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.
The last few days have been unusually hot, and with constantly rising temperatures do to global warming, it is useful to know how to make a good vegan ice-cream cake to help deal with the heat. Last night I made this exceptional vegan ice-cream cake, I had been wanting to make one for a while ever since an ex of mine brought one to a potluck a few yrs back. Here is how I did it.
1) The first layer was made with vegan store bought iceream, I used butterscotch ripple, I started by melting it, then adding dark chocolate chips. II found the cheap way to get good dark chocolate chips is to find a store that has them in bulk, and surprisingly often the dark or “pure” ones in the bulk section are accidentally vegan.The trick to making them cheap is to ‘accidentally‘ mark them down as the bin number for the shitty cheap milk chocolate chips that are usually about half the price. This way even someone on a fixed income can afford decent chocolate.
2) the second layer was made by putting Oreo cookies through the food processor to create crumbs. I normally would never buy such shit, but they are excellent in decedent baking. oreos are also one of those things that are ‘accidentally vegan,’ probably cause they don’t use any real ingredients at all… :( Still I used them cause they are tasty and add good texture. But don’t worry, if you don’t want to give money to shitty capitalists, just steal them. That’s why God invented shoplifting.
after this, you need to put it in the freezer until the first layers become solid.
3) This is where it gets interesting, I made the next layer by using frozen bananas, mixed with frozen raspberries, and a scoop of organic cane sugar, put through a food processor to make a variation of easy banana icecream. I get my raspberries in bulk to save money, and the bananas are easy to dumpsterdive or you can often find them cheap at small grocery stores that have discount racks. I added a scoop of vanilla flavored Vegan protein powder, I love this stuff as it is an easy way to get good nutrition, add it to baking, or cereal, or smoothies and it adds a ton of protein. It is quite expensive, but worth while. I got lucky as a friend dumpsterdived it and gave it to me.
I followed that with another layer of oreo crumbs. And then again stick it back in the freezer
4) The next layer was the best, I again used smooshed bananas, but this time mixed it with canned pinapple! YUMMY put the two in the food proccessor and added a bit of almond milk. Again you need to refreeze it after this layer before continuing.
5) The final layer was again using vegan store bought icecream, this time I used chocolate mixed with butterscotch.
6) I decided to get decedent, so I topped it off by throwing some nuts in the food processor, I used pecans and cashews, but most anything would do. However if you are gonna share it with friends or bring it to a potluck remember that tons of people are allergic to peanuts. I covered the topping with crushed nuts then sliced up some strawberries to decorate it, and froze it one last time.
This recipe took a bit of work, but none of it was difficult, and it made a lot. it was sooo worth it. Like instead of buying an overpriced cow puss ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen, I made my own, DIY Dairy Queer Vegan version!
Last year I was lucky enough to take part in the Open The Cages Tour, which combines music, protest, film, and workshops all geared towards ending animal testing. OTC could be described like a travelling carnival of animal liberation, organized in the DIY punk tradition. OTC is continuing with extensive tour dates throughout 2013 and they looking for support from groups and individuals, like YOU! Support is easy, and doesn’t cost a cent.For real yo!
Endorsing is as simple as saying you support the tour and posting about our events and linking to our page. We get a ton of traffic on our site, from individuals, groups, media and students; we are happy to showcase other group to these visitors! Additionally we get a lot of visits from labs and universities to our website so we like to show that we are part of a network of people who are opposed to this (instead of just one small crew of people they only have to worry about for 2 days of the year when we get to town.) We know this fight is bigger than us, and we are very happy to act as a hub for the resistance to the pseudo-science that is vivisection! If you want to be part of our network, or show support for the tour, please fill out the form! Thank you so much!
If you want to know more about the tour, check out this interview we did on Profane last year with tour director Mike XvX.
The tour also includes the first feature length documentary about vivisection, watch the trailer here
Additional Information About Endorsements:
We love endorsements because they really help us to promote the efforts of local chapters and groups! We want to build up a big network of folks that share our beliefs, values and objectives so that individuals that come to our events know where to go after we leave if they want to keep being active. Having a list also gives us the ability to direct folks if they miss our events or if they come to find us after we have already been through town, or even if they are just checking out the website looking for resources.
An endorsement doesn’t have to be material in any way, but really just adds to a growing list of opposition, and proves a network and resources before, during, and after the tour stops. We just really want to highlight local crews and groups so that our reach can boost and enhance the local campaigns, not override, sit on top of, or over shadow it. If your group wants to donate materials, zines, shirts or anything to the tour that we can take with us along our route, we also accept donations that are non-traditional or outside the capitalist system. The tour will accept any donations of mech, anarchist, vegan, animal liberation/total liberation, workers-rights, feminist, anti-oppression, antifa, anti-racist, intersectional, books/zines as well as stickers, postcards, or other goods. We also are looking for places to crash, eat, or get things printed. If your group or a contact of yours has the ability to assist us in addition to your endorsement, please let us know!
All of us are vegan and we do ask that every endorsing group/collective/organization be against animal exploitation in some way, and if it is a business or restaurant we ask that they be vegan (meaning that you use nor profit from any animal exploitation -eg: use no flesh, dairy, eggs, shells, wool, leather, fur, feathers, bones, silk etc. regardless it’s origin or if it is new, used, found or dumpstered)
Hate speech proponent Doug Christie has passed away. Finally.
Most of the mainstream media articles refer to Christie as a ‘controversial lawyer‘ and some even refer to him as a ‘defender of free speech,’ saying he defended holocaust deniers and anti-semites. I find this toned down revision as sickening as the historical revisionists he defended; so I want to say this loud and clear -no bullshit- for those who appear to be tone deaf. Doug Christie was one of this colonial nation state’s most well notorious racists; known as the lawyer who has defended numerous well known neo-nazi organizers, as well as holocaust deniers, homophobes, and other anti-semites. It only seems fitting that Christie died of terminal cancer, since he himself was a cancerous creep, and an important player in an even more sick movement.
For years Christie has tried to ‘white-wash’ himself as being a ‘defender of free speech.’ Of course like most nazis who try to veil their racism to create a more socially acceptable image the only speech Christie has ever concerned himself with is that of racist who have been charged with hate speech. Christie’s dance card was full of big names in the wild wild world of white power – oh sorry I mean white pride, see that’s the term racists prefer to use when speaking to ‘the public’ so they won’t
Christie also founded the so called Canadian Free Speech League, which every year would give out an award to people charged with spreading racial hatred, holocaust denial, and homophobia; dubbed the George Orwell Award. The appropriation of Orwell’s name and image for the celebration of racism is mind numbing. Orwell, an anarchist well known for his books such as 1984, Animal Farm, and Homage to Catalonia; having gone to Spain to fight the fascists during the Spanish civil war and was about as opposite of Christie’s ideology as humanly possible. Vancouver Lawyer Gary Botting worked for Christie for many years, and developed a close personal relationship to him; Botting has since severed ties with Christie and went to great lengths to distance himself from the well known racist. “it is clear to me that your Canadian Free Speech League is merely a front for an anti-semitic, Pro-Nazi agenda.” Botting wrote in a public letter to Christie, continuing “In the Canadian Free Speech League, the only opinions truly allowed are those which conform to your own. And those opinions, as you well know, are antisemitic and almost blatantly pro-Nazi. It is no coincidence that both you and Ernst Zundel usually celebrate your birthdays on April 20, Hitler’s Birthday. It is no coincidence that most of the Canadian Free Speech League annual awards ceremonies have been held as close to that date as possible.”
In a recent CBC radio interview, Christie claims he only defended white supremacists cause they were the only people facing government repression for what they believed. This is a sad attempt to cast himself the hero, the defender of the people; and is also simply and utterly confusing. The only people? Really? Is he that stupid and unaware of what’s going on in the world around us, or dose he just think everyone else is? When the Canadian chapter of Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty was dealing with intense police harassment and repeated arrests, as well as private security hired by corporations, I did not hear Mr Christie offering to help. How do I know? well when SHAC was in Victoria I was volunteering with them. They instead retained the services of Vancouver lawyer Peter Edelmann. If that’s not close enough to home, where was Dougie Boy when the Victoria Tent City was fighting for the Right To Sleep; as homeless activists were challenging the constitutionality of anti-camping laws in the Supreme court after a 31 day camp at Cridge Park, only about 5 blocks away from his law office. How do I know he didn’t offer to help? Again, I was one of the campers, and my legal name is on the court docs. Nor did he speak a word against the massive police/state repression of activists at the Toronto G20, many of which were arrested before the G20 even occurred! Same with the repression of activists in Vancouver at the Anti-Olympics Convergence. When the Joint Terrorism task Force showed up at my door, and I was interviewed on CBC, Christie again didn’t say a word. We could even go further back to the legendary struggles between feminist bookstore Little Sisters in vancouver and the state who was confiscating their shipments of lesbian erotica books, once again Christie didn’t offer to help. But when holocaust denier Jim Keegstra was fired for teaching his high school students that the holocaust was just a Jewish Conspiracy, Christie phoned him up to say “Hey, don’t be down-hearted.” and became his lawyer. And when George Burdi, vocalist of the white power band RaHoWa (Racial Holy War), and founder of Resistance Records – The largest white power record company in the world – was arrested, Christie “was ready to give up three months of his time away from home, and do it pro bono,” urging Burdi to let the charges go to court rather than plead guilty. So it seems clear that he was only interested in helping other racists.
