Really purple pilling y’all with this one: Round Eye’s “Billy,” an uneasy reminder that we’re on the cusp of a new golden era of punk. Maybe more like a nauseous harbinger.
Backing up: I remember sitting for some post-show drinks last June with the late, great Stooges reed man Steve Mackay. He was in the middle of a China tour, playing saxophone with Round Eye, a bunch of American punks who jumped ship and somehow found shore in Shanghai. Steve got a visible buzz holding court with his Chinese fans, most of which were a solid 40 years his junior. I remember one young man asking him what the worst part about living in America was, and he took another pull of whiskey and said, “the fucking guns”.
That seems too obvious to mention now, but you have to realize, from the perspective of a “round eye” (that’s imagined Chinese slang for “Westerner”), the guns are an inflection point of national insanity, also a cypher for the different forms it can take. “Billy” has it all, just chock-full of hard red & blue targets: an unarmed dark-skinned man in a hoodie, Muslims in prayer, gays at the altar, cops in the closet, Klansmen on the couch, White Jesus himself, even a dwarf Chinese Trump to confuse your allegiances. I don’t know what’s more discomforting about this video: the overly grotesque Pan’s Labyrinth escapee promenading throughout or the unshakeable feeling that you’re watching a near-future Fox News.
All I know is Round Eye takes the torch passed down from the Reagan-era boom-time punks (they kinda meld Biafra snot with gut-punch early Flag in this one [Greg Ginn is also a past Round Eye collaborator]), and use it to burn churches, and flags, and — whatever, these guys already said it best: “Round Eye is a Communist China loving anti-American rock band that will make you sick.”