Bystander x Dagger: US and Chinese Hardcore Bands Unite on “Guillotine” (PREMIERE)

Photo: Veronika Reinert

An international crisis demands an international response. Bystander (US) approached Dagger (Hong Kong) about unifying east and west in a song responding to Covid-19 and the lack of response, the misdirection, denial, the outright racism, or indirect murder being committed by each country’s respective governments.

Dagger’s recent posts about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) suppressing information, jailing doctors and journalists, going after pro-democracy activists and lawmakers, encouraging immense police brutality against protestors, inspired the idea for the collaboration. The Trump Administration’s lack of response and support of racist messaging to Covid-19, and the ongoing struggle for the people of Hong Kong propelled that idea forward.

The two bands have co-released “Guillotine," a single song made up of two parts; one from each band, with each group of musicians contributing to the other:

The concept behind “Guillotine” is simple. The blade waits for one of us, and who ends up with their neck exposed as the blade comes slicing down is either going to be the politicians who are using this crisis to solidify their positions of power, or it is going to be us through our inaction.

In Dagger’s case, it is going to be the people of Hong Kong who have valiantly been fighting on the streets since June 2019 against an oppressive regime. The guillotine is a metaphor for removing these people from office. It can be taken however the listener chooses. This is not music for the sake of music. It is music to inspire action. When the world is threatening us, and governments are exacerbating and enhancing the threat to the level of action, the only proper response is an equal or opposite force.

It is for brave souls to decide what that force will look like. It is for the brave souls who have given up their lives and youth already in order to protect their home. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten. 

Photo: Keith Dador

NOTE: Language is a tool and a weapon. The song starts with a call out of Donald Trump’s explicit racism and inciting of racial tension through the use of the term “Chinese virus”. In the United States, this is seen as a direct attack on China, a diversion of responsibility from his own failings, and a call to his followers to support his anti-foreigner agenda.

In Hong Kong however, activists hail the use of the term “Chinese virus” as its use calls out the Chinese Communist Party and labels them responsible for what has happened through their diversion away from the truth, their covert manipulation of the news, and their betrayal of the people. Believe nothing, listen to no one, and create your own reality based on what you see and know.

"When we all started this last month we had no idea how it was going to work or even if it was going to work, but like anything creative, if you stay focused on the goal everything unfolds," says Bystander vocalist Greg Bennick. "Having perspectives from two sides of the world has taught me a lot about alternative viewpoints. Check our liner notes about the use of 'Chinese virus' for a great example of that."

Bennick's closing thoughts on the new collaboration say it best: "My hope is that 'Guillotine' will inspire action. I’ve known firsthand how music can inspire, and if someone somewhere takes action towards social change as a result of hearing this song I will be deeply satisfied."

All proceeds from the sale of this song will benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Tagged: bystander, dagger