Metal has been inherently political since the dawn of the genre. This is apparent in the lyrics, the imagery and the overall personas of countless musicians. But sometimes their involvement goes beyond the music.
Whether it’s becoming a politician themselves or fighting against movements pushed by government officials, metal musicians have been a focus in politics for quite some time. Below are 10 musicians who injected themselves into the political realm.
1. Danica Roem
Journalist and Virginia House of Delegates member Danica Roem has been in the Democratic Party for some time, but in 2017 she officially ran for office. Roem has been known to fight for trans and gay rights in her state. She’s also known for fronting melodic death-metal act Cab Ride Home.
2. Dee Snider
The Twisted Sister frontman is instantly recognizable for his wild clothing and makeup choices, but that didn’t stop him from arriving to a Senate hearing set by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) in 1985 dressed to scare. Snider is one of the original musicians who fought against those annoying parental advisory stickers on albums and stuck up against the uninformed public for metal to thrive.
3. Randy Blythe
Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe has been vocal about his political views both inside and outside of music. But his 2012 indictment on manslaughter charges related to a fan’s death in Czech Republic changed public views on metal drastically. The vocalist’s charges were eventually dropped, but his case became extremely public and made him one of the faces for politicians to use when talking about safety at metal shows.
4. Joey Shithead
D.O.A. leader Joe Keithley (aka Joey Shithead) is one of the originators of hardcore music in Canada, but he also has a place in government. The vocalist was elected as a city councilor in Burnaby, British Columbia, in 2018 with the Burnaby Green Party.
5. Gylve Fenris Nagell
Usually, politicians have to sign up to be elected, but in Norway, the public creates a backup list in case a scenario arises where a politician isn’t elected after choosing to run for office. Darkthrone member Gylve Fenris Nagell included himself on his local backup list with a photo of him with his cat captioned “please don’t vote for me,” which ultimately backfired because people came out for him in droves. Even though he wasn’t too pleased about winning in 2016, he’s stuck as a city councilor for four years.
6. Marilyn Manson
Marilyn Manson is no stranger to controversy, but his voice became a huge part of the stories revolving around the tragic Columbine massacre in 1999. The two shooters frequently cited Manson as a role model, causing the shock rocker to defend himself and metal against politicians who were looking for someone to pin the blame on.
7. Rage Against The Machine
A list of musicians in politics wouldn’t feel complete without Rage Against The Machine. Not only is their music hugely inspirational for political activism today, but they essentially led a protest that turned into a riot during the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Local leaders voiced their concerns prior to the show, but it went ahead as scheduled. Vocalist Zack de la Rocha riled up the crowd to the point riot police used unnecessary force against countless people.
8. Freddy Lim
If you’re into foreign death metal, you’ve probably heard of Chthonic. But what you may not know is their vocalist is a major member of Taiwan’s political system. Freddy Lim is the founder of Taiwan’s New Power Party, which he left in August. He currently sits as a member of Parliament, frequently fighting for independence in the country.
9. Justin Brannan
Riffing with New York hardcore acts Indecision and Most Precious Blood kept Justin Brannan busy for a long time. Now, he spends his time as a council member in Bay Ridge, New York. Brannan is an outspoken animal rights advocate and has been a council member since 2017.
10. System Of A Down
When listening to System Of A Down’s lyrics, you know the band have a lot to say on various aspects of the political landscape. While they haven’t been properly back together in years, the band’s reunion tour in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide was an astronomically political move to bring awareness to a tragedy some governments still refuse to acknowledge happened.