Sat. July 14
Interview With Rock Band Madison Rising
“We want to have more of an impact on the pop culture, to show kids that you can be an awesome musician, a cool person and still have conservative values.”
Gayle Trotter: Today I’m speaking with the members of Madison Rising. Could you please introduce yourselves and let us know what you do in the band?
David Bray: Sure, David Bray, I’m the vocalist.
Chris Schreiner: Chris Schreiner, guitarist.
Sam Fishman: I’m Sam Fishman, the drummer.
GT: Dave, when did music first touch your soul?
DB: I believe I was floating around in the cosmic universe somewhere in between Neptune and no, I’m joking. I think it hits everybody at the same time when you first hear that song that captivates you. I grew up listening to music, but it was during my teenage years that the rock genre captivated me.
GT: Chris, the music of the sixties was all about the intersection of politics and music. Why do you think the time is right to resume this kind of mixture?
CS: It seems like an equally contentious time in American history, only it’s reversed. We’re like the anti-establishment band, but the establishment is leftist as opposed to conservative.
GT: Dave, in your video for your song, “Right to Bear Arms,” you show footage of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. What connection are you trying to draw?
DB: It’s the obvious one. The tyrannical dictators who, usually in the name of good or protection of a society, try to remove arms from their citizens and inevitably the outcome of that is a dictatorship or a tyrannical government that ends up overthrowing the people of its nations. We’ve seen what can happen in those situations. You look at the Holocaust or you look at Germany at that time, and it’s evident what can happen when a government takes its people’s right to bear arms.
GT: Chris, the same video shows video of Nancy Pelosi, Hilary Clinton and Obama. Don’t you think it’s a little extreme to compare these three with Hitler, Stalin and Mao?
CS: Yes, to be honest with you, I really don’t like that video. I didn’t make it. I just helped write the song.
GT: What do you think the song should communicate through the video?
CS: In regard to the left and their—for lack of a better word—war on guns, the hypocrisy is absurd. There are obvious parallels between these extreme cases where you disarm the public and everything kind of goes to hell. It’s something to be cognizant of—you learn from history or it repeats itself. If you look at what is happening in certain Democratic administrations, it’s a similar thing. You pick away a little at a time until there’s nothing left. They’re not going to knock down your door at 3 o’clock in the morning like the Gestapo, but you just have to be careful because the intent at the end of the day is there. It’s the same goal. They’re just going about it in a different way.
GT: Dave, the motto of your band on the website says “music with meaning.” Doesn’t all music have meaning and if not, how does your band convey meaning that other music does not?
DB: Some music comes from a less meaningful place than where ours does. We decided to put a lot of our message forward so that we could basically show what our foundation and our roots are as a band. Dealing in the rock genre of music in general, it’s pretty much a given that it has a negative connotation or a negative undertone—just because of the type of music it is.
It’s the same as how “gangsta rap” or anything else has in the past been used to promote some hate and some violence in our youth. So we chose rock music because it has yet to be explored and to be a meaningful type of music that is wrapped in a heavier metal vibe or feel.
We decided to write and sing about our great nation and give thanks to our soldiers, but inevitably we just wanted to make sure that our message came through without any hiccups. We wanted to make sure that the public and an ear that may not be used to listening to rock music would understand that “Hey, these guys are on our side.”
GT: Sam, aren’t liberals the cool kids and conservatives the stiff and boring kids?
SF: It all goes to pop culture. It’s what’s on the airwaves. It’s what’s on TV. You have Obama, who made an appearance on the Jimmy Fallon late-night show, and he slow jammed the news. Young kids see it, and they say, “Oh this guy’s cool and hip.” And then on the other side, it doesn’t seem like the conservatives or the Republicans have this cool media presence. Really the only major conservative news outlet right now is Fox News and that’s really not enough. I think that’s really where it comes from—our media and our pop culture. That’s why I’m in this band, Madison Rising—that’s why we’re all here. We want to have more of an impact on the pop culture, to show kids that you can be an awesome musician, a cool person and still have conservative values.
GT: Dave, what are your thoughts?
DB: They say that if you weren’t a liberal when you were younger, you didn’t live your youth. If you aren’t a conservative when you’re older, you didn’t learn from it. The general consensus is the two middle fingers up in the air and saying “F the world” is a cooler stance to take in your youth.
We’d like to see that change. We’d like to see a little more intelligence. There’s a lot more of it coming through nowadays because kids are being exposed to it more often. Obama did awaken to politics a portion of our nation that had never even opened up a page before. If there was anything positive from him doing what he’s doing, it’s the fact that he woke up a nation to politics that was never awakened before. Now as far as who is cool in there and who’s not, I leave that up to their own judgment. The left and the liberal agenda is propagated more by the culture and more by what is cool. Inside of that, the left throws in their underlying agenda.
The conservative movement wears its patriotism and its sentiment on its sleeve—it’s proud to say that it’s Christian and patriotic. It’s basically two different ways to go about promoting your own ideas or agendas, and unfortunately the left has control of all the cool things and the right doesn’t.
GT: Chris, I understand that you’ve had somewhat of a hard time getting noticed by the regular media outlets and has this affected your ability to get your music out there.
CS: The internet and the bloggers—there’s a large blogging and specifically conservative blogging community—have certainly helped reach the right audience. We’ve met with some resistance. To what extent with the media, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to say when someone doesn’t write something about you if they’re ignoring you or they don’t know about you—there are differing opinions in the band on that. But I think we’ve gotten good exposure.
One instance in which we have met with some discrimination would be playing live and getting booked in certain demographics in this country. This is a very large and diverse country, and half of it’s red and half of it’s blue. That’s to be expected, that’s fine—if we were playing polka music it would probably be a similar challenge in terms of getting people’s attention. So onward and upward. There are plenty of people who want to hear this message and who like our music so I don’t feel in any way slighted.
GT: Dave, I understand that you served in the military. How does your military service impact the music that Madison Rising is producing?
DB: Madison Rising was a calling to me—a calling to service the same way military service was to me when I was a younger gentleman. I’m older now. I’m a father. I have two boys. I’m married. I have a home, and I’m trying to leave something behind for them that’s better than the way I found it. So Madison Rising is a call to that service. We see it as a way to use something we love to do, which is rock music, and we get to use it in a way that’s for good. I see myself as a superhero [laughter]—at least for my kids. They see what I do. And I’ll be honest, I’ve been in other bands where I wouldn’t have been as proud to show what I had done on stage or that I’d laid down on records. It’s just the way it is—you’re young, you’re crazy, and now that I’m older and wiser and I feel like it’s more about them and less about me.
The military does show you the things you need to do to make life easier on yourself. You learn attention to detail and discipline and you learn some pretty strong virtues in the service. All those things play an integral role because Madison Rising is a group much like a platoon. We try to keep some law and order and some civility among us when we’re on the road. And it’s tricky, but it’s what needs to be done.
GT: Dave, what’s your favorite rock song?
DB: Right now there’s a tune by the band BobaFlex which is called “Bury Me With My Guns On.” One of their buddies came back from Iraq and was sitting around having a few drinks and talking about his stories. One of the things that he said to the guys in the band was, “If anything were to happen to me either here or there, bury me with my guns on so I can show the devil what it feels like to die.” And I thought that when it comes to rock and roll and having a message and just being bad to the bone, that to me is the epitome of it. My kids love it—it’s a great rock song.
GT: Thank you, guys, so much for talking to me about your music.
DB: Thank you, Gayle.
Gayle Trotter is a writer, lawyer, and mother of six who lives in Washington, DC.