‘Bird Shot’, the new single by The Sighs of Monsters takes aim at Russian president Vladimir Putin, the latest crazed despot to threaten the world with annihilation. From a satirical fictionalised newsroom of state propaganda channel RT, the video sets Battleship Potemkin imagery against the war crimes of
Russia’s new Tsar.
The brutality of the Tsar’s army portrayed in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 Soviet film is one of the founding narratives of modern Russia, so the juxtaposition holds a mirror up to their own brutality in Ukraine today.
“Was it worth the blood and the pain?” the lyrics ask, as they poetically examine the mindset of “your mad king on the grounds, writing insane”.
The band’s lyrics typically deal with the personal. “We are not a political band,” says bassist Brett Houston-Lock, “but when a world event takes on a moral and existential dimension such as this, as artists, we cannot stay silent. It is not political, it is humanitarian.”
“Growing up in South Africa during the apartheid years has given me some insight into societies led by paranoid leaders who have the police, the military and the state media at their disposal,” says Houston-Lock, “so I think I understand at least some of the dynamics at play in Russia today, and must have in previous societies led by maniacs with a mad plan for the world.”
Previously the band released a single called “After Charlie” in response to the murders of Jews in Paris in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Tackling antisemitism, the song pointed to growing attacks on Jews in Europe and noted “this is not occupied Europe in 1941. This is the present day. This is contemporary”.
“We certainly don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of the increasingly polarised and identity-driven politics poisoning social media these days, but we live in this world and sometimes we have to speak up,” he adds.
The image above shows a scene from the Bird Shot video, in which we montage imagery from Battleship Potemkin with our own ersatz news footage. Dean plays the reporter while Chris plays a war victim in a homage to Eisenstein’s famous scene. The video is set at a fictitious TV News channel as things unravel for the mad tyrant.