Punk Rock

McAllen Label Enlists Bands to Fight Police Brutality

This past weekend, a young label out of McAllen named Edgar's Friends released a compilation tape, entitled No Ruido No Noise, to raise money for charities involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, including Hands Up United and Sandy Speaks, organizations founded after the deaths of Mike Brown and Sandra Bland dedicated to fight racial injustice. (The intention was to originally donate to the Tamir Rice Memorial Fund, but it closed before the tape was completed.) Label founder Edgar Gonzalez reached out to bands across the country to contribute tracks, and 14 artists obliged with a variety of previously released songs, unreleased songs, and songs specifically written for the tape. Bands appearing include Priest, Perfect Pussy, Frankie Rose, Sadie Dupuis (of Speedy Ortiz), Fred Thomas, Radiator Hospital, Downtown Boys and many more, such as Texas' Pinky Swear.

Inspired by Rice's death at the hands of a Cleveland police officer last fall, Gonzalez says he wanted to bring together a collection of like-minded bands who felt strongly about this cause, with the idea to "paint a picture of a more true and real America," he says, with a message of "spreading positive vibes in light of recent negativity." The tape was physically released this past Sunday, the one-year anniversary of Rice's death, and had already been available on Bandcamp through a pay-what-you-want model. Before the tape's release, Gonzalez fielded a few questions about why he felt strongly about this and the process behind assembling artists for the tape. 

Houston Press: What gave you the initial idea to put together the tape?
Edgar Gonzalez:
The murder of Tamir Rice. I have a little brother Tamir's age and to think of the pain losing him, my favorite person, broke my heart.

What drew you to the "Black Lives Matter" cause?
The lack of respect by the state to lives of color. The disregard of humanity and the constant persecution of victims like Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown by the media made me very angry and, quite honestly, extremely sad.

Why did you specifically pick the Tamir Rice memorial for your charity, and what others did you consider?
I had initially chosen the Tamir Rice Memorial Fund because it is a case very close to my heart. The murder of a child is never, ever, justified. Since the beginning of the project however, they have closed the fund, so we are now looking to donate the profits to organizations like Sandy Still Speaks and HandsUp.org.

How did you go about reaching out to the artists on this tape?
I essentially reached out to my friends' bands and people I admired with the initial idea for the project. Most of the artists got back to me with enthusiasm and support, and that was an incredibly profound feeling.

Who were you most surprised agreed to participate?
Honestly, all of them, I love all thee bands, and to be able to work with even one of the 14 is a dream come true.

Did you have to deal with labels or was it a pretty straightforward process of artists letting you use songs?
I dealt mostly with the artists themselves, and management in one case.

I know some songs were written specifically for the comp. Could you go into a little detail about which those were, and the message behind them?
Well, actually that's part of the idea behind the tape — the message of the songs [doesn't] have to be politically charged, I feel, for the art itself to be. For example, Pinky Swear wrote a heartbreaker of a track, and while the song may speak about a personal relationship, to me that song is as radical and politically charged as any other.

Which original songs were the most important to you?
That's like asking me to chose my favorite offspring, as in it depends on the day, but mostly I love them all equally.

Do you think people involved in music (musicians/labels/writers/etc.) have an obligation to speak out politically?
Oh yes! I feel like it is our duty to not only create or shape culture but to use culture to battle the ills we deal with.

What's been the most challenging aspect of this whole process?
The most challenging aspect of all this is not crying out of sheer amazement and excitement that my favorite bands have agreed to work with me.

How do you feel the music community can make an impact with things like this?
I think every revolution and social movement has had a soundtrack. It is our duty to provide it and fight the good fight.

No Ruido No Noise is available now.

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David Sackllah
Contact: David Sackllah