I think the best part about music is that at the end of the day, there really are no boundaries. You can create whatever you want. As an artist, you have the option to not limit yourself in a box, and it gives you a chance to express what it is that you want to tell to your audience, with or without words. Nathan Maxwell is very adamant about this, and he should be. Not only is he the bass player for punk band Flogging Molly, he's created a project entitled The Bunny Gang. The funny thing about this band, though, is that you can't really place a genre card on them. It's so all over the place, yet all of the songs on their most recent album, Thrive, come together in the most perfect way. I spoke with Maxwell about the band's recent music video for "Sirens Through The City", the writing process for Thrive, and more.
Last month, you guys premiered the video for “Sirens Through The City”. Can you tell me a little bit about the concept behind the video?
Well, the concept is just trying to shine light on things that we’re passionate about. For example, when I wrote that song, I was just trying to capture what was happening around me in my neighborhood, and then put my twist of hope into that environment. When it came time to make the music video, I wanted to capture that as well. I wanted to show some signs of what’s going on. It’s kind of painful, with all of the protests, what happened in Ferguson, the continuing rise of the police state. But at the end of the video, I think you notice the Anonymous mask with the American flag over it and the peace sign. That’s really the message. I think that’s the message that most of the people that are involved in the Anonymous Movement or the Occupy Movement have, in that they’re trying to make the world a better place. Even though it seems like this never ending war, and the militarization of our homeland, through all that, I really do have a sense of hope and that things will get better. I was trying to convey that and shine some light on the subject through this music video.
Was there a particular event that sparked the inspiration for this song’s lyrics?
I think it’s a culmination of an awakening, just from growing up and trying to think critically, trying to think for yourself. I was seeing so many of my friends and family stuck in this kind of polarity of this two party system, and being so passionate about something like the Democratic Party or the Republican Party, while all along, the same agenda seems to be unfolding. As you keep your eyes open, you start to realize that there’s this big ugly problem, and it all seems to be connected. It wasn’t one event; it’s been a lifetime of observation.
In your opinion, do you think there’s anything that people really need to do in order to realize these problems and come together for the bigger picture of things?
Well I don’t think there’s just one easy solution. There’s no Band-Aid for this problem. I think it comes from everyone taking responsibility, thinking critically, and educating themselves. I really love the Internet. I think the Internet is a great place for information. I think that people can fall into the trap of wanting to prove themselves right, so they go and find information or facts that back up what they believe. I think that’s something to be wary of. I think it’s probably better to look at as many alternative, opposing arguments as you can and really try to come up with your own opinion, and act accordingly. I think there’s one guiding principle that we should have as a people, and that’s non-violation. Anything other than that, I think you should be free to think for yourself and live the life that you want to live, as long as you don’t violate others. I think it wouldn’t take but a few seconds to turn on the news and see how much violation there is out there. I wish I had some pretty little thing to tell people, like ‘do this and the world will get better’. (laughs) But I don’t think it’s that simple.
Thrive was released back in September. It’s definitely different than the music that a band like Flogging Molly produces. What originally sparked your interest in this particular genre of music?
Well, it’s funny, because I don’t even know what you would call The Bunny Gang’s music. (laughs) Usually, when people ask me what kind of music we play, I usually say ‘well after you listen to the record or see us perform, you tell us’ because I don’t even know. I call it soul music.
It’s not that I was drawn to a particular genre, because I listen to probably every genre that’s out there, at least that I’m aware. It’s really just trying to make the best music you can, with your influences. I’m hugely influenced by Bob Marley. Punk rock like Crass. I’m a big West-Coast punk rock kid. I grew up with Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys. I also listened to Motown, classic rock, and new wave. The Cure was one of my favorite bands growing up. I’ve been in Flogging Molly for half of my life, and around folk music. I never really see music as this sort of box that you’re supposed to live inside of. I see music as part of creation. It just flows. The guys and I made the album and it came out like Thrive, you know?
How did the process of working on Thrive differ in comparison to White Rabbit?
Well White Rabbit was basically a solo acoustic record. I came into the studio with these songs, an acoustic guitar, and a melodica. I asked my Dad to lay down the drum tracks, and basically the two of us recorded that record together. That was really an acoustic solo endeavor, whereas on the Thrive album, I had put together a band. We had been playing these songs live, not all of them, but some of them. It was a band chemistry. When we went into the studio, we recorded live. All four of us, together as a band. That immediately changes the vibe.
What kind of message, if any, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I’d say to keep an open mind, and peace is possible.
What does music mean to you?
Oh man, I don’t think I’d be alive without music, so music is life.
Thrive by The Bunny Gang is available now via Hardline Entertainment. For more on The Bunny Gang, visit www.facebook.com/bunnygangband
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