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Sydney’s FANGZ Talk Weaponising Punk Against Racism & Media Control On New Scorcher ‘Prove Me Wrong’

Sydney’s four-headed punk monster FANGZ have got a well-earned rep for churning out the kind of party-starting rock anthems that inspire beer-chugging-backflips in the pit, but their new scorcher ‘Prove Me Wrong’ hits different.

In three minutes and 24 seconds of snarling guitar riffs and a rousing half-time chorus that could have easily been the work of My Chemical Romance at their peak, the foursome deliver a powerful message about the tyranny of media control and the dangers of allowing a propaganda machine operated by those in power to go on demonising racial minorities unchecked.

To toast the release, along with their freshly minted ‘Prove Me Wrong’ tour dates (some of which have been rescheduled due to COVID – details below), Music Feeds caught up with bassist Jameel Majam to chat about his experiences growing up under a cloud of covert, press-sanctioned racism and how that inspired the band’s most fiercely political banger to date.

MUSIC FEEDS: Now, anyone who’s reading this (and who isn’t a complete turd sandwich) knows that racism is bad and needs to fuck right off, but ‘Prove Me Wrong’ sounds like it’s about a whole lot more than just that. Can you give us a bit more of an insight into the message behind the song, and the Malcolm X quote that inspired it?

JAMEEL MAJAM: The song was certainly sparked after the murder of George Floyd last year, however it’s not entirely about racism. The song is about growing up in an Australia that is shaped by Murdoch media; growing up as a person of colour on the northern beaches with a Muslim family and being called a terrorist by kids who didn’t know any better after watching the coverage of the Iraq war.

Sure, we could blame the parents but maybe dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the monopoly over our press dictates the way people think. For example, look at the media’s portrayal of the Palestine “conflict” or “complication” – which I find a really interesting way to say ethnic cleansing. The negatively racialised language used by our media outlets is there to cause misrepresentation of minorities and stoke the fears of the general population.

So that Malcolm X quote is still very relevant 57 years later.

MF: If you feel comfortable, could you share with us a little bit more about your own family background, including your dad’s work fighting for racial equality with the African National Congress?

JM: My parents are both born in South Africa and are of Indian descent. My father is my hero and while his story is not mine to tell – growing up, I heard about his involvement in the resistance and the fight against apartheid. Everything from stories of him leading massive protests and being stopped by tanks, having to hide from security police in his own house, running political members over the border to safety or the way my grandmother would leave him a thermos and a packet of cigarettes on his nightstand in case he had to flee from the police in the night.

The way I’ve been told about it is that everyone’s very existence was made to be racial/political as you were literally classed by the colour of your skin.

I am very lucky to have parents that worked so hard and endured the struggles they did to afford me the life I have now.

MF: One of my favourite lyrics from ‘Prove Me Wrong’ is “It’s all talk, and nothing here is changing” which seems to imply a level of frustration with the way the BLM movement was taken up here in Australia, at least by some members of society. Because you’re my mate and we’ve spoken a bit about this before, I’m very aware of those frustrations! But for those who aren’t, would you mind sharing with us a bit more about what it was like, as a person of colour, to experience the Black Lives Matter movement really take hold here and some of the positives & negatives that came with that?

JM: I think this is really important to say here – while I am not immune to racism as a person of colour, the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t about me. I’m still more privileged than the black and Indigenous people this movement was representing.

I think an overall positive in my immediate circle it got BIPOC people talking, and it got white people listening.

The negatives I found was just the corporatisation and the “lip service”. Posting a black square is maybe your way of showing your solidarity but you have to make changes and I mean real changes like, showing up to a protest, educating yourself, making donations and supporting BIPOC creators and business owners. I think it’s very important we all keep listening and learning.

MF: Would you be so kind as to give us some advice on how to be better allies and help make the world a better place for our mates of colour?

JM: I think the problem with this question is it was addressed by the BIPOC community a lot over the last couple of years – the information is there, people just need to read it and educate themselves rather than ask that question. Do your own research, understand it, weaponise your privilege and amplify BIPOC voices.

If you’re interested, try reading some of these:

Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

How to be Anti-racist by Ibram X. Kendi

All Our Relations by Tanya Talaga

Decolonising Solidarity by Clare Land

Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky

MF: Congratulations on the sold-out tour btw, that’s sick as! You guys are killing it! What’s plans for the rest of 2021 (and feel free to plug any upcoming shows that you’re heaps keen on)!

JM: COVID restrictions permitting we’ll be playing the Prove Me Wrong tour… and following up with a new single and complete regional tour later this year! We might even put an EP before the end of 2021. Who knows?

You can catch FANGZ performing live at Brisbane’s Halloween Hysteria festival this October 23.

Prior to that, the band will be hitting the road for their ‘Prove Me Wrong’ headline tour. They’ve just announced a date-change for their Sydney show due to COVID as well as adding some additional dates, while an announcement on their rescheduled Melbourne show will be made in the coming weeks.

Head here for more details or to grab yourself a ticket!

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