David Byrne and DEVO Unearth Collaboration “Empire”: Stream

David Byrne and DEVO have unveiled the contribution to Noise for Now Vol. 2, an abortion access and reproductive rights benefit compilation landing everywhere on June 21st.

The song, “Empire,” was originally written by Byrne and DEVO for Byrne’s collaboration-heavy 1997 solo album, Feelings. Two different collaborations came from those sessions — “Wicked Little Doll,” which ended up making the album, and “Empire,” which they’ve now unearthed for the Noise for Now comp.

With marching drums, regal horns, and a military-esque flair, Byrne and DEVO satirize the American capitalist empire. Though there is a majestic air to the song, beneath the bright hues are some more sinister tones. “The strong alone will survive,” Byrne sings, less a promise and more a harrowing threat. Stream “Empire” below.

“‘Empire’ is an ironic capitalist fascist anthem and, at the time, I thought our version was just too mean and caustic for release,” Byrne said in a press release. “Well, times change, and it certainly resonates now in ways it maybe didn’t then. It was a joy to work with the DEVO guys, they knew exactly what the song is about.” DEVO’s Gerald Casale echoed Byrne’s claims, saying, “We were on board working with the dark satire of David Byrne’s ‘Empire’ over 30 years ago. The song was prescient and we got it. Now it can be heard!”

Casale continued: “Unfortunately the forces of tyranny are striking with impunity now. These bad actors are not Pro-Life so much as they are Anti-Choice. They want women to live in a real life version of The Handmaid’s Tale. But there’s more of us who respect human rights than those who want to crush those rights. Freedom of Choice is a constant fight. DEVO salutes NOISE FOR NOW for their efforts to save a woman’s right to abortion.”

“Empire” follows Faye Webster’s contribution, “Lifetime (Live),” which arrived last month. The second volume of Noise For Now’s abortion access compilation, features tracks from Courtney Barnett, The War on Drugs, Claud, Big Freedia, Julia Jacklin, and more. Volume 1 arrived last year, and featured songs from Fleet Foxes, Maya Hawke, Wet Leg, Tegan and Sara, and My Morning Jacket, among others.

Noise for Now is a non-profit organization that allows artists and entertainers to connect with and financially support grassroots organizations that work in the field of Reproductive Justice including abortion access. The second Noise for Now compilation will arrive on June 21st, the second anniversary of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

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