At the height of the 2020 global pandemic and social unrest, while millions of people are quarantining at home or risking their health and safety by taking to the streets in protest, Fear No Empire has come together with a powerful message that further shines a light on injustice and calls for unity to create change. Fear No Empire is Ali Tabatabaee – Vocals (zebrahead,) Ben Ozz – Bass (zebrahead,) Dan Palmer – Guitar (zebrahead, Death By Stereo,) and Mike Cambra – Drums (The Adolescents, Death by Stereo and Common War.)
By tapping into their punk rock and hip-hop roots, Fear No Empire voice their anger and frustration with the world around them and stand up against racism, oppression, police brutality, voter suppression, anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination and violence, and all forms of social injustice.
“When we decided to start a new band, we knew how important it was for us to use our platform to call out injustice and help bring positive change to the world. We are very proud of these songs and the messages they convey,” says Ali Tabatabaee.
The lack of leadership and political weaponization of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and other parts of the world, while people are facing serious health and economic hardships, is grotesque. When science and common sense are replaced with attacks on the media, and in a time of conspiracy theories and absurdly selfish calls for personal rights of freedom, we are all put in a disastrous place.
Tabatabaee and his family fled Iran to the United States at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution when the Ayatollah’s secret police were terrorizing and killing citizens in the streets. The recent tyrannical act of the current president to use federal troops on U.S. soil, like a personal militia in unmarked vehicles and uniforms, to quell peaceful protests by beating and arresting American citizens, echoes the erosion of freedom and the rise of fundamentalism his family experienced during the regime change in Iran. “Having escaping a country that restricts political expression and intimidates its citizens, I would never have imagined seeing that happening here,” says Tabatabaee. The United States, a beacon for democracy and liberty around the world, has been mutated by the ruling party’s divisive rhetoric, authoritarian policies, and mob mentality into something depraved and unrecognizable.
Dehumanization and aggression toward Middle Eastern people are one layer of the injustice and racism experienced by people of color. For Ali, this was amplified in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attack when all Middle Eastern people were profiled and looked at with suspicion, and again when the current U.S. administration enacted a travel ban targeting people from Muslim countries. For many, xenophobia, systemic racism, and racial inequality are a real part of their everyday existence, yet the person holding the highest office in America uses blatant racist language and dog whistles to appeal to white supremacists, Nazi sympathizers, and nationalists and to further polarize us by stoking fear and hatred for political means. This is not exclusive to the United States, as nationalism, populism, and far-right conservatism are on the rise in many countries.
“Our goal is to make the music as powerful as our message and hope it resonates with people and inspires them to use their voice,” says Tabatabaee.
As the Black Lives Matter movement reverberates worldwide, protests are leading to an awakening and cultural shift as our voices come together in solidarity to fight for change.
Fear No Empire is our protest.