During a recent conversation with Faisal Al Yafai and Idrees Ahmad for Newlines Magazine, Testament’s founding member and lead guitarist Alex Skolnick discussed why he believes that artists should express their political views and explained why he’s not worried about losing fans.
As you know, Alex Skolnick is one of the rockstars who are the most vocal regarding their views on social and political matters. In the past months, upon receiving criticism and being told to just ‘stick to music,’ he had penned an opinion article that was published in Newslines Magazine.
In his letter, he had said that in the past years ‘attention has become a prized commodity‘ and for this reason, he understands why some musicians prefer to not express their views on political matters. In his recent interview, he once again discussed his reasoning behind being so vocal about his views and whether he’s concerned that this will drive away some Testament fans.
Skolnick said that initially, he thought about Michael Jordan’s statement after turning down to speak at a rally for a Democratic candidate. Jordan had said ‘Republicans buy sneakers too’ and this controversial statement had gone viral. However, Alex said that he eventually decided that he doesn’t want to play that game, silence himself, and ‘sort of tailor my social media presence’ to make some fans happy.
He went on to explain that he’s not ‘attacking traditional conservative politics’ but rather the people who exhibit disingenuous right-wing politics. He then gave a couple of examples from news broadcasting in which Joe Biden and his politics are demonized while Trump is being praised even at times he doesn’t deserve it. He concluded his answer by saying that he can’t support that or just remain silent after witnessing such things.
Here’s what Alex Skolnick said when he was asked about whether he was concerned about losing fans by expressing his political views:
“It gave me pause at one point when it first started happening. There’s another phrase by an athlete — one of the greatest athletes — Michael Jordan, who once said, ‘Republicans buy sneakers too.’ I think he said that to turn down an invitation to speak at a rally for a Democratic candidate, something like that.
So, at first, I thought of that — I thought, well, I have some fans that… I don’t know how anybody could be behind Trumpism — as much as I could talk about Trump; let’s talk about Trumpism — I don’t get that. But do I really want to drive them away? And then I just thought, well, I don’t wanna play this game and just have to suck it up and smile and sort of tailor my social media presence to make them happy. It actually felt like a relief to just say, ‘You know what? No.'”
He went on to say:
“I think it’s beyond politics ’cause I’m not attacking traditional conservative politics. It would be very different if this was the ’80s or even the ’90s and I was talking about people who believe in lower corporate tax rates. Now it’s gotten so disingenuous. And the whole belief in the right-wing news echo chamber and these headlines.
Current headlines on Fox — one example, [President Joe] Biden just gave a press conference, and one of the banner headlines on Fox: ‘Biden gives press conference full of lies.’ These are the same people when Trump was giving his public appearance, they were praising it, falling over. So it’s so disingenuous. And these same people that are criticizing me and threatening to not listen to my music, they’re buying into that. And I can’t support that. And I can’t pretend to support that.”
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