WARNING: There is virtually nothing new in this issue that has not been previously published on our web blog. There is no cover price and money being charged here is to nominally cover printing, shipping and bank fees. You may be able to get a copy for free or small donation from touring bands or at Extreme Noise Records, Long Haul Info Shop and other cool DIY places
KRANG are a new band birthed from Chicago’s DIY punk underbelly. They play a brutally powerful brand of thrashy riff-laden crustcore and have an intense live presence. They have recently recorded for a few vinyl projects, including PE’s own 7″ singles series. Check ‘em out!
Interviewed by Brian Poulin (NEGLIGENCE). All photos by Adam DeGross.
PE Who’s in the band and what does each of you do?
AUSTIN: guitars / backing vocals / song writing (synth & keyboard on 12″)
ADAM: bass / backing vocals / song writing
BRENDAN: lead vocals / lyrical content
DEVAN: drums & percussion / backing vocals
PE: What’s a brief history of the band and how did you guys form?
Austin: We started circa 2009. We had an additional guitarist: Louis C. He went on to start a blackened crust band called Welkin Dusk, based in Chicago that he plays drums & lead vocals for. We used to have an additional lead singer as well: Hannah B. Hannah was a part of our first two releases: the out of print “Onward Desolation” demo tape, and also the out of print “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″. Hannah is now the front-woman in a band called Despise, based out of Minneapolis. Our original drummer, Brett, is on the two recordings I mentioned before, as well as our “Sounds of Death” 12″. Brett now drums for a Chicago / northwest Indiana band called Asphixiate. Devan is now our permanent drummer and he will have his first appearance on the “Broken Waves” 7″, released by Profane Existence, which is coming out in June. Devan will also be on our next 12″: “Bad Moon”, which we are writing right now. I, as well as Krang, are totally stoked on Devan and really happy to have them. Devan is active outside of percussion as well with assisting in writing, assistance in lyrical content & structure, and the internet stuff. This line up has been solidified for over a year and is totally fucking Krang! It just works perfectly.
PE: You guys are based out of Chicago. What are your favorite parts of the scene there? What are your least favorite things about Chicago’s scene?
Devan: Chicago’s an interesting place. I feel like the pros and cons are often directly related to one-another. For example, the mere size of the city. There are so many people – new to here, young, old, whatever – that there is basically always something going on and a handful of solid DIY spaces at all times, regardless of whether people leave or places get busted or whatever. The downside is that the physical structure of the city makes it difficult and/or terribly time-consuming to navigate. Especially if you don’t have a car. And even if you do, parking sucks. Anyway, as a result of the city being as segregated as it is, people are often inclined to just stick to what’s going on in their neighborhood and it results in a lack of exposure or attention paid to some really cool things. It’s unfortunate. But then there are some events like the annual Black and Brown Punk Show (shout-out to Monika!) or other fest-type shows where the attendance is crazy and bullshit is minimal. It’s rad.
Austin: I used to live in CHI. I reside in northwest Indiana (NWI). It’s really close. You can compare it to how close Jersey is to NYC. The rest of the band does live in CHI. My favorite things about Chicago is the “don’t take shit” attitude that at least me and the scene we’re involved with has. We’ll kick you out if your a piece of shit human or kick your ass if we have to. I also like The Void Haus in NWI for gigs. My personal least favorite things are cliques, hype, division, etc… the things that you see in every rather large city, I suppose.
Adam: I love Chicago’s unspoken rule of everyone being down to get down when shit hits the fan and nobody lets bogus comments or derogatory gestures fly. My complaint for the longest time was how there is the same hierarchy that we all hate in daily life at a lot of the gigs. It seems like those “in crowd” wanks have come and gone though, or maybe I just don’t surround myself with such fools anymore. My main complaint, and I know I am sounding super negative, but for such a large city there is a lack of bands playing what I am into personally. There are a lot of great bands doing great things…but that doesn’t necessarily mean I am into them musically. Haha! I have a particular taste and its not being fulfilled. I usually go to shows to hang out and have a good time and just show support but its rare that I actually shit over a band that I see locally. I do really, really get down to Population though. White boy can’t dance but when I see this band I start doing shit I didn’t know I was capable of.
Brendan: Chicago is simultaneously the best & worst place to live; which I’d imagine is a critique most other big-city dwellers share. There is no shortage of great folks, bands, eats, cool nerd-haunts (comic & record collectors rejoice!), and beautiful neighborhoods/communities in which to live. The same is true for all of the awful yuppies, gold cost bourgeois, & assholes who get your friends hooked on hard drugs. A lot of the time I wish that I lived in a vast expanse of lush nature with no human presence save myself. When I’m not wishing for seclusion, I’m loving how hard of a time I have sorting out which of the 5 awesome punk shows I get to go see any given night. Chicago has everything I love & hate at once; most of the time its worth it.
PE: Musically what are you guys going for?
Devan: I’d say sincerity, first and foremost. In sound, words, and delivery. And the connections we can and have made with people based on that. My musician’s answer would be just to write the best songs we can and perform them at the highest level at all times.
Austin: I just want to stick out and be a little different sounding. I still want to have that essential formula for great punk. I personally believe we found the introduction to our sound with the “Sounds of Death” 12″. We have two formulas: triumphant, galloping crust metal and simplified, pissed off, to-the-point stuff.
Brendan: Initially we formed with the idea of writing over the top odes to crust circa late 80’s/early 90’s; stuff you could flail your overgrown dreadlocks around to. We all fell into a groove with each other over time, where we don’t really need to define what we’re gonna write before we do. We approach releases with general outlines (theme,length, format etc.), but when writing songs I’d say we aim for mean, earnest & impactful.
Adam: I think naturally all being into different types of musical backgrounds, our finished product ends up being a thing of its own, but we all have similar enough interests to where we end up with the result that we initially were trying to go for. I personally am really into trying to sound like the bands I am into. It doesn’t end up exactly that way which is good but I love when bands obsess over old school sounds/bands/records and try to make their contemporary music sound as authentic as possible whether it be tone or style or whatever. At the end of the day we are trying to sound pissed, like we worship the 80s and have our music sound anarchy as fuck!
PE: What bands inspire you the most?
Austin: I listen to EVERYTHING. I don’t know where to begin but musically, keeping personal interest aside, I think we’re inspired by 80’s UK crust and a lot of Japanese stuff as far as writing collectively. This is something me and you will have to nerd out on when we’re in Boston next. Haha!
Adam: For Krang, bands that influence the writing process for me are Masskontroll, Deathraid, Sacrilege, Hellshock, Deviated Instinct, Sodom, Axegrinder and Amebix as well as Instinct of Survival. Personally I am all over the water but my all time 2 favorite punk bands have always and will always be Discharge and the Dead Boys.
Devan: I could go on a long rant about every band I’ve ever loved and how they’ve all stuck with and influence me to this day and blah blah blah, but I’ll spare you the cost of ink and just say Sacrilege, Crude, Amebix and Discharge. That said, we are quite the eclectic bunch.
Brendan: Musically, anything running the gamut from Paintbox to Elliot Smith. I enjoy a lot of soaring Japanese hardcore with that Burning Spirits feel, 90’s screamo, early black metal & hip hop. Any band that has a way with words gets me going, but mostly I enjoy music that you can’t help but feel.
PE: What are most of your songs about? What inspires the lyrics?
Brendan: Lemme preface by saying that Discharge is rad & “The More I See…” could be the soundtrack to my daily tedium… but i think punk rock has much more potential than to rehash our dogmatic & oftentimes simplistic politics. Having been a few places where the punk scene eats itself inside out with depression, addiction, & apathy towards the struggles of those around us, I think its real important to allow ourselves to be more open in the way we express all of the things exploding in our minds. I am not blowing my own horn, or any horn for that matter, but I really enjoy taking the personal route when it comes to writing & am constantly attempting to better address the common threads that run through all of our lives. Our first wave of songs covered some of our political leanings in regards to vivisection, arms manufacturing, rape culture & the willful destruction of our Earth. The “Bog of Eternal Stenchcore” 7″ reflects on the weight of stagnation on the “politically motivated”. “Sounds of Death” is the result of an obsession with death and a years worth of hurt; friends making irreversible decisions in regards to their lives & some of us falling into those spirals ourselves. There is absolution in acceptance though & I think a glint of hope in such dark subject matter. Our upcoming 7″ deals with cycles of change in our lives, moments of mania & madness; a counterpoint to our last 7″. The songs we are writing & playing now are an extension of that, focusing on moments of change in our lives, wanderlust & really just form one big, loud, pissed love letter to the DIY community, punk rock & time spent on the road. Inspiration comes from any human I’ve met that has dared to be open, honest & shameless about it.
Devan: Passion in all its forms and extremities is what inspires us. Totally.
PE: You guys have done a few extensive tours. What’s your favorite city you guys haveplayed in? What’s your least favorite?
Austin: I love Boston. Detroit, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis) are up there too. I don’t really have a least favorite. We have had some bad experiences, though. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and not mention them. Hopefully things will be better when we return.
Devan: New Orleans is my favorite city ever, and our most recent gig in Boston totally ruled. I’d have to say, though, that many of my favorite shows have been in non-major cities. Birmingham AL was awesome, Asheville NC, Cincinatti OH, Grand Rapids MI…basically anywhere with a really tight-knit but wide-ranging DIY scene in terms of age, music, spaces, projects, etc. It’s always super encouraging to see.
Brendan: I’ll echo the others in saying that NOLA, Asheville, Cincy, Birmingham, Boston & Baltimore all kick ass. I’m usually super appreciative of all the towns we’ve been lucky enough to play in, though of course we’ve played in towns that seemed to embrace the anti-PC attitude/sense of humor that I am so fucking sick of. Some cities are really 50/50 because you’ll either play an amazing show with bad-ass folks & have the time of your life, or you might end up wanting to eviscerate some fuckhead who only listens to GG Allin & doesn’t get why a confederate flag hanging at a show space might ruffle some feathers.
Austin: We as a band aren’t about making sure we are politically correct all the time, but we definitely are hellbent on showing one another respect and are willing to give respect back to those who are legit. No single city is bad. Like I said before, sometimes there are some bad experiences. Fuckheads are everywhere.
Adam: Yes, Cincinnati, Birmingham, Boston, but most of all NOLA and Minneapolis. New Orleans and Minneapolis…no other city can live up to the debauchery that is expected to happen when we arrive in these two places. We need a week of recovery after being in either place for just a day. Also I love playing Madison a lot. Fuck, I love touring. So many amazing friends are being missed right now as we speak.
PE: What are some of your favorite bands you guys have played with?
Lord Krang: Scum from Detroit, Appalachian Terror Unit, Antisect, In Defense, Nu-kle-ar Blast Suntan, Kontrasekt, Cognitive Dissonance, The Skuds, Coelacanth, WrathCobra, Wartorn, Negligence, In Ruins, and definitely D-Clone; but honestly, it’s great to play with anyone and everyone who aren’t assholes and give a shit about “punk rock”.
PE: What are some of your favorite local bands from Chicago?
Lord Krang: Asphyxiate, Decay After Death (Decay A.D.), Cemetery (RIP), Culo, Die Time, Slag, Escalofrio, Sex Bunker (RIP), Birth Deformities, Gas Rag, Welkin Dusk, Daylight Robbery, Dirty Surgeon Insurgency, The Breathing Light, La Armada, Black September, Kontaminat, Ooze, Tensions, The Busy Sugnals, Population, More that we’re forgetting to mention….
PE: What does the future hold for Krang?
