Canadian New Wave pioneers Rational Youth released a deluxe and expanded edition of their seminal 1982 debut album, Cold War Night Life this past winter via Universal Music Canada.
When the album originally came out, it was one of the first all synth-based pop albums to be released in Canada, and it proceeded to become one of the biggest-selling independent albums in that country. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Rational Youth’s song “Dancing on the Berlin Wall” was re-released in Europe to great acclaim.
Rational Youth’s cult following has never faltered, and the band’s sharp view on history and culture continues to stand tall amid the societal animosity and political corruption that’s eating away at the world these days. In 2016 they released their Future Past Tense EP via Artoffact Records.
The band take part in our continuing Protest Interview series, pointedly commenting on authoritarian governments, climate change, and the positive power of our youth. This interview was conducted before the virus pandemic so the current global crisis is not addressed below.
Hello! Please introduce yourself/yourselves and give a description of your sound/musical vision.
We are Rational Youth, AKA Tracy and Gaenor Howe. We are a synthpop band from Canada that was founded in Montreal in 1981. We do all-electronic synth music based around pop song structures, with lyrics that we hope are meaningful for people.
What is/are the main personal, national, and/or international issue(s) concerning you the most these days?
Environmental collapse, income inequality, racism, violence against women, the oppression of indigenous people, the drift toward authoritarianism, and the debasement of the concept of objective reality and truth in public discourse (gas-lighting).
What song, video, or lyrics quote of yours best represents your current viewpoint on this/these important topic(s)?
From our song “Western Man”:
“Western Man sold the range, now he rides the stock exchange
He should really be in jail but he’s just too big to fail
He’s a man who knows the score, knows just what he’s fighting for
Shut the windows, bar the doors
If he gets his feelings hurt
Because you don’t appreciate his generosity
He’ll throw a mighty snit and beat on you with all ferocity
He’s so myopic he just can’t imagine reciprocity
What’s your favorite song, video, or lyrics quote by another act or artist that best exemplifies, or at least partly relates to, your current viewpoint?
Ice Cube – “Arrest the President”
What other forms of protest, besides through your music, are you involved with to get your message across?
We recently participated (with 500,000 others) in the Montreal Climate March, at which Greta Thunberg spoke.
It’s easy to judge and criticize others, especially in these unsettling times of overt intolerance, ignorance, and insults, but the fact remains that we need to work together to ensure that positive change occurs. Name an action to take, or a campaign/charity that would be worthwhile to contribute to, for your cause.
We are Canadian, but what happens in the USA obviously has a massive impact on the rest of us in this world. We see the USA as now teetering on a knife-edge between democracy and oligarchic authoritarianism. For those who are concerned about this, we can think of no better cause than this one [This was before Bernie Sanders bowed out of the presidential race]:
What gives you hope for the future?
Young people today. They may just save us from ourselves.
Where can we purchase/stream your music and find out more about you?