OUT 9TH SEPTEMBER 2022
Hailing from Seattle, The Refusers are an up and coming Modern Rock band with a penchant for writing infectious music and controversial narratives. Rallying 107K followers on Facebook, Michael Belkin (Songwriter, Guitar & Lead Vocals), Ehssan Karimi (Drums), Eric Robert (Keyboards) and Steve Newton (Bass, Backing Vocals), blast through the establishment’s twisted goals – performing songs of melodic defiance. Gearing up to release their latest musical escapade, ‘EAT THE BUGS’ [9th of September 2022] features signature modern rock sounds and tendentious lyricism. The single will be the first release of many more to come, satisfying the political symposium of the quartet’s global following. The Refusers draw inspiration from personal issues – coupled with societal commentary that evokes emotional responses, the band intends to engage existing audiences and reach out to new ones.
When listening to the track, one can scope a vast assortment of musical technicalities of old school rock; an in-your-face message through punk vibes and rock riffs – reminiscent of an industrial era exuberating metal, guitars and anarchic resilience. Despite the socio-economic rhetoric of the melodic rebellion, the fundamentals of classic punk revolt is present in every second of the track. Being avid storytellers, ‘EAT THE BUGS’ touches on themes relating to the World Economic Forum (Davos) and Klaus Schwab; questioning the status quo and contemporary media narratives. The track echoes complaints against a ridiculous proposal made by economy puppeteers, facilitating crucial political debates in a post-pandemic world.
A musical protagonist, frontman Belkin contextualizes his musical motive for rebellion as a mouthpiece for personal hardships;
“For people who have never heard of the WEF or their agenda… this song – the album art & video could open their eyes and get them to ask questions. It also rocks.”
With lyrics like “Do insects tempt your tongue? Or will they taste like dung? Crickets and black flies are the food of the future. Eat the Bugs” The Refusers have gained an online presence ahead of ‘Eat The Bugs’ release. INFL had the opportunity to interview frontman and lyricist – Belkin, ahead of the release.
Love the classic rock aspect of the track – there’s a clear influence from timeless alternative punk and industrial metal. Regarding the artistic direction of the music, who were the key inspirations and influences – how have other artists shaped your creative process?
I admire Rage Against The Machine for their bold anti-establishment stance and decided to take that approach further with our previous Refuser albums like Disobey and Freedom Fighter. Our latest songs go places most musicians wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Like exposing the puppet masters at the World Economic Forum and their agenda of making us eat bugs and own nothing while they flit around the world in private jets. We’re a rock band and the music is everything. Our sound is raw. We use Marshall, Soldano and Vox tube amps for a blistering rock guitar sound. In contrast to so much modern, over-produced music with hard-tuned vocals, we stick with the basics. The band players are amazing: Ehssan’s drumming is out of this world. He’s a graduate of the Berklee College of Music (the other Berkeley) and knows his technical chops, but plays with authentic fire. Eric is a top Nord keyboard player who lets it all hang out. Steve also has a music degree from University of Miami and plays bass like a banshee. I don’t hold back on electric guitar, it drives the Refusers’ sound. Put it all together and you have a punk-rock style band with musicians who know how to play. That’s a potent combination, raw energy and chops.
Where did this all begin? How did the Refusers evolve into the musical protest of punk rock and anti-establishment chronicles it is today?
It started with my education at UC Berkeley, where the official founding principle of my college is ‘question the status quo.’ Back in the day UC Berkeley was ground zero for free speech and civil rights protests, the anti-war protest movement, divestment from apartheid South Africa (which led to toppling of the apartheid government and Mandela’s ascension), etc. People who go to elite private universities like Harvard generally become establishment drones. Not so with me and Berkeley, I’ve been a thorn in the system’s side ever since. There’s a lot of messed up deluded people out there ringing the cash register and not questioning what they are doing to the world.
I played in a hard-core punk band in Berkeley, opening concerts for big acts, then had a rock band in NY City before moving to Seattle. I admired the Seattle rock scene, but it hasn’t produced much exciting rock music in a long time. The Refusers aim to fill that gap.
‘EAT THE BUGS’ will be released on streaming platforms this September; what is the most exciting thing about seeing the track out in the world? What is your personal reasoning and reaction to the virality of the Facebook posts surrounding the audio and video content?