Devan: As Austin mentioned earlier, we have our “Broken Waves” 7″ being released in June, at which point we’ll be doing a small tour with Coelacanth. Also, as previously stated, we are well along in the writing process for our next full-length LP. Look for us around the Mid-west this summer and keep up-to-date and get in touch via the following:
crustardpunx[AT]gmail.com – krangcrustards.bandcamp.com – krangcrustards.blogspot.com
Austin: More touring, more albums, more blood spit nights, more everything! We’ll do a more extensive tour when the new LP comes out.
Brendan: “Bad Moon” 12″ – Skull Fest – Split(s?) – Self-Destruction With A Gusto
Lord Krang: Record labels that are interested in helping us with our next 12″ (which is more than half way written) get in touch with us!!! It will be even more galloping, pist, and triumphant than our still available “Sounds of Death” 12″!
For those of you who don’t know DEADLY REIGN, Its time to get with the program! DEADLY REIGN is a 3 piece D-BEAT killing machine with a legendary line up comprised of members from GLYICNE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, SCARRED FOR LIFE, WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, KEGCHARGE, CENTURY OF WAR AND TILL DEATH. These guys have been at it for a long time and don’t fuck around when it comes to bringing you punk rock authentic and true to its sound and with their new single released on PE entitled SLAVE! These guys don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. So let’s get to the brass tacks and see what these guys have been up to. (INTERVIEW BY DUTCH WELCH FROM KRIGBLAST)
PE: So what are your names, what do you play, and how did you guys come together?
(RAYGUNN) I MOVED TO AUSTIN AND RAN INTO GUERINOT AT HIS DAUGHTER’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. UNKNOWN TO ME, MY WIFE WAS AND STILL IS GOOD FRIENDS WITH HIS WIFE AT THE TIME AND HE AND I KNEW EACH OTHER FROM THE PAST WHEN OUR PREVIOUS BANDS HAD PLAYED TOGETHER. WE GOT TO TALKING AND DECIDED THAT WE SHOULD START A BAND. I SAID, WE JUST NEED A BASS PLAYER/SINGER, AND HE SAID HE HAD ONE. HE CALLED HIS FRIEND GUSHAMMER AND HE WAS INTO IT. THEY HAD BEEN WANTING TO START SOMETHING TOGETHER FOR A WHILE. AND EVENTUALLY WE GOT THE BALL ROLLING (OR SHOULD I SAY, THE BEERS FLOWING?).
PE: You guys have all been in some pretty kick ass bands in the past. who played in what?
RAYGUNN – GLYCINE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, KONTRAKLASE, AND SCARRED FOR LIFE.
GUERINOT – WORLD BURNS TO DEATH, AND KEGCHARGE.
GUSHAMMER – CENTURY OF WAR, AND TILL DEATH.
PE: Who came up with the name Deadly Reign?
(RAYGUNN) I USED TO HANG OUT WITH A KICK ASS BAND IN THE EARLY 80’s CALLED BODY COUNT. THEY WERE AN EARLY D-BEAT STYLE OF BAND (BEFORE THE TERM D-BEAT WAS AROUND) AND THEY HAD A SONG CALLED DEADLY REIGN. SO I TOOK IT FROM THAT. (AND YES, I AM AWARE THAT THERE WAS A BAND CALLED DEADLY REIGN FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BACK IN THE EARLY 80’s, BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE I GOT THE NAME FROM).
PE: The music of DR is furious, in your face politically and socially. Whats the motivation behind your song writing?
(RAYGUNN) MUSICALLY, WE JUST TRY TO WRITE MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. THE KIND OF STUFF WE WOULD LISTEN TO AT HOME. NOT SO MUCH TRYING TO BE ORIGINAL OR GROUND BREAKING. MORE OF JUST PLAYING THE HARD AGGRESIVE TYPE OF MUSIC THAT WE LIKE. WE GET IT ALL TOGETHER AND THEN GUSHAMMER WRITES SOME LYRICS.
(GUERINOT) I’VE ALWAYS SAID I CAN’T AND WON’T BE IN A BAND THAT I COULDN’T ALSO LISTEN TO. WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT OF PLAYING SHIT THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? WE AREN’T DOING THIS TO PLEASE OTHERS, JUST OURSELVES.
(GUS) SOME LYRICS HIT RIGHT TO THE POINT, RELIGION. IT’S FUCKING 2013 AND HERE WE ARE STILL DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS NONSENSE! PEOPLE THE WORLD OVER ARE BEING PERSECUTED, MISLEAD, AND OUT RIGHT SLAUGHTERED OVER RELIGION. RATHER IT’S CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS, JEWS, OR WHATEVER FICTITIOUS BULLSHIT SECT THEY ARE IN. RELIGION IN ANY FORM IS UNCALLED FOR AND DANGEROUS! AND THIS COUNTRY USES IT TO PULL OFF SOME SERIOUSLY HEINOUS ACTS OF PURE AND UTTER VIOLENCE AND WAR. WE TOUCH ON THIS OF COURSE ON THIS RECORD, BUT MORE SPECIFICALLY IT’S DIRECTED TOWARD THE WORKING CLASS FOLKS AND THEIR DAILY STRUGGLE JUST TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THE OLDER WE GET, THE SAME STRUGGLE REMAINS, EXCEPT NOW WE MUST NOT ONLY FIGHT TO FEED OURSELVES BUT FIRST FEED OUR CHILDREN AND LOVED ONES AND THEN WITH WHAT IS LEFT OVER, TAKE CARE OF OURSLEVES. SO WE CAN SLAVE ANOTHER DAY FOR A LESS THAN ACCEPTABLE WAGE. OVER THE YEARS I HAVE WATCHED OUR (PUNK) COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS WORK IN HORRIBLE CONDITIONS FOR SHIT WAGES WITH NO BENEFITS AND NO HOPE OF MOVING UPWARD IN THESE POSITIONS. AT THE END OF THE DAY THEY HAVE A SMALL CHECK THAT IS OVER TAXED AND A SORE ACHING BODY, THAT CONTINUES TO GET WORSE. “TELL ME IS THIS THE LIFE I’M FORCED TO LIVE TO PROVIDE FOR MY FAMILY?”…THE ANSWER IS NO! BUT NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT. WE HAVE TO CONTINUE TO POINT OUT THESE CONCERNS OVER AND OVER UNTIL THE POWERS THAT BE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO LISTEN.
PE: You guys did a split with HELLKRUSHER not to long ago entitled Continuous Warfare. How did this collaboration come about?
(RAYGUNN) I HAVE KNOWN SCOTTY (HELLKRUSHER) SINCE THE MID 80’s WHEN HE WAS IN HELLBASTARD, AND I WAS IN GLYCINE MAX. WE USED TO BE PEN PALS, AND WOULD SEND EACH OTHER TAPES OF OUR BANDS, AND OUR FRIENDS BANDS. WE EVENTUALLY LOST TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER AND THEN YEARS LATER FOUND EACHOTHER VIA THE INTERNET. I SENT HIM SOME DEADLY REIGN AND HE LIKED IT. AND WE DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING TOGETHER.
PE: You guys all have family’s now and continue to tour, play shows, practice, record and work. How has DIY punk changed in your lives and how do you make it work?
(GUERINOT) WELL, I HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS BUT HAVING AN UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE PARTNER IS KEY. HAVING KIDS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE SO IN MY OPINION, THEY COME FIRST. WORKING AROUND THEM AND WORK IS USALLY PRETTY EASY. LATELY IT HAS BEEN A BIT MORE DIFFICULT BUT TRYING TO WORK OUT THE KINKS IN A SITUATION AND PUT PIECES BACK TOGETHER IS PART OF THE PROCESS.
PE: The new single from Profane Existence entitled SLAVE, what can we expect and do you have any future releases coming out?
(RAYGUNN) IT’S A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN OUR LAST TWO RECORDS, BUT STILL THE DEADLY REIGN STYLE. NEXT WE WILL BE WRITING FOR A SPLIT 12″ WITH OUR FRIENDS KONTRASEKT.
PE: Closing comments, any last words?
THANKS TO ALL OF OUR FRIENDS THE WORLD OVER. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE. ALSO, THANKS FOR THE INTERVIEW. AND BE SURE TO PICK UP THE NEW DEADLY REIGN ‘SLAVE’ EP ON PROFANE EXISTENCE! AS WELL AS OUR LP AND THE SPLIT WITH HELLKRUSHER. ALSO, WE WOULD LOVE TO GO TO EUROPE SOMEDAY, IF ANYONE OVER THERE WOULD LIKE TO HELP OUR BROKE ASSES OUT. HAHA! CHEERS – DEADLY REIGN
WARTORN are a whirlwind of thrash punk goodness hailing from Wisconsin. Since 2004, they’ve been hitting the touring and record release circuit with no looking back. Here’s a quick interview I did to let people know about their two latest releases, Domestic Terrorist 7″ (Profane Existence) & Iconic Nightmare 12″ (Southern Lord). – Andy Leffer
(This interview also appears in CVLT NATION)
PE: You know the drill, just give us the basics on who’s who and what’s changed in the past, in regards to any line up changes, etc. Also, give us some insight on where WARTORN is going. We want to know tours, records, riots, protests, arrests….the whole back story on WARTORN’s origins.
Bitty: (Vocals) The band started in 2004, with Ryan, Hart (on drums) and myself as a three-piece. Within half a year I got a call with an offer for our first tour, which was with Municipal Waste. We did a mini tour with them and ever since then we have been able to go on tours with amazing bands each year such as Los Dolares, ATU, CYP, Krang, In Defence, Pyroklast, Hellshock, and up next Raw Power . We have been to 13 countries and have done lots of releases on many different labels.
Ryan: guitar / low vocals / whiskey enthusiast. Well we started as a 3-piece and over a span of over 8 years, have ended up with 6 members. With 3 of us being guitar players we are able to diversify our songs in ways that we could only do in a studio setting. This obviously makes a difference live as well.
Ela: I’ve been the bass player for over the last 6 years. Recently, we came out with an LP/CD on Southern Lord Records called “Iconic Nightmare” and a 7-inch, “Domestic Terrorist”, released on Profane Existence (which is part of their limited edition singles series).
Toban: (Guitar) I think I might have the most arrests out of anyone in the band. Not like its anything to brag about. I did narrowly avoid another arrest a few weeks ago.
Derek: Guitar as well. I’ve been in the band for a few months and have been on two tours so far.
PE: The music is dynamic, to say the least. You’re not getting any half-assed riffs or mindlessly thrown together lyrics or production with your music. Elaborate on the process and what is the driving force for doing such a band. Punk is a political movement, it’s always been a political movement. Are you a part of this fray as a whole, or is this more of a personal, therapeutic outlet?
Ryan: I definitely believe in the power of the riff. Heavy and raging. Punk is a political movement, but I also see it as a community (full of musicians, artists, writers, photographers, open thinkers etc). A lot of us live/ have lived in punk houses and have been booking DIY shows for years. It’s something we do to contribute to it as a whole.
Toban: Ryan is the riff-master general of the band. He does a great job of coming up with some of the most incredible riffs of anyone I’ve been in a band with. Adding Bitty’s smartly composed lyrics and Hart’s hard hitting/tight drum style makes a great concoction.
Bitty: As far as what I write lyrically, I mainly write about personal experiences or historical events. I don’t tell people what they need to think, that is for them to figure out on their own. Also, I could not label myself as more than a realist and a situationalist.
