THE MIND OF LITTLE RAGE interview with Say Yes, Do Nothing (June 9, 2020)
On this episode of TMoLR, I speak with David Eastman of London, England based SAY YES, DO NOTHING. David is originally from the United States. During our conversation we discuss the music scene in London, his work in war zones all over the world. David reaffirms that musicians are the cream of the crop when it comes to generosity and helping those in need. We are also introduced to 3 songs from SAY YES, DO NOTHING, David shares the stories that created these amazing songs. This conversation is worth every minute you will spend listening.
Little Rage: Welcome to the Mind of Little Rage, and on today’s program I will be talking to a band that is based of London UK: Say Yes, Do Nothing with David Eastman. This is the first British-based band that has appeared on our program.
Say Yes, Do Nothing: Yeah, and you end up getting a boy from Indiana.
Little Rage: ‘For what it’s worth’: what made you want to cover this song?
Say Yes, Do Nothing: We recorded it in early June We were feeling concerned and feeling solidarity with the justice seekers of the Black Lives Movement, seeing people with so much courage and those who were protesting peacefully in face of what can be real danger. We just wanted to show that we were with them in our own way. It’s hard to be a part of it with COVID-19 and being so far away. Demonstrations are starting in London and around the world, so it is becoming a global movement. So we just wanted to express that we feel a part of it. It’s on Youtube:
Little Rage: Where did the name of the band come from?
Say Yes, Do Nothing: So I’m actually a humanitarian aid worker by day. A few years ago I was working with a charity and a colleague was talking about corrupt governments, saying, ‘You know the type, they say yes and do nothing.’ And I thought, ‘That’s a great name for a band!’
Little Rage: I can only imagine the stress and at times heartache associated with that type of profession.
Say Yes, Do Nothing: Yeah! I work mostly in war zones. Like in Afghanistan, we were at a check point once, and there was a big boom. The jeep was shaking and – Afghans are weird, when there’s an explosion, they all run towards the explosion…
Little Rage: That sounds like Americans.
Say Yes, Do Nothing: (laughs) Yeah, maybe! But this wasn’t like a Black Friday sale or anything. There had been a munitions dump and some kids were playing in it, banging rocks on bombs, and one blew himself up. So we carried out the other kid and took him to the hospital. That kind of stuff you get exposed to, but on the other hand, another time, I was in a refugee camp in Darfur, where they live in mud huts with thatch roofs The thatch roofs caught fire, turning into a wildfire that we helped to put out. I saw a guy who lost his shoes in the fire and he was walking barefoot in the sand. I don’t know why I did it but I gave him my shoes. He was so grateful. I had to walk back home barefoot and my wife said, ‘What did you do this time? But the feeling was amazing, almost beatific. There’s bad with the good.
Little Rage: Let’s get into the music. You’re originally from the United States. How does an outsider like an American get into the scene there? Do they call you a Yank?
Say Yes, Do Nothing That’s why I called our music Yank rock! I started writing semi-country songs and one night I put on a cowboy hat as a joke and people ate it up! As soon as the bass starts going, ‘bum-bumpa-bum-bumpa-bum’ the Brits go out of their minds. It’s like if you saw an Irish jig band in Houston. You’d say, ‘Wow, this is so authentic!’ I mean, I love Merle Haggard.
Little Rage: Who doesn’t?
Say Yes, Do Nothing: Well, I wish more people did! I saw him once before he died playing in an old movie theater in Baltimore. He still had his old lapsteel player, and all these old guys, and he was still doing it. He’s a huge inspiration and I don’t think people know about that stuff here.
Little Rage: How does an American go to London and inject himself into the scene there?
Say Yes, Do Nothing: We have a club scene, but it’s a different approach to getting noticed now. We don’t really have college radio any more. We don’t have that underground market where you hand out your CD and keep working at it. That’s why shows like yours are so important to have that kind of exposure- it’s really important.
Little Rage: How would you describe the sound of Say Yes, Do Nothing?
Say Yes, Do Nothing: Maybe if Leonard Cohen wrote lyrics for the Yardbirds? I try to always have a backbeat to anything I try to say, and I always sing about things that I’ve experienced personally. I always try to do justice to what I experienced. Like a song I wrote about living with homeless people and waiting in food lines.
Little Rage: That’s why I love music – whatever mood you’re in, you can find it there. I think what you’ve done, you take a real-life situation and have the intestinal fortitude to put into lyrics and into a song, and it’s going to reach a lot of people.
Say Yes, Do Nothing: Thanks. You know, something I’ve worried about is that it’s a bit exploitative. I went through these things, but I’m also kind of using it to my advantage. It’s a careful line, telling stories, especially about people who are vulnerable and who certainly didn’t know I was going to write a story about them.
Little Rage: I don’t know if I can agree that it’s exploitative. That’s your life. You lived it. It’s not exploiting it for monetary gain or fame or anything. If someone were to write about Hurricane Katrina, and they lived in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and telling second-hand stories, then yes, that would be crossing the line. But when you live it I believe that’s something different. I will respectfully disagree.
Say Yes, Do Nothing: I am glad to hear that. It’s also a way to relive it. When I think about it, I’m there. Hopefully the words get through, trying to convey something. It’s a pleasant feeling.
Little Rage: I always say that music for the listener is subjective. A listener may apply it to what’s going on in their life and it may give them the strength to pull their bootstraps up and get the job done. Push through.
The Mind of Little Rage (TMoLR) is based in Houston, Texas. A podcast that focuses on underground Rock, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal bands, TMoLR offers interviews, reviews, and reactions with the spotlight band/artist. Little Rage is also not afraid to go outside the genres of Hard Rock and Metal. If the music is good, it's good. (on Spotify: The Mind of Little Rage; on Twitter: Little_Rage1).