A pinch of punk & a smattering of folk, we get to the heart of A Commoner’s Revolt

A Commoner’s Revolt has been making waves with their unique blend of punk & folk, coupled with politically charged lyrics

With recent releases like ‘Don’t Bang Blue’ and ‘Where’s My Fucking Money George Soros?’ A Commoner’s Revolt, are setting the stage for their upcoming album, and gearing up for an eventful year ahead.

In this exclusive interview with Brendan from A Commoner’s Revolt, we delve into their journey as a band, the inspiration behind their music, and the evolution of their sound over the past decade.

a commoners revolt

From discussing the vibrant music scene in Canberra to exploring the socio-economic commentary driving their latest releases, Brendan shares insights into their creative process and the messages they hope to convey through their music.

With a mix of personal anecdotes and political commentary, A Commoner’s Revolt’s upcoming album, “A Crisis of Meaning,” is set to land them squarely on the map – by offering up the best of what our fair city in the ACT has to give.

As they gear up for a series of shows and recording sessions, A Commoner’s Revolt leaves us with a glimpse into what makes them happy – and by all accounts more than half of the Happy crew happy – meditation, marijuana, cats and dogs.

Happy: What are you up to today?

ACR: We’ve just released two singles – “Don’t bang blue” and “Where’s my fucking money George Soros?” That’s in preparation for an album we hope to release later this year, or early 2025.

We have shows with the Smith St band at the Baso in Canberra, and we’re playing in Melbourne and Geelong in early May. 

We’re planning to head back into the studio to record the rest of the album sometime around July.

Happy: Tell us a little about where you live, what’s the scene like? What do you love about it?

ACR: The Canberra scene is incredibly vibrant. Lots of really good music coming out of Canberra – I think that Canberra bats way above its average in terms of the quality and quantity of music being made.

The thing we love the most is probably the variety of different music, and mixed bills. Being a bit smaller than other cities, Canberra often necessarily has different genres on the same bill. So, you’ll get ska with different types of punk bands, or hardcore bands, etc.

Happy: How did the band form?

ACR: It’s a long story. I (Brendan) started playing with a few guys in Melbourne over a decade ago under the name, A Commoner’s Revolt. 

We played a handful of shows, and started recording an album, which eventually became “Social Distancing Since 1983” (although…this album could perhaps be understood more as a mixtape – it was recorded at a bunch of different places at different times,

Melbourne, Berlin, Canberra, etc.) I then moved back to Canberra, and a few years later decided to finish that album and reconstitute the band.

 I met Geoff, who is a bit of a maestro in that he plays mandolin, guitar and harmonica, and writes music too, and we went from there. Toby (drums) came on board a couple of years ago, and Dan (bass, vocals) last year.

Happy: What’s the story behind your band name, A Commoner’s Revolt?

ACR: There’s a long tradition in both folk and punk of support for popular movements and progressive causes, which is certainly something we share, hence the name.

Happy: What inspired the politically charged title of your latest single, ‘Where’s My Fucking Money George Soros?’

ACR: As a band, we like to poke fun at the extremely absurd notions coming from the conservative side of politics.

This is one example. I think this conspiracy theory originally emanated from Fox News in the US, where George Soros has been accused of masterminding and funding all kinds of protest movements and organisations. We thought we could add a few to the list.

Happy: Could you tell us more about the socio-economic commentary that drives your music, particularly in this new release?

ACR: I guess experiencing a degree of social exclusion growing up, which is true of all of us in the band, and then finding punk music, we were inevitably drawn to certain critiques of socio-economic relations, and of the political system more generally. 

I don’t think this has necessarily gotten much better over the last decade or so, where we’ve had Murdoch-appointed governments in the US, Britain, and Australia. 

To make matters worse, the people they’ve sanctioned to represent us appear to not only be getting dumber, but also more violent in terms of the language they deploy, and more extreme in their callousness. 

Music has always had the capacity to transcend political and cultural boundaries, and for this reason, can be a vehicle for social change.

Happy: How would you describe the evolution of A Commoner’s Revolt’s sound over the past decade?

ACR: Our sound has evolved somewhat over the last couple of years, in particular. If you listen to our first album there are a fair few acoustic songs on there, definitely within a more traditional folk/punk milieu.

The album we are currently recording will be much closer, in certain aspects, to a standard punk sound, albeit with a mandolin and harmonica included, at times.

Happy: What influenced the decision to blend punk and folk elements in your music?

ACR: We really like the music of people like Billy Bragg and the Pogues and other artists who have combined aspects of punk and folk, so those are major influences.

Personally, I grew up listening to Irish folk music (my dad once played in an Irish folk band), but punk was my first love. So, combining the two makes sense.

Happy: Can you discuss the creative process behind ‘Where’s My Fucking Money George Soros?’

ACR: Typically, I may have a tune but no inspiration lyrically, sometimes for quite a while. For George Soros, I had the melody but couldn’t find a theme that I thought would fit with that type of tune.

Once I had the idea to make fun of this notion that George Soros is funding Antifa, for example, the song kind of wrote itself. 

Then I just tried to think of some of the most absurd conclusions I could in relation to what else George Soros may have funded.

The Kennedy Assassination. The Russian Revolution, etc.

Happy: What role do humour and playfulness play in your approach to addressing serious social issues in your music?

ACR: I think humour is really important in relation to social issues, but also on its own. Things can be pretty depressing otherwise. 

We need to make fun of stuff. I think humour is helpful in that most people don’t really want to be lectured to, and we’re not in a position to lecture to anyone, we’ve got our own problems. 

But sometimes humour can illuminate a particular issue in a way that maybe wouldn’t get much attention otherwise. Or something.

Happy: What kind of response do you hope to evoke from your audience with this latest single?

ACR: We hope they dance. And laugh. And get the tune stuck in their head. And then share it with friends.

Happy: Could you share any insights into the themes and messages listeners can expect from your upcoming album?

ACR: The album is a mixture of the personal and the political, so we’re calling it “A Crisis of Meaning,” which I think is something each of us in the band has experienced at one time or another. 

There’s some overtly political stuff, like the song about George Soros, or one we wrote about the deplorable treatment of First Nations peoples in this country, called Out Damned Spot, which will be on it. 

But there’s also some quite personal ones, too. Geoff wrote a great song about growing up with autism, but not knowing that he was autistic, and some of the challenges this presents. 

I’ve got a song I wrote for my son a while back when I didn’t think I’d see him for a period of time. So, it’s an album that finds itself at the juxtaposition of the personal and political, which will hopefully resonate.

Happy: What’s coming up?

ACR: A bunch of shows and recordings. Super excited to be supporting the Smith St band in Canberra, we’re big fans of those guys, so that’ll be a trip. 

Then interstate shows and recording. Probably more of the same after that.

Happy: Lastly, what makes you happy?

ACR: Different answers from different members of the band! In no particular order: meditation; marijuana (decriminalised in the ACT!); when Henry Kissinger died; our cat/dogs; good parking spots; coffee.