Veteran Industrial band Skinny Puppy have objected to their disturbingly dark music being played to discombobulate inmates at Guantanamo, and plan to “charge” the government for doing so. They are not the first band to express such objections.
“We heard through a reliable grapevine that our music was being used in Guantanamo Bay prison camps to musically stun or torture people. We heard that our music was used on at least four occasions,” the idiosyncratically monikered guitarist cEvin Key told The Phoenix New Times.
“So we thought it would be a good idea to make an invoice to the US government for musical services.”
While this may have been seen as an oblique compliment to a band that prides itself on its dark imagery, the thought of their music bringing genuine mental anguish was uncomfortable.
“We never supported those types of scenarios. Because we make unsettling music, we can see it being used in a weird way. But it doesn’t sit right with us,” said Key, who founded Skinny Puppy back in 1982.
It is not clear if the Canadian band is expecting remuneration from the US government, but the band has named its latest album Weapon as a reference to the alleged incidents.
The most famous objectors to their music being used for enhanced interrogation are heavy metal legends Metallica.
A 2006 anonymous interview with US service staff showed that it had become their band of choice “to soften up” suspects before an interrogation.
“If there are people that are dumb enough to use Metallica to interrogate prisoners, you’re forgetting about all the music that’s to the left of us. I can name, you know, thirty Norwegian death metal bands that would make Metallica sound like Simon & Garfunkel,” retorted a defensive Lars Ulrich, the drummer for the band.
Skinny Puppy appears to fit the bill.
Forcing prisoners to listen to music has been a widespread tactic for at least the past few decades. The point is not only to intimidate, but also to humiliate, often by inflicting an incongruous foreign culture on a suspected terrorist (inoffensive pop singer Britney Spears also featured widely on US ‘interrogation mixes’).
But the practice has met with legal challenges. The UK, which used to subject IRA suspects to unpredictable and deafening spells of white noise, and Israel, have both been banned from doing so by their respective national courts.
But not all bands mind the military association.
Christian metal band Demon Hunter sent the US army patches and CDs that would psych up US marines before missions. According to an Esquire interview in 2012, the Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden was wearing just such a patch as he riddled the Islamist terrorist with bullets in May 2011.