One of the most prolific, relevant, vibrant, and well-hidden activists is the mastermind of American High Doug Terry. American High is a band for the people! Their anti-war songs on their last album “Bones in the Attic, Flowers in the Basement” created a buzz before fans even realized it was a dedication to the war on war, as their orgasmic melodies and decadent harmonies resonated sonic pop culture at it’s very best.
Now the band’s long and highly anticipated new single has just been released, as entitled “Cheye Calvo” another alt-rock/ pop phenomenon dedicated to the good of mankind. Caring only that their message be presented and their music be heard the band donates the proceeds from their music to food banks and their lives to being creative.
American High is one of the centuries most important bands to arise, aside from being a blast to listen to. “Cheye Calvo” is catchy, fun and commercially accommodating, as well contagiously relevant. Watch for it on cd baby and all the other Digital venues within the next couple of days.
With those who don’t know who Cheye Calvo is and you’re too lazy to Google it, what’s the story behind that?
In July of 2008 in Maryland, USA, a man named Cheye Calvo returned to his suburban home after having walked one of his dogs. Inside he found a scene of absolute horror. Over a dozen highly armed and violent intruders had broken into his house. His mother was bound and lying face down on the kitchen floor in tears. Then Mr. Calvo heard the terrifying screams of his wife. She too had been bound and forced face down on the floor. Then the Calvo family watched in horror as the their two beloved dogs were shot and killed. One was shot in the back as he ran away. The intruders spent the next four hours systematically destroying the home. They destroyed furniture, broke cabinets and tracked the blood of his pets throughout the entire house. When the ordeal was over the assailants simply left. They didn’t even have the common decency to apologize.
The violent intruders were not street gang members. They were not foreign military invaders. They were not ‘illegal aliens’. The intruders were police officers.
County police conducted a ‘no knock’ warrant on Mr. Calvo’s home that day after a package of marijuana was randomly mailed to his address by drug smugglers. The smugglers picked the homes of unsuspecting citizens and delivered drugs to their front porches, apparently to be picked up later before anyone noticed. This time police noticed and busted into Mr. Calvo’s home looking for evidence. They found none. That was because Mr. Calvo was not involved in drugs or the drug trade at all. Cheye Calvo was the mayor of the town.
A ‘no knock’ search warrant is one in which police are given the insane authority to break into and enter any American home they see fit (except in Oregon and Florida). They are not required to announce themselves first and almost universally enter homes armed and ready for a gun fight. Often clothed in all black with no identifiable law enforcement markings, people have no way of knowing the identity of the people breaking in. Could they be robbers? Rapists? Murderers? Pedophiles coming for your children? Honestly, if you were woken up in the middle of the night by an explosion, loud shouting and gunfire would your first thought be it’s the police? Most of these raids are conducted in the dark, predawn hours and it is common for police to first use flashbang grenades. Flashbangs cause temporary blindness and disorientation. They also critically injure babies if tossed into the baby’s crib (Habersham County, Georgia 5/14). Many pets have been killed in front of their owners during these sickeningly common raids. Worst of all, men, women, children, even the elderly have been murdered by police during botched ‘no knock’ raids. Even police officers themselves have been killed during these high risk and immoral home invasions. Over 100 ‘no knock’ warrants are executed each day in the US.
In December of 2013 police executed a ‘no knock’ warrant in Somerville, Texas. The homeowner, a recently returned combat veteran, believed he was being attacked by criminals. He did what any rational person would do under the circumstances. He armed himself and defended his home, himself and his girlfriend. Tragically, a police officer was shot and killed during the ensuing gun fight. Again, no one in the house was involved in drugs and amazingly both occupants made it out of that house alive. Instead of an apology, the war hero was put on trial for murder. Thankfully the Texas jury saw the truth and found him not guilty. But that officer’s wife and children are still without a father and husband. Apparently their pain and suffering are simply necessary evils so that people can’t smoke pot. Between 2010 and 2016 dozens of civilians and eight officers were killed during the execution of no-knock warrants.
Currently in the U.S. over a million people are in prison for nonviolent drug crimes. More than 30,000 Mexican nationals have been murdered in northern Mexico in the past several decades, a direct result of our prohibition laws. Police corruption in Mexico (and the U.S.) is a well known fact. Are mass murders in Mexico any less tragic than mass murders in the U.S.? We don’t think so. We think using drugs is a bad idea, but we think murdering people is so much worse. After billions of dollars, countless lives lost and the ignoring of our natural born rights, more people smoke pot today than the day it was made ‘illegal’.
Part of the problem is the militarization of our local police departments. In all honesty, what on earth does the local police department need with a tank? How about armored personnel carriers? Street sweepers? Police today even have body armor which rivals our men and women fighting in foreign wars. Why? Search ‘militarization of police in america’ on Youtube and see for yourself.
