An Outlet for Emotion: An Interview with LOCATIONS

by - October 10, 2023

Photo courtesy of Jeannette D. Moses

Niko Rummell and Thomas Whidden know all about being paid what they’re worth.

As members of the Teamsters Local 817 Locations Scouts for television and film, their day job has been heavily impacted by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Although their unions are not currently striking, they do not cross picket lines, so their jobs have been nonexistent since early May.

Their day jobs have been put on hold for months, give or take the occasional independent production given authorization to continue filming. Thankfully they have their band, LOCATIONS, to channel their frustrations. Their music is an outlet for emotion, so before they even get into writing the lyrics, they focus on the energy of the song.

“That’s the thing about the duo, that intimacy, so our energy and our mood reflects that,” Rummell said.

Whidden has always had an interest in issues that impact the planet, and has been an educational resource for Rummell as he continues his journey in finding his own causes to support. Typically their music will coincide with a cause, and their latest single, “Trickle”, is no exception.

The song was written years ago with a plan to support the modern labor movement; to use the song to highlight corporate greed and empower the working class to encourage them to join and support unions. While this is not the first time one of their singles has aligned itself to match the current climate, it is the perfect moment to discuss this cause.

“We’re really trying to figure out how we can share our message and share our experience going from non-union to organizing over the course of two years, getting our first contract and what that meant for us and how that changed our lives,” Whidden said. “We want to share that experience to quickly embolden people to keep going when it feels like you’ve been negotiating your contract for years and it feels like this is never going to happen.”

“We have to build up momentum to get to a point of turnover,” Rummell added. “There’s going to be resistance and then there’s eventually a breaking point. Consistency will just tear like erosion; it wears away at things until finally it just collapses. That’s what we need to do is just stay consistent, stay strong. Solidarity, man. It’s so obvious.”

The music video for “Trickle” is meant to distill the idea of capitalism to its most basic form and showcase it in a way that is both familiar and surreal. Whidden directed, produced and edited the video while Rummell and Nick Pray filmed on location.

“Trickle” is also part of their upcoming EP, STOP THE MONEY. The messages of the songs focus on issues where there is a general agreement - our environment should be safe and pollution free, healthcare is a human right, the wealthy should be taxed. They make it a point to stay away from issues that are divided, because their goal of discussing these topics is to unite people and create actual change.

They are reminded of a Tom Morello quote from an interview with Rolling Stone: “100 percent of music is political. Music either supports the status quo or challenges the status quo. So every artist is political.”

Rummell and Whidden are happy to be the ones that challenge the status quo. They have been along for the ride as their industries suffer from setbacks and unfair agreements. It has given them the opportunity to educate themselves on accountability, and they ask that others do the same.

“Whoever is reading this and is down with the ideas or down with the music, it takes all of us to create change,” Whidden said. “We all have to be accountable for our own actions. If you’re not trying to do anything to change this fucked up system that we’re exposed to and forced to live within, then you’re part of the problem. It’s so easy to be a part of the solution; it’s as simple as showing up for an hour every once and a while or making some phone calls from your house. Finding your lane is so important.”

“All you have to do is come to a LOCATIONS show,” Rummell said. “Talk to us about ways you can be active. That’s easy; that’s going to a rock concert and at least figuring out what you might want to do.”

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