It’s the Friday before the next episode of ‘Sixteen Million Rising’ (the Pro-European radio show I make) goes live and I’m checking my inbox for submissions. Once I have sorted out the emails which inevitably elude my spam filter – one which must have been designed by the same team responsible for the UK’s “world beating” ‘Test, Track and Trace’ App – there’s the usual mix of like-minded sentiment and newsletters from regional pro-European groups across the country.
And, then – as with most weeks, there’s a glittering contribution from yet another creative artist, singer/songwriter or burgeoning band offering me a fresh burst of musical activism and asking if it would be possible to “play their latest track on the show!”.
Usually and with great pleasure, it’s an immediate “Yes!” from me!
Whether a polished piece of centre left, (or sometimes radical left!) lyrical protest or a half-baked effort cobbled together on Garage Band in mum’s basement, the passion is always raw, always instantly infecting me with a desire to do what little I can to help them share this potent mix of rage, fury and often brilliantly calibrated good humour, with my growing audience.
I’ve been making ‘Sixteen Million Rising’ now since September 2016 – something which grew out of my instant dismay and incredulity at the result of the EU referendum that June. The show’s now a weekly affair, broadcast on Mixcloud for free and available to subscribers – or ‘Early Risers!’ – as a digital download, 24 hours early!
Each week I waffle on about the state of the nation, provide tips for fellow activists and assemble the best of the week’s news, views, rants and bants from others, far wiser than myself! It’s been fascinating to sit down with people like Gavin Esler, Anna Soubry, Mike Galsworthy, Femi Oluwole, Madeleina Kay and Sir Tony Robinson to shoot the breeze and try to make sense of the catastrophe Britain finds herself still very much embroiled in, over four years later!
But, on a purely personal level, the best part by far, is all that incredible music!
Sometimes a particular song catches my ear (and indeed the zeitgeist) with all the ease of a Tory taking a back hander at a dinner party! Songs like The Dead Musician’s Club with their ear worm ‘What Did You Do, Daddy’, Rachel Ashley with her anthemic crowd pleaser ‘We’re Not Gonna Brexit!’ or Trevor Perfect’s ‘Red Eye’ project with heart-breaking efforts like, ‘Moroccan Fruit’ draw me into their world within seconds of first listen. Others take a little longer!
We’ve featured soul and disco from Article 54’s ‘The Hustle’ long player and, as with many others, it’s really nice when an artist responds to my request to send in a piece of spoken word audio introducing their music themselves. Rhodri Marsden did exactly that, as have many others! The Violet Chimes, The Dead Puppies of Chernobyl and even Dire Straits co-founder, David Knopfler have all provided me with a personal take on the music Brexit’s inspired them to write.
Parody songs have always been a staple of the show; and someone who knows a thing or two about that is the marvellous Peter Cook, whose Rage Against The Brexit Machine has given us such instant classics as ‘Pants to Brexit’ and only this month ‘Alo Vera!’Another good friend and soulmate, Ian from Bristol who goes under the banner Holy Mole, regularly comes up trumps with something witty from the South West; my favourite being his rendition of ‘Got To Pick Apart The EU’ shamelessly ripped off from the soundtrack to Oliver! Ian Dearlove, Rob & The Radi8ors and The Indelicates have all been regular musical pit-stops for me as I put together each week’s show.
And who can forget Captain SKA’s timely ‘Liar, Liar!’ aimed squarely at Theresa May (remember her?) back in the day; or the Eurovision bound (well, it should have been!) power chords reverberating from Banana Ranch and their debut, ‘Remain’?
I could go on listing the back catalogue of music featured on the show over the past 64 episodes, but it’s far too hot, there’s still a country worth saving and I’m keen to see what’s been birthed by those “treasonous remoaners” ready for this week’s outing…
And sure enough, there’s something waiting for me from Rob and Eda – a Police cover it would seem! Time to take a listen.
Listen to the latest show, previous episodes and our catalogue of interviews whenever you’re ready at:
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You can drop Ben a line at: [email protected] or leave a message on the Mixcloud Channel and for further information don’t forget to check out the regularly updated website here: www.16millionrising.wixsite.com/16millionrising