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Q&A: Faith No More Keyboardist Calls Pussy Riot 'Free Speech Pioneers'

Members of the amorphous female punk group Pussy Riot sparked a firestorm when they performed during a break in a concert in Moscow by Faith No More on July 2.
Members of the amorphous female punk group Pussy Riot sparked a firestorm when they performed during a break in a concert in Moscow by Faith No More on July 2.
U.S. rock band Faith No More captured headlines in Russia this week when it welcomed masked members of Pussy Riot, the embattled all-girl, anti-Putin punk group, onstage during a break in its concert in Moscow. The band members later wore the girls' signature headwear and donned Pussy Riot T-shirts to express support for the dissident band, three of whose members now await trial. The three have vowed to hunger strike and face up to seven years in jail on charges of hooliganism in connection with their alleged February storming of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior, where the group performed a song criticizing what it sees as the Orthodox Church's support for the president. In an e-mail interview, Faith No More keyboardist Roddy Bottum told RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Kirill Filimonov why his band is standing behind Pussy Riot.

RFE/RL: How do you view Pussy Riot's performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior?

Roddy Bottum: I found Pussy Riot's performance to be provocative and outrageous. The juxtaposition of the masks and the brash vocals within the sanctity of the cathedral was absurdly theatrical.

RFE/RL: Why do you think the performance was so controversial in Russia?

Roddy Bottum of Faith No More performs.Roddy Bottum of Faith No More performs.
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Roddy Bottum of Faith No More performs.
Roddy Bottum of Faith No More performs.

Bottum: Pussy Riot obviously pushed buttons and crossed a line that is rarely crossed in Russia. I respect the Orthodox Church but also unconditionally respect where Pussy Riot went with their artistic statement and I applaud their bravery.

RFE/RL: Why did you invite Pussy Riot to your concert in Moscow this week?

Bottum: We've always encouraged art forms that provoke. We've made a career of doing just that with our music. We recognized that Pussy Riot provokes intellectual thought and thought it would be an interesting addition to the show.

RFE/RL: Was it your band's own decision to support the girls or did someone ask you?

Bottum: It was our decision to support the women.

RFE/RL: Some of the people who came to your concert booed when Pussy Riot performed. Are you concerned about losing some of your fans in Russia?

Bottum: We're fortunate in that our fans have always appreciated our artistic need to provoke and challenge ideals. We've done that musically and our fans get on board with that. We have huge respect for our fans and feel an obligation to them to continue doing what we do. Our fans are ultimately very loyal and open-minded.

RFE/RL: Three members of Pussy Riot may be sentenced to seven years in prison. What punishment, if any, do you think they deserve for the performance?

Bottum: It is my opinion that the women should be immediately released. They deserve no punishment. They are Russian pioneers in the movement for free speech.

RFE/RL: How often do you take up social or political causes? When and where?

Bottum: Most recently I took part in the AIDS LifeCycle Ride in California. Two weeks ago I rode my bike with 2000 other supporters for 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a show of solidarity and to raise money for people suffering from AIDS.  To me, this [type of activity] is part of a process of political globalization, and I was able to personally raise over $25,000. Most of this money came from Faith No More friends and fans. Raising money for people in need while educating the world about the injustices and prejudices that this disease propagates was hugely empowering.
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by: mary bottum from: Los Angeles
July 07, 2012 18:55
What a wonderful interview ......Congratulations......maryb

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