X singer Exene Cervenka, Everclear frontman Art Alexakis and exDead
Kennedys leader Jello Biafra will speak out on global issues as part of
the Spitfire spoken-word tour's first U.S. run in the fall.
"It's like a political thing, where everybody talks for 15 minutes about
prisons, or mental health, or legalizing marijuana or some ... thing,"
Cervenka (a.k.a. Cervenkova) said recently from her Los Angeles home.
Also expected to appear on select dates are former Nirvana bassist and
free-speech advocate Krist Novoselic, rocker/DJ/human-rights advocate
Perry Farrell, Spearhead frontman Michael Franti and Bad Religion
singer/guitarist Greg Graffin.
The college-campus tour will begin in the U.S. heartland in mid-October
with a series of "warm-up" dates, tour organizer Sarah Haynes said.
Then it will hit major cities on the West Coast later in October and
into November before heading to the East Coast. Dates should be announced
next week, along with a lineup of speakers and their expected topics.
Approximately 20 dates are planned.
Cervenka, whose punk-rock band X is known for such songs as "White Girl"
excerpt), participated in Spitfire's four-date "pilot tour" last
fall. Her topics usually involve women's issues; last year she spoke
about the toll modern life takes on mental health.
"Exene will do poetry or a monologue, like, 'Oh my God, I saw this girl
[in a magazine] and she's so thin and I'm so fat, and he's not going to
like me,' " Haynes said. "She'll act the whole thing out it's
Co-created by human-rights advocate Zack de la Rocha, frontman of Rage
Against the Machine, Spitfire is defined in a statement as "a free speech
forum that ... aims to educate, enlighten & entertain, while instigating
action." Spitfire most recently was featured at the Woodstock '99 festival
in Rome, N.Y., in July.
In addition to spotlighting socially and politically conscious musical
artists, Spitfire also will include actors Woody Harrelson and Rosie Perez
and MTV VJ Kennedy. Additional speakers might include comedian/actress
Sandra Bernhard, "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher, Amy Ray of the
Indigo Girls, and rappers Chuck D and Ice-T, Haynes said. Activists will
be invited after the speaker slots are filled.
Lineups will vary from date to date, with some speakers only appearing
in specific regions. Alexakis, for example, is planning to do only Midwestern
dates, while Harrelson will appear only on the East Coast.
"Everyone who speaks on Spitfire is almost like a board member," Haynes
said. "We call them all the time; they all submit footage for our films.
It's really their creation."
Novoselic, founder of JAMPAC (the Joint Artists and Musician Political
Action Committee), served as the tour's moderator in 1998. He will return
for select dates this year. In a letter posted on the tour's official
website, www.colleges.com/spitfire, Novoselic chronicled Spitfire's first
run and offered his views on its strengths and faults.
"After the tour, Jello told me that the word on the street was that
Spitfire was a good thing and is greatly needed," Novoselic concluded in
the letter. "It did entertain for sure; and it was enlightening and
engaging. After the last show, I walked away with something I didn't
expect. I am honest to God inspired by Spitfire."
Franti will step into Novoselic's moderator shoes for many dates on the upcoming
tour. Between speakers, audience members will be invited to voice their
opinions in what is called "a break-out session."
This year's tour is being partially funded by its new sponsor, Colleges.com,
a college information site. The website has a special section for Spitfire
news and information.
(SonicNet's Derek Carmean contributed to this report.)