Ela: Well in my opinion, I would say that we are a part of this as a whole, but it also is a personal outlet for me. We have all contributed to the movement in one way or another, but I think of punk as more than just a political movement. For me it is also about a unified community… where people come together, whether it is for political reasons, to share a passion for music, a hobby, art, etc. … and we definitely have that in Appleton, which is awesome.
Hart: I honestly wouldn’t say punk’s always been a political movement at all. The fact that DK, Meatmen, and the Germs, for example, all existed during one heyday suggests more of a harsh musical and broad social changeover than anything to me. For me personally, punk rock, metal and hardcore have always been a therapeutic and vindicating way of life that has consistently solved a lot of my life’s most harrowing, fucked-up times. It had a total bottleneck effect on how I raised myself mentally and emotionally. It was a really great thing to find out about when I was trying to figure out how to express myself when everything just infuriated or bored the shit out of me. Later, after I was free as an adult, I quickly found out it came replete with its own sense of community, and a totally viscous following I was never aware existed at all. This band is fucking great, cause we never throw a blind rhetorical blanket over our lyrical ideals, or even necessarily our instrumentation for that matter. We have a rough format that we’ve stuck to, but we all come from slightly different scenes and upbringings, and I’ve always thought it showed at least a little in our styles. I honestly don’t think the excitement of being in this band has worn off for any of us. Sure, growing pains have slowed our progress a couple of times, but whenever the next lightbulb goes on over our heads, it’s all go no slow!
Derek: For me, this is definitely a personal outlet. That’s what music has always been for me. Being the young’n metalhead in the group, I’ve kind of just been exposed to the world of punk houses and DIY shows recently. From what I’ve gathered so far I can at least say that the sense of community is beautiful.
PE: Your latest singles release on Profane Existence “Domestic Terrorist”. There’s no beating around the bush on this subject matter. Once again, can you elaborate on this specific release and the intention behind the subject?
Bitty: There have been a few times where I had local law enforcement “protect and serve” the shit out of me. As a kid in the 80’s from a small hometown, I’ve had guns in my face from the cops, hammers pulled back and screaming in my face. I have also had an off-duty cop put a gun in my face and ask me if I thought it was funny while he was wasted. You know of all the times I was ever robbed or assaulted, at least I knew if I fought back I stood a chance; I even survived an attempted homicide! But, it’s not so easy when you have to fight back against law enforcement. They just beat your ass and lock you up, even if they are totally in the wrong. I’ve witnessed so much personal corruption; to me it seems to be an extension of an abuse of absolute power. Now that, to me, strikes terror in any citizen.
PE: Bitty, you’re straight edge…maybe not self-proclaimed, but you don’t consume drugs or alcohol. Considering the genre of punk and it’s history of abuse with these elements, has this hindered your views on the movement?
Hart: Total interjection here! Dude, Bitty’s optimism actually astounds me. He’s seen more friends either die or completely lose their vitality as humans due to drug and alcohol use than I’d like to ponder. He’s remained pretty fucking pragmatic in his attitude toward his friends’ choices in that sense. I myself get pretty fed-up at times about my own friend’s use of drugs, especially certain ones. I’ve had plenty problems controlling my drinking in the past. I do believe I have a fairly good idea these days of when to dry out, but it can pull me into a real bad place. I start questioning what even matters anymore, and I start fighting everything that means the most to me. However, that’s where that community comes in again! I’m learning to seek out the right punks or no one at all when the time feels right, and I’ve been keeping up on it for a while now.
Bitty: Not at all. You don’t need to be like me in order for me to like you. The real moment that reinforced my decision was when I came home to a friend that lived with me and I found him in a pool of his own blood. He had tried to cut his hand off with a butcher knife while he was completely wasted and ended up with more stiches then an average shark attack. It really put a bad taste in my mouth about how substances can amplify bad decision-making skills. Although I am aware that most just use it to have a good time, truth be told, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t my thing. But as long as you’re not hurting me or others in any way shape or form it’s your deal not mine. This is just a suggestion, have fun and do what you need to do to deal with things or get by, but try not to destroy yourself in the process. You might end up missing out on some good things in life.
PE: WARTORN is a great band, so with that….does WARTORN have anything they’d like to say to the world, it’s listeners or the masses in general?
Toban: In the words of country music legend Kris Kristofferson “Don’t let the bastards get you down”. Ryan: Thanks for the interview.
Ela: Thanks for all the support. We can’t wait to hit the road and tear it up again in a couple months!
Derek: May the force be with you. But seriously, I can’t wait to hit the road and I hope to see everyone reading this there.
Hart: As always, start 4 bands tomorrow and eat your fiber!
Bitty: Thanks for the interview Andy and everyone that helped us out and we’ll see you on the road. If you’d like to help us out with booking or have any questions, feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DESPISE are a four piece punk/crust/metal unit from the depths of the Minneapolis underground. Their 7″ release is a line of single’s being released by Profane Existence this year.
Interview by Andy (Leffer) of War//Plague
Let’s get this party started. First off…like most all interviews let’s start with who you are, what you do and what DESPISE is up to? What does the future hold after this PE single release? Also, expand on some each of your backgrounds, and what you were involved with prior to the band.
I’m Hannah, I do vocals and write the lyrics. I moved to Minneapolis from Chicago in 2010. I played bass and did vocals in Securicor from Chicago, and also vocals in Krang.
Zach: Hopefully we can put out some full length records seeing as we have a lot of material. As for before despise. I started going to shows at age 13 or 14. Played in a band called EZ Bleeders. We were rock/metal/funk/punk so everyone hated us but we just wanted to play. Grew up in uptown Mpls around a lot of older punks.
Hi. my name is Mike. I play bass real loud. moved to Minneapolis in 2009. its rad here.
What’s your thoughts on the Minneapolis punk community and how DESPISE falls into the DIY mix. There seems to be quite a good mix of punk and crust rising from the ashes of other previous projects within the Minneapolis scene. We had the 90’s and early 00’s that brought us DESTROY, STATE OF FEAR, ASSRASH, PROVOKED, PONTIUSPILATE, and needless to say MISERY, which is still going strong. Do you feel DESPISE is a part of this element of resurgence and is there still that dedicated @narcho thought process within the band?
Hannah: Definatly. Minneapolis has such a awesome punk scene/ community. So many rad bands that I have grown up listening to and have influenced me are from here.
Mike: well, if you want my grossly unimportant opinion, the scene and the music within it are two separate entities. the music is fucking fantastic. and only getting better.so many new bands and new faces. as far as where Despise fits into everything, i think we fit right in. if ive learned anything about minneapolis since ive lived here, its that its a weird fucking place filled with weird fucking people who like weeeeeeeeeeeiiiirrd fucking music. and if you havent met us, were a bunch of weird motherfuckers too. i fucking love it here.
Mitch: The scene has really picked up , it’s awesome to see so much activity now, it reminds me of how much was going on in the 90’s, so many awesome bands going on these days that local shows are always “stacked”, can’t even go grocery shopping without seeing people from bands or shows. It reminds me to be grateful , a lot of towns don’t have that. I definitely feel that Despise fits right in with what’s been going on.
Zach: I think despise takes a whole different approach to the punk scene. I don’t think of our music as being punk or even being really a part of this “scene”. I don’t make music for other people. I do it because its what I want to do
I know you folks had a bit simpler sound when you began. Straight up D-beat hardcore punk, but now it seems you’ve melded into a more crust, metallic sound. Was this an evolution of the band you knew would take shape, or was it more “fly by the seat” type thing?
Hannah: I think its the result of a combination of all of us taking influence from different sub genres of punk…grind, crust, black metal, d-beat, hardcore, etc…throw it all in a mix and you get Despise.
Mitch: It’s been a pretty natural thing as far as songwriting, the musicianship has lent itself to more technical stuff without losing our roots, really had no idea it would progress that way. Stay tuned for some good old fashioned though.
Mike: We always kinda had a general idea of what we wanted the band to sound like. the first batch of songs we wrote were very black and white, crust or metal. after that, everything just kind of naturally progressed into whateverthefuck it is today. zach is so talented when it comes to songwriting. he’s responsible for the metal parts. i just try to keep up and take care of the wicked awesome bass solos. we’ve become who we are together because thats all we can be. ourselves. when people ask what genre of music we play, i usually just say “loud as fuck” because i honestly have no fucking clue haha.
Zach: Crust is fun to play but as far as what I enjoy playing I usually drift more towards metal. Black metal at that. Probably we’re a lot of the metallic elements of our music comes out. Definitely don’t want to take all the credit for that because everybody helps meld the song.
What’s the ideology behind the lyrics and how the music is written?
Mitch: As far as the music goes it’s really just as simple as playing solid riffs and piecing the songs together as it sounds good, we’ll always come to a consensus before a song is finished, that way we all like the finished product. We try keeping things heavy and not being afraid to test the waters. Hannah will have to field the lyrics side.
Hannah: I write most of the lyrics…Most of which pertain to animal rights, vivisection, mental disorders, depression, drug addictions, negative effects humans have on the planet and our ecosystem, and of course cute bunnies taking over and killing humans.
Mike:Hannah has the voice of 10,000 angels. …burning alive in the fires of hell hahahaha. her voice is as much a part of our sound as our guitar and bass tones. but yea she takes care of the lyrics. all of our songs are about things that truly matter to us and to her. you can really hear that she means what she’s saying. we have some political stuff, animal rights, war is bad, so is jesus, blahblahblah. but the ones that stand out to me, the ones that make my cry a little every time we play them, are about real fucking shit. like how drug addiction is killing the scene from the inside out, watching all of our friends (and ourselves) die and lose their minds right in front of us and not being able to do anything about it, that feeling of hopelessness and desperation and shame you get every morning when you wake up and realize the world is still shit. im really grateful that i get to make music with three no shit honestly good hearted human beings.
Zach: Lyrics? We have lyrics?
Are you guys gonna tour and what about local gigs…big plans?
Mitch: Would be nice to do at least a little touring either east or west some time this year, locally, we definitely play our share. lol. Really want to get the rest of our recording released and get back in the studio, lots of newer songs. Hoping for all that this year.
Mike: I think so. i hope so. i let them do the planning for the most part. im down to party whenever wherever and however long they tell me to. but yea. another 7″ comin out soon, followed by what is bound to be the most epic full length record you’ll be listening to while you listen to it as long as you’re not playing a more epic record at the same time.
Hannah: We are planning on touring the east coast this summer. Hopefully the south and west coast after that. We’ve been playing a lot of local shows lately, especially with the release of the 7″. Hoping to record again soon!
Let’s end this interview the normal way. Last words or comments for the world?
Hannah:Up the punks! Ha.
Mitch: Thanks to Profane Existence for releasing the e.p. We can be contacted via Facebook or despisecrust@gmail we’ll have some merch available online soon.
Mike: Be yourself. fuck anyone who tells you you’re not cool or not good enough. this shit belongs to all of us. and if we want it to live forever, we need every single one of you. oh yea. and dont be a dick. seriously. why the fuck cant we all just get along? yea. sorry. fuck everything. upthapuuunnnxxxxx.
