For over 30 years now, Propagandhi have been one of the most ferocious punk groups on the scene. Releasing their debut album in 1993, the band went from strength to strength, gaining increasing critical acclaim with each and every release.

Of course, as these Canadian musicians continue their legacy as a political punk powerhouse, they’ve not forgotten their fans down in Australia.

Last in the country in 2014, the group have had a little bit of a lineup shift, with guitarist David Guillas leaving in 2015, and Sulynn Hago taking over that same year.

Releasing their seventh album, Victory Lap, in 2017, Propagandhi are set to make their long-awaited return to Aussie shores this May. To celebrate their upcoming tour we sat down with founding drummer Jord Samolesky for a chat about punk, politics, and of course, Propagandhi.

Check out Propagandhi’s ‘Failed Imagineer’:

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You’ll be touring Australia this May in support of your latest album, Victory Lap. Fans have had a chance to let this one grow on them now, how has the response been to that record since it came out?

Oh, it’s been really good. We’ve been fortunate enough to do a decent amount of touring and we’re playing a considerable amount of [Victory Lap]. Y’know, we try to play a little bit of something from every album that we’ve done, going back to the early ’90s.

But no, people seem to be digging the new stuff, and yeah, we play a good amount of it in our sets.

What was it like making the new record with new guitarist Sulynn Hago?

It was really fun, y’know? It was the second album in a row that we’d done at this studio here in Winnipeg [Private Ear Recording], which is right close to where I live, just a quick little walk, so it was fun.

We’d done the last two over the winter months, so it was fun to have Sulynn up and give her a true taste of what Winnipeg is all about that time of year.

I just feel more comfortable and less pressured recording in our own home town and it was fun to collaborate with someone new, a fresh set of ears, and having to record it with the people we did it with here in Winnipeg.

She’s an amazing guitarist who really gets the band, did that make things easier to deal when it came to the recent lineup shift?

Yeah, I mean, we spent a lot of time kind of preparing things when Beav [former guitarist David Guillas] decided to leave the band to pursue a career in teaching.

We spent quite a bit of time going over a lot of different options of people who might be interested in playing with us and stuff.

And when Sulynn agreed to give it a shot, we kind of flew here up here to spend a good amount of time just jamming and learning a bunch of songs, and playing together for few good chunks of time.

So yeah, it all worked out really good, we’re really happy with it.

Check out Propagandhi’s ‘Back To The Motor League’:

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Victory Lap obviously featured a lot of content related to Donald Trump, fascism, racism, and similar themes, how do you feel these issues have changed in the world since the record was released? Or have they changed at all?

Yeah, I mean, I think that things have gone from worse to worser somehow. Speaking for myself, I think when Trump was elected, it just felt like a kick in the gut… I mean, even just the outlook on climate change alone, just that one issue felt like we were moving so far backwards.

I wasn’t a fan of the Democratic party or anybody that they really had there, but I felt that at least whoever would be in would be held accountable to scientific scrutiny, and now everything’s sort of just gone out the window.

And the emboldening of white nationalism is just pathetic. It really, really sickens me coming from a country like Canada with a colonial history to see a lot of white people just beating their chests and trying to make up for their guilt of what’s happened in the past by blaming things on other people.

It’s the same old formula, and it’s just pathetic – it’s just disgusting really.

But hopefully there are some things that are turning the corner, I mean, people are fighting back on things, so that’s the most important thing – not to roll over and just wish it would go away.

There have been stories about how in the early days of Propagandhi some fans sort of hit back at some of the things you guys stood for in the early days. Does that happen as much these days?

When we we touring in the mid to late ’90s, there seemed to be more – I think it was just the scene that we were generally involved in – of an explosion of skate-punk and pop-punk bands.

And that sort of brought up some certain subgenres of punk that were more palatable to MTV watchers and jocks, whereas previously it was kind of a set of genres that were repelled by the mainstream in a lot of ways.

I think we had more problems back then when people were a little more mainstream coming to those shows in that era, and I think we had a lot of headier moments back then.

Now I think it’s more people coming to our shows that know what we’re about or not surprised to hear certain things, or they’re supportive of the general themes that we’re supportive of.

We haven’t had any headaches at shows for quite a long time actually, but I think that’s because people kind of know what we’re about, because if they’re not into us they just don’t bother coming.

Check out Propagandhi’s ‘Comply/Resist’:

YouTube VideoPlay

Are there any places where your music and message is received the best? I feel as if Canada and the US would be up there?

Yeah, I mean it’s where we’re from, it’s where we’ve done the bulk of our touring work over the years. I don’t know, it kind of surprises me that with the ‘net now there’s little pockets here and there of places you might not expect.

