The Basics — Wally de Backer, Kris Schroeder and Tim Heath

With revheads and (briefly) jocks making a go of it in politics, who’s to say a rock band doesn’t belong in Parliament? Melbourne band The Basics are trying to just that — and though they face an uphill battle to become registered as an official party for the Victorian state elections, they say their political ambitions are not at an end.

The Basics Rock’n’Roll Party must register 500 members by Monday to be considered a party for the November 29 poll, and it seems unlikely it’s going to get the numbers. But Basics bassist and vocalist Kris Schroeder, who is the party’s lead candidate, says this is just the start for the party and “we could potentially run in the next election”.

The Basics are Schroeder, Wally de Backer (more commonly known as Gotye, of Somebody That I Used to Know fame) and Tim Heath, and the band decided to form a political party two months ago, to “inspire some other younger people and people our age to be more participatory and to break down some barriers”. If registered in time, the party intends to run for the upper house in the Northern Metropolitan Region, which includes inner-city suburbs such as Northcote, Brunswick and goes as far out as Broadmeadows and Bundoora.

Schroeder says that many people are “scared” of politics and don’t get involved, but The Basics want to be different to career politicians and “to break down some of those misunderstandings of what politics is, what it takes to be politician”. While the major parties are warring over the East West Link, the BRRP is focusing on education and indigenous issues as well as music.

“I don’t think either of the major parties take it [music] seriously. The Greens like to say they do, but they seem bookish and not particularly rock ‘n’ roll to me. They like to be associated with music, but they don’t really get it.”

In the lead-up to the election Music Victoria has released an “election report card”, rating the major parties’ responses to issues such as regional live music, noise regulation and quick response arts grants. Responses have so far been received by the Australian Sex Party and the Greens, who have supported almost all of the proposals put forward by Music Victoria. Martin Foley, the opposition arts spokesman, told Crikey that while Labor did plan to submit their policies to Music Victoria as part of the election report card, he could not confirm when the announcement could be expected. A government spokesperson said the Coalition would outline its approach to live music closer to the election and said “the Napthine government is committed to supporting Victoria’s live music industry, building on our enviable reputation as a thriving state for musicians and music lovers alike”.

The music industry had a victory earlier this year when the government announced that it would introduce planning changes that would mean residential developers would need to foot the bill to soundproof music venues. The “agent of change” principle has been the result of 10 years of campaigning by Music Victoria, says Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan.

“The music industry has come a long way, and we’ve got a good relationship with both sides of government,” said Donovan. He says there are still issues for which the industry wants funding, such as live music in the regions and quick response grants for writers. At the moment the process of applying for and receiving grants is slow — Melbourne singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett was invited to appear on US television show The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in July, but had to borrow money to make the trip.

While the industry is positive about the major parties, Schroeder says he is hoping to “rattle their cages” at an upcoming panel.

Schroeder will sit on the “Vote For Me! State Election — the Parties bring it!” panel at the Face The Music conference in Melbourne on November 14. As well as Foley, the panel will also include Sue Pennicuik from the Greens, Fiona Patten from the Australian Sex Party and Minister for Liquor and Gaming Regulation Edward O’Donohue and will be hosted by The Age‘s Richard Willingham. Face The Music is a two-day conference, including presentations and workshops, for all of Melbourne’s music community.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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