Robby's Words on the Music Industry, Politics,
and World Affairs
Interview by Myshele Goldberg, 9.14.03
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music
industry? I know you sort of mentioned it a little bit before….
I think there’s way too few people involved in it.
I guess that’s my overview statement of the whole thing.
My overview synopsis of it is that there are too few people
making all the decisions in radio, too few people making all
the decisions in record companies at the distributorship level,
at the publicity level. And I think right now, things have
gotten to the point with the Internet, with technology and
public opinion going the way it seems to be going, that the
little guy seems to be having more and more of a chance, as
far as the music industry goes. The only thing that stands
between the guys who are sitting in front of computers at
Sony trying to figure out how to make this new way of distributing
music work, the only difference between themselves and myself
is the fact that they have to wear a suit to work everyday.
We have the same computers, the same software, now let’s
figure this fuckin’ thing out, ya know what I mean?
Excuse my French, but ya know what I mean? It’s like,
people have spent so much time bitching and litigating, you
know, it’s like, Jesus, you can’t litigate people
into obeying an unenforceable law. But you can ask people,
well, what’s gonna make this different? It’s like,
we’re gonna offer full downloads of our CDs and PDF
file graphics. What’s the advantage? You don’t
have to rename all the songs. They all pop up on your hard
drive and you get all the album graphics if you want to burn
yourself a CD, you can. There’s things you can try to
do. We’re gonna have every song on the record, you can
preview it. After thirty seconds, it’ll turn over into
a pay site and you can pay 75 cents and you just downloaded
the song, however it’s gonna work. We’re just
trying new things, seeing how people react. And if they do,
we’re confident our signings are gonna be good enough.
It’s just a question of getting people to pay attention
and buy records now.
You recently gave a tape-recorded statement to Congress
about AmeriCorps and music education. What points did you
raise in there?
The point that we raised on the tape was basically what AmeriCorps
asked us to raise, which we were in agreement with, that was
that pulling money from educational funds for children is
probably not a great idea. That system has been working for
awhile now, and it’s unfortunate to see funding leave.
They’re not without their scandals, as all organizations
are, but the bottom line is, they’re trying to help
people. And myself, I will answer you, I think it’s
ludicrous to spent 87 billion dollars defending our oil trade
and taking money away from kids. I think it’s ridiculous,
and I think our government needs to re-examine a few of their
You’ve said before that you feel a responsibility
to share your opinions.
Well, only because people ask me. You know, I think it’s
important. I have friends who are staunch Republicans, because
they’re awesome, beautiful people, I just don’t
believe in their political views. So we don’t talk about
politics, much. If somebody asks me, yes, I’ll absolutely
100% give my opinion.
Do you think talking about the issues is important, and
do you think ordinary people have any influence on world affairs?
Yeah – en masse. I think ordinary people can influence
world affairs, it’s like anything else, you if someone
who is charismatic enough brings about a good point, people
will back them up and public opinion will sway. And when public
opinion sways, and they actually go out and vote, things change.
It’s a proven fact, you know? My opinion is that there’s
a lot of injustices going on right now in our government.
I feel like if I don’t raise my voice about that, that
I feel things are that way, that maybe people who aren’t
as comfortable expressing their views about it won’t
either. Once again, if people ask me, I will give my opinion.
But I don’t want to start fights. Not right now.
We’ve got enough fights going on in the world.
Nah, I’m just kidding.
You’ve mentioned before that you’re proud
to see your fans participating in activism.
Absolutely. You know how good it feels to me, man, I can’t
even tell ya! We were in Washington and we saw someone carrying
one of those signs around in front of like, the White House,
man. We’d been in Chicago and just coincidentally driving
by peace rallies and seeing the signs up in the air. You know,
yeah, it freaks me out, man! Freaks me out! Anytime anybody
connects anything positive to us, man, that makes me feel
so good. Cause I mean, we really try sometimes. Not all the
time, but we really try sometimes to be that thing, you know,
that thing that makes people feel like, wow, we’ll do
something good, something positive instead of something negative.
