Love Trumps Hate: A Benefit

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.
— Mister Rogers

The world feels like it's in chaos. While feelings over the last eight years vary widely, there are many facts that point towards progress: the economy grew and unemployment fell; many who previous could not get access to healthcare now have the opportunity; men and women were given the freedom to marry whomever they wanted. There's plenty of justified criticism but, for the most part, it seemed like we were moving forward. A year ago, it felt like more people were getting involved in the political process. We were attending rallies, sending donations and learning how to phone bank. There was a sense of camaraderie in building off of the foundation the last presidency laid out. Finally, it seemed like the promises of 'Hope' and 'Change' might finally come to fruition... and then it all got damned to hell.

Love Trumps Hate: A Benefit for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU was the end result of Ralph Torrefranca (A&R at Angry Mob Music Publishing) teaming up with Kyle Wilkerson (Talent Buyer of The Bootleg Theater) to raise money and build awareness for the two organizations. The night featured auctions for tickets and limited edition signed items from artists like Fitz & The Tantrums, Leon Bridges, Uknown Mortal Orchestra, and more.

We met up with the performers to learn about their first forays into politics, what issues are important to them, and tips on how we can all get involved.


Silversun Pickups

When was the first time you got involved in politics?
Brian: I can't say that we necessarily got into politics as far as a fandom of it. I think that the theater of it makes us insane, but I think that just as a human being, an empathetic human being, you have to care. I think having kind of a whatever attitude is, from my point of view, not helpful and not really, especially now, not a safe thing to do. If you care about your life, if you care about other people's lives, and you care about progress and that's the things you care about and you don't really give a crap about what those people do... but if it enters your world then you have to care. [Because] then who the hell else is going to care?

What is an issue that is important to you?
Christopher: Why we're here. We really felt defunding Planned Parenthood is a really horrible thing and women's rights in general, it shouldn't be something that male politicians decide what females can or can not do with their bodies. It's kind of weird now because we kind of thought we were progressing forward and we thought that this was not something that we would really have to be concerned about but yeah. That's a big part of it, like around here. Just that access to Planned Parenthood is a really big thing.
Brian: Yeah. I think that at the end of the day we're just against anything that goes against any human dignity at all and that's pretty much equal rights, civil rights, women's rights, that's it. All those things. I am hopeful because I think progress is the eventuality of a modern universe. It's just you get pissed off that it has to stumble all the time. You want to see it go quicker. And it always will go and these people are just fighting the inevitable but it's only inevitable because things like this exist.


What is a way that people can get involved besides donating?
Brian: At the end of the day, don't be afraid to speak up. This is not someone's country, it's everybody's country. Just don't stay silent and don't be afraid. There's so many people in the world. Don't think this is what the world is like [it is] now. It's not. The world is still like you and don't change.
Christopher: There's something that you [motions to Nikki] brought up early on when we decided that we wanted to be a little more vocal with politics. You didn't want it to be so negative. You don't want a negative aspect of it.
Nikki: I just didn't want to say who we hate. It's like, let's find the organizations that need support during this time and let's try to do something like this where we can raise money and raise awareness and instead of looking at the negative parts, let's just try...
Christopher: Leave the negative parts to them. They hate you for doing it.
Nikki: Let's try to find organization that need help, that need volunteers and go from there.
Christopher: Peace and love, man, peace and love.

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Nick Waterhouse

When was the first time you ever got interested in politics?
I really wanted to understand why my dad was so upset as a union member about local politics when his friend, Richard Chavez, was arrested for enforcing a picket line with laborers. This was in Anaheim in the 90's. That's when I started asking questions.

What is an issue that is very important to you? Why?
I think my issues are more about human decency and whichever organization is going to advance that. I kind of have beyond serious issues with the state of our nation's decision-making right now so it's sort of all over.

