On Valentines Day, SIMGE reported upon a musical compilation to raise funds for V-Day.org and awareness about the abuse of women’s rights titled Punks For Progress.
This movement to end violence against women of all cultures and demographics is the brainchild of Asbury Park’s own Angie Sugrim, frontwoman of the Boardwalk-based Punk collective The Obvious, who was able to tap such Garden State favorites as The Bouncing Souls, Lost In Society, The Scandals, Ether Sunday, and more for their gracious musical contributions.
The album is not only a fund and awareness raising venture but an effort to take action to defend these atrocities against women on a global scale, rather than a passive reactionary stance of shock and awe.
SIMGE’s Chris Rotolo recently caught up with Sugrim to discus her project further, and you can check out the conversation below.
CR: What moved you to action, what caused this compilation’s creation?
AS: I have a degree in Political Science and Women Studies from Rutgers so the issues surrounding violence against women have always been prevalent to me. And as music has been a part of my life, growing up I always looked to bands like Nirvana and followed the example of how Krist and the guys organized the event for the Bosnian race victims. Their actions made me realize that this is how the world is, but you can do something about it, you have the power to change it.
Then recently it seemed like every time I opened up a paper or turned on the news, nationally and internationally, there have been cases of violence against women of all colors and ages, and it’s never clear what’s going to happen to those responsible. One story I read about in India basically blamed a rape on the victim because of the way she was dressed. That can’t be allowed to happen, and this compilation is less a fundraiser and more a vehicle to, not only make people aware of what’s taking place, but to empower them to stop these atrocities.
CR: It seems like there’s a generational evolution taking place, with each new group of young adults learning from the those who came before them, and becoming a little bit more tolerant, respectful, and interested in altering their culture for the better…However, influential artists, like Nirvana, transcending genres and commanding pop culture attention by way of discussing real issues is almost non existent right now. I certainly don’t expect Justin Bieber to open up a discourse on women’s rights with his next single. Does you see the same disconnect between teens and societal issues as I do?
AS: My generation, my age bracket, we came out of the ‘90s and many of those I associated with grew up socially conscious and aware of what was taking place in the real world. But your absolutely right, kids in high school today don’t talk about real world concerns.
Growing up, I thought that’s how the world operated. The youth, the kids, they challenged their culture. Challenging what was believed to be “the norm” was what popular culture was all about, so I felt almost like I had a responsibility to do the same.
Now the norm in pop culture is the manufacturing of artists with pretty faces. The message isn’t as important as marketability. Top 40 stuff isn’t talking about real issues. There’s no Al Green or The Beatles or Nirvana in the mix, and Nickelback is not interested in doing anything real. Real doesn’t always sell.
CR: How often do you use The Obvious as a vehicle to discuss the real issues?
AS: All my favorite bands, Nirvana, The Clash, The Thermals, these artists have had such a huge influence on my writing, but I don believe that music has to be as heavy handed as some of them made it out to be. Take CAKE for example, they do it so well by intertwining the important underlying messages within such fun songs.
With The Obvious, there’s no real focus or intention of writing a song about a certain subject or framing a piece of music around a certain message. When it happens, it happens organically because that’s just what’s on my mind at the time. Like “Mercy Burns”, that’s a song about two women in the ‘80s who were victims of Bystander Effect. Kitty Genovese was a murder victim in New York City who was stabbed to death on a sidewalk in front the whole neighborhood. Countless neighbors saw her get stabbed but no one did anything. That’s what was on my brain at the moment, so that’s what made it into the song.
CR: What is the goal of this compilation?
AS: It’s an attempt to craft some sort of response to all these terrible actions taking place, because there’s nothing worse than feeling like your helpless.
CR: What about V-Day.org? How did you get involved with this organization?
AS: The reason I wanted to get involved with V-Day is because when I was in college I heard a story of an African woman who spent her days walking from village to village to educate people about women’s rights and stop harm from coming to women in need when she could. V-Day bought her a jeep. I thought that was so cool. This group works to prevent injustices to women, it doesn’t merely react to them.
CR: As an artist who looks to inspire with her work, as a female member of the Rock N’ Roll community, what’s your message to women there?
AS: When I wen to Rutgers, I was worried about my own message, trying to find the right words to describe and what I’ve come up with is that I don’t want women to be afraid all the time. I want women to feel they have freedom, but be aware that there are predators roaming around that will try to take advantage of them if the opportunity presents itself.
I personally hate when people knock feminism, saying that it’s over, that it’s unnecessary in this day and age. But it’s as prevalent as ever. Feminism helps me understand the world I live in, that there are perils you have to react to. It helps me and other like me understand that its important to check in with your friends after a night out; that if your boyfriend is pushing you around you don’t deserve it and don’t have to take. I need women to know that they don’t deserve to be treated like an object and abused physically or mentally. Women are taught to be compassionate and often put up with a lot more than they should, and I need them to be aware of their surroundings.
NOTE: Stream and download the record below: