A rock band is doing more for its audience than just giving them an entertaining evening. Gypsy Temple, a Seattle-based alternative rock band of college students, is touring local high schools and colleges to encourage voter registration and voter turnout.
With nothing but their instruments and a flatbed truck, the band has already performed at six local high schools including Newport High School, Bellevue High School and Mt. Si High School, on their “Make Your Voice Heard Loud” tour.
The nonpartisan group believes it’s important for everyone to vote, especially young people. Adults 18-24 have the lowest voter turnout in the U.S in comparison to every other voting age pool. The members of Gypsy Temple believe if young people don’t vote now then they will be left behind in the future.
Band leader, lead singer and guitarist, Cameron Lavi-Jones, wants his band to do what they can to make sure young people are motivated to register and ultimately vote.
“We were just really, really tired of feeling helpless, and feeling like when we watch the news that we’re forced to be passive and not engage,” the 19-year-old University of Washington student said. “We’re tired of, one, not being heard and, two, feeling like what we have to say doesn’t matter in the first place. We wanted to change that.”
Thus, the “Make Your Voice Heard Loud” tour was born. Their performance at Mt. Si High School on Wednesday, Oct. 17, was their 10th show of the tour and their 100th show as a band.
About 450 high school students have registered to vote during the tour so far. Lavi-Jones said he and the other Gypsy Temple band members understand how powerful music is in presenting messages, and he’s glad the tour has been as successful as it has been.
“We all know how powerful music is in presenting messages, and we wanted to do something that was inline with our message — not just as people in a political space, but also as a voice of youth and voice of a generation that’s going to be coming up and running things,” he said. “That’s why we’re here to empower folks and tell them they can do this if we can do this.”
Gypsy Temple bass player and 19-year-old Shoreline Community College student, Hamoon Milaninia, said the tour has been fulfilling for him and the band.
“It’s been fascinating to see what people interpret through the messages because when I went into this, I was hopeful people would get the message and actually go out there and vote, but I wasn’t too sure about high schoolers, as they’re kind of stereotyped as being these apathetic people who don’t really care about anything,” he said. “But it’s been really fulfilling to come out here and see them actually get engaged in this kind of thing.”
The performance at Mt. Si High School captured students’ interest, though many kept their distance from the truck bed stage. Throughout the hour-long show, guitarist Wilson Rahn continually encouraged students to come up to the stage. Slowly, students ran up to the stage until a large “mosh pit” of dancing students formed.
Featured hip hop and rap artist, Marshall Hugh, also known as “Marshall Law,” liked being able to see these students “come out of their shell” during the show.
“The coolest thing about this is not just the voting thing, but also that these kids just had something out of the norm of their day and something they won’t forget — Gypsy Temple came to their space and brought them out of their shell,” he said. “It was great to see them go from being shy and scared to jumping into a full mosh pit in front of the stage. It’s the passion. The passion is contagious.”
Rahn mirrored Hugh in his thoughts about the show.
“I feel like it’s so hard to convince people to do what they want to do because everyone is afraid of what other people are going to think. I know it’s cliche, but even I, at almost 21 years old, am still having to remind myself that it’s cool to be me,” the UW student said. “It was amazing to see these guys embrace who they are and rock out to some good music and not caring about what their friends may think.”
According to Kai Evan Hill, Shoreline Community College student and the band’s drummer, it’s important to show high school students that they’re being true to themselves through their music.
“We’re musicians and we love music, and we’re showing these kids that we love music and we’re being ourselves,” Hill said. “I think a lot of this is about telling people to voice their opinion and be themselves and vote.”
After the show, the band posed for pictures with students, signed autographs and invited them to their upcoming show at the Vera Project on Oct. 25.
The show will be the release of their first single, “Pick a Number” from their upcoming album “King Youngblood,” as well as the debut of their first music video.
“It’s really a celebration,” Lavi-Jones said. “It’s a big night in our history as a band and it’s so special to know that a lot of these high school kids are going to be there too.”