Four-piece industrial rock band from Melbourne VOLTERA want you to “save the earth, kill yourself”. The band combines music with activism, focusing on issues such as overpopulation, organised religion and the environment. “Within Voltera there is a lot of emphasis placed on overpopulation and organised religion; they are key issues and common factors of many of the environmental and inequality-based problems that we face today,” says lead singer Jessica Koch.
The band formed originally as “an artistic, emotional outlet for the frustration we felt,” says Koch, “and now it has become more of a vehicle for it.” The band is serious about their commitment to ‘the cause’. “Our street team work the door and sell merch at shows for free, which in turn helps raise more awareness and fundraising for charities such as The Wilderness Society and Survival International,” says Koch. “I am also personally monitoring the activities of the pro-life groups, incognito from within the organisations. Fundraising, awareness and conversation are the primary goals of the band, but eventually we plan to evolve Voltera into a charity.”
The band is passionate about their music and want audiences to take both the music and the message away from their gigs. “They enforce one another. I think the genres making up our music appeal to those who already find dissatisfaction within society as it stands, and thus are more open to other social/political criticisms, such as the lack of action for the environment and transnational corporations relocating capital production to the third world, gaining advantage over national governments and thus escaping democratic control,” says Koch. A lot to take away from a gig, but their legions of fans and supporters don’t seem to mind at all.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Voltera. Their ideals and use of the “save the earth, kill yourself” slogan led to them being denied entry to the USA under The Patriot Act. “We were forced to cancel almost 40 shows and [it] caused a line-up change within the band,” says Koch. Out of adversity comes opportunity and despite the hiccup, “it has brought about a refreshed viewpoint, new music and members, new motivations and much more publicity.”
On a previous occasion when Voltera was actually allowed into the USA (for the Vans Warped tour in 2006), they had people throwing stuff at their merch table. “That could have been our ‘God wants me an Atheist’ t-shirt,” says Koch. Not ones to shy away from an issue, they had their “save the earth, kill yourself” slogan painted on their trailer during the tour. “We received a lot of positive and negative reactions, but reactions nonetheless and thus conversation,” says the singer. “Some backlash came from suicide prevention groups [and to them] I stress this is not advice, though anyone taking advice from t-shirts maybe would be better off!”
For now the band will continue on their path, playing gigs and hoping that audiences scratch the surface and understand their messages.
Catch Voltera live at The Basement in Belconnen on Friday February 17. Tickets are $20 on the door.