Kill Chicago share the realities of student debt with their latest video, Take The City.
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“I’m caught between this thing where growing up, I would have a Dead Kennedys record next to a Led Zeppelin record,” said Kill Chicago’s Greg Webber. “Those are two very different things but they both had a big influence on me. That’s where the heavy blues and the politics in my music came from. I like energy more than I like whining and I really think your music should say something.”
On the band’s latest single, Take the City, Webber hopes to get people talking about the lasting effects of student debt and how the system that encourages us all to become productive members of society also involves taking on an enormous amount of financial burden at the hands of the federal government.
To help drive this message home, Kill Chicago teamed up with Moncton musician/videographer Don Levandier (The Motorleague) to craft a music video featuring many New Brunswickers willing to share stories about their own struggles with student debt. After putting the word out about the project and looking for people interested in participating, Webber was surprised at how many people responded and were willing to take part.
“People were pretty honest with the information they shared about their own student debt and I think what’s really interesting was just how upset everyone we met are about their situation,” he said, noting that everyone who shared their stories are featured in the video. “We had about twenty people respond to the call. They all came over to my house, they shared their stories, we wrote them down and talked a bunch, we gave them beer and cookies and then Don started getting a storyboard together. We talked about a ton of ideas and decided that we wanted to do some sort of text-over-live-action video where real statistics came in and out of shots with the band playing.”
The performance footage in the video was shot in Moncton at a warehouse where The Motorleague filmed a number of their own projects.
“In the video, we’re playing in this pretty busted up room,” said Webber. “In some shots the walls are covered in papers and in others the walls are bare. That was to show the idea of debt being there and not being there. Also, I think we played the song about 27 times and shot it from every possible angle.”
To help bring the message to a national audience, Webber took the advice of Pigeon Row’s Trevor Murphy and teamed up with Generation Squeeze, a national campaign focused on generational inequality in Canada.
“Generation Squeeze is a national organization that helps students make that transition into paying off their debt and offers advice on how to survive as adults while doing so,” said Webber. “Their main thing is to try and influence policy changes and help students find financial balance.”
Webber found his inspiration for the song while participating in the 2012 Quebec student protests against rising tuition where an estimated 200,000 people to the streets of Montreal on March 22.
“The best thing I can hope for is that in my loan’s lifetime I can someday stop paying interest,” said Webber, who works full-time as a teacher at George Street Middle School in Fredericton. “That’s what kills me. I’ve paid for the education and that interest isn’t going to the teachers or the university. And when I look at what I pay in taxes now with a university level career, that should really be enough.
“As a teacher I’m supposed to be convincing all these kids that the best thing they can do for society is to contribute, pay taxes and follow the rules,” he said, “but in order to do that they’re going to have to pay interest on every cent that they borrow from the government just to become eligible for the majority of work available.”
While Webber recognizes his position as “a middleclass white guy with a job”, he believes there is still a great deal of importance in speaking up for issues that affect our lives, even if those issues change over time.
“I’m no longer fighting for the right to skateboard downtown but you can certainly smell someone whose toting a cause that doesn’t really affect them,” he said. “I’m just trying to be as legit as possible. And maybe student loans are a bit of a first world problem to complain about, but I live in the first world and it’s the first world because people keep whining and complaining and are always trying to make it better.
“You can only sing about it being the weekend so many times.”