With our new single ‘Cheye Calvo’ American High presents this question: which is worse? Fellow citizens using drugs or police breaking into their homes and killing them in the dead of night? A better question is this: do drug prohibition laws even work at all? Americans in 1933 didn’t think so. That year alcohol prohibition was ended because it lead to crippling police corruption, the mass murder of innocents, the filling of our prisons with nonviolent alcohol offenders and most importantly, it didn’t stop anyone from drinking. Prohibition laws do not work. They didn’t work then, and they do not work now.
If ‘no knock’ police invasions are necessary in the war on drugs we say end the war on drugs. We think most people would agree that burning babies and murdering innocent people is much worse than letting people use drugs. And those are our choices. There isn’t a third.
‘No knock’ warrants are unnecessary and they erode trust between government and the people. They lead to terror, PTSD, injury and death and we believe they are a clear violation of the peoples’ rights.
The real question is this: exactly who is making money from drug prohibition laws? Just like ‘deep throat’ said to Woodward and Bernstein during the Watergate scandal: follow the money!
You tend to write the happiest melodies to the scariest subjects. Why do you think that happens? And is it on purpose?
Well, we write songs that we would like to hear ourselves. We love lots of bands. Most of them write catchy and clever songs. That’s what we like, so probably that’s why the songs come out that way. Or at least we hope they do. Bands in the 60s and 70s wrote catchy songs with serious, even dark subjects. Political songs, anti-war songs, anti-tax songs, songs about people who were wrongly imprisoned. But they are good songs. The kind that you find yourself tapping your foot to and humming later. We think songs are more interesting when they are multi-layered. Books like ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘Animal Farm’ can be seen as stories about kids on an island or animals taking over a farm. But there are deeper meanings for those who care to look. I guess that’s why we are still talking about them decades later. They appeal to many different people for many different reasons.
We think there are many things going on in the world today that are just plain wrong. We believe that if enough people found out about some of these things, they would come to an end. So I guess if you want to look at our songs as (hopefully) catchy toe tappers, we think that’s great. And if you want to look for deeper meanings, we want you to have plenty to find.
When you decide you’re subjects which are usually quite heavy and deep, what’s inside your head, what are you thinking?
Usually we read or see something that pisses us off. Like a cop throwing a grenade into a baby’s crib. Or something that makes us smile, like the catchy silliness of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Zoo’. I mean, when you go to the zoo do you make fun of the animals enslaved there? We don’t, but we love the genius of their songwriting. There’s a strange duality there that’s hard to talk about. But it’s interesting. We like songs that grab our attention. Catchy songs. You know how, in general, Europeans do not expect happy endings to their movies and Americans do? Well maybe in a way we’re trying to make songs that have both.
As one of the most rebel activists in the history of music and on this planet how do you think your messages will help the world?
We hope a lot of people will listen to and like the songs. If that happens we believe many will agree with us and hopefully that will lead to change. There was a time when we didn’t think a lot about the fact that there are American military bases in over 100 countries and territories, for example. Then someone brought it up and we sat down and thought about it. No other country does that. Why? Why do we? Because we are more moral? We’re better? We didn’t question things then, but we do now. That is the result of someone with guts sitting down and telling us about it. That’s what we hope to do.
Do you think people are very shocked if they listen to your fabulous music, even dance to it, and then realize what it’s really about?
We aren’t trying to shock people, but maybe people need to be shocked. We were shocked when we heard an old man in Florida was murdered on his front lawn by police. He was sick of dealers selling drugs on his property, so when two undercover cops posing as drug dealers trespassed on his land he came out of his house with an unloaded old rifle. They promptly murdered him there and then. I don’t know if we just didn’t believe stories like that or we didn’t want to believe. But facts are facts. How can we prevent that from happening again if we don’t even talk about it? How can change happen when people don’t even know there is something that needs changing. One reason we picked Cheye Calvo as an example of the immorality of ‘no knock’ warrants is he is an upper middle class white guy. He was the mayor for crying out loud. So if that happened to him, what is going on in our nation’s poorer neighborhoods? The inner cities? Cheye Calvo has a voice but the poor and disenfranchised often don’t. So let’s not end ‘no knock’ police attacks because of Cheye Calvo, as evil and despicable as the crimes against his family were. Let’s end them for the countless and unknowable masses of crimes that must be happening to poor people all over the country every day. People who can’t call a news conference. People who have no voice.
Follow American High on Twitter @AmericanHigh1
For more information on American High check out their website www.AmericanHighBand.com
Stream Cheye Calvo by American High on Reverbnation www.Reverbnation.com/AmericanHigh1
Or on Soundcloud
Interview by Rock Star Journalist Eileen Shapiro