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One of the last shows of the "political" Protest the Hero era

As puberty set in, Protest the Hero were coming off of a re-release of 2003’s A Calculated Use of Sound, now retrofitted with the one-off anti-war ‘anthem’ “Soft Targets Dig Softer Graves” wedged awkwardly in the middle of its track list. “Soft Targets”, originally released on one of Underground Operations’ Greetings From the Underground samplers, was written and recorded over a year after the release of A Calculated Use of Sound and it showed. Rody wasn’t shouting anymore. His singing voice still wasn’t where it is now but for the first time he wasn’t simply yelling at the top of his lungs. The band had gotten a little heavier and a little more technical, too; there was less focus on Moe’s drumming and a higher emphasis on the guitar trade-offs between Luke and Tim and Arif had taught himself to finger tap on the bass. But the musical evolution evidenced in “Soft Targets” is unimportant to what I want to touch on. What matters is it was the end of Protest the Hero’s political era.

That became clear when they debuted “A Plateful of Our Dead”, then known simply as “Kezia”. In its infancy, performances of the song would always begin with bassist and lyricist Arif Mirabdolwhatever introducing it with the preface, “this is a song about a little girl standing in front of a firing squad”. When the album finally came out, it became clear that the “little girl” was A Calculated Use of Sound.

And that’s where the real meaning behind “A Plateful of Our Dead” comes from.

The song has nothing to do with Kezia’s already thin-story. It has no context within the album’s ’situation’; there is no mention of a prison priest, prison guard or the eponymous Kezia. As the last song on Kezia, only the its first line (“Don’t ever ask us to define our morals”) really applies to the previous  9 tracks. It’s to say “there are ideas here, but figure them out for yourself.”

Then the song takes a left turn.

Protest the Hero were kids when they wrote about terrorism (These Colours Don’t Run), socialism (Red Stars Over the Battle of the Cowshed) and both Gulf Wars (Silent Genocide, Soft Targets Dig Softer Graves).

They were, as the song says, “half-selves that love whole hopes”.

Like pretty much every other teenager bred on punk rock, they were looking for something to cling to (fundamentals); like every teenager, they were a bundle of hormones and angst (teenage heartbreak)

The song continues.

The band doesn’t apologize for their political beginnings (There’s merit in construction when it’s done with your own hands) but they’re clear-cut in their intent to start anew; “there’s beauty in destruction, resurrection, another chance.”

A Calculated Use of Sound will always exist (“the only proof that I have that we shot and killed this horse”) as a reflection of their youthful enthusiasm (“sounds of whips on flesh and a bleeding heart remorse”).

“A Plateful Our Dead” signals the end of an era without cheapening what came before it just like it confirms the introduction of a new ideology. The band moves on from politics with no desire to return:

When I’m In this state of reflection and you hand me whips and two-by-fours, I could never bring them down and beat the same horse as before.

In a lot of ways, “A Plateful of Our Dead” is a nice way of saying “we were sixteen, get over it.”

So no, “A Plateful of Our Dead” is not about “the prison priest burying Kezia” or “the guard not wanting to kill anymore” as I’ve read on some sites. And, honestly, you’re kind of an idiot if you thought it was.





Tyler
03.30.10
:munro:

Iluvatar
03.30.10
half-selves that love whole hopes is close to being a great lyric. too bad its still awful.

Tyler
03.30.10
HARI-KARI HEAAAAAAARTBREAK

EnricoPalazzo
03.30.10
This was cool, right on, mate.

Aids
03.30.10
I always thought that song had at least something to do with eating animals ("if I had a gun I'd pump your ethics full of lead/if I believed in meat I'd eat a plateful of our dead"). Pretty sure they're vegetarians too or at least one of them is. I don't know.

bloc
03.30.10
"Arif Mirabdolwhatever "

Is this really necessary? Show a bit of respect.

ninjuice
03.30.10
He should have a last initial for a "nickname" like Adam D. does.

mynameischan
03.30.10
lol bloc

tyler and arif are irl friends

Baphomet
03.30.10
haha great read coke

bloc
03.30.10
"tyler and arif are irl friends"

Oh wow, now I look silly. Nevermind then!

Tyler
03.30.10
No you don't, don't sweat it. For all I know he could be horribly offended (I mean, probably not, but still). I did it just for comedic purposes; his name is pretty long, and I hate writing people's names over and over whenever I write something, so I just figured I'd give it a little bit of a twist.

duma87
03.30.10
WHHHHEEEEEENNNN are they recording??? uggghhhhhh i need new protest.

Relinquished
03.30.10
That's one of the better songs off the album.

Tyler
03.30.10
I always feel like I'm the only one who feels that way. I had a huge intro about how everyone likes this song because of that, that one because of this, but I figured I'd keep it short for once.

But yeah, I love it. Especially that little groove mid-way through .

Relinquished
03.30.10
The acoustic section at the end... they should've put more of that.

Yazz_Flute
03.30.10
It was always one of my least favorites on Kezia honestly, didn't seem to wrap up the album as well as I thought it should. But this interpretation makes me think otherwise.

jesusjuice1179
03.30.10
this all seems like a bit of a stretch to me

Tyler
03.30.10
How so? I'm more than happy to explain further.

jesusjuice1179
03.30.10
well for one you wouldn't be able to link to just one song, maybe lyrically u could, but instrumentally it would have to be the whole album, and also many of the themes and ideas on Kezia are still highly politicized, i.e. religion, sexism, etc.

Tyler
03.30.10
I'm not sure what you mean. I'm only talking about one song, and I'm only doing so lyrically. Mentions of their instrumental progression are for a linear comparison; the change in sound co-existed with their shift away from politically charged lyrics. Because, as I say, the song is not a part of any of the album's first three acts, and thus sites idly on the outside, it can relate to the first 9 tracks vaguely. In following the lyrical tone that precedes it and in stating they wouldn't "justify their morals", they're referring to their past as well as Kezia, which is finishing. It's to say, they won't be as explicit as they once were (when they were "half selves"); they're not going to flat out say what the underlying ideas on Kezia are--that's up to the listener. They're highly politicized, but they're still ambiguous. They never out-rightly decry or promote anything, like they did in the past (when they "shot and killed that horse", a reference to beating a dead horse, which some would say they did with their politic-ing).

Ideas, like sexism and religion, are just ideas. They're not opinions. The opinions may be there, below the surface, but they're not explicit. That's the change I'm referring to.

jesusjuice1179
03.30.10
ah i understand now

Tyler
03.30.10
right on.

Vampolka
04.04.10
I'd rather kill a stupid flower and spread its seeds around
Until a garden with our bullet-laden morals will be found.



Klekticist
05.15.10
blog post explained a lot, thanks. i was truthfully a bit confused about this songs placement on the album, in relationship to the other songs.

you know arif irl?

Tyler
05.16.10
I do, but I'm really not sure why it's relevant.

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