Lastly, what are ways people can get involved besides donating?
I actually think that people can be involved by engaging with each other outside of your community and that means talking to people that might make you feel uncomfortable without immediately responding emotionally. I think that's actually the baseline issue. I think we've gone into a period of sort of social withdrawal where a lot of folks don't want to engage in actually empathetic actions even with people you don't disagree with and by finding a common ground. It's that thing, I mean, what Obama said in his speech was like, How about the person you're talking to on the internet? Talk to them face-to-face. That's just like a baseline day-to-day action. I also think like run for office, run for a small office. Start now because it's not going to happen overnight so if you're 25, start working on that and work up to doing something when you're 35 and when you're 45 just at a larger level.

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James Supercave

When was the first time you got interested in politics?
Joaquin: My dad is a news addict and an economist so I was kind of born interested in politics but have grown terribly disinterested as the years go on.

What is an issue that's important to you? Why?
Joaquin: Social justice, across the board. All of the promises that have equality that we've been sold. I'd love to see those actualized and I'm afraid it's a fight every day to make sure that that happens.

What is a way that people can get involved besides just donating?
Joaquin: Get involved however you can.
Patrick: You shouldn't force yourself to get involved in a way you're not naturally wanting to be involved with already. You get involved in a way that makes you happy which for me is not directly involved at all. I'm not much of a spokesman on this. We played music tonight so that was easy. It was convenient, to be honest, it was convenient. I agree with what Planned Parenthood does and what the ACLU does and I want them to keep being them and doing that work because it's ultimately much more important than what we do as a band.

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When is the first time you got involved in politics?
Jona Bechtolt: The first time I got into politics was when I was born. I was born into it. Straight up. I was born in 1980 in Madison, WI, to Karen Bechtel and Warren Bechtel. We moved to Astoria, OR, and yeah. I don't know. What else? What do you want to say?
Claire Evans: What he means is that we've been a band for a long time and we come from a punk and DIY background in the pacific northwest which is inherently political and we have always made for ourselves and done for ourselves and built our own scenes and believed in the importance of that. And, we're a very political band. I mean, if you've listened to any of our songs. We have songs very literally about ecological crisis, police violence, income inequality and the surveillance state. We don't really believe in music that isn't political.

What is an issue that's important to you and why?
Claire: Equal rights for all people. It's so hard to even choose one issue in this day and age. It's just like honestly the maintaining of our values I guess? The maintaining of basic decency and ethics and equality, the things that this country was built on. Those are our political issues at the moment but you know animal rights, feminism, climate change. Free and open internet.

What are ways people can get involved besides just donating?
Claire: I think it's about more than giving money. It's about showing up. If there's an issue you care about in your city it's not hard to go to a city council meeting. It's not hard to protest. To really make your voice heard, you have to do things that are boring sometimes.
Jona: Talk to people. Volunteer your time. Help people who are less fortunate than you are.
Claire: As locally as possible. Identify people in your immediate surroundings that need help and help them because we've got to strengthen our communities.

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When did you first get interested in politics?
I'd say early high school was when I became really interested. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to partake in any political clubs or Model UN because I missed so much school for surfing, but I was addicted to knowing what was going on in the world. The more that I learned, the more passionate I became because there is so much to be done.

What is an issue that is important to you? Why?
As a woman, the obvious answer is protecting the rights that women long before me worked so hard to earn, but civil rights in general are so very important to me. I know that's an umbrella encompassing many issues, but it's difficult to prioritize which one I find the most important because they all require so much attention and action.

What ways, besides donating, can people be involved?
March! Protest! Volunteer! Don't be passive. It can be overwhelming deciding on which organizations to devote time and energy to because there are SO many that need our help, but choose one that speaks to you most and just reach out! It sounds so simple to say "just reach out," but that seems to be the single biggest thing people are hesitant to do. These are just a couple of organizations locally that are doing wonderful things for the LGBTQ community, underprivileged youth, and women: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles, Equality California, Running Start.

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Photography by Robiee Ziegler