ASTON – For the professor of communications at Neumann University and the famous punk rocker Janis Chakars, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was devastating.
As a founding member of the punk rock band Citizens Arrest, Chakars used his musical organizing talents to create a compilation of the music album “Band Together, a Benefit for Ukraine”, which includes seven Ukrainian bands that send aid to Ukraine.
“It is important that the voices of Ukraine are heard right now,” Chakars said. “I think it’s important for Americans to show solidarity with Ukrainians right now at this terrible time.”
Chakars associates a family in Latvia with Eastern Europe and has visited Kyiv, and like many people, he is outraged by the sight of the country’s killings and bombings.
“The war started, and I thought I could do it,” Chakars said. “As a Neumann guy, our whole project is based on Catholic social teaching and Franciscan values, and the main teaching is solidarity with the oppressed, and there is hardly anyone more oppressed than the Ukrainians.
In the past he has done useful albums for Black Lives Matter and also had experience producing a commercial album with his band
Four days after the war, he called his drummer, Derrick Moore, who was in charge of website logistics, and then started calling.
Chakars made Ted Leo write the original song for the album. Leo plays in a band called Te Both with Amy Mann from ‘Til Tuesday’, which was included in the top 10 hits of ‘Voices Carry’ in 1985.
More importantly, Chakars was able to attract seven Ukrainian bands to the album to participate in the compilation.
With the help of the Internet and connections from his music career, Chakars found Ukrainian punk bands willing to take part.
Chakars said all artists are associated with punk or post-punk, but not all songs are punk music. Some of them are folk and he said one can even be danced. He is amazed at the efforts they are making to become part of the album.
“I’m appealing after the war has already started and they are under duress,” Chackars said during a show on 98.5 WNUW University Radio, where he played some songs. “They listen to my music while the bombs fall. I was humiliated and amazed by their resilience and strength. ”
Chackars said the Death Pill band saw their band split by war. One performer is a refugee in Poland, and the other is stuck in Kyiv, which was bombed.
“Another one sent me a song when she was fleeing the capital,” Chakars said. “I couldn’t believe she said, ‘Sorry it took so long, I’m running away to safety.’
Chakars, talking to the musicians, asks if they are safe, but understands what it means now?
“There’s no ‘being safe, it’s to be alive, but I can’t write whether you’re alive, it doesn’t seem appropriate,” he said.
Chakars said one of the band members, Sasha Bull, had joined the army, while others were scattered across the country.
Chakars said talking to Ukrainian performers made him feel guilty about the security of the United States, but he felt it was a way to show solidarity with the oppressed.
The album is available for $ 10 on the music site BandCamphttps://bandtogether.bandcamp.com/releases.
All the money from the album goes to Razom, a Ukrainian-American 501s3 which has already delivered medicines to the people of Ukraine.
Chakars said the title Together in Ukrainian translates as together. The organization was founded in 2014 to help after the war in the east, and has grown since the last war with Russia.
“During the first week, they sent 40 tons of materials, including tactical medicine,” Chakars said. “They have a fleet of drones, they can explore the safest roads, so they deliver their supplies to really dangerous places like Kharkiv.”
The album is hosted on a platform called bandcamp, which, according to Chakars, is an effective way to raise money.
They’ve already raised $ 1,000, and he hopes to add a lot to that. They will also create a ribbon that he says is fashionable for children these days.
The cover of the album is a photo he took in 2019 while visiting Kyiv. He said that in the east there are signs of the 2014 war, souvenir stands.
In the park, they saw a statue of Soviet times, painted in blue and yellow of the flag of Ukraine, and behind – a destroyed cafe with the inscription “Gladiator”. His son Vilnius, a graphic artist, turned it into an album cover.