Crass has such an established legacy within punk, anarchist, artistic, and radical circles that it seems somewhat absurd for me to keep asking questions about them. Yet, whenever I think I have a firm grasp upon the thoughts, actions, and art of the people involved in Crass, my grip is weakened by their defiance of expectations, nuance of complexity in their continuing work, and their adamant refusal of labels. Perhaps this is their greatest gift to us, i.e. their constant shaping of straight lines into question marks and their insistence on holding up a non-forgiving mirror not only to themselves but also to all of us. In some ways, Crass therefore has a philosophical position not too dissimilar from Socrates, that is, they are somewhat like sand in that the firmer a grasp you think you have on them and their thoughts and art, the more they slip through your fingers. The very debate surrounding the re-mastering and re-issuing of the six Crass LPs is a case in point on the open discussion they continue to inspire. Whether you are a purist expecting these artists to live up to your idea of anarchy and not “sell out” or a sympathetic consumer hopeful the re-masters will somehow reach new audiences that other formats might not, they have at the very least evicted a reaction from the mainstream and punk rockers alike (inspiring love and adoration from anarcho/crust followers who will never again have as inspirational an example as Crass, as well as visceral dislike, criticism, or even hatred from the likes of the Exploited and Special Duties).
And so, we can continue to discuss and debate what Crass is and was. Central to this is the question, what did Crass write? Did they perform poetry? Punk rock? Noise/free jazz? Pop songs? Political manifestos? One thing seems certain, that Crass wrote, performed, and recorded what they wanted to, regardless of whether it would meet punks’ approval, or have the slightest measure of convention, accessibility, and least of all marketability. Yet, there is a relatable aura of authenticity surrounding Crass that punk audiences did (and continue to) relate to, even when they themselves were the target of Crass critique. At one point, they were outselling the top acts in Britain, all from their country home, utilizing only independent and D.I.Y. networks. And if you doubt it, you were (and still are) welcome to write or visit to discuss with the actual artists. They have nothing to hide, for they live according to their principles and pleasures.
If we take them at their word, and in this case I believe we should, Crass wrote love songs, though as aesthetically far from the doo-wop and bubblegum sounds that label is so often associated with. In their first experiment in long-form free-jazz/punk Yes Sir, I Will, Crass addresses the precise question of what they are and what they sing about. Outraged by the question of “why don’t you write love songs,” Libertine shouts, “Everything we write is a love song.” In other words, on a record focused on anti-war messages, love for the lives destroyed by war and love for those who might be saved by peace is the guiding inspiration. Ultimately the anger and passion contained within their art was done out of love for the people and goodness within the world, as well as the hopeful love of a future world and a pure freedom. This love, however, must be unconditional, and the aphorism from Penny’s print (from Exitstencil Press) of “Love is All or Love is Not at All” was clearly the guiding light for the 2014 version of Yes Sir.
On the centennial year of World War I, Penny Rimbaud and Eve Libertine assembled a group of diversely talented musicians to perform Penny’s revision of the “Yes Sir” poem. This was only to be performed once (as are all improvisations), at the annual Rebellion festival in Blackpool. Though Crass itself never performed in commercial venues, this ensemble performed at the largest punk festival in Britain (and one of the largest in the world). Of course such a large performance carries certain risks regarding sound as well as audience reception. To heighten expectations and excitement, this performance inaugurated this year’s Rebellion festival, as it had the opening slot in the Empress Ballroom on Thursday afternoon. The performers walked out onto a solemnly lit stage to the sound of your typical applause, heckling, and hoots-n-hollers. Penny grasped his microphone and said, “We’d like to dedicate this set to all those who have died, are dying, and will continue to die in the killing fields of political and corporate madness. And blessings to the people of Gaza.” Immediately following this dedication, much to my (and I suspect others’) surprise, the band launched into the opening chords of the Who’s “My Generation,” setting the stage for a recollection and rumination on the punk generation or so-called ‘punk movement.’ This would prove to not be the last of their musical departures from the three-chord, fast-paced accepted punk formula.
This version of Yes Sir, I Will was not a simple rehashing of the 1983 Crass record. No, this was both a re-writing and a re-imagining in word and sound. Some of the original “Yes Sir” shined through, such as Penny’s beautiful and Beatlesesque “what did you know, what did you care?” though sung in this live performance in a lower register than the original record, providing a melodic, almost lullaby-like reprieve from the sonic tidal wave that was occupying the ballroom. Eve Libertine also brought in the classic Crass “Fight war not wars,” “everything we write is a love song,” “if there were no butchers, what would people eat?” sections originating not only in the 1983 Yes Sir but also from Crass material spanning their entire recording career. Pen’s “Acts of Love” also shined in at times, most especially in the opening verses. Yet, despite these aspects of original, older work, the Rebellion performance definitely added components of 21st century culture and technology.
For instance, a particularly poignant moment in the performance was when Penny declared that while people are starving in the world, too many of us are “tapping tittle tattle texts” and “sending selfies to ever-absent friends” at which point the music ceased and the performers all took phones out of their pockets. “Hello? Where are you? Hello? No, I can’t talk now.” This was a brilliant display of the distracting, self-absorbed, and rude qualities that mobile technologies have disseminated. There were also moments of reflection upon Pen’s lifetime, ranging from references to the Beatles, to engagement with punk rock, to critiques of Hollywood, media, and war.
To those who were there, it should come as no surprise that Pen would describe the sound as inspired by a “Zappa meets Coltrane” space. There were no breaks here in the long-form improvisation. And in addition to the typical rock instrumentation of drums, bass, and guitar (though I don’t mean to belittle these musicians as typical, as they were far beyond that), there was also a wonderful jazz sensibility and complexity added by saxophone and cello. Sonic registers typically associated with punk spaces? No!…and therefore all the more shocking and powerful. Also incredibly important to the success of this performance was the visual aspect. The contrast between Penny moving, jumping, and marching around the stage and Eve solemn entrapment at the microphone provided a visual stimulus that nicely complemented the sonic aesthetic.
Behind the musicians flickered brilliant images by Gee Vaucher, fluctuating seamlessly between beauty and innocence, to death and violence. These images nicely complemented Penny’s and Eve’s cries for us to take responsibility, for us to look beyond mere negative blaming and start looking toward positive action. Pen later told me that when you point your finger to blame someone/anyone, you should really be looking into a mirror, “the responsibility is ours.” I therefore like to think of Yes Sir, I Will in its new incarnation as an invitation to self-reflect, both for punks and everyone else. We are invited into a discussion about what authority means, who is deserving of blame, and what we want to do. After roughly 45 minutes, the jam came to an end, and the performers left the stage to loud applause. We had all been on a journey of sound and ideas quite unlike anything else that would grace the stage at Rebellion for the rest of the weekend.
Is this punk rock? In that it defies expectations of a listening audience, yes. In that there is a radical political message prompting not complacent agreement but active engagement, yes. In that it was performed by three members of punk’s most important band, yes. However, the most encompassing answer I can offer (and one that I would like to think Pen, Bronwyn, and Gee would agree with) to the question of ‘is this punk rock’ is who cares. Why is it important that we classify art and thought? It simply is, and if that means that some punk rockers may not accept it, so be it for it shall be their lost opportunity at reflection, experience, and perhaps even love. They have challenged us to embrace the “fuck you” to institutions of power and murder, but also to eventually move beyond this visceral anger towards a state of universal, unconditional love. I know the new script will be widely disseminated eventually, and I hope we are all open enough to encounter it and truly grapple with the ideas and invitation therein.
With the rise in popularity of the ideas of urban gardening, deep ecology, and permaculture amongst activists, anarchists, and subcultures such as punk often questions of ethics seem to have become simplified to the equation of SUSTAINABLE = GOOD. Yet often all kinds of cruelty can be hidden behind the veneer of that buzzword sustainable.
The unfortunate reality is that simple fixes rarely offer much beyond false hope and easy ways out. Perhaps they help people to ease their personal guilt by assuming they are not part of the problem (everyone else is), but is this any more than a self serving delusion?
I grew up on a small family run farm in Alberta, 10 miles north of a town you have likely never heard of, with a population under 700. My mother grew up on that same farm with her two brothers. Her dad and his family lived there for many years, they had immigrated up from Nebraska where the family had farmed for a few generations since their original migration from Scotland, where again they had been farmers. It would be fair to say that farming is in my blood, so to speak (or perhaps I have just been reading too many Vampire The Masquerade books as of late?) Either way, I feel at least semi-competent to write about some of the ‘sustainable’ realities of small scale farming, drawing on my personal experiences.
I have many memories from growing up on the farm, from playing in the garden and eating carrots straight out of the ground with the dirt still on them, to collecting eggs from the chicken house, or chasing the turkeys for fun, being chased by the turkeys (which wasn’t so fun), or moving cattle from one pasture to another by horse back. There were some great memories too; picking saskatoon berries, wild raspberries that grew in the coolie, or building forts and campfires in the bush by the ravine. However, there were also just as many memories that were not so wonderful to look back on. Branding cattle with a hot iron as they screamed, or castrating steers — many city folks don’t realize you do not eat cows, and you do not eat bulls, you eat a male who had it’s nuts cut off so the flesh will taste better. All of which could be argued as sustainable.
Now I recognize that not all this is relevant to the popular trends I see amongst self styled alternative people over here on the west coast, as most of the folk punks are more into having pet goats and living on boats rather than farming beef or dairy cattle for auction. So I will try to keep more focused on the aspects of small scale farming that would be more of interest to the DIY crowd with their fantasies of farming and sustainable farming.
One of the more popular trends amongst the urban radicals is having back yard chickens, to collect and eat their eggs. Where I live, in the Cascadian bioregion, it has become almost as cliché to have 6-10 birds pecking around your back yard of your community house as it has to wear Carhardts, have a large dog, and all black clothing, or to play banjo. Unfortunately, I also live in an area where one thing that is not popular is sticking around. The radical community here tends to be quite transient in nature, with lots of college kids, traveler punks, and others folks who often didn’t come from here and even more often don’t have much intention of putting down roots. This is a common frustration to those who are part of long term projects propelled by volunteers, but none the less, it has its pros and cons. However for the chickens pecking the dirt and laying those golden eggs, it is a much bigger problem. An average chicken may live up to 8 years, which is far longer than the school term, or even a bachelors degree. A quick peruse of Craigslist at the right times of year will give you a good indication of just how expendable these animals are to many of the people who are excited in September (at the beginning of the school term) to build a chicken coop for their back yard. But even for those who don’t intend to go traveling or tree planting soon as the summer hits, few want to care for a chicken until it dies naturally of old age. You see, chickens only lay a lot of eggs when they are still fairly young, as they get older they will produce less and less. For many of the urban agriculture enthusiasts, a chicken that doesn’t lay eggs is just work with no pay off.
But the plight of the urban chicken doesn’t end there — or more accurately; it doesn’t begin there. You see, chickens don’t just appear, and they are not brought by the stork to deserving families, they come from somewhere – or in other words, someone breeds them. Few of the breeds of chickens people farm have any resemblance to wild breeds, and wild chickens are pretty rare these days due to our destruction of wildlife habitat for cities and farm land; never mind that there was chickens, like Europeans, are an invasive species to this part of the world. So most of the domesticated birds come from a hatchery; either directly – or indirectly.
I remember how exciting it was for me as a kid to order chicks. We would get a catalog in the mail, with pictures of the full grown birds, and you would select them by recording the order number of which breeds you wanted to buy. A few weeks later, you would get a large cardboard box in the mail which would be chirping. Upon opening it, you would see it packed full of fluffy yellow chicks, divided and layered with cardboard dividers so they could fit more into each box. Every so often a couple would die while in the mail, so you would get a few dead ones in every box.Kinda like two scoops of raisins, right?
An important thing to note is, that they also were separated not just by breed, but also gender. See chicks are born about half females and half males, but most people don’t want to order males. Roosters don’t lay eggs for one, and for two, if you have more than one (or maybe two) roosters, they will kill each other. So the chicks are bred, the females are sold through mail order and the males are killed. Yup, right into the wood chipper. When people get back yard chickens, they often order from a breeder or hatchery. I know some get “second hand” or even call them “rescues”, but where do you think those birds came from before you got them? Buying chickens is putting money into the industry that breeds them for profit. This is the industry of commercial chicken breeders, and they are often the same places that supply big farms, as well as small farms and your average urban gardener with their new found interest in permaculture. And I didn’t even talk about the forced insemination.
