Bands currently find themselves with a mountain of possibilities if they want to express the current state of affairs through their music. The list of subjects in our turbulent world right now seems endless, from COVID-19 to the behaviour of politicians, to social justice, the environment and attitudes on climate change to name just a few.
“The Birth of a Nation”, the debut single by Belfast’s Enola Gay was released in October which confronts head-on various movements including most notably Black Lives Matter. There is a driving bassline underlying this track which provides a foreboding and dark backdrop, combined with a punk aesthetic which creates an urgent and forceful track. It makes you want to sit up and take notice. Its constant accompanying drum beat paired with depth and intelligent lyrics make you catch your breath.
“More blacks, more dogs, more Irish” cleverly reclaims the statement “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish” that was believed to have been used post World War Two in the UK. Such statements fed into systematic racism and Enola Gay have turned this around.
There are many lines I could quote from this song, as it is full of attitude, driving home the message:
“Knee to the neck from those who serve ‘n’ protect”
“Tear gas to the face cause his skin face was brown”
There is defiance as they sing “You’ll never kill our will to be free, cause in our minds we hold the key” and “Burn the house, rebuild the home”. Enola Gay express hope as we work together to create positive change and the passion in this track builds to a powerful crescendo.
Band member Joe McVeigh explained the source of the title of the song.
“DW Griffith used media in the form of his film The Birth of a Nation to spread hate, fear and lies. The plot of the film relied on this false narrative that black people were the antithesis of the American way, while the Ku Klux Klan were the saviours.”
“Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses”.
“To put it into perspective, over 100 years ago when the film debuted they had a private screening in the White House for the president, and just a few months ago the then American president Trump, told right-wing groups to “stand down and stand by” when asked to denounce them. There’s the obvious flipping the title on its head in the same way Director Nate Parker did for his 2016 role-reversal take on the original, where a literate slave and preacher in the South orchestrates an uprising. These are the reasons as to why we thought “The Birth of a Nation” was the perfect title for the track.”
The video is a no holds barred view of the Black Lives Matter protests, and ironically reminded me of The Police’s controversial video for “Invisible Sun” in 1981. The BBC banned the song as the video contained footage of life in Belfast and beyond during The Trouble. It was not played on Top of the Pops.
By the way, I would like to remind you that this is Enola Gay’s debut single. A totally accomplished track which deserves the attention it has already received and more.
The highly recommended Mount Palomar remix proceeds go to SARI (https://www.sariweb.org.uk).