Punk icons inspired to action by imprisonment of Russian punk musicians Pussy Riot
(NEW YORK) – Progressive punk rock icons Anti-Flag have joined forces with Staages Music and Art For Amnesty to release an electrifying version of “Toast to Freedom,” the commemorative song that celebrates Amnesty International and human rights activism. This version by Anti-Flag– inspired by the imprisonment of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot – will go on sale in Europe on Feb. 8 and in the United States and Canada on Feb. 12 via the iTunes Store and all leading DSPs. All net proceeds benefit Amnesty International.
Anti-Flag and Amnesty International will host a webchat on Tuesday, February 12th at 3:30 p.m. EST for the launch of the song. Also joining are “Toast to Freedom” songwriter and musician Carl Carlton and torture survivor Carlos Mauricio of El Salvador, a former prisoner of conscience. To join the discussion, please go to http://tinychat.com/toasttofreedom
The spark for Anti-Flag’s track came in July 2012 at the band’s Berlin benefit concert for the three then-jailed members of Pussy Riot – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich. In the audience that night was longtime music industry executive, activist, and entrepreneur Jochen Wilms. In 2011, he and his friend, Art For Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey, a longtime Amnesty supporter, conceived and co- executive produced the original all-star Art For Amnesty Band rendition of “Toast to Freedom” and had since seen the song grow into a worldwide phenomenon, with diverse artists from all over the globe creating their own unique interpretations.
Long active in the worldwide struggle for human rights, Anti-Flag quickly agreed to record their own take on “Toast to Freedom.” Not three months later, the Pittsburgh- based band hit Berlin’s historic Hansa Studio, accompanied by a roster of special guests that included Billy Talent guitarist Ian D’sa, Bernd Kurtze (of Berlin punk heroes, Beatsteaks), and Münster’s own DIY favorites, Donots.
With Wilms producing, Anti-Flag and Co. reveled in Hansa Studio’s extraordinary history, even going so far as to use the same microphones employed by David Bowie and Brian Eno when recording “Heroes” back in 1977. The result is the most intense and exhilarating rendition of “Toast to Freedom” thus far, a loud and powerful rallying cry sure to galvanize audiences everywhere to action.
“The generous support of Anti-Flag for Amnesty International only inspires us to push harder as we demand freedom for the women of Pussy Riot and for all others around the world who are unjustly imprisoned and denied the right to express themselves,” said Michelle Ringuette, chief of campaigns at Amnesty International USA. “Musicians have always been at the heart and soul of our movement and dozens have stepped forward to support our campaign to free Pussy Riot. We honor Anti-Flag’s work on their behalf and their wonderful tribute song to millions of dedicated human rights activists who are committed to our cause.”
Amnesty International has been campaigning for Pussy Riot’s release since the band was arrested in February 2012 for a protest in a Moscow cathedral. Two members of the band, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, are imprisoned for two years in a penal colony far from their homes. Both mothers in their twenties, they were detained solely for their peaceful expression of their beliefs. Amnesty International considers them prisoners of conscience and has serious concerns about their safety.
To demand freedom for the women, take action online here.
For up-to-the-minute news and information, please see toasttofreedom.org.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.