Premiere: Backwards Dancer – “When The President Talks To God”

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

Backwards Dancer

The Alternative is happy to bring forth the video premiere and cover of “When The President Talks To God” by Backwards Dancer. Originally performed by Bright Eyes, Zack Shaw covered the song, given the current political state of the country,  stating “I really love the tradition in folk music of artists playing their favorite artists songs. I felt that the song was super relevant with our current administration, being as disgusting as it is. It was kind of one of those moments where you think, ‘well we’re in D.C, let’s shoot a video in front of the White House’. I know the original was a Bush, but i wanted to change it up a bit to fit our current situation.”

Still, Shaw presents the song in a delicate manner, highlighting the horrors of the administration in a perfect manner. The raw aspect of the video helps give the song strength, with words stabbing in the right way. Fueling more fire to the song, Shaw commented about why art seems to gain more presence during hate fueled administrations, “I feel like most artists strive for equality. I feel like artists have a responsibility of upholding human dignity and standing in solidarity with the oppressed. The president and his cabinet have shown themselves to be a group of rich, racist, sexist, bigots and it’s super dangerous for our culture. Having gone from a progressive open minded leader to a sick bastard, I feel like people with social and artistic influence are trying to regain the traction that was made during the Obama administration. When an angry man spewing hate speech spills his rhetoric far enough, anyone with sense is going to want to remind Trump supporters that we demand tolerance and equality.”

The Alternative are pleased to be bringing forth this video on Election Day, along with an interview with Shaw. In the near future Backwards Dancer will embark across the United States to support Say Anything on their 10 year anniversary of In Defense Of The Genre. The band is still in full support of their self-titled album, released in March via Equal Vision Records.

Purchase Backwards Dancer here


What are the feelings to be joining Say Anything on tour, especially during the ten year of In Defense Of The Genre?

We are honestly so grateful and honored to be on such an amazing tour. It’s definitely a once and a lifetime experience for us and it seems super surreal.

Now that your self-titled has been out for a few months, what songs are the most cathartic to play live?

I feel like the songs we have been playing are all cathartic in different ways. I would have to say “Vanishing, Panicking”. It’s sort of like a breathing exercise and I get to go through most of my vocal range and it deals with a range of topics, social and personal.

Since touring with Eisley and other bigger acts, what have you learned about touring that they have offered in terms of advice?

I feel like they taught us discipline, professionalism, persistence, patience, and kindness. It has been such an amazing learning experience and being able to learn by their example has made us grow so much. Every night, regardless of the circumstances they maintained such a consistent and intimate performance. Sherri and the group are the best. One moment stands out from the first time I sound checked with them. I was singing Anthony Green’s part on their song “Louder than a Lion” and I was so nervous. Sherri handed me her guitar because she could tell I was uncomfortable standing there without an instrument and reassured me I was fine. It was really sweet of her and it definitely stood out as a moment of realization of how kind this community is.

What’s a typical thing for band members to do waiting to play, and then after playing?

On our last tour I would have a few drinks and just kind of hang out in the green room and kind of peek out at the audience in anticipation. I’ve been sober for about six months and I’m still not sure what it’s going to be like now, I’m sure once we are on the road I’ll come up with some sort of routine. We are all pretty laid back and don’t tend to stick to any sort of strict ritual.

Possibilities seem to be on the tipsy turvy or nervous breakdowns when following closely, how do you keep your head at least level when watching or reading or hearing the news that streams out of our office?

I try to recognize my own privilege and have empathy for people who may not. A lot of what is going on is far beyond my own reach. If what I have to offer is solidarity and opening a dialogue with my platform, making political songs or statements is the least I can do.

What are ways you can offer people who love music to help do their part in this ever evolving confusion?

Support the organizations that are directly fighting back against fascism. The ACLU, Black LIves Matter, Planned Parenhood, Immigration Equality, and any LGBTQ organizations. support your neighbors and have compassion and empathy. Listen, above all.

Thanks so much. Any last words?

Thanks for letting me babble about my own experience, and can’t wait to see you at a show! Come talk to me if you want to discuss anything or just talk shit about our dumbass president, preferably about something lighter seeing as how it’s exhausting to all of us.

p.s. Thank you Conor Oberst for writing such poignant and thoughtful music. I hope you don’t mind me playing your song.

Love, Zack


Photo by Natalie Bisignano

Full Tour Dates
11/25 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
11/26 – Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
11/27 – West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour
11/28 – West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour
11/30 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
12/1 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
12/2 – Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone Berkeley
12/3 – San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom
12/5 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
12/6 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos
12/8 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
12/9 – Denver, CO – Summit Music Hall
12/11 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
12/12 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
12/13 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
12/14 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall
12/16 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
12/17 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
12/18 – Saint Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
12/19 – Saint Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
01/09 – Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater
01/10 – Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater
01/12 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
01/13 – Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live!
01/14 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
01/15 – New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
01/16 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
01/17 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club
01/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Trocadero
01/20 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Trocadero
01/22 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
01/23 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
01/25 – Atlanta, GA @ Hell at The Masquerade
01/26 – Atlanta, GA @ Hell at The Masquerade
01/27 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
01/28 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
01/30 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
01/31 – Dallas, TX @ Trees