Kramer has been pent-up about stuff like this all his life, and opinions like these helped fuel the MC5. That's something you almost never see among bands today who are of roughly the same ages as the MC5 were in their time. Can you imagine Eve 6 or Blink 182 preaching all-out revolution? Could you see them take a meaningful stand on anything?
For Kramer, rock & roll is too important to be left to marketers and publicists. "There's too much selfish, self-centered shit going on in American music right now," he says. "We're smack-dab in the heart of the Me Generation. To have your own thought, your own opinion, perspective and voice, to stick your neck out and take a stand on something—even if you're wrong, you'll know later. Could be good, could be bad, I don't know, we'll find out. Those are the things that are important to me.
"But in the rest of the world, there's some exciting things happening," he continues. "There's an Algerian artist named Cheb Khaled who sings in Arabic. I played a festival with him in France, and it was really exciting to see the audience's passion for what he was doing. He sings about politics, sex, his love of intoxication, his love of freedom and heartbreak. Algeria is a Muslim country, so you're not supposed to sing about these things. He sings under a death threat. He's under execution orders by Islamic fundamentalists, so for him to be singing these songs represents to his fans something way bigger than pop music—it represents coming out of the fucking Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, and into a modern, more enlightened world. It was exciting to be in the middle of that.
"But there are a few people out there, like Rage, who are willing to take stands like that, and that's to be encouraged. The trick with all this stuff, though, is that it has to be fun because you can become too theoretical, didactic and righteous. There's a great danger in that, and it also turns people off. Even Chairman Mao said that bad art is bad for the revolution. So you gotta put these ideas in a framework that people will enjoy."
Enjoy Wayne Kramer's framework with Doom Kounty Electric Chair and Cell Block 5 at Club Mesa, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-6634. Fri., 9 p.m. $6. 21+.