In his last “comedy” special, Daniel Tosh does a bit about the “Star Spangled Banner.” “It sucks,” he says. His proof: No one plays it at parties. No one sings it. No one has the “Star Spangled Banner” on their iPod.
Enter Jersey rock band Madison Rising. They took the bit personally, and have written, they believe, a version of the national anthem that people would want to put on their iPods. They started a “Star Spangled Banner” challenge on the website wherein they encouraged fans to get their YouTube video up to five million views by today, July 4th. And though they didn’t quite make it (currently they’re sitting just over a million views short) the Challenge and their debut album Right to Bear has put them in the middle of the cultural spotlight in America’s heartland. Madison Rising’s version of the “Star Spangled Banner” is, in some circles, more popular than Whitney’s rousing version. And it’s getting the small band gigs and visibility all around the country, including a show today on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. Madison Rising might just be America’s next Creed. A very, very patriotic Creed. We caught up with singer David Bayer–a former officer in the Navy and Marines — to talk about their new-found success, Tosh, and ‘Merica.
Your rendition of the Star Spangled Banner is quite interesting–beginning with a gentle sentimentalism before transforming into a rock anthem of sorts. How and why did it take shape the way it did?
I like how you use the word “sentimentalism”….that is exactly the vibe we wanted to convey and the essence we didn’t want to lose while recording the song.. the “Star Spangled Banner” is exactly that to many people in this country–a sentimental song and to some it is considered a hymn to the nation. It has conjured up patriotic emotions long before Madison Rising got ahold of it, but it is also a “war song.” And. like today, was written during a time of war…what better way to convey those emotions and capture the feelings wrapped up in that song than to give it a new paint job and rock it out.
Did you go into the process with the idea that your song had the potential to go viral?
We had hopes of the song gaining in popularity, but were still biting our nails. To many Americans the national anthem is off limits to anyone other than those doing a traditional performance or rendition. The Madison Rising version however has, with luck, been accepted by people of all ages, as well as 4 star generals and corporate CEOs [Ed Note: GoDaddy CEO Scott Wagner recently paid Madison Rising to perform at a function]. It’s reassuring to see how many different groups have given us the nod of approval. They have all played a huge part in the rising popularity of the song and the band.
What is your mission as a band?
The core mission of Madison Rising has and always will be: to make really great pro-American, pro-constitutional and patriotic rock music. We are family friendly, but not for the faint of heart. We greatly support the troops overseas as well as first responders here at home. We hope to affect pop culture in a positive way. Instead of bashing this nation and those who still believe in what this country stands for, we get behind it and them and lift both up into a positive light.
Have you received any feedback from Daniel Tosh (or any other celebrities who have dissed the quality of the National Anthem) since uploading your version of the “Star Spangled Banner”?
Nothing from tosh.o but we would love to give him his own web redemption if he wanted to have us on the show. Knowing him, though, he would still find a way to make fun of loving your nation and supporting and respecting those who have given everything to enable him to make those types of comments. Freedom of speech has worked well for Tosh.
Recently Facebook deleted fan posts on your “Star Spangled Banner” video– why do you think that is?
We may never know the real story about why Facebook pulled our video off of thousands of timelines. My personal belief was that someone saw the power in the song and made a stupid decision to pull it or mark it as spam. Whether it was done maliciously or just keeping to some kind of protocol or not is something we may never know.
Would you describe yourselves as a “conservative” rock band?
I would say that being a husband and father of two, a USN/USMC vet, a homeowner, a believer in the constitution and a higher power would make me an American. If the label is a “conservative,” so be it…if that’s the case then anyone with common sense would be labeled a “conservative.” You’ve seen the mission of the band. It’s what we do. Call it what you will.
Will your second album have similar themes or be a departure into more diverse subject matter?
The second album is going to be huge for us. We are tackling some untouched ground and going a little further down the rabbit hole…
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 4, 2013