Oh, to live as authentic an existence as Amelio Robles.
When fearsome Melbourne punks The Maggie Pills wanted to write a song about global dispossession and the yearning for liberty, they had the ideal person in mind to spearhead their incoming anthem.
Assigned female at birth, Robles would end up fighting alongside Emiliano Zapata during the Mexican Revolution, living openly as a man in his adulthood. If anyone dared to call him a woman, Robles was reported to have threatened them with a pistol. A true rebel, Robles knew he was, what he stood for, and was never afraid to show it.
Robles’ formidable figure inspired The Maggie Pills’ latest single, the aptly-named “The Freedom Club”, an unabashed anti-establishment tirade.
“Amelio Robles’ journey speaks to us through his rebellious stance, fighting along the revolution led by Emiliano Zapata which inspired the EZLN uprising for indigenous rights in the early 90s,” the band explain.
“Seeing these masked rebels, entrenched in the jungle fighting against the whole system with the only tool they had (the government’s contempt against the Aboriginals underestimating their value), was inspiring for us, for the bullied, the misfits, the non-conforming.”
As The Maggie Pills note, someone like Robles discovering a masculinity that felt right for him was hugely inspiring, particularly coming during a time when society was overwhelmingly binary. Revolution happens inside us, too.
“Will the girl and the boy do whatever it’s needed / In order to survive? / You and I / Here, meant to be / Without doubt / Here,” they powerfully howl, because The Maggie Pills know that personal differences pale in significance when the time comes to fight a common goal, against one enemy. “There’s no difference between you and me anymore,” as they sing earlier.
The Maggie Pills’ two founding members, Mario and Delfi, only immigrated to Australia in 2020, but they were quickly embraced by the country’s underground music community, and the band have been thriving ever since.
“Weeks after arriving in Australia, the pandemic hit, so we weren’t equipped to face the longest lockdown on the planet,” they recall. “The first time as an immigrant is difficult, with no connections, no health cover, a language that is not yours, no stability, being unable to look at the future, struggling to fit into a new culture and overcome frustration and loneliness.
“What we did was write music. Expressing oneself can be a weapon or it can be simply catharsis, but it does matter.”
Singing about what you believe in, making music that feels vital to you, is of paramount importance to authentic punks like The Maggie Pills, whether it’s happening in Mexico City or Melbourne. “That’s what “The Freedom Club” is about: about opinions – they matter – and ours were and are aligned with the problems of minorities,” they add.
The Maggie Pills’ “The Freedom Club” is out now.