Saint Xavier Celebrates International Clash Day: Interview with KEXP’s Owen Murphy

Gisselle Lopez & Luke Hodorek

February 7th, 2018

Have you ever done something just because you could?

In the moment that you committed it, would you have believed that your act would eventually inspire a powerful cultural revolution of international proportions?

I hereby welcome you to participate in today’s celebrations of the holiday based off one such act: International Clash Day. International Clash Day is celebrated every year on February 7, unless the date falls on a weekend. Guess when we celebrate it this year? That’s right. It’s today!

For those of you who don’t know, here’s a little bit of background into what International Clash Day is.

On February 5, 2013, KEXP’s Morning Show host and producer John Richards decided that public radio could use more songs from The Clash blaring from listeners’ speakers. He then decided that morning, without any indication for what was to come, to play a continuous string of songs by The Clash, a former English punk band.

It is now five years later and the sixth consecutive year of the holiday, but the music still hasn’t stopped playing and it does not look like it’s going to anytime soon! Richards’ act sparked the formation of an arbitrary radio holiday that celebrates the message and legacy of The Clash: to raise awareness of the ever changing political and social world we live in and unify ourselves in the odd climate that we find ourselves in.

It has grown so much that is now observed by radio stations all over the nation, and it has even been declared as an official holiday by certain cities in the United States, including Washington D.C., Austin, and Seattle, where KEXP is based. However, it’s not called International Clash Day for nothing.

This holiday’s celebrations extend past that of our country’s borders as well, being observed in. When I was approached last week by my boss, Peter Kreten, to consider writing about International Clash Day, I was willing but I was also a little hesitant.

I was hesitant not because I was delving into an area that I wasn’t all that familiar with – even as a member of student media, my knowledge of radio is severely lacking. I just felt that I would not know enough, even with all the research in the world, to do this topic justice.

Thankfully, I was able to enlist the help of Luke Hodorek, student DJ at our own WXAV and fan of KEXP, to assist me in the formation of this article. Together, Luke and I were fortunate enough to make contact and host a phone interview with Owen Murphy, a producer of the Morning Show at KEXP.

Below are some of the highlights of our interview with Owen Murphy.

For those of you who are interested in hearing the interview in its entirety, there is a podcast recording available on WXAV’s SoundCloud, and in a player down below!

Please visit https://soundcloud.com/wxav883 for the podcast and for more radio clash celebrations! Podcast is also below.

GL: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at KEXP and the International Clash Day?

OM: At KEXP, I produce the Morning Show hosted by John Richards. I also manage different projects here, one of them being, in this case, International Clash Day!

So within that role, I’m helping the station celebrate an arbitrary holiday made up by my friend and boss John Richards.

I’m organizing every aspect of our podcast for all three main shows Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

For example, before you guys called, I was arranging how we’re going to spotlight local activist organizations.

I also interviewed, I don’t know, ten different artists about The Clash and yesterday was Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine. I also spoke to Colin Meloy of Decemberists, Mike Scott of The Waterboys, Penelope Houston of The Avengers, and Steve Jones of Sex Pistols —

LH: Yeah, I read your Steve Jones interview. I thought that was really cool!

OM: Oh yeah, it was amazing. I actually remember exactly where I was the moment I heard the Sex Pistols: Victorian House in Minneapolis. And as much as John Lydon’s vocals cut through, for whatever reason, those guitars just blew my head off.

There’s something in their music, the Sex Pistols and The Clash… I don’t like using the term “changed my life.”

But it did certainly make me see things differently. It was like someone was speaking to me, finally, and not the music of my older brother and sister, which felt kind of aggressive as it were.

GL: What is the purpose behind International Clash Day? Why is it so important?

OM: It’s funny because when I wrote our messaging to use on the air, I wrote that we’ll be celebrating the music and the message of The Clash. I purposefully chose the music first.

I think that’s what’s most important, just that there’s this great band that wasn’t afraid to break rules, even punk rock rules.

They started off as kind of a straightforward rock-and-roll, punk-rock band clearly influenced by The Stooges and others.

But from that, they’ve been branched off. They’re also clearly influenced by reggae, and by funk, and by hip-hop. They did extraordinarily interesting things while also standing for the things they believed in.

So I think that’s, for the purposes of what we’re doing now, what’s important. This is an odd social and political time right now. The country is fairly divided, or at least it feels that way.

So we want to spotlight those people we think are making a difference in the community and want to get others to do the same, and it’s been incredible.

We just added a bunch of really huge stations to International Clash Day. The one that stands out to me comes from Minneapolis, the Current, which is a fellow traveler in the world of gigantic nonprofit radio stations.

