By Denise Santana
California State University, San Bernardino, student and musician Andy Paisley wrote and composed an album inspired by the January 6, 2020 insurrection. Paisley embarked on a two-year journey that led him to compose a rock album for those fighting for social justice.
California State University, San Bernardino, student and musician Andy Paisley wrote Year of the Rat, an album inspired by the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2020, at the U.S. Capitol.
Year of the Rat references the Chinese zodiac animal for 2020, the rat. In the album’s songs, Paisley highlighted 45th President Donald Trump, capitalism, and police brutality.
“The title is referencing the year 2020 in the Chinese Calendar. 2020 is the Year of the Rat,” said Paisley.
Paisley shared his belief that the rat was symbolic for some of the individuals involved in the insurrection.
“I also found it a fitting description to describe the rats in congress/governments-many of whom advocated for the overthrow of government and reversal of election results on January six and were anti-maskers riding the virus like a surfboard, while also getting rich off stocks, and many of whom are also rumored to be secret Russian puppets,” said Paisley.
During his writing process, Paisley used parts of former President Trump and his son, Donald Trump Jr.’s, speeches that encouraged rioters to storm the capitol building.
“In some songs, I used snippets from the Trump and Trump Jr. speeches on the White House Ellipse to demonstrate how they advocated for violent rebellion and overthrow of the government by inciting their followers. I used it as evidence of the reasons why they are not true leaders and why it was imperative for us to seek non-violent words and expressions (in essence music) to seek change,” said Paisley.
Paisley focused some songs on the environmental impacts that stem from capitalism.
“I talk about how capitalism and the thirst for luxury, convenience, and wealth (and the hoarding of these resources) has led the world to a breaking point,” said Paisley.
The song “Diesel Eyes” references oil spills caused by desires to seek wealth and resources at the cost of others.
“I specifically reference the giant “fire in the ocean” that occurred a couple summers ago. Oil spills happen quite frequently and people are always in a rush to drill, without worrying about the potential impact,” said Paisley.
Paisley also included other incidents of environmental violence in the inspiration for his album.
“Looking back at the Dakota Access Pipeline which people so desperately wanted to build (and which has since spilled), we can see how people don’t care. They only want convenience and money,” said Paisley.
Paisley related these issues to an environmental crisis that he believes is growing in the world today.
“Yet these things are leading us to our demise with the pending ecological disaster, climate weirding, etc. Our endless pursuit and accumulation is going to destroy us all. Further, capitalism demands that there is a disparity between the rich and the poor. This is not a sustainable model,” said Paisley.
Paisley also mentioned examples of police abusing their power, including an incident when his girlfriend tried to refute a ticket in court.
“The police and the judge banked on the lie that my girlfriend was guilty of not stopping at a stop sign, and since the cop said that he “feared for his life” (what they always say to justify violence on people), the judge agreed my girlfriend was guilty and forced to pay a fine for not stopping. She had went to court to contest the ticket,” said Paisley.
Paisley wanted to use this incident to “demonstrate how the justice system is flawed.”
In Paisley’s song “Mr. Turbopump” he expressed his ideas about the standards required to become a police officer.
“It was this or flipping burgers,” and, “kiss my boots and don’t talk back and don’t let me catch you being black,” are some of the lines from the song.
“George Floyed [sic.] was not the first one, but he was the first to get the media’s attention,” said Paisley regarding recent events of Police violence.
The song “122nd place” notes the U.S.’s stance on global peace. Paisley hoped to highlight the danger and hypocrisy of American corporate media frames as the song lets listeners know that he would rather go to Switzerland than stay in the U.S.
“Switzerland, Denmark, mainly any country that values its citizens, the news paints the USA as being amazing and safe but we rank up there with Afghanistan and Argentina for peace,” said Paisley.
Paisley believes that music can be a tool in helping individuals express their opinions.
“Writing is a discovery process, and I hope others can find a way to articulate their sentiments and share it with the world. Music has revolutionary potential, and it may be one of the last remaining options to do so,” said Paisley.
Paisley is set to perform in June at the Blue Hills Studio in Indio, California.
“My hope for the album is to inspire other people to use their voice to advocate for change as well,” said Paisley.
More information on Paisley, his music, and his upcoming events can be found by visiting his Instagram @ Something_Vague_band.
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