Homeland Security Confiscates Rocker's Songs
by Jeff Dinelli
In a truly bizarre story of our national security apparatus hard at work, guitarist/songwriter Chris Walla's hard drive, containing the masters of songs that were to make up his new album, was confiscated at the Canadian border by U.S. Homeland Security agents and sent to the department's computer-forensics division with no explanation.
Walla, whose main gig is guitarist for the rock band Death Cab For Cutie, has written a batch of politically-themed songs detailing issues such as Iraq and Hurricane Katrina, for a solo album four years in the works. "And now I couldn't even venture a guess as to where it is, or what it's doing there. I mean, I can't just call their customer-service center and ask about my drive. There's nothing I can do. I don't know if we can hire an attorney ... is there a black-hole attorney? You can't take a black hole to court."
What this has to do with protecting us from terrorism is your guess as well as mine. Putting aside the incredulous issue of attempting to silence a musician, there's no indication Walla was planning anything politically overt as Neil Young or Steve Earle, let alone anarchist bands like Rage Against The Machine. "While it really is a political record, it's also intensely personal, and it's not like, political in a way where I hope to change anyone's mind, because I've been doing my political-rock homework for a few years now, trying to decode what works and what doesn't," Walla said. "Basically, it was my hope that I would be able to write a bunch of songs about the shit that I think about pretty much every day. But there aren't any character assassinations or indictments on the record."
What in the world is going on here? Does this frighten anyone as much as it does me? Are there other anti-war voices being stifled in such a way? Is this a first step towards literally stopping free speech regarding this administration's policies?