"'Throw Down Your Guns' started out as a love song," siblings Elliot and Natalie Bergman, the duo that forms the core of Wild Belle, wrote to NPR about the song at the center of its latest video. The Chicago-based group, known for infusing its psychedelic pop sound with grooves based on reggae and ska, recorded the video in its hometown, where gun violence continues to haunt its residents daily. The video shows guns and ammunition being melted down in a forge and transformed into bells. Singer Natalie Bergman flits between scenes in foundry and the band performing like a spirit of peace and joy, bouncing to the rhythm of the video's peaceful protest.
"If art is political, and the presence of gun violence is all around us, we felt moved to try to do something that brought some of our surrounding communities together, and declared a pro-peace message," the Bergmans went on to say. "It's hard for guns to be a simple metaphor in Chicago. Bells have historically been taken and melted down in times of war to make ammunition. We wanted to show that the process could be reversed and that peace bells could be made out of weapons. These bells will be used to make music, and sounds of peaceful protest."
Those images of transformation are underlined even further in the chorus, as Natalie's cries of, "I put my hands up / I put my hands up / Throw down your guns," are echoed in the video by the Chicago Children's Choir.
"Thrown Down Your Guns" will appear on Wild Belle's second album, Dreamland, out April 15 on Columbia.