Alex Skolnick

TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick has discussed his decision to publicly express his political views in a new opinion piece for Newlines Magazine.

“True artistry includes challenging your fans on occasion,” he said. “Some will come along and discover new ways of seeing. Others will prefer the comfort of their prejudices, hurl insults, and hit ‘unfollow.’ At a time when attention has become a prized commodity, the fear of losing one’s audience is understandable. But we forget that it was fearless acts of imagination that built that audience in the first place. If there are risks to political activism, there are also gratifications to offset them.

“Every time I have spoken out on a political issue, I’ve alienated a few. I have also had my views amplified by journalists and opinion-makers, some of them household names. This in turn has brought me to the attention of people beyond my immediate audience — new follows, more retweets. The biggest loss to me would be to succumb to fear and suppress my voice at a time like this.

“Part of my motivation in pursuing music in the first place was to not be forced to suppress that which I wanted to express,” Skolnick added. “I wouldn’t have lasted long in a regular job that requires you to bottle up your feelings, put on a happy face, and suck up to those on whom your income depends. The 1999 Mike Judge film ‘Office Space’ deftly satirizes such an environment. And in some respects, the hordes of disgruntled social media followers who respond to your political tweet with some version of ‘Stick to guitar!’ are trying to impose a similar type of conformity on the nonconformist world of an artist.”

You can read Skolnick‘s entire opinion piece at Newlines Magazine.