Thurston's Protest Expands

Kimya Dawson, Chumbawumba contribute MP3s

April 10, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Thurston Moore has now placed sixty anti-war songs on his new Web site, protest-records.com, for free download. The site, now two weeks old, received a half-million hits in its first three days, and the Sonic Youth guitarist has received hundreds of song submissions as well as thousands of emails, both supportive and cranky.

"I get a little hate mail," he says. "You know, 'How dare you go against our men and women who are fighting?' But it's so vitriolic. I'm like, 'You hypocrite, the most violent thing I've read today is your email.' And there's no dialogue. It's more like, 'Fuck you! Sonic youth is gay!" I'll just say, 'We're protesting policy. We're not protesting people. I'm not hating the people I call war pigs, I'm just hating their ideas.' But this concept doesn't seem to make sense to these people who are completely furious."

In addition to the earlier offerings by the Beastie Boys ("In a World Gone Mad"), Sonic Youth ("Youth Against Facism"), Cat Power ("Rockets," "Maybe Not"), Jim O'Rourke and Glenn Kotche (a cover of Bill Fay's "Pictures of Adolf") and Chumbawumba ("Jacob's Ladder"), the site has recently added a pair of songs by the Moldy Peaches' Kimya Dawson ("Viva la Persistence," "Anthrax") and tracks by Jonny Polansky and Peter Stuart.

"My aesthetic is towards things that are a bit more challenging," Moore says, "and lot of them are more genre specific, very straight-up folk songs like a kind of New England Woodstock vibe or a Lilith Fair vibe. I appreciate it, but it's not really my cup of tea. But I'm trying to think in a broader sense, because it's about the emotional appeal."

The site also has a number of stencils created by New York City artist Chris Habib available to download, print, cut and paint over, including George W. Bush's head superimposed over a set of crossbones, and a flaming, upside-down flag with "Fuck the Flag" printed below. "That's created a lot of heat too," Moore says. "But we're like, 'No, no, no, they fucked the flag. The fuckers in D.C. have fucked the flag.' It does create some ideological nitpicking. He has a few other ones that were a little too hardcore [laughs]."

So far the site has ten sections allotted for ten songs each, with six sections filled. Responding to emails (and Moore responds to them all) and sorting through the songs has taken up more time than Moore initially thought, but the site is his active, ongoing protest. "To me it's all about applying yourself to what you can do," he says. "I'm not one for being too physically active in physical protests, because it frightens me, especially with my responsibility as a father. I also wanted to put my energy into something to do with music and communication."

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