It seems that pretty much everyone has an opinion about U.S politics nowadays. Few bands, however, were as outspoken about theirs at Governors Ball last weekend than VANT, the British punks who started off Saturday – and their first show in the states – with a bombshell comment about Trump that got a lot of attention. “So, I know it’s our first U.S. show and I don’t want to divide our audience or anything, but fuck Donald Trump, seriously,” said frontman Mattie Vant before they dug into their hard-rocking set. “I just think it’s been too long since an assassination, is all I’m saying.” Given the audacity of his remarks (and the possible ambiguousness of his dark humor), we couldn’t wait to talk to VANT after the show and learn more about the heated views that came out onstage.
“The whole thing with you guys,” explained Mattie, “is that freedom of speech is what this country was built on. So although I’m not from here, I think I’ve got a right to have my own opinion about the U.S., just as you guys have a right to have an opinion about the U.K. or anywhere else in the world. For me, it’s important for people to understand both sides of the argument, and I think when it’s our show and our set, I can express the views that I believe in. Obviously, the assassination’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek thing, really. I’m not one to advocate violence or anything like that, but I just think that, you know, something needs to give. Because, like every month or so, you’re just reminded by his sheer ability to put the world in jeopardy, especially with things like pulling out of the Paris Agreement. And obviously, before that, the Muslim ban and everything else. I think it’s good that everyone out here seems to be opposing him so strongly. And I think we just want to let people know that we’ve got your back. Even with every single person I’ve met in all of Europe that sides with Trump, I think the rest of the world is very much with the 50% that didn’t vote for him.”
VANT, who have woven environmental issues and other current events into the fibers of their music, just so happened to enter the country at an objectively disappointing time in history. “We found out about it literally as we got into customs,” they recalled. “When we were getting into customs, there was a TV with CNN on it, and it said Trump was pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. I kind of knew it was inevitable when it was first talked about,” said Mattie, “but I think the thing that really worries me about it is that you guys are one of the leading causes of global warming and damage. With everything that Obama put into place, and the perceptions of more celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio trying to make a stance against it, it really felt like there was a global movement of people gravitating towards that. And I think that it’s just really narrow-minded that Trump is obviously putting the interests of big business and fossil fuel companies first, because it’s an instant way to get money – I think that’s the bottom line. The future is in renewable energy. I just think it means we’ve been set back probably another ten years now. Unless you guys manage to oppose him like you have with every other thing he’s tried to sanction,” Mattie urged with a tone of encouragement. “So I think it’s just really important that everyone stands up against it now. The rest of the world is still in that agreement and we’ll still put pressure on him to change his mind, so as long as you guys do what you’ve done in the past, I think we’ll be alright.”
Though VANT’s acerbic comments may have surprised a few Gov Ball attendees, it’s unlikely they shocked any fans of their own. The London-based punks often find creative ways to get their point across onstage. “Obviously we were using high-end equipment today, but most of the time, we have our amps painted with messages. We constantly try to interact with people and challenge people’s opinions, but also, as a separate forum, have a respect for the other side of the opinion. Because if you don’t at least try to have an open dialogue and a conversation, you’re not going to change anything. You’re just shouting into a vacuum,” Mattie told us. “We all believe in the same things and we all kind of want to make a difference in some way, even if that’s just challenging a conversation – opening up music to be a platform for change again. I think, particularly with rock music, because it’s been lagging, you have to look through a lot of grime to see anything worthwhile being said. For us, because rock music comes naturally to us, we wanted to use that platform in the traditional way that is has been since the 60s and the war. And I think we just all want to be part of the same journey.”
Article: Olivia Isenhart