But yeah, there’s some European countries that we do really well in; we’re heading over there a little after Australia, so that’ll be good.

It’s the general touring circuit of Canada, USA, Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand, maybe a country like Japan thrown in there.

But that’s essentially what we do, and we’re more or less bound to that by the fact that we’re older, some of us have families now, and we just don’t get out to a lot of fresh new places; we’re a little bit bound by the calendar.

You guys have been going for over 30 years now, how do you compare the Propagandhi of today with the Propagandhi of the late ‘80s and ’90s?

Trying to play 30 minutes of music that’s over 208 beats a minute isn’t going to happen any more [laughs]. We’re older and greyer, and more sore. I think I’ll leave it at that [laughs].

Just last month you guys released a remastered version of [2012 album] Failed States, what was the reasoning behind remastering that one?

I think we just felt that the process that we used the first time around was a little bit rushed.

We felt like we didn’t quite understand the process fully and weren’t completely satisfied with the end product, and I think we had an opportunity to reevaluate things and take another stab at it, and I think it worked out really, really good.

We’re pretty stoked on that right now, just the warmth of the recording makes us feel a lot better about that version of it. So yeah, we’re excited, we’re very pleased with how that turned out.

Check out Propagandhi’s ‘Note To Self’:

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So one topic that’s been going around a bit lately is certain musicians claiming that genres like rock are dying. It’s almost a clichéd question, but what are your feelings on the current status of rock and punk?

I don’t know, I kind of have different opinions. Like, in some ways I feel that rock music, especially in forms like punk and metal, that a lot had been done and redone, and we’re kind of at representations of old representations that get churned out.

And I’m fine with that, because if people are getting into the music and moves them to do things that they’re into, that’s good, no problem.

My problem is how corporate America gets involved and starts selling a lot of the stuff off, kind of buying into the image, and how that controls further repercussions of stuff.

At least in North America and a lot of Europe, the touring here is so heavily influenced by larger festivals and this model of kind of really, really steep pyramid model on who makes what.

And it’s kind of ratcheting up into everything with agents getting sponsors on board, and more money, and more money for headlining bands that make obscene amounts of money to begin with, and very little for bands at the bottom.

It’s sort of just replicating this cutthroat, capitalist system, and I don’t really find any of that appealing at all.

But that said, I think there’s a lot of healthy underground scenes all over the place, where people are ignoring that and just sort of doing their own thing, and I think that’s where fresh, genuine music comes from. It’s not the copycats figuring out how to get on the radio, it’s new and innovative things coming from below.

Check out Propagandhi’s ‘Anti-Manifesto’:

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Propagandhi are pretty famous for standing by your morals and turning down shows that have commercial sponsorship, has that become progressively harder to do as time goes by?

In some ways yes, and in some ways no. I think with all the big festivals there’s a new kind of – especially in Europe – collection of smaller, more DIY things going on that are reasonable alternatives to the huge corporate ones.

In other ways, yeah, it is more difficult, like the larger it gets, the more private sponsors there likely is.

We’ve done some festivals in the past that have been supported by municipal grants and that sort of thing, and it seems like more of the Scandinavian nations are operating with a bit more of a public model, and we will do those on occasion, but they’re very few and far between.

We’re kind of excited to do some festivals in Europe, but in North America it’s very, very different, there’s not that same kind of DIY infrastructure at that level, for sure. At the level of medium-sized festivals, they’re much more all-in on the corporate festival model.

I don’t know, there’s a few here and there – I don’t want to overgeneralise, and I respect people trying to make that non-corporate model work – but it’s nothing to the extent of what’s going on in Europe.

Propagandhi’s track record infers that it’s likely a little ways away, but are you guys looking towards your next album yet?

We haven’t looked that far ahead, to be honest. We’re kind of cruising on this one and trying to not pressure ourselves too much. I think we’re going to do the Australian tour, go to Europe, we have a few wrap-up shows to do in September, and then I think we’re going to see where we’re all sitting on that.

I don’t think we’re going to rush into the studio, I think at this point if we decide we’re going to do a new record, we’re going to kind of attack it a little bit more slowly.

But yeah, we’re all still into playing our instruments, so if we decide to get jamming again next fall or winter, then that would be great.

Check out Propagandhi’s ‘Victory Lap’:

YouTube VideoPlay

Propagandhi Australian Tour 2019

Sunday, May 12th, 2019
The Gov, Adelaide, SA

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD

Wednesday, May 15th, 2019
Max Watts, Melbourne, VIC

Friday, May 17th, 2019
Max Watts, Melbourne, VIC

Saturday, May 18th, 2019
Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW

Sunday, May 19th, 2019
The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, NSW

Tickets on sale through SBM Presents

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