Lillian Berlin, frontman for St. Louis-based rockers Living Things, thinks that every band is a political band. "Everything we sing about, or don't sing about, is a political statement. We're all sing
Lillian Berlin, frontman for St. Louis-based rockers Living Things, thinks that every band is a political band. "Everything we sing about, or don't sing about, is a political statement. We're all singing about humanity. Even tracks about b****es and hos is a political statement."
Living Things will bring its particular brand of political rock back to store shelves this summer with the release of its sophomore, as-yet-untitled Jive album.
The group's debut release, 2005's "Ahead of the Lions," put words to Berlin's frustrations with the United States government, which led to stage antics like lighting pictures of President George W. Bush on fire. Now, he says, the new album will address "ideas of how to change the system" by relating stories of people torn by the effects of war.
"Once you get out there and travel the world and other parts of America, it broadens your minds. I think it will help people to hear about these struggles," 27-year-old Berlin tells Billboard.com. "From France to Germany to Brazil to Arkansas, everyone is feeling the power of America and our system of doing things."
While Berlin, along with his bandmates (brothers Eve and Bosh, plus guitarist Cory Becker), feels the upcoming album will have a more positive tone than "Ahead of the Lions." Tracks with such titles as "Red, White and Blue," "Honest Abe" and "Snakeoil Man," hint that the cynicism is still very tangible.
The group has been tackling the task of paring down 39 new tracks to just 12 for the album, with the remaining tracks kept, perhaps, for EPs to be released at another time. Producing the effort themselves, the four-piece added horns and strings sections arrangements to their dark garage-rock sound.
Berlin not only hopes to encourage community and "global understanding" through the record, but also with a new online community initiative he's co-launching in coming months. CommunalGathering.com will be a destination for other "like-minded" artists, musicians and writers to share their craft with other people "making socially-conscious art."
He is also writing an extended screenplay based on his book "Post Mortem Bliss," written about his personal experience with Ritalin and the "prescription pill-popping culture in America's youth." A short film of the same name has already been released. It recently aired on Turner Classic. Berlin is also working on an accompanying documentary, "Blackout Generation," featuring interviews with high school students who are on prescription medication for various disorders.
"I guess I'm just a very motivated person," Berlin quips. "I would like to make a difference with the things I say and do."