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Report: France

Pussy Riot - who cares?


Are all musicians at benefit concerts motivated by solidarity? Or do some just want a gig?  Madonna, Sting and Björk are among hundreds of stars who have expressed solidarity with Pussy Riot. But some lesser-known rockers seem a little less socially concerned.


Musicians from all over the world have rallied behind the three members of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk-rock performance art collective, who were sentenced to two years of prison  on Friday.

Their plight inspired benefit concerts, including some in Paris. But not everyone who played had the same reasons for doing so.

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"We don't care about them," says Carine, the bass player of the Paris-based Les Punaises, with a smile.

Speaking in a café after playing a show organised in support of Pussy Riot, she is dismissive of benefit concerts.

"We do a lot of benefit concerts, because there are a lot of benefit concerts in Paris," she says. For her, it doesn't matter what they are about.

Her fellow band members agree to some extent, though drummer Mareike is a little less blasé. Many benefit concerts are for good causes, she says. But she adds that just because she plays punk-rock music with two other women, doesn't mean they have anything to do with Pussy Riot.

"They're the complete opposite of what we do," she says. "We only play for fun. There's no political reason behind what we do. We are the most apolitical band that you could imagine!"

Most of their songs are about their daily activities - "cooking, relationships - about what we do in life".

Punaise is French for bedbug. It's also the word for thumbtack or - the band's preferred definition - it can be an pejorative word for a woman.

The band says playing a benefit concert for Pussy Riot was an excuse to have a show on a slow night in August. And they question why the plight of three Russian women got so much international attention.

But that doesn't mean they think every musician should be apolitical.

"We're just talking about our own music," says Gaëlle.

"Everybody can do what he or she wants to do," adds Mareike.

"We just don't want to be put into a box. We don't want to be political, we don't want to be punk, we don't want to be rock, we don't want to be garage. We just want to speak for ourselves and be Les Punaises."

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