Winnipeg's Brat Attack brings politics on tour

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As if it weren't socially conscious enough already, the Warped Tour will get a political boot up the kazoo when militant punks the Brat Attack join the fray at Thunderbird Stadium on Tuesday (July 12). The Winnipeg quintet wants social change in a big way, as evidenced by the spoken-word introduction to its latest CD, From This Beauty Comes Chaos and Mayhem. Against a background of chanting protestors and slashing guitar, vocalist-guitarist Dave Zegarac lays out his band's case against the powers that be. "Why do they fear revolution?" asks the 26-year-old rocker. "Why? Because they know what we know: that any system based on fucking the people is doomed." The guy's got a point.

"We're definitely gearing up for an overhaul of the whole system," says Zegarac, on the line from a tour stop in Cambridge, Ontario. "But we know that it might not happen in our lifetimes, so in the meantime we're fighting against social injustice. We're trying to get kids and youth involved in politics and doing activism work. Music has become secondary to the initial need to get the message out."

As far as rock music goes, Winnipeg may still be best known as the original home of the Guess Who, but Zegarac says that that band's "Share the Land" credo is still being voiced in metropolitan Manitoba. "There's a huge activist scene in Winnipeg right now," he says. "We have the Mondragon, which is like a huge anarchist bookstore/coffeeshop/restaurant, with, like, the A-Zone upstairs, with G-7 Records and a whole bunch of different activist groups based out of there."

Winnipeg groups such as Propagandhi and the Weakerthans are also doing their part to fight the power. On From This Beauty, the Brat Attack delivers powerful screeds against government and corporate oppression in tunes like "Call to Action", "Mr. Capitalist", and "My Declaration as an Internationalist". Zegarac believes the kids of today are getting the point. "Our main goal is to get them while they're younger," he says, "and they seem to be paying attention. A lot of them are realizing that things aren't all happy and joyous and 'consumer buy-buy-buy' that they're force-fed through television. A lot of them are using punk rock as a voice for themselves to make some significant change. It's working."

Their daunting battle against the evils of the establishment is a noble cause, and Zegarac and his bandmates-vocalist Chanelle Birks, bassist Colin Irvine, guitarist Billy Bigford, and drummer Johnny Perrin-deserve commendation. But one wonders if they ever feel like taking a breather from the people's struggle, and just throwing on some Skynyrd. "Yeah, every once in a while it's nice to mellow out and have a nice veggie barbecue, relax in the sun. You gotta kick back and enjoy life's simple pleasures, like friends and love. Then you know that's what you're fighting for."