Punk rock is more Jesuit than some might think. With a historical focus on advocacy, politics and social justice, punk bands have been challenging the status quo for decades and calling out societal issues through gritty lyrics and shrieking guitar riffs.
Christopher Martiniano, a professor in Loyola’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and former Loyola psychology professor Raedy Ping have followed in the footsteps of bands such as The Clash and Dead Kennedys by forming their own punk group, no.no.no.NO. The band’s main goal is to protest Donald Trump’s presidency and the volatile social climate it has created, according to the band’s webpage.
Martiniano and Ping, joined by vocalist and Martiniano’s cousin Anna Raymo and seasoned punk guitarist Jane Danger, have released a four-song demo on their webpage and Vimeo and will play their first show at Martyrs’ (3855 N. Lincoln Ave.) Feb. 21.
The PHOENIX spoke with Martiniano, Raymo and Danger about the band’s beginning, mission and future.
Martiniano, who’s played guitar in a number of punk bands in the past, said the idea for no.no.no.NO. came the day after the 2016 presidential election while he was at an academic conference in St. Louis.
“The mood of the whole conference, which was usually pretty joyous and productive … was incredibly dour,” Martiniano said. “My friend Layla and I … went and got lunch or dinner somewhere and I said to her, ‘I’ll figure out the music and send you tracks, and you write the words and just scream.’ And she agreed to it, and we started writing stuff.”
Martiniano said he began creating songs by sampling parts of songs from artists he found influential and revolutionary and piecing them together to form new melodies and loops. For example, the band’s song “ameNO” features samples from hip-hop group N.W.A.’s 1988 hit, “Straight Outta Compton,” and classic R&B gospel group The Staple Singers’ single “Amen!,” from 1968. He then added lyrics from Layla, who still writes for the band.
Mostly, Martiniano said, no.no.no.NO. is inspired by the political music of the ‘80s and early ’90s during and after Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
“There were so many Washington, D.C. discord bands that were coming out of that time that were heavily influential on us,” Martiniano said. “And in the early ‘90s, there was the ‘riot grrrl’ genre … That whole movement of feminist-driven music was heavily influential on [no.no.no.NO.]. Not just for the women [in the band], but for myself, too.”
The creation of no.no.no.NO. mostly resulted from a desire to do something other than “wallow in anger and sadness” after Trump’s election, according to Martiniano.
“This was the best thing I thought I could do,” he said. “I felt like I wanted to create something and produce something that would have a wider reach, so people could use that as inspiration for their own thing. And it just grew from there.”
21-year-old Raymo said as a young woman, she felt the same despair after the election. A former theater student at Columbia College, she was surprised to receive a text in early 2017 from Martiniano asking her to join a new band. After a few practices — during which she learned how to scream for a punk band — she was in.
“I wanted to be a part of it because I believed it was a very appropriate time to be doing what [Martiniano] started doing,” Raymo said. “I thought it was great that he wanted to have a female lead singer, because I think that’s important … I thought it was cool that he wanted to take someone from my generation and put us up front and make it so we’re also heard.”
Raymo said she thinks the mission of no.no.no.NO. is to call out Trump directly and inspire others to do the same. That message isn’t ambiguous in the band’s music — “ameNO” is essentially an anti-Trump battle cry, angrily calling the president a “small man” and declaring he “Can’t read / Can’t speak / Can’t lead.”
“Socially, I hope we reach people and inspire people to do things like we’re doing,” Raymo said. “Not everybody needs to make music, but in some capacity, [I hope] they feel like they can say things and feel like they’ll be taken seriously.”
No.no.no.NO. is the fourth band Danger has been a part of. She said she gravitates toward politically-charged bands, and when Martiniano — who she’s played with in the past — explained to her the message of no.no.no.NO., she was quickly on board.
“It’s been a couple years since I’ve played music in a band, because really nothing’s spoken to me,” Danger said. “Once I heard what [Martiniano] was doing, I thought it was great. Of course I’ll put my energies into things I think are important like that.”
Danger also said she believes the presence of female musicians is important in no.no.no.NO., although she resents the term, “female-fronted rock band.”
“I’ve been in bands that were all women, and we’d just get paired up with another band that’s got a female vocalist or another band that’s all women,” Danger said. “It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re women? Let’s just put you on the same bill.’ But we’re nothing alike. It’s awful to be categorized like that and pigeon-holed, but I think if women have that platform now, they should use it to the fullest extent they can.”
Besides being inspired by the current political climate, Martiniano said he and Ping were both somewhat influenced by the Loyolan and Jesuit value of social justice when creating the band.
“Any activist mind is about that, social change and social justice, whether or not you want to call it ‘activist’ or ‘Jesuit,’” Martiniano said. “I can put words to what we do that are ‘Jesuit-y,’ but … from our point of view, it’s about giving a voice to communities that don’t have that voice. For us, that’s the social justice on one side.”
Martiniano said the other side is donating the revenue no.no.no.NO. receives from merchandise sales and Bandcamp.com downloads. Sales from the band’s Feb. 21 show will benefit Chicago actor and hip-hop artist Common’s foundation, Common Ground, which seeks to empower inner-city Chicago youth with education and resources to better their futures. No.no.no.NO. also links to several other organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, on its webpage so supporters can donate.
“It’s important to us,” Martiniano said. “We’re trying to do good with the music. We’ll be changing charities up for every show.”
Danger, Raymo and Martiniano said they’re all looking forward to playing their first show. They’re hoping to eventually reach not only the local Chicago community, but the nation and the world with their music.
“We live in a big city, a pretty liberal town, so we don’t want to be preaching to the choir too much,” Danger said. “But for anyone who wants to listen, I think it’s important [that they do].”
In the face of political turmoil, civic unrest and an increasingly polarized society, Martiniano said he hopes no.no.no.NO. can carry the torch from traditional punk bands and continue the movement that’s been evolving and growing for decades.
“We’re just one more band in a long line of punk rock bands who are trying to change the world,” Martiniano said.
Tickets to see no.no.no.NO. at Martyrs’ Feb. 21 can be purchased at martyrslive.com for $7. The show starts at 8 p.m. The band’s demo, “NOruption,” can be streamed at its webpage. Supporters can download “ameNO” at Bandcamp.com.