On the 10th of November in Falmer Bar’s own Room 76 a series of musicians and poets are coming together to protest against the arms trade. The event has been organised by Sussex student and poet Polly McCormack. The artists are raising money for Campaign Against Arms Trade, a charity that emphasises how weapons exacerbate conflict and inevitably lead to human rights violations. The charity’s priorities are to stop the sale of arms in situations where it will increase tensions in a conflict and sales to oppressive regimes. Ahead of the event some of the artists have spoken out on why the arms trade needs to be an issue prevalent in the student consciousness.



Gene Pool

Suitable for the forward thinking nature of this event, Gene Pool’s futuristic sound is a dip out of the boundaries of genre and into an oriental cityscape, in the year 3000. Their floaty vocals merge with their ambient background noise yet compete fiercely with prominent drums and clean-cut guitar riffs. Emotion is the key element that carries through all of their songs and will be rousing in the intimate venue of Room 76.

Their lyrics convey a deep disillusionment with the media and the morals it feeds to us.

Gene Pool’s Jack Pool says “I think the media has the largest effect on our lives and our thoughts, TV, radio, and social media platforms can choose your thoughts for you, the fuel for people supporting armed warfare is fear, given to us by the news that turns to hatred, and now nothing we see or read can be trusted.”

Their song ‘Why’ of the appropriately titled album Kill the TV questions repeatedly “are we really alive?”. The strained vocals convey the urge to reach beyond the mirage the world makes around us. Yet as the song retreats gently into soft instrumentals these questions are left unanswered. The listener is left with the despondent lyrics echoing in their head.

This want to reach past an imposed numbness comes through in Pool’s humanist rejection of the arms trade:

“The media has me confused and feeling out of my depth in the politics of it all, so by no means can I pretend to be well educated. All I know is that I, as well as anyone else who is somewhat empathetic or interested in the betterment of this species as a whole, just want this pointless killing of human beings and the environment around them to stop – and it seems that the best way of doing that quickly would be to stop the production and trade of weapons.”

Gene Pool have an outstandingly unique sound and are sure to be a highlight of the evening.

Gene Pool will also be playing at The Haunt on the 23rd of November


Jenny Eva

No one would dare to talk over Jenny’s music. The echoes of a single guitar and haunting vocals fill every corner of a room, leaving no space for another sound. When I’ve seen her perform in the past the room has gone still with the force of feeling that her understated lyrics convey.

In comparison to the stillness of her music, her views on the arms trade are far from meek.

In answer to the question ‘Why do you want to protest against the arms trade?’ Eva asserts: “Future generations are going to look back on the arms trade in the same way we now look back at colonisation. They’re going to be disgusted, embarrassed and ashamed. I want to be on the right side of history; the side that isn’t supporting, profiting from or remaining complacent in the sale of arms to conflicting countries.”

Eva puts stress on the need for students to have an active awareness of the arms trade and the human rights violations it leads to, then activism will naturally follow. People’s mindset towards those affected by UK uses of weaponry needs to change.

“What’s been on my mind recently is how unaccommodating we are to the refugees who are displaced by our weaponry. Subconsciously or not there definitely an attitude of ‘its not my problem’. People don’t seem to realise that we are direct participants in these wars. The arms trade sends such an ugly message of support for unfathomably cruel and inhumane regimes as it is, and then to shun the innocent people affected by it just makes us look like monsters.”

Our antipathy and ignorance towards those impacted by the government’s policies towards arms needs to change. If the event manages to take one step towards changing these attitudes, it will be a success.

Jenny Eva will be performing with her band, Chewing Gum, on the 23rd of November at The Brunswick

Harry Laws

Harry is one of the poets who will be taking the stage at this event. The internal dialogues of his writing are sure to bring out the meditative aspect of this evening. Although his writing isn’t intrinsically political his internal dialogues bring conflicted thoughts to the surface. “I’ll try and reframe my thoughts on events and people, and look at things from a different perspective. Although I haven’t written specifically about the arms trade, I have a poem about the nature of violence which I’ll have hopefully finished before the event.”

Although Laws claims not to be specifically political, his well chosen and sparing words convey the conflict every intelligent human experiences in such an incomprehensible world.  

His views on the arms trade are much more direct yet contain the same mastery of language.

The poet feels that  “An industry that profits off of death doesn’t have any moral obligations. Weapons can legally find themselves in the wrong hands through certain loopholes, dealing lethality to anyone with the right funds. In the Middle East, these weapons are used to keep citizens in line and suppress civil unrest through violent intervention. The trade has been steadily growing without fail since the early 2000s, which means the weapons are seeing more and more use. It’s hard to believe this kind of enterprise is still thriving.”

It will be exciting to see how Laws’ written force is performed to an audience. Although short, his poems have a power behind each word that can only be enhanced by a good reading. What Laws hopes from his performance is that “people can relate to what I talk about, a lot of my poetry is quite insular, so it’s just like sharing a part of myself.”

The duality of this event is that it offers a selection of talented performers and an extremely worthy cause to support. No matter which reason tempts you more, this night is sure to have an enlivening atmosphere due to all the thoughtful individuals taking part.


Categories: Arts Music

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