Christie was also the head of the Western Canadian Concept party and later founded the Western Bloc Party, 2 far right political parties with anti-immigrant and homophobic stances as well as colonial assimilation views. The WCC website described it’s mission in part as the development of a “genuine national culture true to our existing European heritage and values.” And of course English speaking only. Another prominent nazi and former client of Christie’s Paul Fromm, ran along side him for the Western Block Party. Fromm was a one time member of the Conservative Party, until he was kicked out after comments about racial purity and immigration. Fromm who hosts a radio show on Stormfront, is a self described “Nazi Sympathizer” and “anti-immigration activist.”
Since his diagnosis with terminal cancer, Doug Christie has tried to convince the world even more that he did not share the views of his clients, but only wanted to defend free speech. I want to ensure that Christie is remembered for the racist he truly was. No ‘white’-washing.
Good bye Doug Christie, you will not be forgotten. And you will not be missed.
Put simply, the guy has no clue what the actual punk scene is. This is apparent by a number of factors; such as he actually mentions Cortney Love, Sex Pistols and Ramones as ‘punk bands’ where as no one active in the underground scene gives a shit about any of those bands and most would laugh at the very idea of Courtney Love being thought of as punk. The only actually punk band mentioned in the article I could see was Fugazi, and even they are pretty mainstream compared to the bands who most diy kids wear patches of (Aus-Rotten, Amebix, Zounds, Discharge, Nausea, MDC, etc). One must wonder if he would even know the difference between Crust and OI!, or would have even heard of genres like D-Beat and Powerviolence. Yet he thinks presents himself as an expert in position to publish extreme condemnations.
through most of the diatribe he seems to be saying everyone should give up on punk and become a good capitalist and share in the materialistic dream (american dream) and that if you don’t, your just being immature. It is like he watched that terrible MTV Movie SLC Punk and decided to write an article parroting the subtext.
Throughout the article he makes strange constant references to Marxist imagery and ideas. I have met about 4 punks ever that were in support of the Sandanistas or thought Che, Stalin, and Mao were cool. They are all in the same band. all 4 of them… His constant attempts to connect punk wth Marxist Communism is really odd and seems totally out of left field (pun intended)
The section on Seattle is particularly out of touch. How someone could write an article on Punk and have an entire section on Seattle and the pacific north west, without mentioning the massive anarchist crust bands (Seattle use to be the hot bed for big crust bands like Consume and Skarp) is kinda confusing. But farm more confusing is how you could write about punk and Seattle/PNW without mentioning the legendary ‘Battle of Seattle‘ (WTO riots that shook the USA and made news internationally, including the rise of the Black Bloc in North America), nor mentioning the notorious “Eugene Anarchists” is beyond me. It would be like writing an article about the economy of Alberta and Texas over the last 4 decades, without mentioning OIL! The North West was not only huge for bands and DIY scenes, but also for actual physical action. The rise of Earth First! (eco-defense), the anti-globalization movement, and more extreme the Earth Liberation Front, Animal Liberation Front, all of which punks played part in. There was also of course the Riot Grrl movement, much of which centered on Seattle bands, only mentioned in passing as a slag by this writer. John Roderick clearly has no clue what the actual underground punk scene is, nor probably that it still is very active today. Big distros, zines, and well known underground labels, like Maximum Rock’n Roll, or Profane Existence, or event Havoc Records, are not even mentioned. In fact nothing of importance to the DIY punk scene is mentioned in this article at all. It would be like me writing an article saying why the rave scene was bullshit… Or like a Liberal writing an article on the black bloc without even doing any research.
There is a ton of other issues here, his repeated use of the term ‘primitive’ as a derogatory, which i find utterly racist. Or how he misreprestens DIY, as if hand making your demo tapes with hand drawn art, and black and white photocopied liner notes so they can be sold cheap enough that street kids and other poor folks can afford them, is the equivalent of selling tupperware. In the punk underground, DIY is about empowering people to realize we artists, we are all musicians, we all can do it. Or as Crass put it, There Is No Authority But Yourself! You don’t need to wait some big promoter; rent the hall yourself and borrow or rent a PA, make a poster and grab the tape. Kids creating art and recording their own bands or setting up $5 All Ages shows for free clearly not at all the same as vacuum salesmen or Mary Kay. I speak from experience here as someone who set up these types of shows for years working with bands from all over the world like Sweedish hardcore band Regulations, or Imperial Leather,legendary bands like Resist and Exist, Conlict, and a whole host of amazing Canadian bands like Leper, Mechanichal Separation and Mass Grave, Iskra, Self Rule, Eleutheros. All of which highly doubt John Roderick has ever even heard of.
It seems like he’s just another a mainstream individualistic guy who thinks he is alternative, whining about people he doesn’t understand who have ethics he doesn’t understand, who look down on him for being materialistic.Not all of us want big screen TV’s and 13 yr old groupies following us. Not all of us want to be rock stars. Many of us have our own visions, our own desires outside of the scripted grey future we are told we are suppose to want. If you don’t think punk has accomplished anything, you need to get your head out of your ass. Look to the Gaian Mind Institute in LA, or Dial House, to the tons of projects and ecovillages, communiy houses, and venues run by punks. Look to stuff like the SHAC Campaign, who nearly took down a horrible multinational animal testing laboratory; getting them dropped from the NY Stock Exchange, causing over 500 businesses to cut ties with them putting them nearly $90 million in debt. Most of the key organizers in SHAC – both in Turtle Island and the UK – have been punks. In fact, one of the UK Shactivists was a member of the UK punk band Active Slaughter. AK Press, the largest anarchist publisher in the world, and PM Press, were also both started by Ramsey Kanaan, who sang in the Scottish band Political Asylum, as well many other publishers like Combustion Books and Crimethinc were also started by punks.
For all your criticisms, what the hell have you done?
Ian McKaye was once asked about selling out as a way to get his message out so more people could hear their music. He replied by stating he didn’t care about making it so everyone could hear their music. It was about making it so the kids who wanted to hear their music could. Well John Rodernick, maybe you should listen – by which I mean don’t… That’s the point really, if you don’t want to hear it, fuck off. We don’t want or need your opinion. We’re too busy building the world we want to see in the ashes of this one. And as Mike XvX said, this town isn’t going to burn itself down!
If you want to read informed opinions on punk, I would suggest following the old slogan, buy books buy us, not about us. Penny Rimbaud’s book Shibboleth: My Revolting Life is a great start. Can’t get much better. The Philosophy Of Punk by Craig O’ Hara, The Day The Country Died, and Sober Living For The Revolution are also great. But of course the best way to learn the reality of what punk has to offer is to take part; go to a show, not some Bad Religion or Warp Tour kinda crap, but an actual show, in some kids basement, with bands who actually have something to say. Bands who play for nothing more than gas money so that the kids who have nothing, who could never afford a Death Cab For Cutie, or Long Winters show.
It is better to make a piece of music than to perform one, better to perform one than to listen to one, better to listen to one than to misuse it as a means of distraction, entertainment, or acquisition of “culture.”
Is it just me, or has the news been far more interesting lately than it usually is? I seem to be noticing a lot of interesting patterns. Follow me for a minute.
January 19, 5 people were shot on Gun Appreciation Day at various gun shows across the USA this year. Right around the same time, one of the top trained snipers in the world was shot and killed, point blank, while at a Texas gun range by a former soldier. All of this followed only a few weeks after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado. And all of this was followed by the most sensationalized story of the year, when ex-cop and former Navy marksman Chris Dorner began killing cops after releasing his manifesto over facebook!
Dorner had begun his war on cops after a number of issues of racism he experienced in the LAPD, capped off by his firing which followed after he turned in another cop for violently assaulting a schizophrenic homeless man who was not resisting. Other cops lied protecting their own, and thus Dorner was seen to be lying. Most of us already know the cops are corrupt violent thugs, but Dorner was one of those liberals who honestly believed he could be the one good cop. He was deadly wrong.
