The Backstays Share Solidarity-Voicing Single, “No Hot Cargo”

*The Following Press Release Was Issued By Front Porch Publicity*

The Backstays share solidarity-voicing single, “No Hot Cargo”
“You always help your brother and your sister down below / You held the heavy water back and said no to hot cargo” 

“The song was inspired by the small-but-mighty protests in Saint John, against Canada’s arms trade and the sale of Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia while it inflicted war upon Yemen,” said The Backstays’ Pete Johnston (he/him). “These combat vehicles are made in Ontario and have been quietly shipped out of the Port of Saint John for the past few years.” 

Similar hot cargo protests led to a labour strike at the Saint John docks in the late 1970s, when workers refused to load a $120 million shipment destined for a nuclear reactor in Argentina, where a military coup overthrew the country’s government.

“The line ‘If we’re ever gonna wake the dead’ is a nod to activists everywhere trying to resurrect worker solidarity and organize broad worker coalitions,” Johnston said. “‘No Hot Cargo’ mourns the decline of labour unions in recent decades; the roll-back of democratic bargaining rights and the rise of neoliberal capitalism in Canada. I think a lot more people are realizing we have some very serious fundamental problems and one of the foremost is how do we take power away from these unaccountable billionaires?”

“No Hot Cargo” hails from new album Tributaries, which was recorded and co-produced by Romesh Thavanathan.”

Romesh came down from St. John’s to Saint John for a couple weeks in summer 2019,” said Johnston. “We worked pretty much around the clock— it was organized chaos. Romesh brought the organization of course, but he also came with an open mind and willingness to chase down ideas and reign things back when needed. It can be hard to know when a song is finished. It’s all just guesswork at the gut level.”

Tributaries released mid-2021.

The Backstays formed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 2018 and have quickly become local favourites in the Maritime music scene. Since releasing their debut EP (self-titled) in August 2018, the band has toured the East Coast also supporting musicians like Joel Plaskett Emergency, Hannah Georgas, The Great Lake Swimmers and Adam Baldwin. With pointed lyrics as social as they are musical, the band brings together roots and heartland rock into a more expansive sound that equally evokes new wave and post-punk. The band consists of Pete Johnston on guitar/vocals and keyboards, Serenna Chapman on violin/vocals and keyboards, Derek Hichie on keyboards/guitar, Keith Whipple on bass and Lorne Kirkpatrick on drums. Together, they take the wall of sound ethos from the studio to the stage. 

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