Music For All: Can you talk about your experience performing live the past couple years?
JJ: Touring is my main source of income, and now all touring shut down March of 2020 for Arrested Development. We were in Vegas when we started hearing about the virus. Got home from our show and were supposed to leave for Dubai two weeks later, and then a few weeks after that we were supposed to go to Europe for a month of shows — and all of it got cancelled and shut down. I was completely pissed off. It was completely unmerited and absolute madness to shutdown the economy worldwide.
So out of fear pumped into the veins of the masses, Atlanta shutdown and mass panic ensued. I gig locally with my wife’s band Fire & the Knife when not on tour with Arrested Development and now that income was gone too. We did a few live streams like most musicians started doing and we absolutely hated it. It was awful.
Even though Atlanta shutdown, we found small venues way outside Atlanta that were staying open and we started booking them every weekend. My wife and I ended up gigging at these venues all during 2020 while 99% of our musician peers kept doing live streams. Social media got flooded with them and it was awful seeing it all get oversaturated.
My wife and I needed to still make any kind of money we possibly could in order to feed our family and stay afloat — and most importantly, feel sane. It was clear and obvious locals here wanted to feel normal and sane and didn’t buy into the media hype. Well, at least those outside Atlanta. Inside Atlanta city limits all the hype was bought and places stayed shut down. It was depressing. No artists were standing up to this tyranny at all.
I immediately was yelled at, blocked and unfriended by long time friends and peers for any questioning of the narrative with regards to over hyped death numbers to mask efficacy and lockdowns etc. I was like 1984 here we are! The propaganda machine was in full force worldwide and I knew this ship had been sunk. Of course, a few years later it turns out I and others were absolutely right about all this garbage.
After things let up a bit, it seemed like we were gonna go back to normal. We spent a year working on another month long European tour, and the delta variant scare mongering started and European countries went bananas with lockdowns and testing etc which made that tour get cancelled.
Once again, thousands and thousands of dollars of income absolutely vanished and now there was no way to pay our bills on our own.
Has it been difficult to be a musician being vocal about liberty online?
I have been met with nothing but vitriol for the slightest push back against any official government narrative, and I still am. However, things have settled a bit, there is no more discussion on FB that I can see or experience.
There hasn’t been any leadership from the arts community in pushing back against authoritarian mandates. All I’ve observed was them all parroting the same propaganda slogans helping manufacture consent to the masses being held as prisoners against their will by the State.
Musicians are scared to speak out and rightly so in this new cancel culture world we live in. If you speak up against authoritarianism now you’re labeled a Trump supporter, which is odd since I actually opposed him since day one. I know so many left wing musicians who are absolutely NOT going to get the vaccine because they don’t trust the government at all — in light of the nefarious history of the CDC along with the State in the past with regards to medical treatment of American blacks.
Have you ever been nervous about backlash or negative feedback from fans?
I am always nervous about backlash because the media and the government can easily destroy you if you are perceived as a threat to their rule and control. Much of which is enforced by businesses via new rules and guidelines and also now thru technology we are being censored. There hasn’t been much freedom to speak or move. We’ve all been held as prisoners against our will. Many of us have been coerced into taking the vaccine via threats of losing your livelihood.
I know so many pro musicians — and I mean world class musicians, who absolutely did not want the vaccine at all but had to submit, or lose their income by not being able to tour or enter a venue that was policing for the State.
This interview is part of a series discussing mandates, restrictions and censorship with musicians and music fans —read more of these interviews here.
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Watch JJ Boogie's appearance on Episode 136 of Thaddeus Russel's Unregistered Podcast