Pere Ubu Frontman David Thomas Bewilders A Fan by Obdurately Believing Markets are Proper for Art

I get a weird pleasure of watching people from the obscure arts,
whose fans lean overwhelmingly liberal-prog-commie, get
increasingly bewildered as their heroes obdurately refuse to ratify
their politics for them, forcing them to confront the unbelievable:
decent worthwhile humans I admire might disagree with me
about core elements of their politics!

I wrote amusingly of this when Mikal Gilmore of Rolling
spent round after round of questions
trying to get Bob Dylan to admit he loved Obama

Now it is classic
avant-rocker David Thomas of the band Pere Ubu
, in an interview
in great punky-rocky interview zine Big Takeover, refusing
to say he loves state subsidized art. The italics are the
interviewer Allan MacInnis, the non-italics Thomas’ answers:

I remember reading provocative quotes from you – and I’m
sorry, I can’t pin down where – where you made statements about the
vitality of art produced in free market societies, as opposed to
art that is state funded. You came across as a bit of a
libertarian. I try not to take anything you say at face value – I
think of you as a provocateur – but I wonder if you actually still
feel that way? (Because if so, there’s, umm, some irony to the band
being mostly based in Europe these days, since state support of the
arts is prevalent over there… and in Canada, I might add).

Yes, I still feel that way. I’ll take the dirty socialized art
money but I prefer crummy little clubs where there’s a promoter who
is risking his own money to put the show on. I feel no urge to
thank an audience. I thank the promoter – as should the

Follow up re “dirty socialized money” – is this less a
matter of political principle for you, and more a matter of
personal pride as an artist?

I think the government has no business in the arts at all.

Follow up: do you not think it valid, in countries that
cannot compete on equal footing with the American entertainment
industry, like Canada, to support their artists through government
funding? I doubt there’s a Canadian musician, filmmaker, writer, or
novelist who hasn’t received some government support along the way,
be it scholarships, grants, fellowships, things like the Canada

No, see above.

Follow-up: In a purely market driven entertainment
landscape, which is mostly what we see in the States, doesn’t that
lead to the proliferation of Miley
 and Britney
 and other such phenomenon? Isn’t it bad for

No, it’s good for them.

Sign Pere Ubu’s non-alignment pact!


from Hit & Run

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