THE career trajectory of Canadian punk band Propagandhi could be described as anything but conventional.
Back in the '90s skate punk boom contemporaries like Green Day, The Offspring and Blink 182 were selling millions of records and soaring up the charts, while Propagandhi were taking the less commercial route of writing angry left-wing political songs addressing veganism, racism, capitalism and human rights.
It meant the four-piece from Winnipeg never captured a mainstream audience. However, they maintained their punk credibility and cult following, which has continued to grow despite 30-plus years as a band.
In fact their seventh album, Victory Lap (2017), was Propagandhi's most successful record in Australia, no doubt due to their powerful live shows. Newcastle has hosted Propagandhi on the band's past three Australian tours in 2009, 2011 and 2014.
"I think if you put all your heart into stuff, I think people notice," Propagandhi bassist Todd Kowalski said from Winnipeg. "We don't ever just phone things in. We're always practicing and trying to get better.
"I guess this one [Victory Lap], the songs are a little more direct, which people can latch on to."
Victory Lap also continued Propagandhi's progression away from skate punk towards a heavier and more technical sound.
"We play lots of music and nothing is really intentional," Kowalski said. "We like layers and depth to music, but we also like driving music. We're fans of all kinds of heavy music so it's kind of a natural progression for us trying to be the best band we can."
Propagandhi have never shied away from politics. They have even been known to preach to their audience between songs at shows.
With Donald Trump in the White House and right-wing extremism on the rise, Propagandhi appear made for these times, despite releasing their debut album in 1993.
"I think anybody trying to put forth ideas of empathy is important at this time, I wouldn't say us specifically," Kowalski said. "People need to show there's more to life than being a hater and more to life than trying to bring other people down and being bullies."
However, Kowalski said the band's politics weren't about changing views, but a form of self-expression.
"We write songs from our hearts, mostly for ourselves," he said. "You know you're trying communicate with people, but we're trying to get ourselves in the game of the world because it can be a depressing place.
"You need an outlet to express yourself and express yourself with more thought and hopefully more intelligence than just turning on Facebook and typing out a bunch of nonsense."
Propagandhi return to Newcastle at the Cambridge Hotel on May 19.