Like all musicians who are truly anti-establishment, the members of Pankhurst prefer to operate in the shadows and let their music speak for itself. But if you know your history, their band name will tell you exactly who they are, and what matters to them. They’re named after Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters — the family of early 20thcentury suffragettes who spent their lives fighting for gender equality and freedom of expression. They were recalcitrant and uncompromising, and were put down, called names, and even jailed. But they changed the world for the better, and the success of their campaign proves that progress is always possible.
That same spirit animates all of Pankhurst’s songwriting. Imperialism, oppression, torture, exploitation, the proliferation of weapons: these punks stand against all of those corrosive forces, and, more importantly, they sing against all of them, too. They play and perform with the absolute conviction that their words and melodies can raise consciousness and add to the momentum that all change depends upon. And if that sounds like a pipe dream to you, consider that that’s what they said about the Pankhursts, too.
About the song
“No One Wanna Read Tolstoj”, the kickoff track from On The Border, the second Pankhurst EP, epitomizes the band’s approach, and gives some insight into their revolutionary tactics and outlook, too. This anti-war song doesn’t merely decry armed conflict. It targets the mentality that leads to violence: quiet acquiescence to power, willful ignorance and selective blindness, faith in tottering structures of government that serve those in power rather than the people. They’ve matched their incendiary lyrics to an upbeat melody and explosive punk rock beat that’s immediately appealing and comes directly at the listener without pretensions or adornment. You’re invited to join the movement — or just sing along.
About the video
Pankhurst is based in the belly of the beast: Washington, D.C. But they’ve got roots deep in Italy, and for the entertaining storytelling clip for “No One Wanna Read Tolstoj,” they’ve enlisted the help of two other young artists with plenty to say: directors Alessandro Rocca and Martina Mele. The short films they’ve made together — L’usignolo sul mare” “Bentornato futuro!” and “So(g)no” — are experimental, thought-provoking, and lots of fun to watch, and they’ve exported some of that distinctive personality to their work for Pankhurst. They’ve given us a clip where identity is mutable, everybody is masked (and in trouble!), and everything feels unstable. There’s a chase, drugging, hints of coercion, censorship and dark secrets, and nefarious activity in a classically handsome Irish pub. And what are they fighting over? A book, of course: because words matter, and well-composed, persuasive sentences are more provocative than bullets could ever be.
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