International Clash Day Goes Big for its Sixth Year

Posted on: February 7th, 2018 at 5:10 am by

During the February 7, 2013 radio broadast, KEXP “Morning Show” host John Richards arbitrarily declared that day as “International Clash Day.” The designation was rather organic – created “for no other reason than the fact that he could” – yet it nevertheless gradually gained traction in the interim. Each year since, the voices championing the cause have grown louder. Momentum is mounting.

Now on the sixth anniversary, cities and states across the country (and Canada) continue to champion the cause.

This year, the scope of Clash Day is focused on social justice, with a high-profile sponsorship from the ACLU. Makes sense. The Clash were deeply invested in using “music as a tool for social consciousness.”

Five years from its birth, support has gone international, garnering backing from as far afield as Antarctica. Cities and towns across the country, as well as radio stations, are lining up to celebrate International Clash Day.

Joe Strummer mural, circa 2013

Cities and towns across the country have announced proclamations:

Washington, D.C.
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
Washington State
Austin, TX
Burlington, VT
Easton, PA
Vancouver, BC

Noticeably absent from the list is New York City, which is sad given the band’s connection to the city. For instance, the band’s first stateside tour in 1979 resulted in the cover of The Clash’s iconic London Calling album – a photograph of Paul Simonon smashing his bass onstage at The Palladium.

Nearly one hundred radio stations around the world have also fallen in line, including one as far away as Antarctica (“Ice Radio” 104.5 FM).

Meanwhile, in interviews conducted ahead of Clash Day, here are some thoughts from some of music’s best:

Moby: Like most of us obsessed with The Clash. I mean I still remember the first time I think the first time I heard the clash was I recorded part of I Fought The Law off of the radio in the late 70s and I recorded it under my grandfather’s dictaphone. So I had this terrible recording of I Fought The Law and I listened to it over and over again in this tiny little dictaphone speaker. And then you know of course bought the first album and then give them enough rope and London Calling and Sandinista and Joe Strummer was always sort of seen as like it’s hard to describe exactly what his role was because he was you know to state the obvious a musician and a songwriter and a singer and a guitar player. But he was also seen as like the voice of authenticity you know like there was no irony and he just seemed so passionate and enthusiastic about everything that he did. You know he’s enthusiastic about the music he was enthusiastic about other people’s music enthusiastic about politics.

Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand): You know I really appreciate you saying that because I feel, what I admired about The Clash was from the generation that they came from. They didn’t feel as restricted within their genre as maybe some of their contemporaries did. I love the way that they drew initially from reggae. They sort of like, they pulled all sorts of sounds and lyrical influences and their attitude from reggae, but also lit Roman songs like Rock the Casbah from what was happening on the dance floor. And now in the age of streaming music where you can access songs instantly and people have less of a reverence for the constraints of genres. It doesn’t seem particularly shocking to us, but back then the idea of a punk rock band mixing a bit of disco in there, I don’t know, that upset quite a few people and I love them for doing that. I totally respect them and you know a true artist sees the good in every genre. Sees the good all around them and I really believe they are a great example of that.

Mike Scott (The Waterboys): Well when I first heard The Clash I thought they sounded like The Glitter Band. And The Glitter Band was a British pop band who used to back Gary Glitter and they specialized in this kind of buzzy guitar sound, dull drums and “OH YEAH! OH YEAH!” Kind of vocals. And when I first heard The Clash doing “White Riot” that’s what I thought they sounded like. But then I went deeper and I listened to the first Clash album. And slowly it had an electrifying effect on me. And unlike most Clash listeners I had never listened to The Ramones. I was never interested in the Ramones. And I realize now that The Clash really lifted about 50 percent of their sound from the first Ramones album, but I was blissfully unaware of that. And so to me that first Clash album is like a bolt from the blue. All those fantastic short, super fast songs. And then I went to see them live at Clouds in Edinburgh, which is a big disco, and they were the most incredible band I’d ever seen. Now, I’d seen The Rolling Stones, The Who. Lots of the great bands of rock as a teenager, but The Clash blew them all away. The energy of The Clash was so exciting and so dangerous and so unrestrained. And they were like an army on stage. Beautiful in their power.

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