Singing for Amnesty out of Conviction

The duo Latin Quarter are standing up for human rights - Thorsten Winter spoke with the band.

"I'm hearing only bad news on Radio Africa, I'm hearing only sad news…", that was the refrain of the song which the British band Latin Quarter made famous. A rare achievement: how often after all does a musical lament about human rights abuses appear in the world-wide pop charts? Even for Latin Quarter, this unusual top-hit was a one-day wonder.

But bad, sad news is not only to be heard over 'Radio Africa': human rights abuses are an everyday occurrence in most states. Kidnappings, arrests without proper cause, torture and murder for political reasons don't only happen in exotic 'banana republics' which the western world only looks at askance. The yearly reports from Amnesty testify otherwise.

Amnesty is the only world wide organisation that stands up intransigently for human rights, without stopping for any political borders. Just because of this, they have never been uncontroversial - and therefore need much diverse support. Latin Quarter belong to those, who support Amnesty: At the moment the duo is on a benefit tour of Germany with The Dostoyevskys; last Sunday the two bands played in front of an audience of around 600 in the Audimax of the Gießner University.

After the four hour concert, Steve Skaith and Richard Wright appeared confident that they were achieving their goals. "I think we're giving the members of Amnesty the feeling, that they're not alone", says singer Steve Skaith. As Latin Quarter themselves sing about injustice in their songs, the actual benefit tour stands as an "Act of solidarity" with the human rights organisation.

The fact that in the past so-called charity concert have been criticised because the proceeds landed in profitable accounts rather than going to the needy, doesn't change anything about the significance of the Amnesty tour "for human rights" - and not just because Amnesty are serious. It makes perfect sense, stresses Richard. Because even those people who only came to the concert for the music couldn't help becoming aware of the Amnesty information stands. "Naturally the thing also runs the other way, and we're happy", Steve candidly admits, "if people who didn't know us before like our music."

The motto, under which the tour stands, benefits by the fact, that the bands are playing smaller venues. "One has more contact with the public this way. People listen to us. They dance and sing along when the music and lyrics allow it. But they're also quiet and attentive when we're singing about a politically motivated murder."

The band are clearly aware, that they're unable to change the mind of a member of the audience during their concert. "Imagine that a Nazi comes to one of our gigs. One can't believe that he'll be an anti-Nazi afterwards."

Apropos Nazis: Latin Quarter also played in Rostock - and the two musicians "met hundred of young people, who thought as little of right-wing and extremist words and deeds as we did."