Class War Kids – Haiti Benefit EP

Received in the post today:

Back in June of 2009, the St. John’s-based band Class War Kids recorded several cover songs before going on tour, but it wasn’t until the recent earthquake hit Haiti that it was clear what to do with those recordings. As of January 28, these tracks have been released on an EP entitled Twinkle’s Last Stand. All proceeds from its sale are going to the Batay Ouvriye Haiti Solidarity Network.

“Originally it was going to be a free download EP to say thanks to our friends and fans for their support over the past two years – that or they were going to be used as exclusive tracks to an upcoming Rebel Time Records compilation,” said the band’s guitarist/singer, Patty O’Lantern.

O’Lantern was listening to CBC on the night that the tragedy happened and felt compelled to assist in Haiti’s relief efforts.

“I remembered Propagandhi helped out after the WTC (World Trade Centre) fell during 9/11. They were out giving blood the next week and encouraged everyone to do the same,” O’Lantern recalled. “We are a political band. I wanted our music to do something rather than just say something. It’s funny because a week or so before us, Propagandhi announced they were releasing a digital EP for Haiti. I actually wrote (Propaghandi member) Chris Hannah and told him we were stealing his idea.”

“It just made absolute sense to do something like this,” explained Randy Rebel from the band’s label, Rebel Time Records. “I would imagine that we will leave the EP up for sale/download indefinitely and rest assured that any monies coming in, no matter when they come in, will be forwarded to Batay Ouvriye. It’s not like the crisis in Haiti will be over in a week or a month or a year, so the needs for funds and fundraising will continue.”

The Class War Kids are asking for a minimum donation of $3 for the four song digital EP or if you just want to download a song or two, a dollar for each track.

“This way if people want to donate more they can, and if they can’t afford much they can still have a copy,” said O’Lantern. “We try to keep everything we make as inexpensive as possible. We’re not in it to make tons of cash; we’re in it to make a difference…I want it to be accessible to kids.”

The album is available on bandcamp and includes the Class War Kids’ take on songs by some great artists such as the Weakerthans and Joe Strummer.

“We can play a ton of covers ’cause it’s fun to throw something into the set when you get bored of the same set list; thus we just chose our faves – ones we kinda really put our own twist on, made them our own and recorded,” said Davey Brat, singer/guitarist for the Class War Kids.

The band hopes that with a little effort, the sales of the EP will help make some difference in Haiti and offer support in their time of need.

“We hope to help alleviate some of the suffering and turmoil that is going on right now down in Haiti,” said Brat.

They chose The Batay Ouvriye Haiti Solidarity Network to donate the money to because they trust that it will get into the right hands with their assistance and actually help Haiti in rebuilding.

“I was excited to think that not only was the money being used to help the people of Haiti but that it was for the poor and working class to organize themselves against the multinational corporations that have helped to solidify the poverty that Haiti is buried underneath,” said O’Lantern.

“One of the biggest issues that the Haitian people are going to face in the wake of this disaster is the cost of rebuilding their country,” said O’Lantern. “When tragedies like this strike, there is a small window between aid pouring in and the voracious feeding frenzy that follows with companies looking to be contracted to rebuild decimated countries. Natural disasters, much like wars, are fantastic for business. The last thing the Haitian people need is to be driven further into the red by greedy North American contractors who will spare no expense.”

It’s clear that this is something The Class War Kids are passionate about, and they really want to make a difference.

“I am hoping that our contribution, however small, will help the working people of Haiti to rebuild their own nation so that they don’t end up incurring a disgustingly large bill from us that they’ll never be able to get out from under,” said O’Lantern.

by Christa Cram, The Troubador

This is yet another blinding piece of pure punk rock from TCWK. They’ve taken some classic tunes and given them a great makeover that’s guaranteed to make your body jerk in a very pleasant way. The fact that every cent raised is going to a genuine grassroots organisation already operating on the ground in Haiti is an added bonus. Not buying this is not an option.