Meanwhile, in BC, just north of the imaginary colonial line, a report was released by Human Rights Watch documenting RCMP sexually assaulting various women and girls, mostly native women. The right wing government of Stephen Harper dismissed the report, and claimed they wanted to see proof, saying the women making the claims needed to come to the police and file reports. This is of course the same area where many Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered over the last couple decades, with nearly no investigation by cops. The same area where serial killer Robert Pickton was praying on Indigeno
us women, then after raping them, feeding them to his pigs… And there have been many accusations of police involvement in those murders. Also the same area where Vancouver’s Martin Tremblay prayed on underage Indigenous girls for years; getting them drunk or drugging them, then videotaping himself raping them. For that he got 11 months. He returns to court to be sentenced March 6 for murder, after 2 of the girls he drugged and raped died.
Yet Harper insists the women being raped by cops should come forward to the cops and file reports. Cause we all know you can trust the cops. Around the same time another report was released, documenting internal abuses in the RCMP, including sexual abuses experienced by female cops being harassed by male cops, and even a greater number of cases of male cops bullying other male cops.
It just doesn’t seem to end. Last week while the Pope was stepping down — first pope to retire in 600 years –after the Vatican has been rocked by repeated lawsuits over priests raping children, Harper right hand man Tom Flanagan was caught on video saying pedophiles shouldn’t go to jail for viewing child sexual abuse images. “I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures,” Flanagan said, before going on to tell the audience he had been on the NAMBLA mailing list for years. Flanagan is not just some right wing nobody though – he pretty much created the current conservative party and ran their election campaign, re-imaging Stephen Harper. He then went on to craft the image and campaign for the Wild Rose Party – a far right offshoot of the Alberta Conservative Party. Flanagan is also a professor at the University of Calgary where he has taught political science for decades. He was the author of the racist anti-Indian hate literature book First Nations Second Thoughts; which argues that Native people were too inferior to have understood the European concept of Nationhood, and thus should not be given the rights of sovereignty, and that before the colonizers came the natives (who were recent imigrants) were just trying to kill each other off in wars over the land, we just happened to be superior so we won. This is also the same man who publicly called for the assassination of Wikileaks founder Julian Assangeon live tv.
All of this was taking place as Indigenous activists and settler allies were taking part in nation wide protests as part of the Idle No More movement. Meanwhile Harper tied to keep media focus on allegations that Chief Teresa Spence had misspent money, going as far as to refer to her as Chief Teresa Spends. This was a valuable distraction, it kept attention away from the concerns the grassroots movement was trying to highlight by instead focusing on the figure head. Harper introduced another racist bill, the Fist Nations Accountability Bill whichrequires First Nations chiefs and councilors to publish their salaries and expenses. The hypocrisy was astounding as Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau was caught for using other peoples addresses to get a housing allowance that he did not qualify for. He had a long history of making racist and sexist comments, and on Feb 7 2013, Brazeau was arrested for sexual assault and domestic violence. He still gets his Senate paycheck though, even though he has also been found to attend less than 35% of the days he is paid to.
Also announced this week, one of this nation state’s most notorious racists, Victoria’s Doug Christie was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given less than 6 months to live. Christie is most famous for defending white supremacists such as Ernst Zündel, and Malcolm Ross a school teacher famous for holocaust denial; as well as leaders of the Aryan nations, Klu Klux Klan, The church of the Creator, and the Heritage Front. Christie also ran for political office as the head of the Western Canadian Concept Party, and later started the Western Block Party, 2 separatist political parties with far right politics.
I like books a lot, yet it is rare that I find a book that brings together so many of the elements I look for. Green Is the New Red documents the criminalization of activists, and the history of various struggles for liberation in the face of state repression.
Will Potter is an wonderful writer, and this book is absolutely necessary. His book reads in a highly accessible language, yet asks challenging questions and tackles difficult subject matter. Will Potter is a professional writer, and it really shows. At times highly poetic, at times very personal with narratives from his own life experiences, breaking between analysis, documenting history, and then back to personal anecdotes and stories of listening to punk rock albums with Jake Conroy (SHAC 7), or walking through the forest with Daniel McGowen the day before he was to go to jail as a ‘terrorist’.
His story begins with the FBI coming to Potter’s door and threatening to place him on a terrorist list after he goes leafleting with some friends in a campaign against a multinational animal testing lab, HLS. Potter deals with his fears
and mistakes with a striking honesty and humility that allows you to relate to his experience, rather than the macho posturing typical of many activists. Potter uses his own story as a jumping off point to bring the reader on a journey that will introduce them to the struggles of many of his friends and other activists as they go through court battles, police raids, and prison. He places all of this in a historical context by showing t
he connection to McCarthy era repression, as well as the earlier criminalization faced by anarchists and socialists during the turn of the century. This book contains so much excellent history that it would be worth reading it for that alone; from the beginning of one of the most effective animal rights campaigns ever (SHAC), stories of activists shutting down breeders who supply animals for labs, to the founding of the ALF and ELF, and activists like Judi Bari who was car bombed by the FBI. Will exposes how industry controls the development of legislation that will be used to imprison activists organizing against them, making the complex workings of the judicial and legislative systems easy to understand.
Green Is the New Red has quickly become one of my favorite books, and easy yet worthwhile read that you will learn so much from. Even better, you can get the first chapter for free as a sample simply by clicking on the link on the top of his website Green Is The New Red. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Punk bands tour the world singing anthems that promote militant direct action & activism, putting out albums with flaming Molotovs emblazoned across their covers, with militant messages; but few of us ever truly put those words into action. Walter Bond on the other hand has spent decades working tirelessly, whether leafleting at shows and in the streets, tabling at Pride events, protesting, or volunteering at animal sanctuaries before finally turning to the more militant tactics of the Animal Liberation Front. Walter is a proud anarchist, Vegan, of Latino heritage, who identifies as bisexual. He also is currently a prisoner in one of the most controversial and restrictive prisons in the USA today.
I have been writing to Walter in prison since he was first arrested 2 years ago, after his brother snitched him out. At the time of his arrest, Walter was living on the streets while attacking businesses that profit from animal exploitation.
PE: - You identified as an anarchist for most of your life. Can you tell us what being an anarchist means to you, and how it connects with Animal Liberation, and Total Liberation?
WALTER: When I was in 7th grade in 1989 I used to make all kinds of clip art fliers with my friends under the name ‘Anti-Statist Counter Culture’. We would distribute them mostly to local corporate businesses and churches in the area, mostly to agitate. By the end of 8th grade I had completely dropped out of school and was living this nihilist lifestyle and was just very reactionary and angry at the whole world, parents, school, everything! Back then I was dealing with a world of shit that was to much for me to handle. I turned to drug abuse and vandalism as an outlet. Anarchism back then was a personal vendetta I had about how my life and the world around me was and how I felt it should be.
I wasn’t alone. I had three other very close friends that felt the same. Two of them connected with some gutter punks in Boulder, Colorado and ran away to Hollywood, California. 25 years later one of them is a vocalist for a grind core band, and another is a bicycle maker that lives in a squat in New York City and gets harassed whenever he tries to leave the country because he has bee
n on federal watch lists since the 90′s.
Today anarchism is firmly connected to my activism. The Animal Liberation Front has been an anarchistic dis-organization since its inception. There is no way for business-as-usual and Animal Liberation to co-exist in any fashion that is effective for the goals and interests of either side. Business, consumerism and corporations ultimately care about whatever is profitable. Their raw materials are the blood and bones of Animals and the life’s’ blood and guts of the Earth, which is the fountain head of all life. It’s difficult to make this connection as just a foodie Vegan but once you spend some time in the activist world, it’s an unavoidable clash.
Anarchism is in opposition to State control, corporate domination, class privilege, oppression of one group by another. These are the identical ideals fought for by Animal Liberation abolitionists, just applied to different objectives. I think that anarchism and Animal liberation from the abolitionist or radical perspective are an organic pairing. What good would it do to establish a human society of free communities only to destroy the planet with a McDonalized diet or a mass addiction to industrialization? The reality is that there are billions of people on the planet! With or without government or state authority, industry is going to continue destroying the Earth. It doesn’t matter who turns on the machines everyday, because things are not made out of no things. And history has proven time and time again that if we do not remove the oppressions of the least defensible of us then the circle of abuse begins again with a brand new name.
