One-time punk rocker turned Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke has announced his intention to run for president.
O’Rouke sent a text message to El Paso’s KTSM confirming the news that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination. He wrote: “I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents. It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.”
A formal announcement is expected shortly.
In his early years, O’Rourke was an aspiring musician who played in a punk rock band called Foss alongside Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In fame. While running for senate in Texas last fall, he received support from Willie Nelson, Spoon, and The National, and was captured air drumming to The Who while going through a Whataburger drive-thru. More recently, he was seen rocking out at a Metallica concert.
In an interview with Vanity Fair published on Wednesday, O’Rourke spoke about his days as a punk rocker and being especially influenced by Minor Threat and Fugazi frontman Ian MacKaye. “I have so much reverence for him and he means so much to me in my life,” O’Rourke said of MacKaye. “He really did represent this super-ethical way, not just of being in a band, or running a label, or putting on shows, but of just living.”
Such an ethos compelled O’Rourke and his friends to move to Albuquerque, shave their heads, and declare 1995 as their “Revolution Summer”, an homage to the D.C. punk scene of 1984. “I didn’t want to make money, didn’t want to be in business,” O’Rourke told Vanity Fair. “My dad was so disappointed. He took out [college] loans, he knew that I took out loans. I was like, ‘You know, I wanna make art. I wanna write. I wanna make music. I wanna create things.’”
There’s also a funny anecdote about O’Rourke impersonating the founder of Sub Pop Records in order to book a show in San Francisco.
“Frustrated by a series of shows that didn’t materialize, he called up a popular rock venue in San Francisco and altered his voice, pretending to be a founder of Sub Pop, a famous indie rock label. He urged them to book Foss as the opening act, claiming the band was about to be signed to a record deal. They got on the bill but were kicked off the stage after two songs.”
Whether or not O’Rourke is successful in his presidential pursuit remains to be seen. However, the campaign trail certainly just got a lot more punk rock.