The study of words can reveal a lot. If you look at the etymology of the word Garden, we discover it is related to the German word for guard, and to words for walled, or closed lot. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to begin to see the relationship between these terms. As anthropologist Layla AbdelRahim explained in Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams, domestication requires the domesticator to control access to food and land. When you begin to garden a space, you must control what other species have access to that land or you will likely not have much of a crop to harvest. Whether we are talking about other non-human animals that might desire and easy lunch, or even competing plant species, insects, or other humans – gardening requires us to control what species are able to access the space. On an even more basic level, gardening usually begins with removing undesired plant species to prepare the land so we can plant seeds of the species we desire.
It has always amazed me how uncritically many Green Anarchists, Vegans, and Primitivists seem to embrace and support permaculture. Yet permaculture is in its essence another system of domestication rooted in anthropocentric desires. In other words, permaculture might be presented by its proponents as being sustainable (and therefore ethical) and based in local ecology, but in fact it is once again about human wants and needs. As well revered permaculturist Erik Ohlson explained in his interview in the book Tangled Roots: Dialogues Exploring Ecological Justice, Healing, and Decolonization, “Permaculture, which could be permanent—agriculture or permanentcultureis about designing human culture that is beneficial to both the land and to human at the same time.” That might sound great on the surface, but look at it a bit more closely and it follows all the same old patterns; humans are in control, Erik posits us as the managers and designers, and in the end it is about human needs first and foremost. Animals are not even acknowledged in this relationship, even though you would be hard pressed to find a permaculturist who doesn’t argue that domesticated animals are needed in order to maintain a healthy closed circuit. The implicit goal of permaculture is to make this human domination of wildlife spaces, plants and animals – sustainable and thus permanent.
I am fully aware that not every radical out there agrees with the anarcho-primitivist critiques of domestication, which sees domestication as not only the control of the wild, but also as the root of many other systems of domination such as patriarchy. It took me a long time myself to come to a place where I was open to those conclusions and the difficult questions they lead to. However there are many lenses to view the question of ‘sustainable farming’ through. From an animal liberation lens, another set of problems presents itself in that permaculture like other forms of gardening for human consumption involves turning wildlife habitat into farm lands that are exclusionary to certain wildlife, and even further permaculture also uses domesticated animals.
This is where it really becomes a problem for me, as it perpetuates the use and domestication of non-human animals for human benefit. But due to the SUSTAINABLE=GOOD formula, we choose to not see its implications for animals: both wildlife and domesticated. Often when I have presented these arguments to proponents of permaculture design, the response I get is akin to the lesser of two evils. The same argument often used to justify voting for shitty, racist, business friendly politicians.
I am by no means arguing that permaculture is worse for the land than monocropping, factory farming, or industrial agriculture, rather I am arguing that it is not the be all end all simple fix that many seem to desire it to be. Permaculture still means wildlife habitat is destroyed and used for human benefit that does not allow wild species full access and use of the spaces. Permaculture still involves captive breeding and continued domestication of animals for human consumption, whether it be chickens to scratch and turn the soil, or goats, pigs, or other species. Many of those animals will be from commercial breeders, and the care of those animals will continue to support industries that profit off of animal agriculture. Many of those animals will also still be killed in the end either so humans can consume their flesh and bodies, or because they have quit producing at the rates desired by the domesticators. Most of those animals will also be of breeds that simply did not exist in the wild, did not exist until humans interfered with their reproductive strategies to cause them to develop traits deemed more desirable. Did you know that wild pigs were never pink skinned, that sheep didn’t produce a harvestable amount of wool for hundreds of years after domestication, or that cattle bred for meat are different breeds than the cattle bred for dairy production? Wild cattle don’t produce as much milk, the animals we farm today are the product of thousands of years of selective breeding.
It is indisputable that modern industrial agriculture is anything but sustainable as it depletes the infrastructure of the landbase for higher temporary crop yields. Such a system by definition is incapable to sustaining itself indefinitely and would eventually lead to a collapse as once fertile croplands become less and less able to produce, due to nutrients in the soil being depleted. Technological fixes such as fertilizers may increase yields in the short run, but only work to deplete the health of the land in the long term. Permaculture on the other hand aims to be sustainable, which may be its most insidious trait. It seeks to make permanent the ability of humans to dominate the wild, and thus maintain industrial civilization. Advocates often argue that permaculture can allow us to use less land in order to grow crops to feed our populace (which is a population of not just humans, but also of the animals we domesticate for our use). However, promises of abundance aside, we live in a society of exponential growth. Capitalism is an economic system that requires such growth, both in profits and in populace which will consume the products of the capitalists. Permaculture does nothing to challenge or disrupt this growth, and in fact may allow it to continue far beyond the limits of industrial agriculture in its current form.
Capitalism kills animals. Industrialism kills animals. Civilization as we know it is based on the domestication of animals and destruction of the wild. I have no doubt that permaculture may live up to its promise of sustainability, I would even go further and suggest that many older practices of agriculture (such as crop rotation and choosing crops based on soil conditions) can also allow long term sustainability, yet like permaculture these techniques do nothing to challenge the relationship of human dominance, capitalism, growth, or cruelty to animals. The system always seeks to recuperate easy reforms in order to maintain itself. If we do not actively work to disrupt these power relations and include questions of ethics, sustainability will just become another way of hiding our violence and rationalizing our domination of other species.
At the very root of agriculture is the domination of other living beings by humans. At the very core of ethics is the question of domination and hierarchy. For me, any system that perpetuates these historical patterns is a system based on violence. I am always reminding myself that agriculture is a relatively new invention in the timeline of human existence. The world I would like to work towards in one that encourages and fosters the growth of wild species and habitats, not the subjugation of them.
I don’t know what the solution to all of this is, but I do know that if we hope for total liberation it can not perpetuate the oppression of others.
For those of interested in finding alternatives to these oppressive systems we need to consider more than simple solutions. Directness of our relationship to our food, and sustainability of our practices is only one part of the question we need to be asking. Another key question is, what is the outcome for non-human animals and for other species? Do the ‘alternatives’ we are promoting make any difference to the chicken in the cage? How about to the Wolf? the Trout? The Orca? Or Mycelium? Are they better off because of our actions? Or does our liberation continue to come at their expense? How can we begin to foster relationships that benefit wildlife? And how can we imagine our relationships to other species in ways that have the potential to be liberating and symbiotic?
An in depth look at the events that unfolded in Ferguson, Missouri following the police murder of Michael Brown, a black teenager. Also features an exclusive interview with former Black Panther, Ashanti Alston, about the state of black “America”, abolishing penile power and taking care of your peeps in the muthafuckin resistance.
This interview was conducted over email by Comrade Black. Information on upcoming tour dates can be found at the end of the interview.
PE: For those unfamiliar with your past, could you introduce yourself?
YES SIR, INMATE #03895-000…oh wait, sorry, old habits…
Hi my name is rod and I’m from the desert southwest, but live in the great lakes bioregion now. I’ve spent my life fighting for the earth and animals and have just finished a 5 year period of federal supervision that prevented me from being involved in environmentalism or animal issues. I’ve spent a total of 6 years in prison for actions related to the protection of animals, and am now moving forward in my life with new strategies and tactics, that are both effective and legal. Though I walked a controversial and radical path, I no longer advocate illegal activity. That’s a personal decision that I made before with very intense personal consequences, so I’m not doing that anymore. I’m doing what a lot of people are doing now, and that’s struggling to find a way to help stop some horribly violent federal and state policies that currently are allowing for the killing of wolves and other wildlife.
PE: What have you been doing these last 7 years while on probation? Other than helping wolves, what else are you doing these days with your life?
Trying like hell to stay out of prison. When you’ve made a mark for yourself like I have in the law enforcement community, it gets real easy to get back into trouble. So I did what I had to do, I severed all contacts with the activist world, didn’t email, phone, write or do any social media with anyone with an activist past history and just worked my job at a brewery where I’m a server. I also was a big part of my children’s lives. I wasn’t in prison. I was a present father, raising children, teaching them to love life and nature. Loving life myself. I went kayaking when I could. We played in lakes and rivers, camped. I did what Geronimo and others like him had to do when they were forced to surrender and live on the rez. I will still be a father, but now ts time to stand up for the wild once again.
PE: It seemed for a while like every time you moved they were trying to put you in jail again. I had thought you retired to raise your child, What have you actually been doing during all the years where you seemed to disappear from the public eye?
No one will deny that federal law enforcement agencies had identified me as a target. Not only had I already spent 4 years in prison for Animal Liberation Front actions in the 1990’s, but in the ensuing years I had become a spokesperson for the group while continuing to organize with Earth First! And Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty. I even made it easier for them by hanging out with other suspects of federal investigations. So while I did have to go back to prison as part of a non-cooperative plea agreement, at least I didn’t get the 16 year sentence they threatened me with in trial. So yes, it was time to lay down my arms and think about my children and the future. I spent the last five years just keeping my head low and not traveling or seeing any close friends and only very restricted travel to see my family. I wasn’t allowed to visit my elderly parents in Portland, because my probation officer said all of the Northwest was off limits due to its history of radical environmentalism and animal rights activities.
Like so many other men recently released from prison, I focused on the financial survival of my family. I also got involved with my children’s school and met other parents raising children nonviolently who became friends. We tried to start a community garden near the school and introduced a zero-waste program that survives today. The last five years allowed me to be a part of my kid’s lives rather than only hear about it in letters.
Now that my federal supervision is over, I can think about acting as a responsible human being and organizing against the destruction of the wild. Here in Michigan that means stopping the recent sport hunt for wolves. That’s where the tour came in. Folks from the Hunt Saboteurs approached me offering to help build a broader grassroots campaign drawing from several movements. Not just against wolf hunts in the six states where they are now being hunted, but against contest predator hunts and control efforts by the USDA’s Wildlife Services program.
PE: A lot of people seem to see animal liberation and anti-colonial work as opposed. But to you they seem to be very deeply connected?
The connection for me comes with the concept of seeing an animal, person or mountain as part of something bigger, or whether they are just a resource to be exploited and dominated. That is the foundation for the invasion of planet earth and for me I’ll work with anyone fighting against that destruction. Here in the Great Lakes, the wolf is a sacred animal to the indigenous people. So you ave not only animal welfare and animal rights people opposed to the hunt, but the tribes as well. Combine that with environmentalist and even sportsmen against hunting and trapping wolves and you have the potential for a lot of solidarity which equals strength. The Idle-No-More movement s amazing and supporting indigenous peoples engaged in struggles against colonialism is vital or they are going to be marginalized and silenced. All us parties affected by the same Invader need to build stronger alliances and push back in the legal channels we have left.
PE: I asked David Barbarash, a former ALF spokesperson what he would want to ask you if he was interviewing you. He wondered if you regret any of the actions you participated in over the years?
Ahhh, the regret question. Who doesn’t have regrets? But if the interviewer is evading asking me more directly if I regret my illegal actions on behalf of wildlife, I’d have to say no I don’t. I could be cheeky and say I regret not sinking the third whaling ship with the watchman aboard, or finding more lion snares, but that’s kind of how I feel…I’d never want to hurt anyone, but with so many victories like wolf recovery being reversed, I wonder whether its less about “winning” and more about simply standing for what you believe even when its unpopular to do so. It wasn’t popular to take the actions I did, but I did them not with the intention of winning any popularity contests, but to save some lives…however temporarily that might have been. And I don’t regret that.