PE: - You are an Animal Liberation POW, and you also hold anti-civ views, and have a critique of technology. I see a lot of overlap between the anarcho-primitivist critique of domestication, and mass society, with the views of Total Liberation. Do you feel there is a contradiction there? Or how do you see them fitting together?
WALTER: I definitely am not a fan of technologically advanced civilization. From the industrial age forward what we are really looking at is a lattice work infrastructure, put in place by governments of men to subjugate women, the poor, Animals, Earth, labor and each other according to Ethnicity, nationalism, class, gender and economics. Since the age of the machine and science; pain, suffering, war and murder have been greatly, incredibly and insanely quickened!
Despite all the promises of making things better we are blowing mountains in half to get at their coal. We are chopping down every forest on Earth. We are dropping bombs on civilians from remote control airplanes; we are mechanically murdering billions of Animals at the expense of the natural world. We are wasting mass amounts of crop, soil, and water, all euphemisms for Earth, so that we can eat cheap burgers. Thanks to constant technological crutches most adults cannot listen to, follow or remember simple directions. Meanwhile paranoia and random acts of violence are at an all time high!
It is time to stop pretending that we don’t see the writing on the wall. Technology kills! And that is most often its primary use. WE HAVE ENOUGH NUCLEAR WARHEADS ON THIS PLANET TO KILL ALL LIFE SEVERAL TIMES OVER, BUT WE CANNOT EVEN SAVE OUR OWN SPECIES ONCE. I used to build slaughterhouses for a living and I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s not physically possible to butcher tens of thousands of Animals a day without an abundance of mechanical aid. Just like it is not possible to destroy a forest without first building roads and inlets to get yellow death machines into the area.
art off Walter Bond support page
No machine is morally neutral when it’s sole design and intent is to eviscerate, vivisect, slash cut and transport the splintered, destroyed and devastated remains of the biosphere! The technologies we use to heal the sick and, lessen pain and suffering and generally make the human world a more comfortable place are scant in comparison to the damage done. But just like any alcoholic or drug addict we exaggerate the pay off we get while greatly ignoring the damage it takes to pay for it. And just as with any other addiction the truly terrible thing is how many other innocent lives have become ruined in the addicts wake.
Politics would have us believe the modes of production are neither beneficial nor harmful but only in the right or wrong hands. Yet time and time again his-story has shown that whether the factory is run by greedy capitalists or free thinking anarcho-communists, the machines still get turned on and the raw materials of industry are still the blood and guts of the Earth and her Animal Nations! In truth, who controls the means and modes of production is of concern to those who labor and profit by and for the machines, with little to no concern for the connectivity of all life, or the world.
As far as how I view the connectivity, or lack thereof of ideas like Total liberation and anarcho-primitivism I guess I view it as parallel. In my estimation Total Liberation should be making steps to unite various struggles in the real world against the common leviathan of government and towards the reality of free communities. Unfortunately, I don’t see much grassroots organization around Total Lib. it remains, thus far, in the world of ideas, of salutations of solidarity. I think the occupy movement started out with a truly unifying Total Liberation tactic and showed the tremendous power of coming together. But there has to be an escalation of tactics at the helm or else all is eventually kaput. I’m not trying to be smug here but where is Total Liberation physically? Ideally Total Liberation should be a bridge building movement to unite activists of all liberation struggles be they human, Earth or Animal. That is a huge amount of work. And honestly it’s an abundance of work I seldom see getting done. No one wants to yield or compromise enough to make a true united liberation front possible. Or as radicals we use total lib as a pretext to ideological recruitment of other radicals.
Anarcho-primitivism on the other hand is really against the entire foundation of what our modern ‘civilized’ oppressions are built upon. As such it’s not very activist friendly. I mean, you don’t protest civilization with a sign. The idea of a truly clean slate is far to radical for that. The only way to effectively protest technology, mass society, domestication and their ilk is for you yourself to become a wild child and destroy the machines. But Total Liberation and anarcho-primitivism are for ever united by the same objective. That being the complete escape from tyranny and oppression for as many lives, and ways of life as can exist without any oppressing the other. One is just dedicated to aligning forces in the here and now, while the other is looking at how we will have to not only get rid of the road we are on, but also get rid of the road.
PE: - It almost seems like there was a Class Warfare element to the choices you made when selecting your targets. Was this intentional?
WALTER:- You are the first person to ever ask me this question, and the answer is yes. There were a couple different messages to my arsons beyond Animal Liberation, one was classism. Every place I hit was not what society would try to justify as ‘necessary’ Animal cruelty. Each place in its own right was of service to the upper middle, to the rich echelon of society. Whether for fashion, hobby or delicacy I wasn’t going after stores in the hood or ethnic communities. I was after retailers that sold dead Animals’ broken bodies or skins purely for consumer pleasure.
Another thing I have heard grumbles about is why I went after soft targets instead of more strategic targeting. There was a subtle reason behind this as well. As an activist I often saw people pass the buck when it comes to Animal industries. The wholesalers and retailers always blame it on the public. If no one bought their products they wouldn’t sell them. Or since there is a demand someone is going to fill it whether them or someone else. The consumers always hide in numbers. They don’t feel responsible because there not buying anything that’s not being bought a million times over by others. The drop in the bucket syndrome. If you pick on them you will instantly be accused of targeting specific groups of people. And after all it’s really the evil corporations fault for putting such cruelly produced products on the market.
I burned three businesses right in the middle of major cities. I did not want to hide my ALF actions the way Animal cruelty is hidden. I wanted every retailer and consumer to see that when you deal in product of death you shouldn’t be surprised when retribution finds its way to your doorstep. Honestly, if I would have had more resources or help I would have done live Liberations unfortunately this was not a viable option. But the only good thing about living in a non-Vegan world is that if you want to combat cruelty you never have to go far. You don’t need to have a bunch of money or go to some clandestine trading camp to make an impact.
Most of the time people like to imagine that their heroes have all this expertise that they never could. It’s a convenient belief because otherwise they wouldn’t have any excuse for putting their own self-interest, fear and apathy above doing in their hearts what they know must be done. The truth is when it comes to Animal exploitation or the destruction of the Earth, no one is innocent. Not Vegans, or cadaver munchers. Not anarchists, or capitalists. Not me, or you. We are all shades of red as Screaming Wolf once wrote in the seminal book ‘Declaration of War’. We lessen our shade of red with our lifestyles and our actions. And this is our obligation if we have compassion. Not from some outside authority but from inside ourselves, our consciousness.
PE: - Recently you completely changed your position on abortion, what prompted this seemingly sudden shift?
WALTER:- What prompted this change of heart is a growing disenchantment with so-called conservative views. And the pompous attitudes that produce them. I have never been involved in any anti-abortion activism, just so people know. In the hundreds of pages that I have written in the last 3 years I have written approximately one paragraph about the ‘pro-life’ views I once held. I just want to set it straight from the beginning that I am not some reformed anti-abortion extremist. That said, I once held an obscure view on abortion that was part of a conservative clique within the Straight Edge movement of the 1990′s.
My limited comprehension of abortion as an issue was from this two dimensional idea that ‘if I am going to care deeply about the rights of shrimp, then I should care about the rights of a fetus’. This was a complete absent reference to the fact that this whole issue takes place inside a woman’s body and that there is a more complex issue of rights to be observed. Not just vegan hardline consistency.
I have recently begun to educate myself on feminism and in particular anarcha-feminism. The more I learn the more I feel like an ass for having displayed such an idiotic and disconnected view of abortion in the first place. From an Animal Liberation perspective which is more my field, it must be said that humanity is the cause of extreme amounts of suffering to billions of Animals annually, for food vivisection, entertainment and beyond. Ultra-consumpive societies like north America, china and now India are currently decimating the Earth like a cancer! In this war on nature humans are a tyrannical and abusive enemy. I stand on the side of the Animal Nations and Mother Earth, I am a species traitor. And human birth control is a relief to the planet!
But as I was saying, what prompted me to finally take a long look at my beliefs, not only on abortion but many of my moralist attitudes in general are my surroundings. For those that do not know I am a prisoner of war, inside a political prison, within a prison. On this unit of 40 men, I never leave, and I am housed here for an indefinite remainder of my prison sentence. Most of the men here are orthodox Muslims; with a sprinkling of those god bless America type of militia, Ron Paul weirdoes. It’s a super conservative and religious environment. I have learned first hand what dogma and so-called conservativism leads people too. Mainly, bigotry, homophobia, and close-mindedness.
PE: - When you held anti-abortion views, it seemed like most of your criticism was directed towards the medical industries. This brings up the question of herbal abortion as a non-medical alternative. Was this something you had considered?
