Long before Americans became enamored by Beto O’Rourke, his refreshing approach to politics, and his connection to The Mars Volta, he was a little known Congressman who just so happened to know quite a lot about punk and hardcore. Now, a punk rock playlist O’Rourke made for a friend all those years ago has surfaced, and it’ll likely result in only further support for the 2020 presidential hopeful.
The 14-track mix was made for Vice News writer Daniel Newhauser back in 2015, when he was still covering politics in Washington, DC. Upon finding out about O’Rourke’s background playing in the band Foss alongside Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Newhauser befriended the Texas politician. The two chatted about the DC hardcore scene and vowed to exchange playlists.
Selected artists on O’Rourke’s list include The Exploding Hearts, Scientists, The Gories, Reigning Sound, and The Damned, as well as The Flamin’ Groovies, The Undertones, and Nervous Eaters. As Newhauser states, the curated collection comes directly from O’Rourke’s own musical library, unlike many of the polished playlists politicians (with the help of their staff) often release to the public,
“This playlist is an anthropological curiosity, a window into O’Rourke’s musical taste pre-senatorial ambition, and definitely pre-presidential ambition. “Shark tunes” (named in homage to my old band’s dumb name) is a high-energy, guitar-driven, 14-song, 41-minute slice of power-pop punk classics from the likes of the Damned, the Penetrators, the Gories and the Exploding Hearts — bands that disqualify themselves from most presidential playlists by name alone.”
O’Rourke’s punk fandom dates as far back as the 8th grade, according to Rolling Stone, when he first fell in love with the genre after hearing The Clash for the first time. He was further influenced by Minor Threat and idolized Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye.
“I have so much reverence for him and he means so much to me in my life,” O’Rourke, now 46, told Vanity Fair of MacKaye. “He really did represent this super-ethical way, not just of being in a band, or running a label, or putting on shows, but of just living.”
Newhauser sent O’Rourke’s mix to modern-day punk acts to get their thoughts. But in order to get their unfiltered opinions, he purposely didn’t tell them upfront that it was made by the politician. For the most part, they were blown away by O’Rourke’s picks:
The Black Lips’ Jared Swilley said he liked O’Rourke way more now:
“Now I like him so much more. It sounds so vain or kind of vapid, but now I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t believe he has really impeccable taste in music,’” Swilley said. “You know what? Just to be selfish, I would vote for him because if he got in the White House, I would have a shot at playing in the Rose Garden.”
“Before this, I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, he’s into punk or whatever.’ And that could be anything. Punk’s gone mainstream a long time ago. But that’s some real deep cuts he has,” Swilley said. “No campaign person would ever pick those songs. It’s not like, ‘Anarchy in the UK’ is on it, and ‘Combat Rock,’ and ‘Blitzkrieg Bop.’ It’s some real deep cuts. So he’s a true music fan.”
While Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabice was super impressed:
“I would want to sit on their face,” she joked. “I would also want to be like, ‘Yeah, dude, I already know these songs. You’re not showing me anything I don’t know.’ But I would be impressed that you get down like that.”
“I consider myself a very romantic punk rocker, and this playlist screams of just, like, a total romantic,” she said. “This is a punk-timistic playlist. It’s a feel-good playlist for people who still love to rock.”
Read the full Vice News article here.