PE:David also wondered if you would share your thoughts on whether people’s activism may be motivated by past experiences of trauma or anger, and how that affects their actions?
I think this has to do with what I said about the connection between animal and Indigenous issues. A lot of people relate to animals and nature because they are ground up by the same machines. In that way, I think a lot of people are empathetic to animals and can relate to them because we all have a bond with animals some time in our lives and like children, we believe it is wrong to abuse them. But if your saying that such activism attracts unhealthy or unstable people, well I’ve seen that too.
PE: I have read that you became vegan and started working to defend animals after listening to punk music, in particular the song This Is The ALF by Conflict?
That’s kind of funny because its only partially true. Here’s the real story. I began working to protect animals when I was 12 and listening to Paul McCartney and John Denver. Punk music didn’t come until I went overseas on Sea Shepherd in 1985. I started fighting against whaling and the Canadian harp seal hunt after being exposed to both through dramatic direct action campaigns by Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace. In England, the Sea Shepherd crew included hunt saboteurs who were also vegetarian and vegan. They were the first ones to lead me to question my beliefs about all animals. I had tremendous respect for members of the American Indian Movement who were still fighting colonialism, then I witnessed nonviolent civil disobedience used in anti-nuclear protests, but these people exposed me to the principles behind the Animal Liberation Front, and that’s where “This is the ALF” comes in. After working on Sea Shepherd in port one day, some hunt saboteur volunteers had me over to listen to music. I couldn’t understand a word of what sounded like screaming, but they handed me the album cover which had the lyrics and I wanted to join. That’s when I went vegetarian and convinced I would start an ALF group.
PE:Did you grow up around animals? When did you learn your love for animals from?
I believe everyone has an inherent compassion for animals. It’s just the question of whether it gets repressed by institutionalized thinking that convinces us to see animals another way. I guarantee that if you switched babies between hardcore hunters and vegans, each child would be raised with the corresponding parent’s worldviews, at least while they were children. But if nature is allowed to prosper, compassion for animals will come to anyone. The only thing unique about me s that I chose a path of action that made my compassion more noticeable.
PE: Do you still see punk or other music cultures today as having radical potential to radicalize youth
I’m sure that’s true, but I don’t have my finger on that pulse. I’ve always had my movement musician favorites, Dana Lyons, Alice DiMicele, Jim Page, Joanne Rand, Casey Neil and many others whose music was a kind of soundtrack for my life in the 80’s and 90’s, but I don’t know who is leading that charge anymore. I believe that music is a sacred medium to reach people and I still love listening to any new song with a story sympathetic to animals or nature, because you know that we are not a minority and those kinds of songs are received well.
PE: What is hunt sabotage?
Hunt sabotage has evolved for me over the years. It began with my English friends who sabotaged British hound foxhunts with false scent trails and horn calls, then it evolved to similar tactics in America to interfere with desert bighorn sheep hunts. I’d say hunt sabotage is nonviolently interfering with the recreational killing of wildlife. I was arrested in 2004 for sabotaging a mountain lion hunt and went to prison for 8 months. Now hunt sabotage means something different for me. It means utilizing any channel you have available to stop not just individual hunts, but entire hunting seasons. Its very dangerous confronting armed men in the woods, but we can sabotage hunts by getting involved with the agencies that establish hunting seasons and begin to lobby to have the views of the non-hunting majority represented. These agencies are supposed to be following principles of conservation that recognize that wildlife is a public trust resource and as such the opinions of non-consumptive “users” matters. Presently the states where wolf hunting and
trapping was recently enacted, the state wildlife agencies have cosy relationships with sportsman’s groups. It’s not a unique situation. The hunters through payments for licenses and tags provide the budget for those agencies, so they tend to manage wildlife with the needs of hunters as a priority. So for me, hunt sabotage is any tactics or strategy that aims to stop the recreational killing of wildlife.
PE: What is the reason they are intending to kill the wolves? Can you talk a bit about the campaign?
In Michigan, the justification for the wolf hunt is that wolves are preying on livestock and hunting dogs as well as being seen in the neighborhoods of some rural towns. This is what was said leading up to the hunt and then when it began, we discovered that 90% of livestock depredations in Michigan were at one farm where the farmer practiced horrible farming practices. Cattle that died were left in pastures and when wolves were attracted they were blamed for the deaths and permits issued to kill them. This one farmer also received over $60,000 in compensation for his livestock losses and was recently criminally charged with animal abuse. One of the other justifications was the killing of “pets” which means dogs trained to chase down bears. Bear hunters place bait piles to attract bears, but they also attract wolves too sometimes or are placed in areas where wolves have their dens. These hounds are released to chase bears through wolf territory and occasionally get killed when they do this. But that’s not the wolf’s fault. Then we have the state’s wildlife agency lying to the media about the level of danger wolves were posing to humans in one town and those lies being repeated by a state representative to justify the hunt to the legislature. And on top of this, we have laws in Michigan which already allow hunters or farmers to kill a wolf they witness attacking their animals. In addition, the USDA’s Wildlife Services has been called in to kill over 20 wolves in recent years in Michigan. So that’s what we are fighting. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing of wolves and we want to see wolves returned to endangered species listing.
PE:It seems a lot of people see wolves as a pest, or a threat to be afraid of. Do you find it is hard to convince people wolves need to be protected?
I don’t think its hard for people to get this issue. We’ve learned it before after we eradicated wolves the first time. Society as a whole has changed, but the agencies responsible for livestock and wildlife refuse to evolve and reflect those changes. And these agencies have little accountability. People understand that predators play a vital role in maintaining the health of prey animals like deer and elk. What I’ve been hearing is people asking, “why are people still killing wolves?” In addition to the role predators play in the ecosystem, I also believe they should be protected because we still don’t know a lot about them. The campaigns of persecution have continued literally since Europeans first arrived, and I think we should demonstrate a little human evolution by no longer waging such a war on wildlife. Wolves returning to the landscape is a success story in endangered species preservation that desperately needs to be defended right now.
PE:Anthropologist Layla Abdel Rahim writes about how the idea of a predator is a problematic construct, because the animals don’t see other animals as prey all of the time – but rather just as other animals most of the time and only as prey when they need to feed. I wonder what you think of this and if you think using scientific categorizations such as apex predator is at all problematic?
Well, let’s see where else do we use that word? To describe sexual predators! So undeniably, there is a negative connotation for some people. But yes, we allow science and taxonomy to frame our relationship to animals when the relationship can be so much more sacred. It’s a agreed upon concept to call some animal relations “predator” but we should also question our personal and spiritual relationship to animals. Not just because I am indigenous, but I also gravitated towards the way native people viewed animals. It was never demeaning, it was always on an equal standing. The animals were (and still are) people too, or people are animals too…Wonderful stories of mysticism and magic that sounded better than Bible stories to me.
I love to be educated and read wildlife agencies reports on wolf management, but at the end of the day I choose to see the wolf as my sacred relation. And as a resident of Maa’iigan’s homeland, I feel an obligation to speak up among the humans when the wolf’s future is at stake. Yes, because they are a apex predator who helps hold the ecosystem in balance, but also because they are the sacred brother/sister to the Anishinaabe who still call this place home, and wolves and coyotes and other predators are just mega-cool…
PE:How can we build bridges between Indigenous resistance and movements for animal liberation?
By first, not being so fucking judgmental of people who eat animals. Long before there was an animal rights movement, there were indigenous peoples defending the earth and her animals with their lives. And they still are! Just because they eat meat doesn’t make them the enemy. Until we learn tolerance we will continue to be disenfranchised. It doesn’t mean WE have to be like them, but there’s such beauty in diverse worldviews that all hold nature and animals on the same level as us. It is the oppositions worst nightmare for us all to be unified against their policies that destroy the same world we all love.
PE:How does being a parent change things now for you?
I heard this story where a young warrior wants to be at the front of the war party, in the thick of any fighting, but when you’re a little older, you let the younger warriors lead the battle, and then when you’re a little older, you’re fine being in the rear guard and when you’re a little older than that, maybe you’re crouching behind a tree or rock watching to see how things are going before jumping into the fray… I think it’s like that for me. I’ve been in enough battles, I’m not an adrenalin junkie doing this for the thrill. I’m a middle-aged man with kids dammit, and I have to take care of them to be a warrior, that’s why indigenous resistance exists, to protect our families and communities. It’s always been about protecting the vulnerable, the young and elderly, it’s the same way in our struggle.
We are trying to protect people and the environment for the good of all, so that we may simply maintain our right to exist. Being a parent has given me a deeper understanding of the need for a long-term sustainable strategy for fighting and living. I also know that those I might come into conflict with are also trying to do the same thing, eke out a living and protect their families. So that means not being so adversarial, and being less willing to fight, and more willing to try and work together first.
Having children has made me a better warrior, because I’ve realized when you’re willing to defend something with your very own life as many father’s are prone to feel, you understand the motivational power as it exists in nature where many creatures are driven by the same strength of love. Because that’s what it’s about for us, about defending what we love. And if we can’t experience that raw passion and love for something close to us, then we’re dead already. I’m not ready to give that up. It’s also why no struggle can be real unless its inclusive of people raising children. People with dominating, destructive worldviews have been breeding like crazy, we need some kids to be raised in the new old ways…
PE:You spent a lot of time in prison, and on probation over the years. Can you talk from your experiences about what is effective prisoner support, both when people are in prison and when they get out? Is there any advice you would give to people who might be looking at doing time?
First, advice to people looking at doing time. Don’t have children. Going to prison doesn’t just effect you, it effects those who love you, so be prepared to put them through incredible trauma and suffering too. Don’t think you can maintain relationships while you are in prison. The best you are doing is sharing your traumatic experience. There is nothing good about going to prison. It should be avoided at all costs.
Once you are in the system, your purpose is no longer the survival of your family and community, its about your own survival. That’s what I experienced and that’s why I’m grateful to be able to be organizing again and am very conscious to not step over that line into anything even remotely illegal. It’s simply not worth it. We have to constantly be doing a cost/benefit analysis of our modes of resistance and weigh whether its a sustainable strategy or not. If our tactics result in our bravest warriors being imprisoned for years, then its time to rethink. It doesn’t mean we condemn our past tactics or strategies, it just means we evolve to our changing environment. Like coyotes or wolves.
PE:There has been a dramatic rise in ALF actions over the last year, bands like Los Crudos and Earth Crisis are touring again, and now Rod Coronado is back on tour encouraging activists to get active; kinda feels like the 90s again. How do you figure the current state of radical movements compares to past decades?
I don’t think it’s a resurgence, it’s the survival of our struggles. Some of us might have gone to prison, but the need for organizing never went away, and thankfully brave people are following a very dark time for the radical environmental and animal rights movements and pushing forward. I don’t think we can compare this to past decades because twenty years ago 9/11 hadn’t happened and we weren’t labeled as terrorists. We have to evolve and recognize that there are strong forces out there that want to treat us like criminals rather than the harbingers of social change. So in that way, I can’t say what the state of radical movements is like because I don’t consider myself radical anymore, nor am I up on their progress. I hear about infighting, the debates on issues that distract us from being a broader more public movement that focuses on solidarity building issues with people we too often call the enemy. I’m just trying to share with the new generations of activists out there what I’ve learned and help them realize the cost-benefit analysis of doing actions that won’t lead you to prison. There’s a time and place for everything, but right now its time in the US to reclaim the public process in regards to wildlife issues and do something completely different. In a way, organizing in these old fashioned traditional ways can be very radical because its a strategy that has been left to very conservative people.