WALTER:- No it was not. But I am not more for one method than another. It’s not my business how women decide to abort, control birth or exercise autonomy over their own bodies. As a man, I am not only never going to be in their position but I am never going to put a woman in that predicament either. I have no children, and the first thing I am going to do upon release, which is years from now, will be to go to the hospital and get myself fixed. Furthermore, no woman anywhere should feel ostracized or shamed for her decision to exercise her reproductive rights be it herbally, or in a clinic.
PE: - Author Peter Gelderloos once wrote that anarchy and colonialism need to be made completely incompatible. Cultural approbation of indigenous art, spirituality, and cultural traditions is a major problem in many subcultures today. I want to ask about your face tattoo. I know it means a lot to you, but is your tattoo an appropriation of Maori Moko?
WALTER:- I have a few supporters from New Zealand and have been questioned about this by a couple different Maori. One told me that the design I have would better be suited as part of a leg piece, and the other argued that it was a handsome piece for Moko, but wanted to know why I don’t have the rest of my face done. But the truth is that while I definitely used the style of traditional Maori, my tattoo artist and I made absolutely sure that we were not replicating any traditional or current Maori designs.
I have also been locked up with a Maori guy and several tanga, Samoa and Polynesian islanders. Everyone has been cool with it mainly because I am of Island descent. My mother is Taino. For those that don’t know these are the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. This coupled with the fact that I am in prison for fighting for a cause seem to have earned me the respect of other islanders. The general vibe I get is relief that I take warrior hood seriously and am not just trying to look hardcore for my white friends in the suburbs.
I plan on getting the rest of my face tattooed when I get out of prison along with the rest of my body. That said I never promote it as something others should do. Getting a large face tattoo is serious business and can have serious repercussions. And It has intense personal meaning to me. It was a life changing event, it literally changed my personality. Some would say pushed me over the edge.
And yes, appropriation of indigenous cultures is an epidemic problem. In many larger ways than a very few people getting face tats. Here in the United States every white person wants to pretend they are part native. Out of some feelings of white guilt. Instead of helping the decimated Indian population. They shove real natives onto reservations to starve and die while pretending to be the real deal. Honestly, this makes me sick
PE: - Most of the businesses you targeted reopened and continue to make profits even though you did extensive damage. In light of this do you think your actions were effective? Could you have been more strategic? If so how?
WALTER:- The way I look at it I could have spent everyday of my life standing in front of those businesses holding a sign and I would have never cost them one penny. Even when I used to volunteer my time helping actual Animals it would occur to me that I was still having a negative impact against the industries of Animal exploitation. Even with Veganism, I am one of the few Animal Liberation abolitionist Vegans you will hear admit that my diet is not saving 90 Animals a year. So there I was living as ethical as I could, helping Animals and talking with and educating people. All the while all I am seeing is negative impact. I have friends that have been holding signs and tabling for decades, negative impact. Why is activism always geared to just lessen our roll in the cruelty but never to fight it? Negative impact.
I got fed up with it. All the -more-Vegan-than-thou- conversations that I had at every coffee shop in Denver. Always playing supplicant to people. Practically begging people to care. Then I woke up one day and it hit me. I was a utopianist, I was deluded. I, as most overly idealistic people really believed that deep down everyone was like me. I was once one of them, hell; I even used to build slaughterhouses! If I can change, anyone can, right? Wrong.
I came to the conclusion that most people don’t want to change, most people don’t want to learn what’s going on with Animals because they don’t want to feel bad or responsible for it, and most people are not going to sacrifice their time energy or money to make a change. BAM! The facts, welcome to reality! All that was left in my life was to fight back on the Animals behalf of shut up because I was sick of the sound of my own voice.
And you know what I didn’t change the world. But I did something that I never was able to before. I cost the Animal abuse industries about two and a half million bucks, positive effect! And with every defiant step forward that I took, I inspired. By my count there were eight international underground acts of solidarity with my case. And now when I speak I really do have a voice. I mean look, we are having an interview. I have been saying all this same stuff for years before I became the ‘Lone Wolf’ but you would never know it because, no one ever listened.
As far as strategy, of course I could have done better. Unfortunately HOW I could have, or WHAT I would have done different I cannot discuss. Due to my current situation as an imprisoned and monitored man.
PE: -Let’s talk about your life on the inside. How do you spend your days? Do you get paid to work? What are the costs you have to spend money on? You have and mp3 player, how does that work?
WALTER:- Here in the CMU it is a very small world. I live day after day, month after month and over a year now in a single prison unit completely segregated from the rest of the penitentiary of Marion. The day I get released from the CMU to the general population of the prison it will feel like I got a parole. I am allowed two 15 minute phone calls a week and no visits. Every person I have tried to have put on my visiting list has been rejected. I have not hugged, touched or physically seen anyone I care about since the day off my arrest in the summer of 2010.
A typical day goes something like this. I wake up about nine in the morning. I walk to the top of the range and sit down at a computer. I log in and see if I have any emails. All my incoming and outgoing email is screened by the counter terrorism unit in Virginia to make sure I am not sending or receiving coded messages. They also can reject or approve any incoming or out going emails before I have the chance to send or receive them. They can also block me from communicating with anyone they want and they have done this with three of my contacts. When that happens I cannot snail mail, email or make telephone calls to these people ever again. In short, all communication is cut off permanently, and without explanation.
After I am done on the computer I go ‘outside’ which is a rectangle walkway that surrounds an island of three ‘recreation’ cages. The sky is completely obscured by chain link fence and razor wire. I walk in rectangles until lunch. Lunch is usually beans, rice or the occasional veggie burger. The food is terrible and unhealthy. It is worse than any other institution I have ever been in. After I eat I go back to my cell and write responses to letters from supporters and friends. At noon, I go to mail call and get any mail, books or magazines that have come in that day. After mail I watch the soaps on Spanish TV. I like ‘Amorcita Corazon’. When my soaps are over I go out to the cages and do body weight exercises or shoot hoops. I come back up to my cell and lock down for four O’ clock stand up count, and then I nap until dinner. After dinner I walk for another hour. then I study Spanish for one to two hours, after which I slam a couple cups of black tea and go back to my cell to read, write and draw until about one in the morning, or until I fall asleep. Then I wake up and do it again.
As far as work goes, on the other side of the cell house opposite the rec. cages is a ramp and a patch of grass that leads to the chow hall. My job is to clean the walkway and cut the grass. I make twenty dollars a month but they take all of that for restitution and court costs I owe. So in reality I get paid nothing. But I get to go on the only patch of Earth that we have in the CMU and it’s ‘out of bounds’ for everyone else.
As far as cost of living, everything I have shoes, shorts, Vegan food, toothpaste, paper, stamps, envelopes, music, and email (yes, I get charged to send and receive email) Is only because of money supporters send me. Without support funds I would literally have nothing. Recently the entire federal prison system got mp3 players. They installed the hardware and software on the computers. Songs cost a dollar and a half each, no discount for purchasing whole releases. They have some good music. I have downloaded Earth Crisis, Chumbawamba, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, Augustin Lara, Napalm Death, Public Enemy and many, many more! With very little stimulation music is essential for mental health. I went overboard and spent all my money on music, which makes things tight for me but I don’t care I would rather listen to music than anything else in here.
The conversations and interactions I am subjected to in the CMU are repetitive and obsessive. There are the legal guys that just talk about law all day long, constantly and without end. There are the religious guys that just talk about god and scriptures and religious interpretation all day. And the institutionalized guys that just talk about every prison they have been at. Most of those guys have spent their entire lives in prison.
I quit talking to most people here because I don’t like to argue, it’s pointless and agitating. And outside of my circle of about 5 friends whose company I enjoy the rest of these guys can go flush themselves down the toilet, and go where ever the rest of the pieces of shit end up, for all I care!
I’ll tell you this, I still feel as hardcore about my beliefs as ever but I am completely over preaching to people that don’t want to hear them, protesting is different than proselytizing.
PE: - Recently you quit using the Muslim name you had been given. Have you completely given up on Islam? Religion altogether? Do you still maintain some type of spiritual beliefs?
WALTER: I am going to be honest about my feelings towards religion and much of what passes for spirituality. I don’t believe it. It’s a human shibboleth. Animals in a state of nature have no use for it and neither do I. I am part of something bigger than any religion, ‘god’ or hocus pocus, it’s called LIFE. When I die I will go back to the Earth. I will go back to where ALL life must, and I will not know where that is until the time comes and death is upon me.
I know god is not in books. I have read and studied most world religions and many obscure spiritualities. I have learned for certain that god is not in books. The only thing in books is words. The entire concept and production of a book is a human construct. It’s our way for the dead and absent to infect the thoughts and lives of the living, for good or ill.
