From the get-go, we’ve said the #Road2FarmAid doesn’t end at Farm Aid 2013… it keeps going. Here’s an interview with Micah Nelson, son of Willie Nelson and member of the band Insects vs Robots. Micah was super busy leading up to Farm Aid 2013, but on Saturday morning before the concert, he told us he’d get us these answers. True to his word, here they are. Just another example of someone doing their part, even after the Farm Aid concert is over. Thanks, Micah!
Farm Aid: How many times have you appeared on a Farm Aid stage? What is the most exciting part about performing at Farm Aid?
Micah Nelson: I’ve been coming to Farm Aid since I was old enough to …eat food… I’ve played a few times with my family… I don’t remember exactly how many times exactly…. I was very excited to finally play there with my second family, Insects vs Robots!
The energy at Farm Aid is always just right. It’s a time when I feel most proud to be part of a family of movers and shakers that is fighting for one of the most important causes of our age…using the power of good music to bring folks together to support our family farmers. I think everyone who comes to Farm Aid is feeling how crucial the issue has become and it’s quite a righteous feeling to know that we’re making a difference while having a great time and also learning about how to continue making a difference in your daily lives.
FA: Why is supporting America’s family farmer an important cause for you?
MN: Our family farmers are the backbone of the country… they are the ones toiling out in the fields every day for you and me, growing good food. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t survive very long. It’s a symbiotic relationship, like humans and trees and bees.
Climate change is the most important issue of our time; the farmers feel it before anyone else. The only way we will heal our planet is through the soil…This is what farmers are supposed to do: create healthy soil for good food to grow and so carbon stays in the ground. This is why becoming a sustainable farmer is probably the most heroic thing anyone can do. They should take all those “BE ALL YOU CAN BE” Army recruitment billboards and replace them with images of sustainable farmers. “THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE FARMERS.”
The average age of family farmers now is 57 and there aren’t enough young people to pass the torch to. We need to start educating and recruiting young people in schools to become farmers and spread the message that if you really want to serve your country, become a sustainable farmer! I met a lot of people at Farm Aid 2013 who are trying to do just that. I don’t believe Farm Aid will save the humans on its own however… every day has to be Farm Aid if any real change is going to happen… every time we spend money on food we have a choice. It all comes from us. It’s the little things that add up to big changes.
Also, every farmers market should have live music going on. We need to bring American culture back home….great local food, great music… that’s what folks should be putting their energy towards. And bringing good food to places that need it the most, places where kids are unaware of how important the issue is for their future…we are in a dire situation and most young folks either have no clue what’s going on or they just don’t care …but it’s going to be too late when our parents are gone and we’ve inherited the planet… It would be great to not have to hit total rock bottom before people wake up, but it’s pretty hard not to be cynical.
FA: What advice would you give your fans about what they can do to help family farmers thrive?
MN: My advice would be to kill your TV for starters (making a slow-motion video of you or a friend destroying it with a baseball bat is a fun one), spend less time on your computer and more time outside, in nature. De-program yourself. Get yourself free. Get rid of your lawn and plant a garden instead. Learn all you can while you still can about how to be as resilient as possible. Download an app called “BUYCOTT,” which allows you to see exactly which companies profit from what you’re buying, all the way up the pyramid. Shop local. Eat local. Support your local farmers market. And if you can, come to Insects vs Robots shows! We will be having a Farm Aid donation booth at our merch table where you will get a free download if you donate to Farm Aid.
FA: Tell us about Farm Aid’s Board Members – Willie, John, Neil and Dave. Obviously you’ve got a pretty special connection.
MN: I see my dad and uncle Neil as sort of like elders of the human tribe. I’ve learned so much from them growing up and am proud to be part of their lives and sort of walking in their footsteps. It is always so inspiring to hear them and Dave and John speak at the Farm Aid press conference. They don’t mince words and really bring you into the moment and remind us all why we are there. It’s like the annual tribal gathering of the superheroes who are trying to save the world. I loved Dave’s quote this year “…if you have to frack something, why don’t you frack yourself.” Classic Dave.
It made me so happy for my dad to invite my band to play at Farm Aid this year. We love nothing more than playing music together and so I know my dad would support any musical project I am involved in, but I’m so glad Insects vs Robots (IvR) has been so genuinely welcomed by his fans as well, even though for many of them they probably never would have been exposed to our music. We’ve opened for him a handful of shows now and it’s always such a great family-oriented time….people seem to have as much fun at our shows as we are having, which is good.
It was also a super cool feeling to have Neil come up after our set and give me a big hug and tell me how much he loved our set. He brought us on his bus and we talked for a long time about music and recording and he imparted some valuable wisdom and ideas to us, which we soaked right up. We are all a bunch of audiophile sonic-wizard-nerds like Neil so we all geeked out and bonded over that stuff. He has always made his music on his own terms and he always keeps it real so we connected on that as well. IvR has always lived and made our music that way and so I am glad that energy came through even in our 15 minute set. And every time I ran into Neil the rest of that day he would look me in the eye and say “GREAT SET TODAY. GREAT BAND.” It made us feel really proud of ourselves for how far we’ve come as a band and all the love and energy we put into our music since Neil has always been an incredible inspiration to all of us. We are extremely honored to be a part of Farm Aid and hope to continue to use our music as a voice for helping sustainable family farmers thrive.