Written by Christianna Marks
Recently, Broken Records Magazine’s Christianna Marks had a chance to speak with Spencer Livingston, frontman of The Alternates. The Alternates are a Southern California based, alternative, folk infused band. Spencer just returned from a solo tour in New York, where along with other tunes, he got to play his new single “Occupy Wall Street”, which has been getting tons of buzz. You can find “Occupy Wall Street” on iTunes, where the proceeds from its sale will go straight to the occupy movement. Here’s what he had to say about the song…
How did the song “Occupy Wall Street” come about?
“I really just wrote the song because I feel very passionate about the whole movement. I think it is an amazing thing when people come together because they all believe in something and in this case, I can seriously understand why so many people are so angry. Why should our generation have to accept a lower standard of living? Everything that our parents, grandparents and past generations worked for to give us is being destroyed by greedy corporations and businesses that are, for the most part way too powerful and way too unregulated. Big businesses get ridiculous tax breaks when they are making billions and billions of dollars. Some of these corporations have become so big that if they go down, they pretty much take our whole economy with them. It is really dangerous because we are basically relying on them to keep us a float and that means we are forced to bail them out when they get into trouble. It is a fact that low income families get the least benefit from federal policies that are supposed to help Americans save money, buy homes, pay for school, and retire. It is the people who already have money who are benefiting most from these policies. This kind of thing just doesn’t make sense to me. I was having a conversation with Peter Malick who is producing my upcoming solo album. We were talking about the whole thing and how it was really growing and branching out and turning from just a protest into an entire movement. We both agreed that a song needed to be written. He offered to record me if I came up with a song. I pretty much just went home that night and wrote the song and then the next day I went back to Peter’s house and played it for him. I think we were both happy with it so we decided to record it the next day. We did it in just a couple hours and then put it up for people to hear that same week.”
Did you already have an idea about what would be said in the song when you wrote it?
“I definitely had a good idea of what needed to be said. The song is from the point of view of someone who is struggling to make ends meet. I think a lot of people can relate to that because a lot of people are living it right now.”
The song comes from an angle that states facts that any political party can agree with. Did you have that in mind when you wrote it?
“I didn’t really have that in mind but now that you say that, I see what you are saying. I would consider myself to be a liberal person but I don’t subscribe to any political party. Each political party loves our country equally as much and most of the time their intentions are good but sometimes they just oppose each other based on principle. I know that its all part of politics but that is what really what keeps me from subscribing to any party. It is more important to just look at the big picture and try to make decisions based on facts. I guess that since I have no bias, I just wrote the song about what I see happening in the world.”
How was the song received in New York on your recent solo tour?
“I definitely think it was well received. I didn’t get booed or have tomatoes thrown at me so I will take that as a good sign. After each show, there were always people who came up to me and said they loved the “Occupy” song. I imagine there were probably a few people here or there who weren’t so into it, but anytime you start getting political, there are going to be people who disagree. I was amazed but there were actually some people who had come to the show because they had heard the song on YouTube.”
Did you get to perform the song on Wall Street?
“Unfortunately I got stuck in a snow storm the day I tried to go to Zuccotti park. I was staying at this hotel in New Jersey on Saturday October 29th because I was attending the Chiller Theater Expo. The convention takes place in Morris, NJ, which is about 40 miles from Manhattan. The most ridiculous snow storm came through and all of the trains going both directions were down. I had to leave the next day and there must have been more than a foot of snow on the ground when I left. I actually heard from someone in my hotel that this was the first time in 52 years that it snowed over there before Halloween. I am not sure how true that is but it seemed pretty crazy. I was pretty much trapped in my hotel until they were able to plow the roads and everything. The snow storm really screwed up my plans but I wasn’t too mad because it just gave me another reason to get back over to New York. I am going to go down to Occupy Los Angeles sometime in the next week to play some songs so hopefully the protesters down there will enjoy it as much as the New Yorkers.”
“Occupy Wall Street” has recently been deemed the “Occupy Movement” theme song, how do you feel about that?
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I put the song out there so if that is what it has been deemed, then so be it. I think it is a pretty cool title. Being a songwriter, it is the least I could do for all the people out there. I wrote the song but it doesn’t belong to me as far as I am concerned. Besides, the only other theme song that I ever did was for this really crappy AM radio show called ‘Poorman’s Radio Invasion.’ I am just happy to have a theme song that will hopefully eclipse that one and make people forget about it haha. ”