Punk bands, past and present, have never shied away from making overt political statements. Bands like NOFX or Propagandhi devote entire albums or even careers to presenting a bold political front. So, it wouldn't be outlandish to expect a band named The Million Dollar Marxists to come on stage wearing Red Army gear and waving the manifesto, but the up-and-coming Ottawa punk band isn't into pushing any specific creed. The band's name is meant to be more of a sarcastic statement about society than a reference to any particular ideology.
"It applies to the world we live in, especially in Canada where it's the kind of a climate where there are no repercussions to being a Marxist," says the bands vocalist Luke Nuclear. "You can be rich and still call yourself a Marxist. You can be a socialist without really believing it.
"There was a protest in Ottawa," Nuclear explains. "I think for the G8 meeting, a few years back and I knew a bunch of people that were going just so that they could maybe riot if that came along. It really had nothing to do with the cause, they just wanted to go for the party and the chaos. The band's name was because of people like that. It ended up signifying a lot of things that I thought were ironic or funny or sad. We're not card carrying members of Leninist groups, we're just a rock and roll band with a sense of irony."
Currently touring to support the release of their debut Give It A Name, the Million Dollar Marxists are more interested in playing their hard-driven brand of punk rock than getting up on a soapbox. Nuclear even shrugs off the punk label the band has been slapped with, saying "I wouldn't say we adhere to any specific sound. People put us into garage-punk rock and roll, which is cool because we like that kind of music. But we don't have thousands of tattoos and we don't all have dyed black hair and wear jack-boots."
After recently signing with American punk label Gearhead, the Marxists found themselves with international record distribution and a slough of tour dates in Canada, the States and Europe. With all that has happened to the band recently, Nuclear has a hard time believing the pace at which things are happening. He notes The Million Dollar Marxists are now label mates with one of their biggest influences, The New Bomb Turks.
"I can remember when I was like 17 or 18 and the first time hearing The New Bomb Turks and losing my mind about it. So having a record in the same breath as them was something I always wanted, but was never really sure was going to happen," says Nuclear. "I think we all can agree they're definitely one of the main influence for the band, and being on the same label as them is pretty cool for sure. It still freaks me out every once in a while when I think about it."
The Marxists are hoping to build on their recent string of successes as they continue their tour by reaching new fans with live shows before heading back into the studio to record their second album. Known for frenetic and high-volume stage performances, the band are rumored to bring entire venues to the ground.
"More than anything we just get on stage and go crazy and have fun, and hopefully people will have fun too and maybe go a little crazy as well," says Nuclear. "Our show is pretty high energy so you either get into it or you don't."