When Dave Mustaine (frontman of thrash metallers Megadeth) in February made a number of homophobic comments and supported GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, much of the metal community was in uproar, fearing Mustaine's words would paint an unrealistic picture of metalheads or even youth as a whole. But this year's Communist Party USA National Conference ought to have cleared up that misconception.
The two-day event saw a large number of Communists gathering to talk about the upcoming election and discuss plans for the future - and many of the faces present belonged to youth. Of those, a large number were music fans. One of them, Tory Smith (22), had a few things to say on how he became interested in the Party, and on metal's sometimes-abrasive relationship with politics.
Smith, who works in grocery markets as a Pepsi salesman, is Chairman of the Nevada Communist Party. "I live in Las Vegas, where I moved in 1996," he said. "I've been in the Communist Party for six months. I studied history in school - I've always really been into history, but what particularly inspired me was the Cuban Revolution - you know, how a small country could rise up to American imperialism like that."
So how did he become more politically involved?
"Well, not having any outlets to be active in politics, I went researching and reading books on the subject. Once I graduated from high school, that's when I started coming across Marx and Lenin.
"After a while, I wanted to find other people that I could relate to - so I googled 'Communist Party of America.' Now, I read the Peoples World and Political Affairs...I think it's a great online source of information; [a way to get] outside the garbage on FOX News."
The ongoing fight for the rights of undocumented citizens is also an important aspect of the struggle to Smith, who noted, "I'm half-Hispanic, so the immigration issue touches me very strongly."http://www.peoplesworld.org/despite-negativity-of-some-metal-fans-join-in-today-s-struggle/