OP’s opinion: Five

If you want a clearer idea of the problems and challenges that are being and will be faced by Haitians over the coming months and years, here’s the appeal put out by Batay Ouvriye:

For us, the Haitian people, the earthquake in Port au Prince, on 12 January 2010 hurt deeply. In fact, apart from the destruction of the public buildings most of our neighbourhoods were destroyed. Not surprisingly they are the most fragile and the most unstable: the state never gave them any service, any attention or helped them consolidate. On the contrary, we need to be able to move, so we have neither time nor capacity to be able to consolidate our position from being precarious.

Meanwhile some capitalists are trying to force the workers back to work in damaged factories, owners of large businesses are opposed to distributing their goods and sell them at a high price, the state proves again, as always, by its absence, its incapacity and incompetence (the only thing they do is steal and maneuver, supporting the landlords, the bourgeois and the multinationals), the national police are absent (they only know how to repress the people) and the imperialist forces are clearly taking advantage of the aid they give. They intend to establish a clear and definitive control over factory workers, workers of all kinds and the suffering masses in general, who are extremely dependent, with this disastrous situation.

Some of the press develops a progressive part of their work as their representatives help coordinate on the ground, several people’s committees are working consistently and relentlessly, giving all their energy for rescue and survival. But! They lack the means and capacity of intervention! Truly, this earthquake, besides having thoroughly physically and morally shaken the population, far exceeds the abilities of people to intervene.

In Batay Ouvriye, even though the majority of our organizers are living, many have lost family, homes and their meager possessions. Many are injured and, while we have to bury our dead, survival is almost impossible.

To the extent that it is possible, we refuse to go through official government channels. But the situation becomes impossible to sustain! So today, we launch an appeal for solidarity to all factory workers, all workers, all progressive people worldwide to help us out of this disastrous situation.

According to an inventory done so far, here are our needs:

Houses destroyed U.S. $50,000.00
Lost Property 20,000.00
Injured 10,000.00
Surviving for now 30,000.00
Solve it for the dead 10,000.00

What is needed U.S. $120,000.00

To which must be added by 40% due to rampant inflation and we do not know how high inflation will go. Then a total approximately U.S. $170,000.00.

After the last major mobilization around the minimum wage, we developed several new contacts brave and consistent worker comrades. They live in different neighbourhoods, sometimes far apart. We also need to reach them with our active solidarity. This substantially increases costs. Moreover, in areas where our members live, there have been some common solidarity actions amongst in the communities. We need to get more involved in them and to take energetically the necessary measures. And, as soon as possible (that means being able to concretely and practically intervene) take new initiatives (where possible) to build resistance to forms of reconstruction proposed by the dominant classes. This will also require money. When considering these types of actions and solidarity, we can say that what we need now is a sum of: U.S. $ 300,000.00

That is what will allow us to survive for now, help other fighters and conscientious workers to try to solve some specific life problems and build a political leadership in the class struggle that is organizing in the rubble. This latter aspect should be developed where possible from the start towards gaining a maximum possible force against another type of catastrophe that awaits us: what the imperialists and the ruling classes and their reactionary state are preparing for us.

We thank in advance all those who intend to contribute. The moment calls for international class solidarity. It takes a character of an additional approach, a further step in our common struggle.

To help you with money, our bank account is:

Bank Name: City National Bank of New Jersey

Bank Address: 900 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102

ABA Number: 0212-0163-9 City of Newark NJ

For further credit to:

Account Number: 01 000 98 45
Account Name: Batay Ouvriye
Account Address: Avenue Jean Paul II, # 7

Naturally, we will publicly let everyone know the amount of money we received from time to time, and the cost of each activity or action taken.

(The UK-based anti-sweatshop campaigning organisation No Sweat (which has been in touch with Batay Ouvriye in the past) will forward donations to Batay Ouvriye:

Account name: No Sweat
Account number: 20106269
Sort code: 08-60-01
Add reference: “Batay Ouvriye”

No Sweat will forward all funds received in this way to Batay Ouvriye via the New Jersey account listed above in late February)