There’s a lot of negative connotations to our business,
you know? And a lot of them rightfully so. But the point being,
when we try, it feels really good to see that we’ve
had some impact on this sometimes seemingly unsolvable problem
that we seem to have ourselves in.
Are you guys going to be getting involved in the election
process like you did in 2000?
Anything your fans can do to help with that effort?
Um, we’ll let them know.
Positively. Yeah, you know what they can do? Register.
Yeah. Oh, believe me, we’re pushing that.
Number one, that’s what they can do. Register, because
otherwise it doesn’t matter. You’ve got no right
to argue unless you vote.
Don’t vote, can’t complain.
Your wife is Japanese. Has her international perspective
made you see America in a different light at all?
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Our sharing our lives together,
I get a lot of Japanese news and stuff like that. We just
read a thing from the Mayor of Hiroshima that would make your
hair stand up on end, dude. It’s like, begging people
to reconsider – America is trying right now to develop
what they call practical nuclear weapons. You should talk
to some Japanese folks about those things, see how practical
they are. Touring all over the world, I’ve noticed,
I feel like apologizing to people sometimes for the mess the
world’s in right now. I’m incredibly proud to
be an American because I think America is a great, great country.
But I also feel that our government’s making some horrific
decisions as far as national interests and international policies
go. And aside from that, ya know, we had a huge surplus of
money before they came into office. Two years later we owe
more than twice as much, it’s insane. It’s just
insane the way things are going. But like I said, I went around
the whole world this year, went around the whole world last
year. And it always sort of boils down to the same thing,
that’s that the rest of the world has no understanding
of what our incentive is here, kinda weird. I know I’m
not standing on popular ground saying these things, but once
again, you asked me, that’s the way I feel.
Absolutely. What are some positive things you see happening
in the world right now? To end on a positive note….
I see people taking a look at what’s going on right
now and going, “what the hell’s going on? Why
is unemployment high? Why do we owe all this money? Why does
the rest of the world hate us?” You know, it’s
like people are finally starting to raise their eyebrows and
the country seems a bit less complacent and a bit less blindly
supportive after September 11th. Which was a horrible thing,
but my God, I think it was used as a scapegoat for a lot of
things. I think people are starting to realize that now, and
human nature seems to be taking a bit of a turn at this point.
What do you mean?
I think people are starting to realize, after all that stuff
that came down in 2001, I think people look at things in a
different manner now. I don’t think it’s –
there doesn’t seem to be mass-paranoia, does there?
Depends on who you talk to.
Well, yeah, I guess, I guess. There’s some freaks who
live up in a cabin in the woods somewhere and do math all
day. But I mean, I think in general, I don’t think there’s
a doomsday prophecy right now, I don’t think people
want that. I think people want to see things to get better.
I think people are sick of seeing Americans coming home dead
for no reason. I think public opinion is starting –
You know, and I mean, once again, I will never say anything
bad about any of those people who go over there, God bless
every single one of them. More than anything else, I wish
that A, they didn’t have to go over there, and B, that
they get home alive. Cause once again, I don’t think
there’s much of a reason for us to be over there right
now. Aside from the fact that we f-ed things up so bad that
we gotta be there, because it’s our global responsibility.
Unfortunately we didn’t worry about global responsibility
before we started this whole fiasco. As the rest of the world
was telling us to stop. But anyway, the positive thing I see
is that people are beginning to question this now. And the
other positive thing I see is that there’s an election
coming up. We can put a stop to at least some of this. I’m
not a staunch Democrat, but I will probably vote Democrat.
But I’m not a staunch Democrat, you know what I mean?
I think the majority of them are probably as creepy as the
rest, but it’s just at this point, we definitely need
a change in policy. And the only way we’re going to
get that change in policy is by changing the policy makers.
And those policy makers are making some huge mistakes right
now. And a lot of money.
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