In a recent interview with Consequence of Sound, talent buyer for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign Caleb Wilson discussed how he has been able to draw support for the senator from a stacked lineup of musicians. Over the past several months, Sanders has hosted campaign events featuring entertainment from The StrokesMike Gordon and Jon Fishman of PhishNeil YoungJim JamesJack White, and many more.

Wilson’s involvement in the Sanders campaign began in 2016 when his dad “got” him tickets to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform as part of a Sanders rally. His dad forgot to mention the part where Wilson had to volunteer in order to earn admittance, but from there Wilson became a foot soldier in Sanders’ war on behalf of the working class.

Now from his position as National Advance Manager and Talent Outreach Coordinator for Sanders’ 2020 bid for the Democratic nomination for president, Wilson stated in plain English early on at a roundtable meeting with management firms, “Music is a mandate of this campaign.”

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Luckily, Sanders wasn’t a terribly tough sell to the music industry, as the Vermont senator already has a Grammy nomination under his belt for best-spoken word album for his book, Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In. Go even further back in Sanders’ career to when he was mayor of Burlington, VT and he holds credentials in the punk community for starting 242 Main in Burlington, an all-ages DIY punk venue that hosted such venerable acts as Misfits and many more of its 20-year tenure. Wilson credits the Do-It-Yourself mentality that Sanders honed at 242 Main as part of the driving force behind his grassroots presidential campaign.

“Half the time, we’re blindfolded throwing darts at a dartboard, right?” Wilson said. “We don’t know if an artist is sympathetic or not, but the worst that we’re going to face as a campaign is ‘no.’ Jack [White] had never been outspokenly political before, but I reached out to his manager and told them what we were doing, and he was like, ‘I’ll call you back.’ Sure enough, Jack was like, you know what, the existential crisis at hand is totally worthy of me coming out and doing this. I’m sure there was some fear of how this might alienate his fan base. I don’t really have a way of proving this, but I think for that day, you know, the metrics of Jack White’s streaming actually went up.”

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Wilson also acknowledged that booking these high-profile acts has been a driving force in helping Sanders break through in the traditional media, which gives millions of dollars in free advertising to more establishment candidates like Joe Biden. Rather than scoring easy advertisements on the news with outrageous statements like Donald Trump, Sanders, and Wilson, have taken on a symbiotic approach that benefits the campaign as well as the artists.

“We all know that traditionally Bernie has gotten the media blackout,” Wilson said. “One thing we can do to counter that is when we have these jaw-dropping moments that, you know, the press just really cannot ignore. If these music platforms like Rolling Stone and Consequence of Sound are going to actually come out and cover a Bernie Sanders rally, we’re able to expose the campaign platforms to a whole new group of audience because of it.”

In the end, Wilson said that what drives artist involvement in the Sanders campaign isn’t record sales or publicity, but rather genuine commitment to the causes that Bernie stands for.

“As cheesy as it might sound, it’s not me, it’s us,” Wilson said. “’Us’ is the most inclusive word that corresponds to all of the platforms that this campaign champions: universal healthcare, access to education, the environment, the Green New Deal. I can’t speak for the artists themselves, but I’m sure that they’re very conscious of, like, where is their healthcare coming from? How are their kids going to grow up in a society that favors the 1% and keeps the little guy suppressed? It’s not by chance that these artists are getting involved.”

Read the whole interview here.

[H/T CoS]