By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Southern California-based political punks Total Massacre recently unleashed the music video for their new single “Get Rich Or Try Dying,” which was directed by Dylan Howard, drummer of The Lungs.
Regarded as “a hallmark of the punk scene in the 1980’s” by Propagandhi’s Chris Hannah, Total Massacre’s music is set to give 2021 its necessary flavor of voices that scream for anti-fascism, anti-racism and anti-capitalism, with “Get Rich Or Try Dying” the first of several singles to drop in the first half of the year.
In their short time together, they’ve performed at the 2019 Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival and have opened for the likes of Pennywise, The Bronx and Mondo Generator. Despite their planned 2020 tour with Pears being canceled because of COVID-19 and their home base studio Beer City being nearly burned down, it hasn’t deterred their drive to denounce all that’s wrong with society.
Even with new blood at the head of the White House, the band expressed that it’ll take a miracle to fix America and have got a new batch of tunes to voice that.
Total Massacre are singer Cap’n No-Fun, guitarist Mike Massacre, bassist Jeff Massacre and drummer Tommy Massacre.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to speak with Cap’n No-Fun about “Get Rich Or Try Dying” and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe South California to someone who has never been there before?
Cap’n No-Fun – SoCal’s great. We have Taco Trucks on every corner. It’s paradise. Of course, there’s about a 50/50 chance your house is gonna burn down every summer, but that’s a small price to pay.
Music Bugle – Given that you mix politics with punk, what do you make of what has happened in 2021 in Washington D.C. so far?
Cap’n No-Fun – I guess it was simultaneously shocking and completely unsurprising, if that makes sense? We’ve been warning that this is where things are heading since we started and well, we might as well say it again, it sucks being right all the time.
Music Bugle – What inspired your new single “Get Rich Or Try Dying” and did the music video come out how you hoped?
Cap’n No-Fun – The same things as usual really – looking around and seeing how terribly unfair life is for most of us and wanting to talk about various aspects of that. In this case, it was the song title that our drummer proposed that sorta helped me tie a bunch of lyrical loose threads together into the final product we put out. As for the video? It’s everything we could have wanted. We knew when we asked our buddy Dylan from the incredible band The Lungs to create this video for us that the end result would be chaotic, but we couldn’t have predicted just how epic it would turn out. We love it.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Cap’n No-Fun – I pulled the name from a samurai movie where a bunch of everyday folks take revenge on an evil lord and none of the other dudes argued with me. Hopefully, that’s enough of a clue that any cinema buffs out there can figure out the film I’m talking about, without me just giving it away.
Music Bugle – What inspires you the most to keep doing what you do?
Cap’n No-Fun – I guess the world around us is the simplest answer. To be frank, it sucks and I hope that at least by talking about it in an open and direct way, we can educate folks and inspire a little bit of change out there. If we can make things a little better through what we do, I don’t think any of us could ask for any more.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Cap’n No-Fun – We’re probably more eclectic in our tastes than you might expect from the music we make. We listen to – in no particular order – Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Grateful Dead, The Kinks, Frank Zappa, War On Women, Idles, The Budos Band, Skullcrack, Vulfpeck, Wire, Oranssi Pazuzu, Crass, King Crimson, Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys, Minutemen, Neco Case, Nels Cline, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard and of course, the best in LA, The Lungs.
Music Bugle – Of all the shows you’ve played, which ones stand out the most?
Cap’n No-Fun – Probably our set at the 2019 Punk Rock Bowling & Music Fest in Vegas. It was extremely humbling to get to play on the main stage with so many amazing bands and then spend all day interacting with fans and punks who had come from all over the world. Was just such an awesome time and I really hope we can do it again at some point.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Cap’n No-Fun – Well right off the bat, the four of us have been extremely fortunate that we haven’t lost our jobs through all this, so that puts us ahead of a lot of people. A few of us have had some extended family and friends get it, but thankfully, they have all pulled through. The biggest challenge for us has been staying engaged as a band through all this and finding different ways to collaborate while not being in the same room.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write?
Cap’n No-Fun – Definitely the new stuff that we wrote during the pandemic, just because it was such a different process from our usual thing of getting in a room together, playing a bunch of loud raucous stuff and feeling out what worked. Instead, we kinda worked out most of the song structure and lyrics and stuff from our homes by sending files back and forth to each other to work on and then, we finally met up two or three times to rehearse and record the tracks as safely as we could.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Cap’n No-Fun – I mean, I guess it hurts musicians in the sense that social media has been used by fascists to propagandize a large part of the populace and that isn’t really good for anybody, but on the upside, sure, I guess it’s cool that when we have something to say, we can pretty easily get it out there these days and I’d be lying if I said social media hasn’t helped us to connect with fans of ours all over the world, so I guess there is some good there. It’s just that like everything else these days, the tendency for capital to consolidate really just drives everything towards the worst possible outcome.