Good Charlotte, Pennywise and Sum 41 have always been known more for their practical jokes than their practical advice. That may soon change.
Next year these bands, Green Day, NOFX, Alkaline Trio and others will unite to raise political awareness and encourage pop-punk fans to vote in the next presidential election — against George Bush. The groups will each contribute a track to the compilation Rock Against Bush and take part in at least one show on a tour organized and funded by NOFX singer/bassist Fat Mike, who also owns the label Fat Wreck Chords.
"About a year ago I decided to use my influence to get bands together to speak out about the president," Fat Mike said. "I think it's our responsibility as citizens and musicians to do so. He's wrecking the country and the world. He's starting wars for no reason, our economy is in the toilet, he's ruining the environment, and he does things like cut taxes when we need money."
Green Day, NOFX and Alkaline Trio will record new songs for the album. The other groups haven't yet announced whether their tracks will be new cuts, remixes or previously released tunes. The album should be in stores by April or May.
There will be two legs of the Rock Against Bush Tour. The first will take place around the release of the album, and the second will occur closer to the election. At the shows, Fat Mike's Punkvoter.com political organization will set up voter registration booths, and the bands that play will encourage kids to take part in the voting process.
"We're trying to build a coalition of kids 18 to 25," Fat Mike said. "We want punks and other disenfranchised young people to vote as a block, which no one has ever done before. Kids are the biggest group of people that don't vote. We want to change that."
Fat Mike applauds Rock the Vote, which has long been urging youths to show up at the voting booth on election day, but he feels their nonpartisan methods are flawed. "They don't tell kids why to vote or who to vote for," he said. "The punk scene is very united. We're gonna get every punk-rock band together, and I think we can take over the country and change the world."
Plans call for the shows to be free and staged mostly at college campuses. Since there may be some logistical problems with calling the jaunt Rock Against Bush, Fat Mike admits he may have to change the name. "Certain colleges won't advertise it as Rock Against Bush, and a lot of radio stations won't mention the name either. So we may just call it the Punkvoter tour or something, but to us it will always be Rock Against Bush."
All proceeds from the Rock Against Bush album will go toward print and television ads that will encourage punks to oust Bush from office. "We're just going to put true facts on TV," he said, "and one or two famous punk rockers will be reading them."
With profits from the disc being funneled into advertising, funds for the tour will be limited, but Fat Mike said he's prepared to pick up most of the cost. "I'm planning on losing a lot of money, but I don't care. This is something I really believe in."