I Got involved in Islam under adverse and incredible circumstances, which is the only way I would have gotten involved in any religion, let alone one so incredibly dogmatic. I won’t go into the entire sordid tale except to say that I once promised an old woman that meant the world to me that one day I would attempt, one day, to try and find god. And I gave it my all. Unfortunately, I do not make a very good submitter.
Did you know that the first time I was ever in trouble with the law was for breaking into a church and burning a huge pentacle star into the carpet directly in front of the preacher’s lectern? It was a Methodist church in a rich white neighborhood, across the street from the police station. I also have a 14 inch upside down crucifix for half of my tattoo sleeve. On that same sleeve I also have a tattoo of the pope, except this pope has goat horns and is standing in flames. All the things I love the most in life: face tattoos, sex, fire, Animals, music, Liberation and Veganism seem to all be completely against religion. Oh well, I guess that’s how ‘god’ made me!
When I got involved with religion it completely shifted my focus and the focus the movement around me. Everything started to become about my new name and beliefs etc. I didn’t like that. I remember one night I went to bed and it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought about Animal lib, Straight Edge or resistance all day, just religion. That was the beginning of the end for me. I didn’t like that feeling of assimilation, like the Borg on that sci fi show ‘Star Trek the Next Generation’. It was a calming feeling but also creepy. Next thing you know you have that glazed doughnut look in your eyes, the one that super religious people get. No thanks, I’m already off in the head enough without any help from the land of make believe!
I also got tired of reading all the terrible stuff about god hating gays and stoning people to death, or chopping off people’s hands for stealing. This crap is in all the so-called ‘holy books’ of various religions; right their in black and white print. And if you believe it then you have to do a bunch of mental gymnastics to somehow make it all not, horrible!
All this said, I did learn a lot about Islamophobia and I am completely against it! the media promotes Islam to be a terrorist religion and that is just not accurate. Every religion has violent fringe elements but we don’t paint all their followers as ‘terrorist’ or ‘extremist’. Look at those crazy evangelicals that drink poison or the ‘army of god’ psychopaths. Still the media doesn’t call them ‘Christian terrorists’. I learned along time ago that it’s not what people believe that makes them good or bad apples it’s the things they do and their capacitates for compassion, or cruelty. But as far as any more personal beliefs about ‘pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die’. I am a disbeliever, and will remain so.
PE: - About a year ago you put out a public statement saying you could no longer call yourself an anarchist, recently you have recanted, re-embracing anarchy. What was the reason for your change of heart? What brought you back to the dark side?
WALTER:- The reason with my disenchantment with anarchism was in reality a disenchantment with certain anarchists. I don’t like the concept of publicly battling with people and the spectacle it creates. It’s a mistake I have made in the past, and when I look back at those statements they just look egotistical and immature. That said, I will for the first time explain what was going on and what led up to not only that statement but also baseless rumors that have followed me since. I will be careful not to name drop or call anyone out, a courtesy that was not afforded to me by the anarcho-rumor mill.
At the time of my arrest in Colorado in the summer of 2010, the second letter I ever received was from a local anarchist group. They talked about supporting me and were even interested in being my official support team. Furthermore they had their own print shop. I was happy to have their support and planned to write extensively with them as the publishers. A visit was arranged and one of the collective came to visit me at the county jail in Golden. I was told by this person that there were rumors that I was an informant. I was taken back by this and said that ‘I was the only person on my case and no other arrests had been made so who exactly am I informing on?’ This person agreed, and from that moment support was forthcoming, for a whole four weeks anyways.
I gave my new support team my email address and password so that they could get another picture of me besides the mugshot the media had. I began writing articles about Animal Liberation from an anarchist perspective. I was calling the collective about twice a week. And then abruptly it all came to a screeching halt. Nothing I wrote ever got published or sent back to me. No one accepted my calls. No more visits. A couple weeks later I received a letter from the collective about some so called visit from my email account to a ‘homophobic YouTube video’. I was told I need to explain myself, defend myself and do it quick because ‘anarchists everywhere are calling to drop support for you’.
Words cannot describe how I felt. First I didn’t know what homophobic video they were talking about, and I still don’t. Second the only people that could be turning ‘anarchists everywhere’ against me were the self same people that were my support team, as I was newly arrested and they were the only anarchists I was in contact with. And third, I was not the only person with availability to that email. For all I know the FBI could have been in my email account trying to gather information or spread disinformation; which would make good sense from their end of things. In any event I have never to this day seen the homophobic YouTube video that was allegedly watched in connection with my email account. I haven’t seen it because it does not exist.
I was really pissed off about this for a couple of years because these rumors not only hurt elements of my support but also my feelings. Very, very few people know what it’s like to be in the position I was: In jail, on the news, facing federal prison as a ‘domestic terrorist’ and all the while using this as a platform to discuss Animal Liberation through my writings while facing rumors and tear down tactics from ‘anarchists’! I mean there I was in jail for being an ALF operative and I was being questioned as if I was a Nazi fascist in jail for queer bashing!
When people that do know me tried to post comments to this collectives website stating that I am in fact openly bi-sexual they would not post them. I know this because friends printed me those defenses and mailed them to me in jail along with printouts of their webpage and blogs showing what they were posting, the only comments they would let stand were the ones against me.
So after my court case was finished in Colorado I wrote that statement about not Identifying as an anarchist. I wrote that at a time when Animal Rights activists were being very supportive and at the same time I was getting a lot of accusative mail from anarchists primarily from the united states. It’s one thing when you don’t get along with a group of people in person you just hang out with others. But when you’re in imprisoned and people from several different states critique and sometimes ridicule you in letters there is a feeling of totality to it. So I thought, fine I will cut my losses with the anarchist community and stick with Animal Liberation and Straight Edge which is not hostile to me.
It must also be said that many anarchists such as yourself and the international anarchist community have unfailingly showed true support and solidarity since day one. Two things that have a profound effect on decision making is a lack of information and emotional distress. I have had my share of both since my arrest. But these days find me much more grounded and less erratic. Due in large part to being done with court and in the routine of my current surroundings. I am an anarchist, this has always been a foundation of who I am. Before I was the ALF lone wolf, before I was Straight Edge, before I was Vegan. I was an anarchist. I don’t have to drop one thing to become another. I am all this and more.
PE: - What would you say to people that have characterized you as ‘single issue’?
WALTER: Calling me or the ALF or the Animal Rights movement a ‘single issue’ cause is a little verbal slur that otherwise thinking and activist oriented people like to use on Vegans. Seriously, anyone that has read my book or the statements that I have been making from prison for years knows that I am concerned with more than one issue and I always have been.
But more importantly why the single issue snub when it comes to Animal Liberation?
I have personal met gay rights activists that act like the only thing wrong on the planet is that gay marriage isn’t recognized legally. I have never heard anyone tell them that their cause is less valid because it is a ‘single issue’. Factually it is incorrect to typecast Veganism or Animal Liberation in this way. A.R. issues have to do with several different species of life and often tie in with environmental concerns. Nearly every other Liberation struggle is only concerned with a fragment of one species, humans!
To those people that equate me or Veganism to being a one hit wonder, I would challenge back: Fine then tell me exactly what you are doing to liberate all life, everywhere! The fact is Total Liberation is the connecting of many different issues and tactics, and Animal and Earth Lib are a big part of that. One need not give up movement autonomy to be valid under the umbrella of Total Lib. I am an Animal person. I love Animals! I am a Vegan activist. These are clearly compassionate and selfless pursuits.
of course not every group or individual is going to click but slighting the A.R. community as if we are going a different direction than Total Lib is messed up! We can point that finger anywhere. I know plenty of anarchists that think that anarchism is strictly a political ideology, or theoretical idea. Or what about independence struggles like my own Puerto Rican peoples struggle for independence from los Estatos Unidos? They are definitely very concerned with their own movement autonomy and the single issue of independence. People will always say whatever they feel and that is great but remember this, it’s harder to build others up than to tear them down.
Thank you Comrade for this interview. I really wanted to have the opportunity engage in a question and answer session that not only brought these critiques out into the open but one that also allowed me to lay it all on the table with nothing held back. And now my friend……I rest my case…. Take care and I will do the same.
Total Liberation, Whatever It May Take!
500 animals per day die in the labs of Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), one of the largest contract testing companies in the world. Beagles, primates, rabbits, mice, rats, cats and other species are burned, cut open, or injected with poisons all while alive to ensure products like Viagra and diet pills will make it to the shelves of stores around the world; as well as GMO crops, pesticides, fertilizers and house hold cleaners. A small handful of dedicated activists started a campaign that nearly brought the giant to its knees as over 500 companies quit doing business with HLS, including their insurance company. Activists also managed to get HLS dropped from the New York Stock Exchange, eventually stopping their stocks from being publicly traded altogether.
