Sheena Goodyear speaks with political punk rockers Davey Zegarac and Megan Doyle about their new local activist organization The Applecart Collective, and their plans to commemorate May Day.
Back in Davey Zegarac’s hometown of Winnipeg, there are massive protests in the streets every year, an actively political punk-rock scene, and a sizeable community of anarchists. So it’s not hard to see why he feels a bit restless here in St. John’s.
“I was surprised by the lack of activists when I got here. I get the gist that maybe Newfoundland is more community-oriented than Winnipeg. I mean, in Winnipeg there’s a greater division between the haves and the have-nots,” said Zegarac.
Zegarac, founder and frontman of Winnipeg punk rockers The Brat Attack, came to St. John’s almost a year ago to live with his girlfriend, Brat Attack bassist Megan Doyle, while she attends Memorial University. He found a niche here for the kind of stuff he did back home, and opted to fill it.
“That’s what I found with Megan, she had no idea what she could do to make a difference, and so maybe this is a way of empowering people,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of people who care here.”
Together, Doyle and Zegarac formed the Applecart Collective for budding activists and anarchists. They lifted the name from a now-defunct collective and radical newspaper in Winnipeg.
They plan to organize band shows, distribute progressive literature, produce a zine, show films, host workshops, and maybe even start a lending library.
And since there’s no such thing as hierearchy in anarchism, people can be involved any way they want—from contributing to the zine, to pursuing more radical activism.
“If [people] want to be involved, they can come in with their own ideas, and their own actions,” Zegarac said.
The Applecart Collective is officially kicking off with a series of band shows for International Workers’ Day—more commonly known as May Day—featuring acts like Skull Face And Others, Are You Phobic, Adam Baxter, and Devastator.
May Day commemorates an 1886 strike that saw about half a million American workers’ take to the streets demanding a standardized eight-hour work day. Over 40,000 people marched in Chicago, where the protest started amiably, but soon turned violent.
In the midst of all the commotion, someone threw a bomb that killed seven cops and an unknown number of civilians. Eight anarchists were tried for murder. Four were hanged, and one committed suicide in prison. To this day, there’s no consensus as to who threw the bomb.
Since then May Day has been a time close to the hearts of unions, socialists, and anarchists, as a way to shed light on workplace problems and celebrate the achievements of the labour movement. There are massive marches every year across Europe, and in some parts of the US and Canada.
“Winnipeg is really big on it. It’s a really strong socialist community, that’s been around for a long time,” Zegarac said.
May Day isn’t as widely recognized in Newfoundland and Labrador, despite the province’s strong history of unionism. To this day, Newfoundland has among the highest percentage of workers in unions in the country.
But Zegarac and Doyle say May Day boasts a different kind of relevance today.
“The main working core in North America now is service jobs, whereas traditionally unions have always been based around manufacturing,” said Zegarac. “Workers’ rights have been dramatically reduced over the years, with not full time hours, people working part time, people not getting benefits because they’re only working part time. And it’s mostly impoverished and younger people who don’t have the chance to become involved in unions.”
“Lots of places will make you work just under full time so you don’t get benefits,” added Doyle.
The Applecart Collective is trying to reach young workers in situations like this.
“Primarily, people who are progressive, who want to see change, they’re sick and tired of being like, ‘buy, buy, buy consumerism’ [and] sucking at the corporate teat,” said Zegarac. “They’re people who are disillusioned about what they can do in Newfoundland to make a difference.”
And what better way to reach these people than through the music scene?
“The easiest way to communicate with people is just to talk to them on their level,” said Zegarac.
“Shows are a more accessible way to share your message with younger people without being so academic about everything,” said Doyle. “You’re talking to people who these types of things affect—people who work.”
The May Day shows kick off at Turner’s Tavern on, May 1, at 10:00 pm. The party continues May 2 at Roxxy’s at 10:00 pm. Cover’s $3. May 3 will feature an all ages show at Distortion, at 3:30 pm, followed by a bar show that night at 10:00 pm. Cover’s $5. For a full list of bands, check out the Facebook group at www.tinyurl.com/6zcx57.