I guess I’m asking… Why do you think this has broadened your online demographic and do you think this will reflect in your future live shows?
I think we’ve tapped into something big here. We’ve got a Facebook page with 108,000 followers. We ran some teaser posts for our new song Eat The Bugs about Klaus Schwab (World Economic Forum) and several have gone bat shit crazy viral (one has 114,000 likes, 40,000 shares). That’s about 10 times bigger than our previous biggest FB posts. It suggests there are a lot of people out there who are fed up with tin-pot New World Order dictators and their manipulative policies. Our song Eat The Bugs is tailor-made for this audience. We’ve shared the stage with bands like The Black Keys, Kings of Leon, etc. at music festivals and look forward to doing so again with our new controversial material.
Expanding on the rhetoric of virality and audience impact in your content, it is clear there are passionate beliefs behind your lyricism and musical direction. In the boundaries you find comfortable, do you mind exploring the emotive origins of ‘EAT THE BUGS’ and how your experience imparted the political narrative behind the track?
Eat The Bugs is a satirical punk rock put-down of Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum (WEF) and their agenda of manipulating governments and the masses into bizarre pseudo-communist behavior. It’s a play on Marie Antoinette’s infamous quote “Let them eat cake.” In that ancient case, a rich deluded political leader foisted an absurd dietary dictate on struggling common people. In the current case, Marie Antoinette’s political descendants are foisting a similarly absurd dietary dictate on us: Eat The Bugs.
For those not familiar with the WEF, this is the group that holds the annual Davos love-fest gathering of hedge fund billionaires, Hollywood celebrity luminaries and top international government officials. They fly into Switzerland in private jets and then lecture the world about green energy conservation.
*A little-known fact about Schwab is he has a statue of Lenin behind him in his office. He admires communism. It helps control people. Eating insects is one of the WEF’s proudest policies. They want to replace animal protein with bugs.
Schwab and the WEF are puppet masters who seek to manipulate people into behaviors that the WEF advocates. As a graduate of the UC Berkeley Business School, I am familiar with their tactics. Modern academic theories of Behavioral Science and neuromarketing seek to ‘nudge’ people in the direction that policy-makers dream up. This transcends individual choice. It is blatant manipulation and brainwashing. Corporations and governments appoint and employ experts in these fields to herd people. Schwab boasts he has penetrated world governments with his disciples through his young leaders program.
There is widespread opposition in independent-thinking and freedom-loving circles against this mind control. Schwab has become an open joke to those of us who are educated and aware of his policies. Two comparisons spring to mind:
- The Emperor’s New Clothes. Everyone applauds the Emperor until one child points out he is naked.
- The Wizard of Oz. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
That’s the background of what inspired The Refuser’s new song and video Eat The Bugs.
We took Schwab’s absurd insect-eating policy recommendation and turned it into a punk rock anthem with heavy metal guitars. Eat The Bugs!
Furthermore, could it be argued that you aim to educate and rebel; do you think the audience will still resonate with the revolutionary and anarchist aspect of the lyrics – even if they don’t align with the political standpoint?
The political narrative of our music is *uck the system. We’re independent in outlook, not supporters of either US political party. Our five new songs starting with Eat The Bugs are really a satirical protest against power-hungry bureaucrats who use deception and manipulation to achieve their nefarious goals. People who think for themselves and aren’t programmed by dictators are our fans. They come from both the left and right, we appeal to free thinkers of all stripes and pursuations.
Curation and creative development of a track can be tricky and a lengthy process. How did the pandemic impact the recording methodology and techniques used for ‘Eat The Bugs’? What challenges were there from a practitioner perspective: what things surprised you?
I wrote these five songs during the lockdown and bided my time for release until the public’s appetite for quarantine was exhausted. We recorded all the tracks very quickly, aiming for an authentic live sound. Our musical production is raw, in contrast to most slick, overproduced modern music.
As a grassroots alternative blog based in the UK, it can be hard to grasp the political landscape overseas. In five words, could you describe your hometown’s (US) music scene post-covid 19?
Seattle has a few good new rock artists like Ayron Jones who is shaking up the scene. Otherwise it’s pretty placid. The pop hip/hop scene is thriving, but that’s not our beat. Our musical approach is bare bones, as opposed to robo drum beats, etc. We’ve been at the top of the Reverbnation Seattle rock charts for awhile, for whatever that’s worth.
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