AUBURN | Controversial political issues have long inspired many forms of American pop culture. Books, movies, art and music have all served as outlets for expression of opinions on government policy.
For one local band, the music that they created to share their political opinions with others became so successful that they have decided to take it in another direction — a music video to be filmed in Auburn.
The Auburn natives who make up the hard-rock band Stone Soul Foundation started playing together more than 10 years ago, but it was a recent song that inspired the idea for a music video. Jeff Wiggins, who plays guitar and contributes to vocals, said that the band wrote the song "Taking Back the U.S." a few years ago as a way to express their feelings on growing government power.
"With everything that was going on, it became clear that special interest groups were pulling the strings in Washington," Wiggins said. "Banks and big corporations being bailed out instead of citizens brought up questions about who comes first."
The government's perceived reaction to movements such as Occupy Wall Street also opened up the musicians' eyes about the changes that were happening in America.
"It seems like you aren't even allowed to protest anymore," Wiggins said.
"Taking Back the U.S." was played a few times at venues across the country, and as its popularity began to grow, Stone Soul Foundation decided to use it as a single — and to make it the focus of their first concept music video.
"This was our way of contributing to the movement," Wiggins said.
Knowing they would need a way to fund the music video, the band's manager, Sherry Dobson, reached out to a company called Kickstarter, which provides resources to artists of all kinds to raise money and awareness for their projects. She submitted an application that was eventually approved, and Kickstarter picked up the band's project, giving it a platform on which to run its donation campaign.
"I did a lot of research, so I had knowledge about the company before we launched the project, and it seemed like (Kickstarter) would be the best way to go," Dobson said.
Stone Soul Foundation, whose name is an interpretation of "rock music with feeling," has recorded live music videos in the past. But this marks the first time the band will film a video that tells the story of a song. The band decided to return to Auburn to shoot the video, as a way to include its hometown in the cause.
Wiggins explained that he and his fellow band members already have a solid idea for the video. They are hoping to be able to shoot parts of it at some of the government-associated buildings in the city, such as Memorial City Hall and the Cayuga County Courthouse on Genesee Street.
"We want it to be serious, but we want to add some comic relief, as well, as long as we can still get our point across," he said.
The band is looking for donations on Kickstarter from community members who want to help support the project, and they are even allowing those who contribute the opportunity to be in the "Taking Back the U.S." video, if they want to participate.
Stone Soul Foundation launched the campaign on March 2 and chose a time frame of 45 days to raise $3,500 to make the music video. Through Kickstarter's rules, if that goal is not reached, no donations are drawn from those who pledged, and the band does not get any money. Wiggins said that they hope to exceed that goal, since Kickstarter gets a percentage of it, and so that they have some wiggle room for unexpected costs that could arise along the way.
Donations will be accepted now through April 15 — Tax Day — which the band chose to end their campaign on as another way to tie the concept of government into their video.
"A lot of successful musicians, like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, all felt very strongly about the political climate and wanted to express their opinion," Dobson said. "That's what these guys are trying to do."