You don’t have to look too hard to realize things aren’t well and aren’t getting better anytime soon. The headlines alone are enough to make you lose your fucking mind. Mass political unrest across the board, environmental degradation, and a soon-to-be expanding nuclear arsenal are all daily reminders of how much of a mess we’re in. Somehow the same conditions that inspired bands to step up and make thrash such a vital force in the 80s have reared their ugly heads once again. But, I mean, we should still try to have fun, right?
Enter the Richmond, Virginia thrash punk outfit: Iron Reagan. Iron Reagan is made up of members of other notable metal acts such as: Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour, A.N.S., and Hellbear. The party metallers have built their reputation around a now legendary live show and fast, angry, beer soaked thrash with a sense of humor. The band arrived on the scene with the 2013 debut album, Worse Than Dead, which was followed up with 2014’s The Tyranny of Will. Early February saw the release of their third album, Crossover Ministry. With Crossover Ministry we see a more politically charged Iron Reagan, but no less exhilarating. It is everything you socially conscious metal heads could ask for. Because much like the parents in Footloose, no oppressor ever wanted the abused to have fun. So, come all ye faithful. Worship at the altar of crossover and find communion in the pit.
I spoke via email with Iron Reagan vocalist, Tony Foresta. We discussed Crossover Ministry, politics in metal, and The Warriors.
The lyrics on Crossover Ministry tend to center around things like pollution and corporate greed. Yet, the main talking point behind Iron Reagan is your rowdy live shows. How does the band approach that balance between fun and serious?
TF – I think having a sense of humor is really important, especially with how crazy things are going in the world now. It’s already kind of depressing enough. We just try to have a different approach with how we get our point across rather than just being angry the whole time. I never want to take myself too seriously. I think I would just come across as an asshole.
Crossover Ministry may be the most politically charged we’ve seen Iron Reagan. Was that a conscious effort or did it happen organically while writing and recording the album?
TF – We wrote it during last years election so there was a lot of bad stuff getting thrown in our face on a daily basis. I’m sure it had an impact on us wether we really knew it or not.
What responsibility, if any, do you feel metal bands should take on in our current political and social climate?
TF – I don’t really care what other bands do. I feel like people should do whatever they want creatively. I mean as long as it isn’t some racist bullshit or something.
You know an Iron Reagan album or t-shirt when you see it. Is it important for the band to have a unifying aesthetic?
TF – I’ve just always been an art fan so I love having that input on making new shirt designs and album covers. I think art is a very important thing for bands. Writing songs and touring isn’t the only thing being in a band takes on. There’s ton of other stuff like that which takes a while to figure out.
Given the title, Crossover Ministry, it seems to me that you’ll have special insight into this. We currently have the “Cool Pope” and HBO has given us The Young Pope. What pope do you feel is underrepresented?
TF – I’d like to see the “Extremely Obese Pope” or the “Pissed off Alcoholic Uncle Pope.”
Can you give us the official Iron Reagan power ranking of the street gangs in the seminal 1979 cult action film, The Warriors?
TF – It’s all about The Orphans man. The first punk band I was ever in was called The Orphans. We were named after them. Then we realized that there was a million other bands with the same name so we had to change it after our first show.
Backwards baseball cap and flip flops wearing vacation Obama or mom jeans wearing first pitch throwing Obama?
TF – I was wearing a backwards hat and flip flops yesterday at Kurt from DRI’s house haha for real. So I’m going to go with that one.
In 1987 the philosopher Donald Davidson posed the famous “Swampman” thought experiment. The scenario goes: Davidson is walking through a swamp and is struck dead by a bolt of lightning. In the same instant, the lighting rearranges molecules into a perfect copy of Davidson’s body. This copy’s brain is structured the same way as Davidson’s and will behave the exact same way as Davidson. It will do everything Davidson would’ve done and it will act amicably with Davidson’s friends and family. Is this “swampman” Davidson?
TF – I have too many questions about this to be able to give you a proper answer. Also I’m high.
Justin Trudeau recently denied Donald Trump’s weird handshake yank thing. When meeting with world leaders, what does Iron Reagan do to establish dominance?
TF – We use are beautiful hair to establish dominance over most bands. You can’t fuck with our gorgeous locks.
While working on Crossover Ministry, Tony Forestra was listening to:
TF – I was having an iPod crisis at the time so I can’t even really remember. Probably that new Angel Du$t record.
Crossover Ministry is out now. Purchase it from Relapse Records.