Scene Point Blank: At the acoustic benefit shows you mentioned, you played some Inquisition songs. Is there any chance of a reunion?
Thomas Barnett: I don't know. I guess the longest answer to this, and the best answer, is on lollipop.com. There's an interview with me exclusively, for some reason, about Inquisition. What I mean is that, that's happened once every three or for years, like Robbie and I will get together and play at some pub in Richmond. And then when Strike Anywhere started, we could do a Strike Anywhere acoustic show and then Robbie would appear and we'd do some Inquisition songs, or while Strike Anywhere was touring and River City High, his other band, was touring. He lives in London now and I live in Portland, Oregon, so for the four of us to get back together, it would be 12,000 miles and 11 hours of that, and pretty diverse and committed lives to other bands.
I mean, I love those guys and it would be really cool, but we just don't know physically how it could happen. Everyone's getting along really well, and it would be a really good time if everyone happened to all live in Richmond and not be in other bands, and not have families *laughs*. But I think it would be hard. The door is always open though, and I think Robbie and Russ, who remain in Richmond, they're pretty excited about trying something but it's really hard for me and Mark. We could try to schedule bookends of River City High - Mark is in a band called River City High - one of their tours and Strike Anywhere tours, and we stay in Richmond and try to practice and rehearse and wait for that to happen again and schedule a reunion show or something, that would be a really good thing to do, but it seems like it's gonna be real difficult.
Scene Point Blank: The song "Sedition" talks about your grandfather's unwitting involvement in weapons production and his consequent suffering. Do you think things like this still goes on?
Thomas Barnett: Yeah, I do. My wife is in law school, and she's been doing a lot of cases about environmental damage, like giant chemical plants and weapons plants. There's people in a town in the middle of Louisiana, and they're right in between these huge chemical factories. The people are working class African-Americans and they're dying at 40 and 50, and having horrible cancers. The young women are having cervical and uterine cancer before they're menstruating - crazy things happen, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, it's the most under-reported, because nobody has any money to help or fund litigation, unless there's some intrepid journalist who can convince their bosses to give them the resources to go and uncover these stories. Otherwise, they'll never be told. It's crazy.
It's also deathly difficult in our society to discuss feeling like you're the product of some kind of industrial accident. A part of you has been forever altered - 'forever' meaning your children and your children's children altered, because of unwitting participation in helping to build something that never existed till it was shown to the world after it killed 30,000 people in a flash of light. It killed my grandfather slower, but it still took him. Especially because people want to feel proud about using their skills, engineering, steam fitting, bricklaying and everything that people do, you don't wanna think you're helping build something that's killing you, something that's hurting the Earth and hurting civilisation. That's another part of the American Dream, or the western idea of working in the industry. Maybe it's slowly transforming and people are realising that what my cynical side would call the "greening" of capitalism and industry is occurring, where they just put a PR face on and do devastating things. But on some level there's also a trickle down of some kind of conscience. I hope so.
Scene Point Blank: The Democracts just won a record victory in the US Midterms: do you think much will change?
Thomas Barnett: Yeah. We were so stunned and happy. It sucks because a lot of the ballot measures in the States that were for gay marriage were voted against, and I guess that means that 55% of Americans don't think that homosexuals should be allowed to marry. That's really devastating and messed up. But knowing that possibly it won't get worse, although it won't get better since the Democrats don't have a lot to work with, and they may not take the risks that they should, to really try to change the face of foreign policy and the corruption in US politics, we're not big shills for that party either; we don't think they're really answering any questions or doing anything important, but these elections were important especially because it hinged on Virginia, and that was really cool, the last Democratic senator to beat a Republican was in Virginia, so that was good.
Scene Point Blank: Finally, do you have any predictions for 2007, music-wise?
Thomas Barnett: You know, I don't know. We just see little bits of culture and bands we like but we don't really know if our perspective is very accurate. As far as bands' careers or something...? I guess, totally removed from the punk world that we're in, Bedouin Soundclash is really good, we tour with them, we like them a lot. They're probably already pretty big. Yeah... I'm sorry, our brains are on tour so I don't know if I feel qualified... the bands that we just hear at different moments are just good bands. I think the new Smoke or Fire record is probably going to be really good. I'm really curious, like everyone is, about the new Lifetime record that's gonna come out. I don't know what's gonna happen, but hopefully we'll be able to play with some really great bands and get inspired. Like right now, the Down and Outs are playing so we should go see, we love them. SPB and Thomas leave to watch the Down and Outs, who, incidentally, were pretty cool.
Words and graphics: Matt