PE:Can you talk a little about your history with wildlife defense and hunt sab?
My first hunt sabotage actions were in England targeting foxhunts and badger baiting back in 1985. In 1987 we started a hunt saboteurs group in California to interfere with trophy desert bighorn hunts. A lot of my ALF actions were on behalf of predators, the most prominent being our actions against the fur farm industry and our Don Quixote-esque raid on the USDA’s Predator Research Facility in 1992. We destroyed the laboratory, but they just rebuilt it bigger, but at least a few coyotes got away that night.
I returned to opposing trophy hunting in 2002, going into the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona to interfere with desert bighorn sheep hunts. We spent winter weekends searching out a handful of trophy hunters across a huge desert mountain landscape. The bighorn sheep hunt sabs were the perfect balance of effectiveness and experiential bliss, because the desert is beautiful in winter time.16 mile hikes looking for hunters, seeing the sheep themselves, and other wildlife, you are literally seeing what your fighting for. We also began going to wildlife agency meetings, giving testimony on hunts we were opposed to and documenting illegal hunting in the field.
It culminated in 2004, with the very public hunt interference against attempts to remove mountain lions from the Sabino Canyon National Recreational in the Coronado National Forest outside of Tucson, Arizona where I lived. Public opposition to the hunt was overwhelming, and the whole city knew the only thing standing in the way of the state and federal lion hunters was us Earth First!ers. We spread false scent trails with mountain lion urine, and I was chased down with a helicopter after we sprung a lion snare. I was sentenced to 8 months in federal prison for that one.
The most effective campaign we did was against the hunting of sandhill cranes which winter in southern Arizona. We would lay in cornfields between hunters in blinds and incoming cranes who upon seeing us waving our arms or reflective mylar would veer away from the hunter’s. The best part about it is that never once did we get caught. When we did interact with hunters, it was as fellow hunters as I always have the appropriate tags and licenses. We also documented the hunt, including cranes attempting to aid their wounded relations. We also solicited public comment on the hunt at birding events and repeatedly testified against the hunt on ecological grounds that it wasn’t sustainable or necessary. Once again, it was amazing just to be in the fields watching thousands of cranes flying overhead.
I had wanted to continue the campaigns against trophy hunts in Arizona, but then I was overtaken with my legal defense on not just the lion hunt front, but for a lecture I gave defending arson the same day an ELF fire caused a $60 million fire in San Diego. So that’s why now I’m jumping on board to help wolves now, because I think the same strategy can work, to participate in the process of changing policy by attending public meetings and calling on these agencies to reform to reflect the interests of citizens who appreciate wildlife as a working component of the environment, not only as some kind of resource.
I hate cement
A concrete statement of the hatred of life
that your world is built on
Paved over earth
Yet you cannot kill the wild
even under the pavement habitual wildness
A plant reaches for the sun again
When I was a kid Halloween was by far my favorite day of the year. I have a distinct memory of the year I got chicken pox, I was 4 years old living in Ardrossen Alberta, and oh boy was I upset that I couldn’t go trick or treating with my older sister. She shared the candy with me, but it just wasn’t the same. Every year my mother would take me to the thrift store to find a cheap ski-suit, then come Halloween I would get on 2 pairs of long johns, don the ski-suit, and my mother would get out rolls of masking tape to cover me head to toe – I went as a mummy, with the help of mommy. And since I couldn’t bend my knees or elbows, I walked like one too!
As I got older, the costumes became more complex. My mother hand sewed me a Beetlejuice costume when I was about 12, and I spiked my hair for the first time (using green Halloween hairspray). I remember one year working for weeks with liquid latex to hand make a Halloween mask for my Lich costume (a Lich is like a zombie mage from D&D, what happens when evil wizards take a potion to extend their life at the cost of dying while staying alive so they can continue to gain more power). One year I went as the Devil, and even spent hours dying my skin red with watered down food coloring which stained for weeks, but looked awesome! Or there was the year I dressed up as a mafia guy, including a Tommy gun I spent week making, with a copper pipe barrel, coffee can magazine, and oak, hand cut and stained rifle butt. The cops pulled me over to confirm it wasn’t real – and of course to run my name for warrants – cause you know, they are assholes. That incident lead to its own humorous story, but I will tell that one another day.
Eventually I began setting up Halloween parties as a community event. This was really the first DIY organizing I ever did, years before I ever organized DIY all ages punk shows or anarchist bookfairs. I would rent a hall, get my (former) friend Pat to DJ, and my friend Yvonne to run the bar (this was years before I went Straightedge). People donated to get in, and the bar would usually break even, even after the costs of a liquor license and me setting the prices far below normal. The majority of attendees were people I played Vampire or D&D with.
The reason I loved Halloween so much as a kid, and even until I was a young adult, was that it was the one holiday where you could be dark, dress up scary, as something evil. Where you could embrace all the things normally frowned upon in this fake Christian and legalistic culture. It was the day the freaks, geeks, artists and picked on kids could shine. It was DIY, and encouraged youth to be creative, and use their imaginations. And it was the only holiday where you went out into the community, often with friends to meet your neighbors, and knocked on the doors of other people (who you would threaten with pranks if they didn’t give you candy). Every other holiday meant staying home with family to celebrate some weird depiction of a dead deity and gorged on dead animal carcasses. On Halloween, instead of consuming a carcass, you would try to create a costume that made you look like one! Halloween for me was the collective accumulation of everything missing from every other day of the year all wrapped up into one dark night. I was always drawn to darkness, just as I was always drawn to be creative.
But Halloween has been recuperated by the consumer capitalist mainstream and drunken party culture. Now it exists as nothing more than another excuse to buy more junk (made by children in a sweatshop in China), consume, and get drunk. Whereas the costumes of my childhood were mostly homemade, even if people occasionally bought a mask or the fake blood, or whatnot, there was always a DIY element to it; now the norm is to purchase your costume at the mall, 100% plastic shit, shipped from overseas, and throw it out the next day. Mom’s and dad’s no longer take their kids door to door in many cities, as the fear of poisoned candy and sexual predators has become so pervasive (even though no one has ever actually poisoned candy to hand out, and the vast majority of child molesters are family, close friends, or people given authority over the kids; not a stranger in the bush) that the new tradition for many parents is to drive their kids (in their gas guzzling SUV) to the mall where they go store to store instead of door to door, and managers or employees of corporations hand out candy along with promotional materials. Because as we all know, Corporations are far more trustworthy than the people who live down the street from you.
For young adults and teenagers, the new trend is a mix of sexist shit costumes such as “Slutty Nurse,” or “Breast Inspector” and the always popular cultural appropriation and other racist ‘costumes’ such as white people wearing blackface. And have you noticed the disturbingly sexualizing Halloween costumes being marketed for young girls these days? Costumes become more and more sexualized by the year, for both adults and children. From “Slut Shaming” to sexualizing children, the corporations who make and sell this shit have no problem profiting off of rape culture. Just as the bars have no issue with profiting of addiction, and binge drinking.
Then of course there is the Halloween candy, made of shit and chemicals that are toxic, glued together with processed sugar, and often containing the milk of abused cows or other products stolen from the bodies of animals which our species domesticated who live tortured lives in industrial farms and feedlots before being shipped to the slaughter house. This poison cocktail then gets wrapped in a couple sheets of plastic “to make sure it safe from contamination” before being shipped halfway across the world so you can give it to kids to ensure they become addicted to sugar. TRICK OR TREAT!
Even the horror movies have gotten worse, turning into movies that fetishize and sexualize torture for 2 hours straight.
Over the last few years I have pondered various strategies to try and re-appropriate what is left of the once very DIY and community oriented former Pagan holiday. As much as I am disheartened by what it has become, I still do see some hope in the darkness. The continuing popularity of the Halloween screenings of the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show give me some hope, and honestly dressing up in drag and throwing toast in the air can be quite a blast! The overt queerness of Rocky Horror may be what has saved it from being appropriated and recuperated entirely by this consumerist and homophobic culture.
I use to see some possibility as well in November 5 – Guy Fawkes Day, before the iconic V mask became mass produced and adopted by the right wing Libertarians and conspiracy theorists who never bothered to read Allan Moore’s anarcho-antihero epic, nor taken the time to learn the real history of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament. But alas, I have given up on Guy Fawks day after burning only 1 effigy of Steven Harper.
And of course there is the Pagan revival, people going back the roots of Samhain. There is definitely something encouraging about people, especially settlers on stolen land, wanting to go back to their roots. The potential for decolonization is there. Yet I am not entirely sold on this either, as those pagan roots are often from cultures that have already engaged in the domestication of animals and plants, and worship warlike patriarchal gods, or gods who offer the control of nature for faithful servitude. Spirituality has also been largely recuperated by civilization and turned into an escapist retreat from taking action and creating change. Then there is the questions of cultural appropriation whether it is neo-pagan Wicca and reinvention of Samhain, or the appropriation of Día de Muertos.
Another thing I have attempted with limited success is to organize sober spaces that are alternatives to the drunken Halloween party culture. There is many people that can’t be in spaces where alcohol is, whether it is cause they are struggling with addiction, a youth who legally is not allowed into a space that sells booze, or someone who just doesn’t like being around drunks or doesn’t feel safe around them do to past experiences.
A new idea I had this year was to make posters which read in large text something along the lines of:
“GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
Halloween is suppose to be about building community
DON’T TAKE YOUR KIDS TO THE MALL
trick or treat & meet the people you live next to.”
Another idea I have played with is to make vegan treats, which may not be healthier but are a lot better than the toxic corporate crap candy most folks are handing out to trick or treaters. I have a simple recipe for Vegan rice crispy squares for example, and I thought if I was to make them with a note attached explaining who made them, why, and all the ingredients including a phone number and address to accompany my name; perhaps, just maybe, parents would let their kids actually eat them??? A connected idea to make this one work better, was to make a batch of Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, using Sarah Kramer’s awesome recipe, in about august/September, and make a note with the ingredients that reads “hand made for you by your neighbor,” then take these door to door and hand them out for a few blocks, as a good opportunity to get to know the people who you share geographical locality with. This way not only do you meet them which can help build community, but also make them more open to homemade candy come Halloween.
The other type of strategies would be to find ways to use the current consumer culture and appropriate it’s energy for anarchist purposes. Thousands of people in the streets wearing generic disguises can offer a perfect smoke and mirrors type of potential for low level warfare against capital. Although with the enormous police presence and normalization of snitch culture amongst yuppies, there are some real risks to this. Alternatively one could try to use the trendy hipsters as a funding base for anarchist projects. Put on an event or sell something targeted towards pop culture (Zombie paraphernalia?) and use the money from it to pay the rent on your infoshop, to restock your punk distro, buy media or AV equipment, send to prisoners, or to cover travel to conferences, summits, or elsewhere for people who should be there but can’t afford it. There are many projects that are in constant need of funds in the anarchist movement. However, this strategy also runs into some risks of recuperation or wasting our energy on projects that don’t help further our own.
Halloween has been reduced from the night to creatively celebrate horror and the dead to a dead holiday where zombies dressed as in costume celebrate the death of creativity and consume the horrors of capitalist civilized reality. Is it time to bury this tradition? Or can transform into wild beasts and enact a séance to resurrect it from the death that is this modern reality called of civilization and destroy the monster called Leviathan?