We got stations in Warsaw, we got cities like Vancouver, British Columbia, San Francisco, Seattle, Olympia, and Tuscan all declaring International Clash Day.

We’re all trying to make a small, little bit of difference in the world by highlighting what we think is important.

LH: In all, it looks like there’s thirteen cities that have recognized International Clash Day.

OM: There’s something hilarious and kind of ridiculous about getting cities to recognize International Clash Day!

For example, if you go to the KEXP SoundCloud page, or if you look on either the KEXP Twitter feed or @loserboy, which is John Richard’s Twitter feed, you’ll see a link to audio in which Gainsville, Florida’s County or City Commissions declared International Clash Day, and it’s totally worth a listen.

I’ll let people listen to it, but the way the audio clip finishes is just gold. We heard it yesterday, I turned around right away, and I just couldn’t stop grinning!

It was just so funny, fun, cool, and weird, you know? Gainsville, Florida recognized International Clash Day, an arbitrary holiday made up by John Richards six years ago for no other reason than he wanted to play more Clash songs!

GL: I was reading through a lot of these articles that were talking about International Clash Day.

A lot of them were just talking about how John Richards just did it because he could, that there was no other reason other than just to play Clash music.

I just find it amazing how this kind of just took off, and now it’s five years later, the sixth year running, and it’s grown into this huge celebration among radio stations.

OM: Oh, I’m glad you mentioned this, because here’s the second slice of this, right? Most radio stations have predetermined playlists by a program director, and that’s fine. But we don’t work that way.

We have a great music director – Don Yates – who sorts through a ton of records every day, and every week he is adding new music to our rotation and taking old stuff and putting it in our library. So what we do is we bring out all this stuff and we make suggestions.

Our DJs are allowed to choose the music they want to play, and from that we get things like this where someone can say, “You know what? Why can’t I play that Clash song? Of course I can. Why can’t I keep playing Clash songs all day long?”

At some point, at seven in the morning thereabouts, he completely changed his show from just a regular everyday show to a show that was about The Clash.

It’s refreshing to be in a station like this, at KEXP, that is about music and the community and that spirit and that togetherness.

And I wish and I hope more stations will do what we do.

This only covers a part of our interview with Owen Murphy, but there is definitely more where that came from.

Once again, for those of you who are interested, please head over to the WXAV SoundCloud page at https://soundcloud.com/wxav883 for the entire interview!

If you take a look at the International Clash Day website, you’ll see a hopefully very familiar name joining the list of radio stations participating in International Clash Day.

Saint Xavier’s very own radio station, WXAV 88.3, will be one of the many stations that will partake in spreading the music and message of The Clash, and you are more than welcome to tune in today to be a part of it!

To get a more in-depth understanding of the station’s stance on this arbitrary holiday, WXAV’s Music Director, Sean Anderson, was kind enough to offer his thoughts about International Clash Day in a very brief interview.

Sean also provided information about how WXAV is planning on participating in International Clash Day, and even gave us his top five picks for both protest music and The Clash songs!

Hopefully by the time you get to reading this article, you’ve already been tuned into WXAV 88.3 and are listening to their fantastic line-up of protest music and The Clash songs.

     

GL: What are your thoughts on International Clash Day and protest music?

SA: I think protest music and days that celebrate it like International Clash Day does are necessary.

Well-crafted protest songs that get introduced into our culture get people into today’s issues and problems by not using the same lexicon they are constantly hearing from pundits on TV.

GL: How is WXAV going to be participating?

SA: WXAV is participating by playing a special crafted 24 hour playlist that will play the clash cover of Clash songs, and playing projects that the members of the Clash also were a part of.

We will also be playing other notable protest song writers like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, U2, etc.

GL: In your opinion, what are the Top 5 protest songs and Top 5 Clash songs?

Top 5 Clash Songs

1. Train in Vain. An easy favorite of mine.

2. Charlie Don’t Surf. Killer song off of an under appreciated record in Sandinista.

3. London Calling. Quintessential punk.

4. Lost in the Supermarket.

5. Should I Stay or Should I Go Now. Everyone knows it and it isn’t a deep cut, but it’s popular for a reason.

Top 5 Protest Songs

1. Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2

2. Masters of War by Bob Dylan

3. I Fought The Law by the Clash

4. White People for Peace by Against Me!

5. Bu$hleager by Pearl Jam

If you haven’t yet, I highly encourage you to do just that.

     Tune in today at WXAV 88.3 and listen to some great music, both by bands and artists unafraid of joining together to inspire change, and by the band that started it all.

     Hope you’re all enjoying International Clash Day, everyone!

Gisselle Lopez & Luke Hodorek

Features Editor & Contributor


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