Isolation Drills: Peter Gill (2nd Grade)

Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.

Peter Gill (guitar, vocals): My COVID experience has been a series of unexpected ups and downs, like most. When my other band’s SXSW tour got cancelled, which I had requested off work for, I suddenly had some free time for the first time in ages, and I took advantage of that by writing, like, 20 new songs and rough ideas for many more.

Since then, I’ve been back to full-time work at my dog-walking job. I am glad to be working, feeling useful and getting lots of exercise, grateful to have steady employment while so many are getting jerked around by harsh economic forces and government indifference without an adequate societal safety net. My work week is seven long days in the heat or rain, so I don’t have much time/energy for much else. I am reading a ton and catching up on new music whenever I have downtime between walks downtown, which feels really good.

Fortunately, I never depended on touring for income like a lot of mid-level musicians and their teams; my heart goes out to them. I miss the catharsis of playing shows. 2nd Grade released a record at the end of May, and I wish we could be playing it live. It’s an album of short, sunny, hooky power-pop songs that taken as a whole sort of represent a young man searching for his sense of self in his record collection. Of course this is not the message that deserves listeners’ undivided attention right now.

At the time I wrote this, Mayor Kenney had just announced he is eliminating his proposed $14 million PPD budget increase and planning to implement some department reforms, but really that’s not enough to address the actual underlying issues at hand. Cops will continue to violently police poor black and brown communities and sweep as many individuals as they can into the criminal justice system so as to justify their overfunded occupational presence. They’ll continue to do all this using weapons and discriminatory tactics that have somehow been deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, and they’ll continue to get away with it basically every time, unless serious changes are made.

How and when will these changes come about? If casual observers don’t care deeply about these issues by now, when will they ever? Remember there are major stakeholders profiting heavily off of our collective indifference and skepticism regarding changes that would benefit virtually every one of us for generations to come. And don’t believe that simply voting Trump out of office is the silver bullet to make everything a-OK.

One more thing, if you unthinkingly trust the police to serve the interests of the public with full integrity but won’t trust the opinions of medical experts telling you to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID, take it as a sign that you’re being played and should reconsider what sources you get most of your information from.