As you may have already seen on the fabulous Emily Burnham’s Culture Shock blog, my company Knack Factory produced a video about the recent State of the State II event for this newspaper. The video features Spose, Sly-Chi, The Mallett Brothers Band, The Other Bones, The Kenya Hall Band, Model Airplane, The Wrecking, and Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, a young ensemble that accompanied each of the artists. If you have not already seen it, you can check it out here:
Judging from everyone we talked with, MYRO was undoubtedly the biggest hit of the night. Kevin Oates, the Director of the organization, described the group to me an an interview that ran on this blog last month:
“Maine Youth Rock Orchestra is a program run by the Maine Academy of Modern Music. It is a program that provides orchestral string students ages 12 to 18 the opportunity to work alongside and perform with Maine based bands. They get the opportunity to perform with these musicians and the musicians get the opportunity to be accompanied by a string orchestra. The kids are pumped to play this event. We have one girl who is only 12 and she is playing this big show at the State. I don’t think they’ll all realize how big it is until they get there and see it.”
I also had a conversation with Spose and Darren Elder of The Wrecking that we were not able to fit into the video above. They described how they agreed to cover Rage Against the Machine’s rendition of Bruce Spingsteen’s The Ghost of Tom Joad at the show.
Note: It is not my policy to censor language in interviews, but as this post features photos of members of the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, I figured it appropriate in this circumstance.
Knack Factory: You know how at the State Theater you can hear the music in the restrooms? I was standing at a urinal when the song came on and one dude said to another, “That’s Rage Against the Machine that they’re playing.” The guy he said it to said, “I don’t know,” as if the other guy asked him a question and the dude responds, “I AM NOT ASKING, I AM TELLING YOU.”
Spose: YES! “I’m not asking you if that’s Rage Against the Machine, I’m telling you, mother******!” That’s awesome.
Knack Factory: Why did you choose The Ghost of Tom Joad?
Spose: The Wrecking chose that. They are a Christian band, and they are great musicians. I get people who ask to do onstage collaborations all the time, but Darren from the Wrecking comes to me—he is one of the kindest people I know—and he comes to me and says, “We were wondering if you wanted to do a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s ‘The Ghost of Tom…’” And I am like, “Stop right there… Yes.”
Darren Elder: I feel like it has a social justice vibe. It is about righteous anger for the poor. Music can be a voice for the voiceless. We’re here tonight with Keeping Kids Safe, a group that is dedicated to fighting the prostitution of children.
Spose: Then Darren comes to me and says, “You know we like your music and we are big fans of you and you’re a family man and a good guy…” And so I say, “What? Do you not want me to swear? Is this what that is about?” And they’re like, “Yes.” I said, “Don’t f****** worry about it. I’m not endorsed by swearing. I just want to cover this song.”