Watching the world on fire

By John Clay

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Bill Rivers muses upon the world’s reawakening to the issues of racial tension via the re-evaluation of his band’s latest EP,’ Watch It Burn’. His findings are more than welcome.

Bill: A drastic change or event from outside will inevitably disturb. It is a startling reminder to those who thought the problem had gone away. A reminder that had been put out by Spike Lee in his 2018 film ‘Blackkklansman’, a film that plays almost like a farce, stylistically stereotyping a period. A bygone age in which we sit comfortably in our seats eating our popcorn, laughing and shaking our head in disbelief that these ridiculous people in white robes once existed. The film is really a ploy to what is to come, the shocking footage of the Charlottesville car attack. One doesn’t leave the cinema waxing lyrical about Adam Driver’s performance. It’s a shock to the system.

This time we find ourselves in can make us more attuned to a certain language, even hypersensitive. The title of our EP and the song ‘Watch It Burn’ seems prophetically apt, but none of its songs were written in 2020. In fact, the most recent ones were written in 2018. If I were to allow the songs to be open to interpretation or association to what is going on in the always present, then it would be a personal note to oneself to see if the songs, lyrically at least, have the strength to become timeless, relevant in any time (though at the same time, hoping they would become archaic quite quickly because the world has grown up for the better). Therefore, can I look at each song and interpret them to present-day events?

Bill: ‘Psycho World’ in essence, is about the loss of ‘original’ self, to find yourself in the unfamiliar, a strange and senseless place, out of your ‘self’ as it were. It can be seen as the child that becomes the adult, following the patterns in their society. Only to realise they were tricked, and that the elders who they dreamt of being one day, were just as scared as they are feeling now. There is an awareness here, though, and a yearning to free themselves from the chaos. Maybe more love and understanding in the world is key? Perhaps someone will save them from this madness. The cause is ready to be scrutinised, and once that step is taken, then progress, the change will happen. Is this change going to happen now and at a speedier rate?

‘Watch it Burn’ is the personal dilemma of choosing to live in the past or look to the future. And the decision to this question is answered in ‘How Do You Do?’, where the narrator follows the “you” to see they have worked something out, from merely stepping out of their vicious circle. They know not to waste time, and in ‘The Devil’s Loose’, a warning is given and even advice. ‘Will it Happen Today?’ is a regression, waiting for someone else to help make things change. By doing so, they miss the ever-changing moments happening around them The flow of life, the moment, their head in an idealistic future, a dream. ‘Lost’ is the bonus track on the EP, a bookend. The narrator is aware they’re lost but is grateful that you are there. 

The thread that runs through the EP is that of someone who is a stranger in their surroundings, trying hard to make sense of what is going on. The answer is to find the middle way, to be alert at all times, meditative as the Buddha, but never to forget that Gautama had to go through all kinds of suffering before his awakening.

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