FRANK DISCUSSION founded the Feederz, a hardcore Punk band featuring Situationist graphics and anarchist lyrics, in 1977. Their first album was titled, Did You Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss?– ’nuff said! Frank was featured in the first Pranks! book and Search & Destroy #10. Recently he released a new Feederz album, Taking the Night, available from feederz.com.After a checkered career which included working for Microsoft in Seattle and doing ‘hacking’ as a hobby, he moved to Los Angeles. Interview by V.Vale.
V: You never had a fear of computers–
FD: Yeah, and that was rather unfortunate, because it’s like Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass, where Alice says, ‘The question is whether you can make words mean one thing or another,’ to which is replied, ‘The question is: Which is to be mastered? That’s all.’ With technology that becomes drastically important, because computers are often used to subjugate us–
V: That’s for sure!
FD: Yet computers have also democratized things. Like for instance, now through the use of programs, you can put out pretty slick printouts, rather than cheap mimeographs. Now everyone has a web page, and you can get anything out there to potentially millions of people all over the world, for good or bad.
One thing that’s been kind of handy about the Net is that governments have tried to rein it in, and of course businesses tried to change it into an enterprise-only scenario. But both of them failed miserably. If they say, ‘Hey, this is illegal,’ then the server ends up in Tonga. You have a globalized economy, but you also have all of the escape hatches being globalized, too. The Situationists said that the ‘train of our occupation’ is everywhere, so the revolution (the fight) can also be taken everywhere. So as the occupation has become globalized–
V: –the resistance has become globalized, too. I keep seeing articles that our government’s going to crack down on the Internet, and it’s going to cost a lot more money–
FD: They’re always saying that, and they always are wanting to, but it never works. I mean, look at pirating . . . see how well they’ve put a stop to that! Just one small area–
V: Pirating of records, you mean?
FD: Yep, pirating of records and movies.
V: I thought they did stop it.
V: So you can still download tons of ‘content’ for free, and the government isn’t going to come knocking on your door, like they did to a few ‘ordinary’ people?
FD: Well actually, what they did is: they made several ‘example’ cases–
V: And those example cases got a lot of press!
FD: And a lot of times, colleges were involved. So they got the colleges not to allow their servers to be used. But essentially, people are doing it all the time, believe me! All you have to do is go out and get a little application like LimeWire and type in a bunch of band names and see how many hits you get from all these people.
V: And then you can download their songs for free? The Feederz, even?
FD: Oh, yeah!
V: But you wanted that to happen, didn’t you?
FD: Yes. That’s what I did with our last CD, as opposed to going with the RIAA [Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the U.S. recording industry], which of course wasn’t even a consideration–
V: Wait; what does that mean?
FD: The RIAA just wanted you to go out and buy the CD (at inflated prices, and everything). They tried to claim that pirating and downloading was against the artist and all that. But in reality, very rarely was the so-called artist getting paid a cent for any of that–it was just B.S.
Obviously, I wasn’t going to join in with the RIAA. Then there’s the approach of essentially whining about it: ‘Well, I don’t agree with the RIAA.’ And then the third approach was to actually encourage it, which is the route I decided to take. Essentially, I put MP3 versions of the Feederz’ songs on the CD itself, so all people had to do was put the CD in the computer, pull the MP3s down, and it said right there: ‘For your pirating convenience.’
V: Now there’s a switch, in a weird way–
FD: Then I also put all the material on The Feederz web-page and made it available there. All these people who say, ‘Well, I’m really not into it for the money’–there’s a certain point where you either have to put up, or shut up…