Wolfmother all shook up over tobacco money

Andrew Stockdale

Australian band Wolfmother is sending mixed messages over whether or not it will play at a tobacco-sponsored event in Indonesia next month.

Noel-Redding haired frontman Andrew Stockdale was reported last week to have said the band wasn’t going to play the Java Rockin’ Land festival alongside The Vines, The Smashing Pumpkins and others because he didn’t want to “line my pockets” with filthy tobacco money (the gig is being sponsored by Indonesian cancer merchants Gudang Garam).

But the band’s manager quickly stepped in to tell ABC radio Stockdale had “thought about his job as a performer” and decided to do the show after all.

Being a “performer” apparently means entertaining anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances as long as the money is right, kinda like a monkey.

Jakarta is full of trained monkeys which trade their independence and freedom to perform for scraps of food. A few more probably won’t make a difference.

The manager added that even if Wolfmother was being used to encourage children to take up a lifetime addiction to nicotine, this was “none of (Stockdale’s) business”.  

A strange choice of word that – “business” – because it seems that is exactly what it is to Stockdale and his pals.

The band’s website confirms they will play the gig:

Wolfmother will be playing at Java Rockin’land Festival on October 10th. This one is for the fans in Indonesia who have parted with their very own cold hard cash to see Wolfmother. We realize their [sic] are sponsors and we neither support or [sic] condemn the sponsors affiliated with the festival. We are very much looking forward to what we hope will be the first of many shows to come in Indonesia.

As angelicIV notes on Aussie music web-zine Mess and Noise it “shows how powerful the tobacco companys [sic] are in indonesia…if you read the last line of the release it basically says yeah without buying into the tobacco companys [sic] we loose [sic] the market.”

Living in Indonesia and knowing only too well how powerful the industry is, I’d say that assessment is spot on. It’s also an indication of the growth of the rock music scene in Indonesia in recent years. Incomes are increasing as the country continues to modernise and open up following the fall of the Suharto dictatorship.

A country of 240 million people with 40 million internet users and A LOT of kids who want to rock out to anyone with a guitar and a leather jacket (eg Slash) is a potentially massive market for Australian music.

Meanwhile the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids has written to Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins to plead with him to pull out of the gig:

Indonesia has few laws to protect its youth from this type of egregious tobacco marketing and the tobacco industry aggressively promotes its deadly products with dreadful success. Tobacco use kills an estimated 200,000 Indonesians each year, and approximately 35 percent of the population smokes. At this rate, 1,644 Indonesians will die from tobacco‐related illness during the three days of the Java Rockin’Land festival.

 (Photo of Stockdale courtesy of mrmatt via wikimedia commons and the monkey by John E. Lester via flickr)


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