Today we are pleased to join forces with the great The Backstays for the premiere of the new single “No Hot Cargo.”
“The song was inspired by the small-but-mighty protests in Saint John, against Canada’s arms trade and the sale of Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia while it inflicted war upon Yemen,” said the band’s Pete Johnston (he/him). “These combat vehicles are made in Ontario, and have been quietly shipped out of the Port of Saint John for the past few years.”
Similar hot cargo protests led to a labour strike at the Saint John docks in the late 1970s, when workers refused to load a $120 million shipment destined for a nuclear reactor in Argentina, where a military coup overthrew the country’s government.
“The line ‘If we’re ever gonna wake the dead’ is a nod to activists everywhere trying to resurrect worker solidarity and organize broad worker coalitions,” Johnston said. “‘No Hot Cargo’ mourns the decline of labour unions in recent decades; the roll-back of democratic bargaining rights and the rise of neoliberal capitalism in Canada. I think a lot more people are realizing we have some very serious fundamental problems, and one of the foremost is how do we take power away from these unaccountable billionaires.”
“No Hot Cargo” hails from new album Tributaries, whichwas recorded and co-produced by Romesh Thavanathan.
“Romesh came down from St. John’s to Saint John for a couple weeks in summer 2019,” said Johnston. “We worked pretty much around the clock— it was organized chaos. Romesh brought the organization of course, but he also came with an open mind and willingness to chase down ideas and reign things back when needed. It can be hard to know when a song is finished. It’s all just guesswork at the gut level.”