John Nolan talks American Civil Liberties Union, Trump’s administration, and his ACLU compilation project

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 at 5:25 PM
John Nolan talks American Civil Liberties Union, Trump’s administration, and his ACLU compilation project by Kimberly Firestine

In the first weekend under the new presidential administration, the American Civil Liberties Union received 356,306 online donations, adding up to over $24 million, six times their average annual total.

Since then, different projects from musicians and artists have sprung up and added to the surge. On Feb. 4, Bandcamp donated 100 percent of its share of profits from music purchased from their website to the ACLU, with over 400 artists and labels that use the website doing the same. All Time Low recently launched their own T-shirt campaign for the ACLU, with all of the proceeds being donated as well.

On Jan. 20, John Nolan (Taking Back Sunday) announced a compilation album to benefit the organization. The album includes rare and previously unreleased tracks from artists like Taking Back Sunday, Anti- Flag, Sleep On It and Anthony Green. The compilation, called “Music for Everyone,” will be released in the spring on Collective Confusion Records and Sub City, the charity branch of Hopeless Records.

“I think what they [the ACLU] do is very important. They’re fighting court battles for people and groups that usually can’t fight those battles themselves,” said Nolan, in an interview with The Spectator. “They’re also extremely important for keeping presidential administrations in check. They’ve been challenging the legality of what presidents from both sides of the aisle have been doing for decades.”

This album is not his — or Taking Back Sunday’s — first work for charity. Hosting holiday shows each year at Starland Ballroom to benefit different organizations; being part of a previous compilation for the water crisis in Flint, Michigan; and a recent performance at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, N.C.; for Nolan — and the rest of the band — is all part of the job.

“We get approached to contribute to charities, but we also make it a point to go out and support organizations we believe in,” said Nolan. “This entire band feels very fortunate to be in a position where we can support organizations that are doing good work, so we try to take advantage of that whenever wecan.”

Being the second compilation that Nolan has been a part of, he said: “it just seemed like a good way to raise money. I thought doing a show might be good, but there are a lot expenses involved in that and it’s just a one-time thing.”

He continued, “This will be digital, so the expenses are low, and it will be available for people to buy for the foreseeable future and will hopefully continue to be a source of revenue for the ACLU for a long time to come.”

Taking the reigns for this project, which features more than 15 different artists, Nolan reached out to some of his friends in music to see if there was interest in being part of the album.

“I had the idea to do a benefit comp for the ACLU and began reaching out to people who I thought might be interested. I contacted some friends in bands and I contacted my manager Jillian and my friend Mike at Collective Confusion Records,” he said. “Almost everyone I talked to was excited about the idea and once Jillian, Mike and Sub City started reaching out to more people and helping to organize it, it all developed pretty quickly.”

As with any political project, Nolan was met with some hesitation from those asked to donate music to the cause.

“There were a few people we contacted who weren’t able to do it, either because they didn’t have any new or unreleased songs they could contribute, or because of the political nature of the compilation,” said Nolan. “Mostly, people have been very excited. Excited to the point that they’ve gone and recorded new songs specifically for this comp.”

This may not be the last charitable endeavor we get from Nolan, although he’s not certain what will come next.

“I’m very focused on this project right now, so I don’t have an idea of what other projects I might get involved in,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think there’ll be a lot of fights to pick with this administration over the next four years and a wide variety of groups to support in those fights.”

In an offer of words of encouragement to those being directly affected by the president’s executive orders, now and in the future, he said: “there’s a large number of Americans who will fight and protest to protect you.

“More people than ever are getting motivated to take a stance and have their voices heard in protest of this president’s agenda.”

Nolan expressed that for those of us this won’t directly effect: “I think we need to be empathetic to people who are being effected negatively by things that may have no immediate effect on us. We need to look for organizations that are helping those people and join them and support them in any way we can.”

For more information on how to purchase “Music for Everyone,” visit

Kimberly Firestine can be reached at 

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