02/09/2011 03:35 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Rock the Vote Featured Artist: Crash Kings

Each month Rock the Vote introduces our community to socially-conscious artists who are making music that inspire others and using their microphones to promote civic engagement.

Meet the Crash Kings, whose bassist Mike Beliveau talks to us about what the right to vote means to him and the change he'd like to see in the world. Check out the Crash Kings music for free here at

Tell us about your first concert experience.
I think my first real concert was the Allman Brothers. Derek Trucks performed with them when he was only 19. The musicianship was out of control and I remember wanting to be able to play that well.

If you couldn't be a musician, what would you be doing instead?
I don't have a plan B - I will always be a musician. To answer the question though, I have always had a fascination with both underwater life and outer space. I recently got scuba certified and plan on making diving a regular activity. It really is amazing how much there is to learn about sea life. Also now that companies are offering tickets to outer space, as soon as I can afford it I'll go.

If you could collaborate with one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Its tough to narrow it to one but Roger Waters would definitely be high on my list. He is not only one of the greatest songwriters of all time but one of the greatest innovators. I have a deep respect for his music.

If you became President, what is the first action you would take?
Hmmm.... this is a tough question because I'm in no way qualified to make decisions that affect millions of people's lives. I do believe there is a lot we can do in the way of renewable energy though. I think that if we succeed in creating energy in ways that aren't harmful to our environment we can solve many problems both internationally and domestically. Also, stop allowing corporations to finance the campaigns of the candidates. The people's concerns will never be met as long as corporations are pouring their millions into the candidates pockets.

What social cause is closest to your heart?
I am a strong believer in putting music and art programs back in public schools. Kids that don't have access to music and art education are at a great disadvantage. When I was in school in Boston I helped with a program that offered free music lessons to kids as an after-school program and the results were astounding. There is no reason why we shouldn't invest in the future generation through education.

What does the right to vote mean to you?
The right to vote is something that many in our past have fought for us to have. It means that collectively we can all decide what is right for us. I think that people often don't vote because they feel powerless against our corrupted government and voting system. What I would say to them is that if we don't show up on voting day and prove our power in numbers then the government will never hear our concerns and to them we won't matter at all.

What bands or artists did you listen to when you were in high school? And which bands or artists influenced your style the most?
I was really into all of the grunge rock bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, STP, along with the classic rock greats like The Beatles (of course), The Who, Pink Floyd, and Queen. The reason I started playing bass though was because I loved the deep funk rhythmic thing that guys like Bootsy Collins, Chris Wood, Flea, and Paul Jackson had. Listening to Herbie Hancock really opened doors for me and brought me into the jazz world at that time as well.

What activity or group were you involved with in high school that might surprise people today?
I was on the track and field team in high school one year. My event was the 800 run which is twice around the track. I still love running - it is a meditative thing for me.

What's the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome in high school?
All of my friends in my first two years of high school were older so when they all graduated and went to college I was left nearly friendless except for a couple of people. In my last two years of high school I had to make a whole new set of friends that were my age most of who already thought I was over them. I ended up making friends with some guys I hadn't met before cause they wanted me to play bass in their band. It all worked out in the end.

Do you do any volunteer or community work when you're not on tour?
Recently Tony and I went to perform for kids at the Children's Hospital in Los Angeles with Josh Rifkind through a program called Music for Kids. It was a great experience and I would love to be more involved with community activities like this in the future. It's a good feeling to give back since what I do is really so self centered. I truly admire those who make charity work their profession.

What change would you like to see in our society in the next year?
I would like to see people waste less. We are such a wasteful society and it seems so unnecessary most of the time. People don't have a concept of the impact that our trash alone has on the environment. It gets collected each week and brought to a place that no one ever sees. So much water is wasted trying to get grass to grow where it doesn't naturally exist. People leave their lights on when they leave their house because they think they'll get robbed if they don't - how do the robbers know your not just sleeping? I think that small changes in our daily habits could make a huge difference.

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