Many of you Skope subscribers/readers are from nations all over the globe. I am sure at first glance, you might think, this guy is focusing on American problems which do not effect me. Well, whether you like it or not, and for better or worse, America’s problems and issues have a way of affecting everyone’s life. When America’s insane banking policies drove America’s economy into recession, every other nation’s economy followed suit, some have still to recover. When our multinational energy corporations tell our leaders to go to war to protect their oil interests, many of your countries get dragged in too. So this is actually of great interest to you, and because of the internet you can help to effect a change in America. You see, America is controlled by corporations and the monied elite. Corporations love money, and they have no loyalty to their fellow corporations in that pursuit. So the multinational Media Corporations (record companies and radio stations) will promote anything that they believe will make them money, even if the ideas in the messages lead to the end of their ability to subvert the American democratic system. Numbers are what count. If they see thousands of likes on a YouTube video, they will want to invest their time and effort to promote it to try and mine a dollar out of that popularity….Justin Bieber and others have proved this. In addition the music of the sixties and seventies proved that music CAN effect social change. Remember Vietnam? If you “like” my YouTube videos, no matter what country you live in, American media will take notice and be falling all over themselves to spread my message. Once enough American’s hear the message a “critical mass” will be achieved and positive changes will follow. What have you got to lose, and a few clicks of your mouse could make a difference.
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and how was your summer?
We are talking from my studio here in Cancun Mexico. So far my summer has been fantastic. I decided to take this project to another level, and to prepare for the eventuality that we may be doing live performances in the near future. In an effort to get this music and message out there to the public, I made the decision to enlist the help of a fantastic vocalist to sing new versions of the lead vocals. So I was in North Carolina recording the new versions. It gives the songs a different feel, and just might open the music up to a wider audience. With the inclusion of the new vocalist, I am not a solo act anymore but a member of a band. The name of the new band is “The 99”
Stoli: What happened in your life brought you to music and when did you start to write & record as more than a hobby?
I started playing guitar at the age of 7, played in bands during my high school and college years and toured professionally for many years. Like so many musicians, that big break never materialized and I eventually started an advertising agency that did well, and I was able to retire at a pretty early age. Because of the agency’s success I was able to build myself a decent recording studio and started teaching myself the art of recording music. I was always writing songs and the studio gave me a way to record them and develop as a writer and multi-instrumentalist. I find it quicker to play and record the basic instrumental tracks myself and it also lets me get what I hear in my head recorded. I did not intend to continue to pursue a career in music. I did, however, want to do what I could to effect change in the country I love and it turned out that music was the way I could possibly make the biggest impact. So the new career in music is actually a byproduct of my wanting to get a message of change out to the people of America and the world.
“Do You Wanna Go” – http://youtu.be/ksLF7kApG7s
“We Ain’t Buying” – http://youtu.be/0BfRra3qFy4
“Rough Times in America” – http://youtu.be/blAUK3x8L0Y
Stoli: I respect your “socially relevant” style. Why are so many mainstream artists so afraid of speaking the truth in society?
I don’t think mainstream artists are afraid of speaking the truth. But the music business has been taken over by and is controlled by multinational corporations. From the record labels to the radio stations, corporations follow their charter to make as much profit as possible. Unfortunately many of their policies, in the pursuit of maximum profit, only allow the big “ hits” to reach the people. Record labels no longer take the chance of distributing “something different”. That is why much of what is out there sounds the same. Once a hit is identified, the rest of the industry follows suit. As an example: Remember when vocoder vocals first produced a hit. After that, every song produced contained vocoder vocals. It was used to excess, and now that effect is no longer used. On the radio side, huge corporations have bought up all the radio stations. Where independent stations had their own DJ’s able to develop their own playlists, the new corporate model has one program director making a standard playlist for 20 stations or more. There is no deviation allowed, so new music has a much harder time getting heard. The internet is making inroads, but over air is the only way to reach those driving, and that is probably the biggest audience at this point.
Stoli: When you sit down to write a song what inspires you and where do you seek out creativity?
I never sit down with the intention of writing a song. The usual process is to be using an instrument of some kind (guitar or keyboard) and I accidentally play something that sounds interesting, and from there I develop the idea. I always pretty much complete the music first and compose the lyrics next, finishing it off with additionional accent instruments and/or solos etc. The music pretty much directs the lyrical content and feel for me.
Stoli: I love your song “Rough Times in America.” When did you write that song and what happened that this amazing song came out of you?
First off, thank you for your kind compliment and I am happy that you like the song and it’s message, I know I have reached at least one person. I wrote that song one night last October just before the government shutdown. I was actually sitting in bed, with my iPad and Garageband, which I sometimes use to try out ideas, when a news report came on detailing how the government would shut down and no one would get paid except the congressmen who were the cause of the shutdown by their inability to come to a compromise. I just got angry at this partisan crap the congress is engaged in, which keeps anything from getting done, at the expense of the people’s needs. I had already composed the main instrumental sections of the song, and the phrase “Rough Times in America” just popped into my head. The next morning I went into the studio and transferred the guide tracks to the studio multitrack, and began building the song. The lyrics where really the easy part, with no shortage of issues to detail. The hard part was keeping the song to four minutes; we have a lot of problems here in the USA. I actually completed 90% of the song as it is now, on that second day. It was probably the easiest song I have ever written.
