audience who appeared receptive to the "very real" nature of the Tibetan people's suffering. "The film crosses the line between concert film and a documentary about the history of what happened and is happening in Tibet," said Yauch. The film will premiere in New York on Nov. 6.

"Our goal is to keep raising the profile of Tibet and let more people know about it, so more of us can get together and demand of China that Tibet be free," said Yauch. "China needs to realize that it won't go away and that what they are doing will always be remembered. And if they don't do something, they'll be remembered in the same light as the Nazi regime."

Yauch verified that Milarepa plans to stage another concert next summer in Washington, D.C., but added that "hopefully Tibet will be free in a couple of years and we won't need to do this anymore." [Mon., Sept. 22, 1997, 6 p.m. PST]