Jake Conroy was one of the activists involved in Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign (SHAC) in the USA, helping to run the website, and lead demos. For this, Jake was sentenced to 4 years in jail.
PE: How did you get involved with animal activism, and more specially the SHAC campaign?
JAKE: I’ve always had strong feelings for the underdog throughout my life. It didn’t really occur to me until I was 19 that some of the biggest underdogs in the world were non-human animals. I had spent a long time thinking about the issues and reading books and pamphlets I picked up at hardcore/punk shows, and watching videos wherever I could find them (which actually was pretty hard to do in a pre-YouTube era). But I was somewhat on the fence about making that leap to get involved.
I was living in Seattle at the time, walking downtown to school, when I passed some folks protesting against the circus as they paraded the elephants for miles through the city. I passed them and didn’t say a word but it sat heavily in my mind that I should. So I turned around and walked back and asked what they were doing and who they were and how I could get in touch with them. They simply replied, “We’re in the Yellow Pages”. Sure enough, under Animal Rights, there was one listing – The Northwest Animal Rights Network. I called the number and listened to the info about the upcoming circus protests, and I went down that weekend by myself to join in.
The next 5 years I would participate in civil disobediences, run successful campaigns to close fur salons, help transform Seattle into one of the most animal-friendly cities in the country, and be arrested (with my current co-defendant Josh Harper) for engaging in the first whale hunt sabotage in US coastal waters by piloting a boat between whales and hunters.
In 2001 I had been working locally on the anti-HLS campaign in the Seattle area, when I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted to move out east for a few months to help start the office for this group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA. I had nothing else to do, so I packed up my belongings, put them in storage, and headed out to Philadelphia. I became so excited and inspired by our first 3 months that I never went back. I would spend the next 5 years helping run one of the most exciting campaigns of my life.
PE: What can people learn from SHAC, and from the repression you faced?
JAKE:I think the most important thing people can learn is that their activism needs to be strategic, smart, and creative, while being thoughtful, careful, and calculated. We shouldn’t rush in head first because that’s the way it’s always been done; rather prepare for all outcomes, be ready to accept them, and not fear them. We need to realize that we are under a microscope, so our actions need to be significant and have a focus on duration and long term strategy.
PE: What do you think made SHAC so successful?
JAKE: Bobby Seale, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, once said that in order to be successful you have to capture the imagination of the people, and the anti-Huntingdon Life Sciences campaign and SHAC USA did just that. It began in North America at a time when national welfare organizations started to dangle paychecks in front of grassroots organizers, when they began shifting the debate away from liberation to welfarism, and when they made you feel like you were doing your part by voting every couple of years and sending in your donations to cover their expanding paychecks. They were disenfranchising the animal rights movement and getting folks to fall into line. But deep inside, we all wanted more.
SHAC USA sprang into action quickly and furiously. It said loudly and proudly that we weren’t going to sit back and accept bigger cages, and we were going to hold everyone and anyone accountable for their actions and support of animal cruelty, no matter when or where. We were happy to push the envelope and support radical ideas and tactics when others wouldn’t. We believed in people power, horizontal and autonomous organizing, and supporting and using every tool in the toolbox to enact change. Within months, we managed to gain victories as an all-volunteer organization of 4 where huge national organizations couldn’t. We captured the hearts and minds of activist communities and the general public, and we were off and running, bulldozing anyone that got in our way.
PE: SHAC centers on vivisection, specifically contract testing for consumer products like viagra and diet pills. Why focus on vivisection rather than fur, circuses, or the horrors of the pet industries, food/meat, or other areas of animal exploitation?
JAKE: There are so many atrocities perpetrated against the earth, and the animals, both human and non-human, that live on it. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern of trying to save the entire planet all at once. But we need to be strategic about our campaigns and smart about how we go about them. There had been a campaign against HLS since the late 80’s, with some amazing actions, but it just wasn’t getting the job done. But the late 90s saw a perfect storm of sorts in England. Activists had closed Consort Beagle Breeder, Hillgrove Cat Farm, Regal Rabbits and they were closing in on Shamrock Primate Farm and Newchurch Guinea Pig Farm. Energy was extremely high and victories were coming in swiftly. Meanwhile, Huntingdon had two undercover investigations released against them in the UK and the US, and it had almost bankrupt them. They were a huge target, teetering on the brink of foreclosure, and they needed a firm kick to push them over the edge. It would be a gamble, but it was part of a larger overall campaign strategy that was proving to be successful. HLS is the third largest contract research organization in the world and they were on the brink of being brought to their knees by grassroots activists. The time was just right.
PE: Do you still think that the SHAC Campaign can succeed at this point? What is the relevance of the campaign today?
JAKE: Martin Luther King Jr said that the arc of the universe is long and bends towards justice. And to add a footnote by Becky Tarbotton, “sometimes we don’t see it bend, sometimes it feels like it flattening out. And other times we can see that arc perceptively bending towards justice.” We didn’t close down Huntingdon Life Sciences according to our timeline, but I still believe the campaign can and will be successful. It’s suffered some major blows to it’s infrastructure, but like all good things, it keeps moving forward, it continues to bend towards justice. People are still active all over the world in the quest to shut it down for good and HLS is still financially hemorrhaging.
I think the relevance of the campaign is that it represents the tenacity, passion, and drive we as a global movement has to see justice served, no matter how long that might take. The tactics the SHAC campaign used were innovative and powerful, and they continue to be replicated by a broad spectrum of movements around the world to fight back. That alone is a testament to the relevance of the campaign and how successful it was and continues to be, regardless of the outcome of our explicit goals.
PE: How can activists today become more effective?
JAKE: Effectiveness and success is going to come by studying our collective histories, working hard and being creative today, while keeping long term future strategies in mind.
As activists today we have a unique opportunity to still talk to and learn from some of the greatest revolutionaries of decades past. These folks are still involved decades later and they want to sit with you, to have you learn from their mistakes, and understand their successes. We need to take advantage of these opportunities any chance we get before it’s too late.
We need to recognize that we are living in one of the most oppressive times to be an activist. Our targets wield more power than ever before and are getting away with using every tool in the toolbox to silence and imprison us. We need to take their lead and fight back in kind. We as activists need to realize that perhaps our old ways and tactics aren’t going to work anymore and we need to start thinking outside the box; to be more creative and look for other ways around the blockades before us in order to reach our desired goal.
Finally, we need to be smart. We can no longer rush in head down, into brick walls. We need to pick our heads up and look forward and see how we can strategically plan not just for this year but the next generation. We need to look deeper and with more thoughtfulness into how we are making change and how we can make it lasting.
PE: Are you still involved with animal activism now that you are out of prison?
JAKE: I’m involved with animal activism as much as I can be. I am currently finishing my third year of probation (out of 3), which puts restrictive conditions on you and your actions. Your whereabouts, employment status and financial records are all monitored by the federal government. I have a list of 30 or so rules, some very specific, some very broad, that I am required to live by. If I violate any of these rules, the probation office has the right to yank me off of probation and put me back in prison. So while they can be lax about certain things, getting in trouble doing animal activism is a sure way to end back in prison.
However, I still do as much animal activism, prisoner support, and outreach that I can. I am also employed by a non-profit environmental organization that uses non-violent direct action and pressure campaigns against global corporate targets to affect change. In a sense it’s much like SHAC, minus the radical aggressiveness that landed us in prison.
PE: If we truly want to be effective in our activism, it seems like in today’s atmosphere we should get prepared for the very real possibility of prison. Do you have any advice on how to prepare or was there anything that helped you get trough it?
JAKE: While I think activists today need to be very aware of the repression going on around the globe and learn how they can fight back, I wouldn’t say that prison is a very real possibility for a large majority of us. In the grand scheme of things, very few of us have actually been imprisoned for the amount of actions and campaigns that have been going on. Unfortunately, while the number of folks in prison right now is rising, it doesn’t mean that we all are going to end up there some day.
The SHAC7 case was a perfect example of that. Thousands of people in North America alone participated in the campaign in their own way and it came down to a half dozen of us in court. The odds are in your favor.
If you are in the small minority of people facing prison time, I would highly suggest turning to those who have been or are currently incarcerated, for advice and counsel. Prison is a place like no other; nothing can possibly compare to it. It’s a place filled with bizarre rules and expectations and nothing can really prepare you for it outside of the experience of others. I spent a lot of time leading up to my incarceration writing friends that were serving time as political prisoners, asking them every thing I could possibly think of. We would write tomes back and forth. But ultimately nothing can fully prepare you for the experience.
