The duties of a pop musician usually entail making hit records, touring for weeks on end, getting wasted (intentionally or otherwise) and being interviewed by music journalists as to the meaning of life. Torquil Campbell has another one: "I consider it part of my job to taunt and irritate the powerful, hopefully in the most childish way I possibly can," he told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail Wednesday.
It's preaching he's been practising in recent days. His target? Andrew MacDougall, named Prime Minister Stephen Harper's director of communications last spring. Earlier this week, Campbell, singer-songwriter for the popular Montreal indie band Stars and an actor, learned while on tour in Britain and Europe that MacDougall on Dec, 8 had tweeted two big thumbs-up to the latest Stars CD, The North. "The whole Stars record is great," MacDougall declared, "but Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give is the stand-out track."
You'd think an artist would appreciate the approbation. But not the 40-year-old Campbell, who's rarely missed an opportunity to dump on Stephen Harper and crew. Just last month he described the PM as "an evil person, a bad person" to an interviewer from Huffington Post Canada. In response to MacDougall's kind words, Campbell proceeded to "tweet-bomb" the political adviser, urging him to "leave our record alone" as long as MacDougall continued to "work for a sociopath who is ruining the country." Additional tweets followed, each usually more profane than the last, but MacDougall did not reply until Monday afternoon this week when Campbell described "[MacDougall's] crew as a bunch of [expletive deleted] thugs and we detest every last one of them." At that, MacDougall said: "No need to set yourself on fire" – an allusion to the title of Stars's third CD, released in 2004.
Contacted in Ottawa Wednesday, MacDougall said he had no comment to offer at this time. "The tweets are there and I don't have anything to add." "Apparently, [they're] not fans that I'm a fan."
In his e-mail to The Globe, Campbell – a British citizen/Canadian permanent resident "in the process of trying to fill out my citizenship application" (and therefore unable at this point at least to vote against Harper) – said he was "deeply grateful" that the PM's director of communications had provided him with "the opportunity to point out that he and his party are ruining this country. Only the fact that the views of moronic pop singers such as myself are considered newsworthy is more apocalyptically depressing than the sickening corporatist rule imposed on us by this jumped-up gang of thugs they themselves insist we call 'the Harper government.'"
It appears Campbell will have ample opportunity to tout these views and others nationwide next year. This week Stars announced it will begin a 16-concert tour of Canada with back-to-back performances in Montreal in mid-March.