The grass IS always greener
When you’re standing in a desert
That use to be a forest
Like the Fertile Crescent
Or the great Scottish rain forests
You know, where now what we call the Moor is
Or parking lots and paved roads where the meadow use to live
But you see the trick isn’t to get over to the other side of the fence
But instead to tear it down altogether
A world free of false man made borders
Walls and fences
Cages are for captives
And we are meant to be free
As all life is meant to be
I hate walls and all the people who love them.[i]
I hate bars and prisons
And bars built to keep people drunk in
Captives to their own inebriation
Wasn’t that drink suppose to give you escape?
But there is no escape when the whole world is our prison
Just another bottle do drown in
Not until the people have risen
To tear the oppression down
Bring the bastards down
Royal or otherwise
[i] This line is a play off a line from anarcho-pop band Chumbawamba “I hate wars, and all the people who love them” from the song Here’s The Rest Of Your Life from their second album Never Mind the Ballots
It is with great enthusiasm that we are announcing the 2013 speaking tour for anthropologist, unschooler, and anarchist Layla AbdelRahim. Layla will be touring with her new book Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams through various communities in the Cascadian Bioregion.
We are still booking dates. If you wish to organize a speaking engagement with Layla in your community please get in contact: email@example.com
Tour dates so far:
Tuesday October 8, 5:30-7:00
Kwantlen Polytechnic University Surrey BC, Unceded Coast Salish Territories Crime and Reward from an Anarcho-primitivist Perspective.
Saturday October 12, Venue TBA
Vancouver BC, Unceded Coast Salish Territories The Insidious and Resilient Narratives of Domestication: Pitfalls to Watch for in Autonomous Learning Zones.
Tuesday, October 15, 7pm,
Camas Books – 2620 Quadra St,
Victoria BC, unceded Lekwungen Territories What’s in a Class? On Reproduction of Gender, Species, and Ethnicity as Categories for Labour and Consumption.
Friday, October 18, 7pm
University of Victoria Victoria BC, Unceded Lekwungen Territories The Ship of Fools as a Place of Spectacle, Healing, and Education where the Wild are Sent to Die.
Still seeking dates in Portland, Olympia, Eugene, and Seattle.
Full presentation descriptions:
Crime and Reward from an Anarcho-primitivist Perspective.
George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Black teenager, Trayvon Martin, this summer came as a surprise to many mostly because the civilised believe words and focus on language rather than on praxis and consequences. Namely, civilised people see the judicial system with its verbose process of trial as a system of justice and in the eyes of those involved in Zimmerman’s trial, there was “no evidence beyond reasonable doubt” that Zimmerman acted within the confines of the American law. The question thus was not whether killing someone was wrong, the problem that was to be resolved in this system of justice was whether the killer had the right to kill.
In this lecture, Layla AbdelRahim discusses the civilized premises that construct the human animal as predatory and thus centers murder in anthropology itself and reinforces the predatory narrative. Furthermore, this predation is structured by the classificatory system of civilized epistemology that categorizes groups of living and nonliving beings, whether human or not, as “resources” and “consumers” thereby excluding whole groups and immense suffering from the public discourse on justice. And as discussed in her book, Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education, this predatory narrative is reinforced by both the medical sector and the system of education.
The Insidious and Resilient Narratives of Domestication: Pitfalls to Watch for in Autonomous Learning Zones.
Not only has the hierarchical project of domestication and civilization existed for the past ten thousand years, it has been expanding globally, engulfing more and more territories and bringing the world to a state nearing the brink of collapse of biodiversity and self-sustainability. This colonizing project has not been accepted passively. It has met strong ideological, epistemological, socio-economic, and physical resistance on both individual and social levels. Nonetheless, civilization has reached an epidemic level largely owing to its misconstruction of “knowledge” about human nature and the world. In her research, Layla AbdelRahim applies concepts from biology, anthropology, ethology, and sociology to examine the mechanisms by which socio-cultural narratives and material cultures reproduce themselves through domesticated bodies, minds, and desires. In this workshop, Layla will identify these mechanisms of perpetuating domesticated “unknowledge” and will engage a discussion on resistance to its narrative.
How do we know the world? How do we relate to the world and to our knowledge of it? Today, most people around the world believe that we cannot learn how to live in the world without having gone to school and received an “education”. However, what is this “education”? What is its content, its method, or its purpose?
Education is a systemic production, reproduction, and transmission of specific socio-economic constructs about humans, society, and the world. These constructs are then passed on as “knowledge”, which ensures the coexistence of epistemological classes as socio-economic classes in a hierarchical paradigm. Civilised science prioritises Cartesian thinking that divorces “reason” from “emotions” precisely because empathy with the exploited, the suffering, or the consumed will interfere with the project Civilisation.
In this conversation, Layla will discuss the underlying premises in scientific thinking about the world as a system of domestication of human and nonhuman resources for production, reproduction, consumption, and ultimately devastation.
The Ship of Fools as a Place of Spectacle, Healing, and Education where the Wild are Sent to Die.
The Medieval European allegory of the Ship of Fools was more than a metaphor or a literary ruse to critique the Church and the state. In Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault argues that this trope was also a real socio-political tactic used to cleanse the civilised space by isolating the “mad” or the “unreasonable” from “society”. For civilisation, “reason” has two constituents: raison d’être and sanity. The sane are here defined as those existing for the purpose of domestication in a “natural” food chain hierarchy. In this sense, “society” consists of those working for the “reason” of domestication and socio-economic hierarchy, exploitation, and consumption and those who cannot or refuse to abide by the domesticator’s definition of their reason for existence are either sent to sanatoriums, hospitals, or other correctional facilities to be cured or killed.
Drawing from the research conducted for her book, Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education (2013), Layla AbdelRahim discusses schools and children’s culture as spaces of such isolation and “correction”: where the wild raison d’être to dream and to exist for one’s own, known or unbeknownst to self purpose is extinguished and where the child is taught to exist to serve as a human resource in the chain of exploitation of nonhuman resources.
We need your help! The Victoria Anarchist Bookfair & Festival of Anarchy collective is always looking for new people to help behind the scenes. We’re looking for help in all kinds of areas such as:
*welcoming & information tabling
*counseling and safer-space support
*cleanup and more…
The Bookfair is entirely volunteer-run and helping out is a great way to get involved and meet new people. If you’re interested, please read the volunteer descriptions, our collective principles and accessibility statements on our website and let us know how you’d like to help out!
The deadline to apply for a table, propose a workshop or submit an event listing for the Festival of Anarchy has been extended to July 31, 2013! See below for details:
1. Bookfair Dates & Contacts
2. How to Request a Table
3. Call for Workshops & Presentations Proposals
4. Festival of Anarchy
5. Street Newz Anarchy Issue
1. Victoria Anarchist Bookfair Dates & Contacts
September 14th and 15th, 2013
Fernwood NRG Community Hall
We are pleased to announce the eighth annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair, located on unceded Coast Salish Territory in Victoria, British Columbia. The Bookfair is for anarchists and non-anarchists, with participants from all over North America and beyond. Events include book and information tables, workshops, readings, films, presentations, and much more!
The Bookfair always includes workshops on a wide range of topics. We seek to introduce anarchism to the public, foster dialogue between various political traditions, and create radical, inclusive, and anti-oppressive spaces. Participants with different visions, practices, and traditions are welcome.
Our theme this year is Eco-Defense. We aim to highlight various environmental threats and the resistance movements that have formed against them. From logging of old growth to oil development to mining, we will analyze resource-extraction from an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial perspective. We will explore how the Indigenous and settler populations can share responsibility for the challenges at hand. We aim to move beyond critique and chart creative paths toward healing the planet.
As part of Anarchy 101, we require presenters on anarchist history and associated radical theories. We also aim to provide a mix of workshops that show the breadth of issues and the diversity of opinion within anarchism. Thus, we are seeking presentations on topics of colonialism, decolonization, gender, sexuality, ‘race’, disability, food security, spirituality, feminism, class struggles, poverty and homelessness, animal liberation, primitivism, DIY, militancy, pacifism, anarchism in practice — as well as topics that connect any number of these. Whether it’s a practice-presentation, participatory demonstration, panel discussion, facilitated discussion, and everything in between — if you have an idea for a workshop, we want to hear about it!
GENERAL INQUIRIES: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. How to Request a Table for Sept 14 & 15
The heart of the Bookfair is the main room including booksellers, distributors, independent presses and activist groups from all over BC, North America, and abroad. If you’d like to table this year, please provide a short description of your group and the materials you intend to distribute at the Bookfair.
There is no fee for tabling at the Bookfair, but we will be requesting 10% of sales after expenses in order to help us cover the costs of the venue rental.
The deadline to request a table is July 31, 2013 (we cannot guarantee inclusion on the poster or in our program-zine for late submissions).
The Bookfair organizing collective is currently seeking workshop and presentation proposals. They may be aimed at people who are curious about, or new to anarchist ideas and radical practices, or they might address a topic in some depth intended for people who are already familiar with the anarchist tradition, radical activism, or anti-oppressive practices.
Standard Bookfair workshops last for 50 minutes with a 10-minute break in between. While we are open to a variety of workshop formats, and we recommend that facilitators leave at least 20 minutes for discussion at the end of their presentations. Each year we get a lot of submissions, but if we don’t have space at the Bookfair, we still want to help make your workshop happen!
Please provide a title, and short description of the workshop’s content in your submission. If your workshop is accepted, this information will be reprinted in the program zine.
NOTE: The deadline for all workshop and presentation proposals is July 31, 2013 (after that date we cannot guarantee a timeslot at the Bookfair or inclusion in our program-zine for late submissions).
4. Festival of Anarchy Events: Sept 5–14 (various locations TBA)
In addition to the Bookfair, a “Festival of Anarchy” will take place during the preceding week, with diverse anarchist-themed events occurring at different venues in Victoria. You can propose any type of event or activity: the only limit is your imagination.
Festival of Anarchy events are organized autonomously from the Bookfair and, as such, venues are the responsibility of Event Organizers—that’s you!
The Bookfair collective acts as a hub to promote and coordinate these events. We’re committed to helping promote autonomous festival events to the best of our ability through the program zine and the website.
If you’re interested in having us promote your event, please provide a title and short description of your program by July 31, 2013 so that we can include it in our zine and on our website.
We strongly recommend Festival Events are NOT scheduled during the Bookfair’s operating hours. In general, contacting the Bookfair Collective about scheduling dates before our proposal deadline is a useful way to ensure the least number of event conflicts.
5. Street Newz Anarchy Issue
Victoria Street Newz is looking for articles on anarchism for its September issue. This special issue celebrates the annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair which takes place the 2nd weekend of September
We got word late yesterday that Daniel McGowan was told he wouldn’t be issued a pass to go to work the next day. According to his keepers at the halfway house, this denial came at the direction of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). When he followed up, Daniel was told that it wasn’t merely a denial of a work pass, but a restriction on all movement. When asked if that meant federal marshals were coming to get him the next day, the halfway house administrators told him they didn’t know.
The state, and its for-profit halfway house minions, were clearly in collusion. This is just another way that opacity is used to mindfuck folks left to twist in the wind, not knowing what the future holds.
From our understanding, the reason for his re-imprisonment is directly related to an article Daniel recently wrote for the Huffington Post. An attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights has been to visit Daniel at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Once we know more, we’ll pass the information on.
For now, take time to send Daniel a card or letter. Let him know that regardless of how the state treats him, we have his back.
Write to Daniel at: Daniel McGowan #63794-053 MDC Brooklyn Post Office Box 329002 Brooklyn, New York 11232