Existing in skin that is anything but white comes with its fair share of burdens. And the history of those like us is not the easiest to share but it’s with pride that we not only overcome each hurdle but acknowledge the reality that is. It hasn’t even been 200 years since the end of the Civil War and it shows. The racial tensions of America are ever present and that’s something The 1865 rock out about on their 2019 release, Don’t Tread On Me.
Fantastic not only in subject but sound, the album holds a mirror up to the so-called land of the free in a way that many rock records don’t. Taking rock n’ roll and intertwining not only elements of the blues and hip-hop but also the Black experience, it was nothing but a pleasure to touch on that with their own Sacha Jenkins and Carolyn “Honeychild” Coleman.
Kendra: Was the concept of the music, life post-1865, something that came about when you all first met up or was it born after a few sessions?
Sacha: I had the idea for a band that utilized history as a platform to explore all of the things we’re contending within modern day society. What we often forget is that everything that is happening now is happening before. History is my best friend. History has the ability to advise, guide and inspire. Sometimes history can give us hope. Because when we’re in the middle of it, sometimes it feels like there is no way out. Music is my way out. I invited the legendary Chuck Treece to join me on this adventure. Things really came to life when Honeychild said she would join too. We’ve been adding on great talented minds ever since.
Honeychild: As the songs started to take shape, often during the writing and rehearsal process Sacha would exclaim, “Nobody ASKED for this!” It occurred to us that we had tapped into something bigger than just another rock band. We could explore how this falls into the vein of black tradition. By using creativity as a catalyst for creating social and political awareness, that you can also rock out to.
Kendra: Like with many aspects of history, there is so much about slavery that has slipped through the cracks when it comes to the basic teachings of it. When writing Don’t Tread On Me did you uncover anything from that time that even was new to you?
Sacha: I don’t know if we uncovered anything new per se but I will say that the response to our way into the music has been positive. A lot of it is heavy stuff that most people don’t want to deal with but that’s part of the problem. Rock n roll offers solutions—at least for me. Hopefully, other folks will be able to tap into what I’m saying via the music.
Honeychild: Many of the scenarios in the songs are familiar to someone growing up Black in America. I did dive into a bit of reading about freed slaves to add authenticity to the details of some of the characters’ experiences as well as imagery from the time period. The most shocking thing I discovered were images we never had access to of these people growing up. That was heavy.
Kendra: Overall this is a wonderfully crafted punk album with homages to the blues, but were the skits placed here and there to pay respect to the world of hip hop?
Sacha: Funny you should mention that! The two dudes who hold down the (verbal) skits are hip hop 2000 percent. One of ‘em happens to be Nas’ brother Jungle. The other, TTK is a fantabulous fine artist who gets great inspiration from the hip hop tradition. And there are some sample-based interludes that are basically some of our performances chopped up. Shout out to El Mono en Stereo for putting those pieces together.
Kendra: While slavery has ceased to exist for well, not that long in the grand scheme…many would say that Black people are still as oppressed as they once were. Do you feel like there’ll ever be a moment in US history where race is not an issue?
Sacha: Statistically speaking, slavery is bigger than it has ever been–GLOBALLY. So we have to keep things in perspective. In America, there are issues that linger from the horrible days of institutionalized American slavery. Until we address these issues, until folks of color are treated as “Americans”, a lot of these issues will continue to persist.
Honeychild: The unresolved damage done to the psyche and economic inequalities of descendants of slavery in the US is an ongoing dialogue. Until the school-to-prison pipeline track is destroyed, corporations will continue to profit off the disenfranchised. And that feels like modern day slavery.
Kendra: This record made me think of all those movies featuring slavery. Surprisingly I don’t think there was one in the Oscar race this year. Nevertheless, if you had to pick one song off Don’t Tread On Me that would serve as the inspiration for film, which would it be and why?
Sacha: “Get Out”. There’s obviously the movie Get Out that we all know and love. Our tune is like a movie, too. A chiller-thriller.
Honeychild: In our horror movie, the black characters get to make it until the end though…
Kendra: Will the themes of Don’t Tread On Me continue onto the next album?
Sacha: Folks of color have a lot of history, and our history, of course, intersects with everyone else. Plenty for us to cover and explore.
Kendra: As we head deeper into 2019, what do you all have planned? Touring?
Sacha: Yes. We are ready to rock you and your peoples at the word go.