Stoli: America has got so many issues we cannot just place our finger on one. What do you see as the top 3 issues facing this nation and can we survive?
Actually this is an easy question, and I will try to contain myself. First and foremost, we need to stop the subversion of our democratic process by eliminating the ability of corporations and the 1% being able to influence our lawmakers through campaign contributions and lobbies. It in effect gives a minority the ability to direct our government’s policies through bribery. Until this connection is severed, we will never have the democracy the founding fathers envisioned. Campaigns should be funded by a non partisan, tax funded branch of the government with strict oversight to ensure undue influence is eliminated. It is not fair that those with money can influence our lawmakers to pass laws that are advantageous to their welfare at the expense of the welfare of ordinary citizens who are the majority.
Second, we need a “tiered” flat tax system. By this I mean a flat tax that increases by income level. A single flat tax percentage places an unequal burden on the poor and middle income earners. Fifteen percent of a $30k income, for example, is a much harder burden to bear than on a one million dollar income in terms of being able to survive day to day. With incomes shrinking this disparity will only get worse. This simplification of the tax system would ensure that everyone pays their fair share. No more loopholes, tax dodges and accounting tricks. If you made it here, you pay it here.
And lastly, and this is the hardest one, Americans need to stop seeing each other as the enemy. This division of people due to race color and creed is our biggest roadblock to turning this country around. Our only weapon is our vote, and we dilute it’s power because we do not trust our fellow citizens. Our fellow countrymen are not the problem and the sooner we start seeing them as allies and not the enemy, the sooner we will be able to fight the real enemy, the monied elite and corporations bent on protecting the status quo.
Stoli: Skope is all about getting musicians like you exposure. How can we all come together to get your message out there?
The internet could end up being our savior, if we use it for more than watching “stupid dog tricks’ on YouTube. Simply passing on the message by sharing the music/message with friends and family and they in turn doing the same, gets “a viral presence” established. Remember, our corporate leaders have one goal and one goal only, maximize profit. So if they see there is money to be made marketing the message I and others write about, they will promote it. This gets the message out to more people. This is not as difficult as an armed revolution, but it does require involvement. Simply be aware of what is happening and render support, through your “sharing” and “liking” those messages. I am trying to do my part by delivering a message in a format with which I feel I can be most effective, but unless the people invest the time it takes to click a few computer keys to pass it on and build critical mass, my work will produce nothing.
Stoli: What 2 other artists do you respect and feel like they speak truth through music?
In the “old days” I could have named dozens, now, not so easy. Times have changed, and established artists are not able to take chances or buck the corporate system, if they desire to stay on top. If your goal as an artist is to become a member of the 1%, writing and performing my type of music with a message is not the way to accomplish that goal. I, on the other hand, am happy with my position in life and I am not in this for the money. Some things, like the welfare of my children and grandchildren, are more important than money. At some point in life, you look back and assess what you have accomplished. To me power, money and fame are not as important as a clear conscience, the respect of those I leave behind when I am remembered, and the knowledge that I attempted to be part of the solution and not the problem.
Stoli: When you are not making music what do you enjoy to do?
I enjoy creating video, so I created all of the videos to support my songs. But I also enjoy just doing nothing, lounging at the beach , watching movies(especially documentaries) and following at least 15 TV series I have become hooked on. That last item is a lot of work.
Stoli: What can we do as everyday regular Americans to help make the future better for our kids and bring us together instead of apart?
Anything worth achieving requires a dedication and work. Overcoming the things that separate us requires that we make an effort to throw out what we think we know. We fear what we do not know. Our kids and their kids will inherit this country and planet. If you really care about the future of your progeny, you will need to do something to ensure what we leave them is not worse than what our forefathers left us. The future could hold great promise or disaster; this is our watch and we must not screw it up. As I mentioned before, with the internet, we have the tool to communicate and “assemble” easily and instantly. If you like the messages my songs and the songs of others like me produce, do what you can to spread that message. It costs nothing but a bit of your time. Vote your beliefs and values. Most of all don’t just sit by and do nothing. Your children and the future of your country are counting on you.
Stoli: What is coming up for Alvin Harrison and where can we follow you online?
I will continue to write, record and hopefully spread my messages through live perfomances and benefit shows. I have offered the use of my music royalty free to political, charitable and any organization seeking to help those Americans in need. I have my music for sale, but my proceeds as an artist will be fed back into furthering the causes I believe in. I have a Facebook page where you can see EXACTLY what I feel is important. If you believe in what it promotes, a good start could be to let like minded people know it’s there. I have a ”twitter” account and post there regularly and lastly, my YouTube Channel has my music and videos. If you remember nothing else from this humble expression of my views remember this: WHEN THE TRUTH IS REPLACED BY SILENCE, SILENCE IS A LIE.
Thank you for providing me with one more platform to reach my fellow Americans.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RTIA1
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLcgmgaWNJ8SJR0Vsj0C7Gw/feed?view_as=public
Twitter Feed: @RTIAAlvin