Eleanor Goldfield is the singer and lyricist for hard rock band Rooftop Revolutionaries. Along with producer, band member and song writer Brian Marshak, she has recently released a powerful and acclaimed album entitled Resolute, an uncompromising statement and commentary on corporate control, greed and the current sad state of the world from a personal perspective. Eleanor has previously modelled shirts for Ban T-shirts, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to ask her 5 questions about what she is doing.
Question 1. What inspired you to start Rooftop Revolutionaries?
RR actually started as a political group on my roof in the Silverlake neighborhood of LA. I wanted to find a political group that wasn't just left or right-but that was interested in forward motion. I couldn't find one that wasn't pushing a party candidate or tangent agenda so I made my own. Music has always been my passion. It's why I moved to LA. To combine that with my passion for activism made sense. So many bands and artists these days preach escapism and refuse to touch on serious socio-political subjects. Artistic commentary on these issues has served as a catalyst for change in countless countries and governments. I'm not looking to preach, I'm looking to engage. I want people to think, and to see facts-outside of media filters or party platforms.
The political climate in this country touches every aspect of your life, from trash pickup to a runny nose.
I use music to highlight the flaws in this country, to move people to think, like many artists did for me. I need to get that out there, off my chest. Every artist writes what they know. I am no different. I am an activist, a singer and a writer. Rooftop Revolutionaries is founded from that.
That being said, there are of course also songs that aren't political. I have loved, lost, had a mental breakdown on sunset blvd at a phone booth while homeless-sure. But so much of me is interested and involved with politics that I have to sing that-I feel inspired by that. I hope others will be too.
Question 2. Is Rooftop Revolutionaries a solo project?
Far, far from it. RR became a band when I talked Brian Marshak into helping me. We had worked on a few projects before this and he's my best friend-possibly separated at birth, brother-waiting on confirmation :)
But truthfully, I'm a singer and a writer primarily. The message of RR is mine but the reason you know who we are is not a one woman job.
Coming up with vocal melodies is one thing but every song save one on that album is music by Brian. This band wouldn't exist without his songwriting, guitar and production skills. He played everything but vocals on RESOLUTE and tirelessly worked with me in editing, mixing and mastering. I am so damn happy that I was able to find someone to write with that could not only craft a great song, but that understood my voice, style and range, often times better than myself.
From there, we have since put together a phenomenal live band and are playing shows that bring those album creations to life in a roaring wall of sound. It's so awesome to stand on stage with these guys-I love it!
Question 3. Can music change the world?
Short answer-yes. A longer answer would have to deconstruct exactly what you mean. Change in the hippie dippie, lets all live in peace way, no. Only fundamentally changing human nature can do that. We humans will fight and argue-that's just how it is. It's how we evolve to handle that that could drastically use an upgrade.
Music and art have a unique ability to bring people together across race, religion and social lines. In the 60s for example, artists' socio-political commentary was the soundtrack for movements that greatly changed our country.
It is possible. It's harder with this current paradigm but it can be done. Im working on it :)
Question 4. Are musicians in a capitalist economy subject to the same restraints as businesses? For example, not wanting to alienate possible customers by expressing opinions that some might disagree with?
I suppose they are. But I don't think that way. I treat my band as a business but I won't change my product to make it applicable to everyone. That's impossible and a bad business model. Lots of businesses in the US make their political views public. Good-politics aren't a private affair-get it out there to discuss and debate. There are RR fans that listen bc they like hard rock and don't even listen to the politically charged lyrics. I'm not going to shove this down anyone's throat. But I won't hide it either. This is my expression. This is my way of speaking my mind and getting this message of forward progress out there. That may alienate some but it will bring others in.
My job as a business owner, capitalist or otherwise, is to focus on creating the best product I possibly can for those who want it. For those who don't, and won't, they're not my concern.
Question 5. Your album "Resolute" is an awesome slice of hard rock/ metal, with some thoughtful lyrics. I have to admit though, that I imagined the lyrics would be more direct, in the sense of naming names and talking directly about issues, rather than being somewhat more subjective and open to interpretation. Was it a conscious decision to write in that way? Do you think it is problematic to write about specific issues in a direct way - for example to write a song about abortion, or climate change, or the BP oil spill? Does it pin the song to a time in the past?
I write my lyrics that way bc that's how I write. My articles and blog postings are more specific and editorial. The best lyrics I recall from growing up are the ones that made me think-that were poetic yet informational, a little abstract but hit you like a ton of bricks. One I can recall specifically is Guns n Roses "Civil War." At the very end, he asks: "what's so civil about war anyway?" Even as a kid, that hit me.
I have lyrics such as "holy CIA and Pinochet" that name names and make direct links to embarrassingly blood stained points of our past.
I don't consciously avoid naming people-it's just not something I set out to do.
In my experience, what made me react was a spark. It was the suggestion that I should look further. If someone hits you over the head with dates and times and names and detailed crimes, it's like reading a newspaper not listening to a song.
I want people to be able to sing along and feel intrigued, inspired, not like they're studying for a history exam.
I also want people to be able to make the song their own. I want people to see themselves in my songs, just like I did. I was Axl saying "I don't need your civil war." I was Zack saying "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me." I stepped in to these songs and saw myself in them. That's why people like love songs-because they can relate. You can easily relate to political ones too, if you let yourself. And if the song lets you. That's what I'm after. The lyrics follow that goal.