Under clear and specific directives from the socialist alliance known as the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Worker and Parasite act to generate politically driven post-punk party music intended to unite the working class into wrangling power back from the wealthy. With little other than some carefully disseminated Ministry-authorised information surrounding their three stimulating singles, a veil of secrecy has enveloped the Naarm/Melbourne-based quintet since their late-2019 formation. Following a bevy of bureaucratic paperwork and procedures, HUM has been granted the very special privilege of an unprecedented interview with the band. Speaking through a burner phone by proxy of a Ministry farmer and “a couple of representatives from the Department of Compliance to listen in on the call for training and education purposes”, we tried to uncover as much as possible whilst avoiding redactions and terminations of the call.
Rather than forming out of mutual stylistic or musical interests, W&P came together by way of a more synthetic serendipity; “None of us individually have much choice in the matter. It’s a complicated series of processes really but the artistic intelligentsia periodically conscripted us into state-sanctioned ensembles. We were drawn together by fate, by lot”. Quickly taking to the task handed down by the Ministry, the group revolve their very existence around it; “W&P strives to confound and educate. It’s party music for the proletariat. It’s designed to make you move and to move you into action”.
With music underscored by an urgency for change, W&P aim to extrapolate upon the Ministry’s existential ideals; “Not to regress back but to push forward and create a better, more egalitarian and compassionate society where the average person’s life isn’t dictated moment-to-moment by oligarchs and billionaires”. In an “attempt to hold a mirror to the absurdities of late capitalism”, the band’s representatives state that “the very advent of capitalism, more specifically the Thatcher and Reagan era which we were born into, has taken away any hope for the salvation of this system”. As an example of a capitalistic lowlight, Fyre Festival was discussed with a rare, impassioned diction; “We revelled in the downfall of the bourgeoisie children. You can’t just help but laugh at the downfalls of spoilt teenagers getting their comeuppance. That’s what W&P is really all about”.
In a covert campaign, the Ministry has utilised music as a way of extending their potential audience; “One of the Party doctrines is to engage. Bring down the system. The only way to bring it down is to engage with it”. Having been commissioned for three songs over their short existence, W&P have packed each with punches directed at different pillars of the aristocracy; “We’ve got a very clear message from the Party; Overthrow the ruling class. When we write a song, our priority is spreading the message. If the message isn’t at the forefront, then it’s pointless. We’re not making pop music here; we’re making message music. We’ve got a new genre of music. And that’s… message music”.
Introducing themselves with the chaotically krautrock-ish, ‘Crisis’ W&P stoked the flames of panic through a revolving high-frequency arpeggiated synth whilst coercing you to march into step with its industrial beat. ‘Realpolitik’ adopted a more minimalist, DIY post-punk aura with angular guitars and directions to “settle down, look around” and appreciate the inherit machinations of media and antiquated political systems that engender faux democracy. As one might expect, “It’s a very long and detailed process to write a W&P track. There’s a lot of paperwork involved to be perfectly honest. It would be comparable, I imagine [to a Beyoncé song]”.
Their latest offering, ‘Manifest Destiny’ builds on their frenetic stylistic foundations and harnesses the track’s title as a chorus mantra to rouse and fuel the proletariat’s fire; “It’s not much use speaking to those who currently hold all of the power, it’s everyone else that needs to understand that things can change. It begins with the many and not the few”. Extrapolating on the song’s idea for what exactly “a world we may yet one day see” looks like, “It would be a world without a profit-led news media so that the workers, the average person, has some reasonably accurate idea of the actual state of the world as it is”.
This latest single marks the first time the band have been able to operate in the same physical space. Unphased by the COVID-crisis, W&P managed alternative ways of arranging compositions throughout lockdown; “The Ministry has had to operate covertly for the most part anyway so things didn’t change too much. We were helped through the power of the internet, one of the rare instances where capitalism has come to benefit us”. Where opponents may cite hypocrisy, true believers will understand the nuanced cunning in their repurposing of capitalistic tools; “Unfortunately capitalism has all of our channels blocked at the moment. They’re very devious with the way they can block an uprising. We have to blend in at the moment so, unfortunately, all of the tracks are available on Spotify. Once our following has reached far enough we’ll be able to develop our own Spotify which will be even better because it’s not Spotify… among other things”.
Whilst provocative by nature, both band and Ministry have remained sophisticatedly stealthy in their activities. With an upcoming track surrounding the ensuing Federal Election, this is more important than ever in their ongoing evasion of ASIO; “They’re always watching all of us. We’ve evaded their capture many times and will continue to do so but it’s probably just a matter of time. We have entire departments of people designed to keep a bit of breathing space between us. We move around a lot”. As such, the organisation is never short of work to do and have streamlined their application process for new allies; “We are continuously hiring new recruitments, so if you are interested in joining, send forward all of your information to the Ministry (address redacted) and we’ll consider future employment for you. That includes all of your bank details. Definitely as soon as we get your bank details, you’re part of the Party”.
Before long we were given a warning that the burner’s pre-paid sim card was about to exhaust its minutes (despite the fact that I’d been the one to make the call). I was instructed to destroy all electronic equipment in my possession capable of being bugged and the representatives asked that readers of this article should hitherto forget everything due to it infringing on the safety of several intellectual assets of the Ministry. Upon restarting the interview, the line went dead and my time with the W&P came to an abrupt end; “Redact the whole conversation. Everything that we’ve talked about, redact that. Hi, how are you? Redact that laugh!”.
Manifest Destiny, Realpolitik and Crisis are all available through streaming services everywhere,
Worker and Parasite have two sanctioned performances coming up. The first is scheduled for the 5th of September at Last Chance Rock N Roll Bar, and a second show is at the Cactus room sold out for the 11th of September.