Ultimately, prison is a dark and lonely and depressing place. And one of the few things that can put a smile on an inmate’s face is a letter. It is what makes the experience survivable. So I would encourage everyone to look through the lists of political prisoners and find a couple that resonate with you, and write them. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy diatribe on your political beliefs (its better that it’s not), rather, write them about your day, the last back packing trip you took, the last meal you made. Send a photo or a postcard. Anything will brighten their day. Take the time to foster a relationship with them and help them get through their experience. What may seem like an insignificant 20 minutes to you writing a letter, it can be a total life saver when on the receiving end while in prison.
PE: How much dose having a terrorist enhancement effect your life? And how do you feel about being considered a terrorist in the eyes of the government?
JAKE: Just to be clear, none of the SHAC 7 received a terrorist enhancement during sentencing. We were, however, classified by the Bureau of Prisons as domestic terrorists. This meant that during our stay in prison and our time on probation (and I’m sure afterwards), that label followed us around wherever we went. In prison, for me, that meant all of my phone calls were monitored and recorded, all of my incoming and outgoing mail was opened, read, and photocopied if they desired, and my ability to have my friends come visit me was drastically reduced. It also meant that I was put onto a ‘high visibility inmate’ watch list inside of the prison. I was one of 10 to 15 inmates that the administration said posed the biggest security threat to the institution, in a population of around 1300 inmates incarcerated for murder, rape, bank robbery, high-level gang activity, etc..
PE: Could you please recap what the charges against you were, and what you were accused of doing?
JAKE: Kevin Kjonaas, Lauren Gazolla and I were found guilty of 6 charges based on our direct involvement and so-called “leadership” roles with SHAC USA. They were one count of conspiracy to violate the 1934 Telecommunications Harrassment Act, one count of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (now called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), one count of conspiring to commit interstate stalking, and 3 counts of interstate stalking.
Essentially we were found guilty of running a webpage that advertised and editorialized events, actions, and strategy; that published write-ups of those events and actions after the fact (much like an online newspaper); that shared ideas, and supported the thinking of controversial ideologies. By doing all of this online, we crossed state lines to enter into a conspiracy with essentially anyone who had ever used the internet. By simply publishing and editorializing ideas and actions, we were encouraging anyone who accessed our webpage to go out and do the same things.
It was a far-fetched (yet successful) attempt at criminalizing controversial, yet legal, forms of demonstrations, supporting radical and controversial ideologies like non-violent direct action, and the sharing of ideas.
PE: Can you talk about the role music & subcultures can play in Animal Liberation and other activism?
JAKE: Subcultures and music has played a very influential role in grassroots and radical movements. The first time I was introduced to the idea of black power and the Black Panther Movement was after buying the album Fight The Power by Public Enemy when I was in junior high. As a white, suburban kid growing up in New England, those radical ideas didn’t make it into our classrooms. Soon after I would be introduced to hardcore and punk rock, which would open the doors to a do-it-yourself subculture, the straightedge philosophy, and veganism. Bands, ‘zines, and literature acquired at record stores and shows filled my imagination and passion with big ideas about grassroots organizing and direct action; the idea that we didn’t need large organizations and governments to enact the change we wanted to see in the world. That change was something we could bring about on our own and on our own terms. This idea wasn’t just mine – this self-empowerment and introduction to direct action through music communities was shared by 5 of the 6 individuals in the SHAC7 case, and direct action legends like Rod Coronado and Keith Mann. It introduced a whole generation of young people in the mid 90’s to veganism, activism, and direct action, that would eventually shape the entire animal rights movement.
I am not suggesting that everyone everywhere in the world should be vegan, especially not in the case of Indigenous peoples living traditionally with a diet that ‘includes’sustenance hunting and direct relationship¹; but it really pisses me off when white folks (& other settlers²) use indigenous cultures and their traditions as a scapegoat excuse to continue eating factory farmed meat and cheese bought from a grocery store. Last I checked no traditional communities (Indigenous to Turtle Island or elsewhere) ever had factory farms as part of their traditional ways of life. Nor did they have ‘rape racks’ or ‘veal’ calves, which are both part and parcel of modern dairy farming.³ As ALF prisoner Walter Bond once said ” most often the person making the argument isn’t as concerned with protecting the rights of tribal people as much as they are trying to equate Veganism with racism.”
Similarly I don’ t buy most of the arguments about dumpster-diving meat, cause when I dumpster there is far more than enough variety of stuff to be picky. In fact, when I am regularly hitting the bins I get far more privilege to be picky, it is when I am having to pay for foods at a store that I struggle cause I can often only afford the cheap crap. Just seems like another excuse to rationalize a behavior rather than change it. If you are rationalizing something, it usually means you know there is something wrong with what you are doing that you feel guilty about. If someone is poor enough they are getting food from the soup kitchens, or food banks, then I have no judgments; sometimes you need to take what you can get. I get that. We all do the best we can in the context we are living in.
If you don’t believe that animals are sentient, or just don’t believe in veganism, than that’s a different discussion. I would rather if people just said “I don’t believe in that” rather than making bullshit excuses. If you are gonna eat factory farmed animal flesh, cheese, eggs, etc, don’t try to find excuses or rationalize it. Either own up to the fact you are putting money into systems that are based on animal exploitation, or change your behavior if you are not ok with being part of that.
Footnotes: ¹) I also am quite aware that there is far more to the relationship that many Indigenous cultures have to the animals they hunt as food and that many settlers never acknowledge the importance of giving thanks, or to the other spiritual elements. Often we hear from settlers how Indigenous people ‘use all the parts,’ which is often true, but from my limited understanding this was only one part of the acts of respect given in return for the animals life. Whether secular settlers, atheists, or others choose to acknowledged or dismiss the spiritual exchange and relationship that many Indigenous say is the most important part of that interaction, doesn’t change the fact that it is important.
²) Settler means people who are not Indigenous (originating from that piece of land or that place). The term Settler is used because there is many types of colonialism, and in the context of Turtle Island (which most settlers now call north America), the type of colonialism that primarily occurred was ‘settler colonialism’ meaning Europeans moved here to settle here. Nothing is completely dichotomous, there are people who don’t fit nicely into the Indigenous/Settler binary, such as Metis, or displaced people of Indigenous heritage, and of course decedents of the slave trade. None the less, many of us are settlers, and having a language to explain this can be useful, even if/when it is also problematic.
³) The dairy industry is far more exploitative than many people ever consider. Cattle are force impregnated often using a device referred to in industry lingo as a ‘rape rack.’ A Dairy cow will only produce milk for a period of time after calving (giving birth), so they keep the cows perpetually pregnant. Dairy cattle and beef cattle are different breeds, specifically bread for specific traits (such as producing more milk, or alliteratively the fat to muscle ratio in beef animals). Thus while the female dairy animals can look forward a life as pregnant milk machines, the males have little value because you only want 1 or 2 Bulls (adult males) per dairy heard (some farms don’t even keep bulls, preferring to buy sperm for mechanical insemination). So male calves from dairy breeds are sold to be used as veal calves, where they ore often locked into crates, or tethered in tiny shoots, to discourage the development of muscle. After a few weeks of force feeding, they are sent to slaughter. All this is to ensure the flesh will be ‘tender.’
So were at that time of year where the stores are preparing for xmass, their number one sales time of the year, and in response many people are planning on taking part in the annual Buy Nothing Day promoted by Adbusters.
When I first came across BND, a few years ago it seamed like a great idea, but now I am not so sure I buy it. I feel I have to question the tactics effectiveness. How much difference will it really make, the majority of people I know of that are excited to be taking part in BND are either people that already don’t buy almost anything anyways, who scavenge and live a freegan lifestyle, or people that will simply end up buying more in the days leading up to or directly following BND. In short both groups will likely end up buying the exact same amount this season as they would have bought anyways, just not on November 25/26. It seams to me that this action is more a symbolic gesture than a real strategy to empower people and/or challenge capitalism.
Some others have taken this further in an attempt to get past this problem but suggesting Steal Something Day! at least here we have a strategy attempting to cost the corporations money, although I must admit I am skeptical to whether a few pseudo-militant hippies and dirty squatters, travelers etc; all shoplifting on one particular day will even cost enough for the companies to bother hiring extra security that day. As much as I wish it would. However once again I doubt this will be any more than another symbolic gesture.
What we actually need to do is start thinking strategically. Capitalism is about the hording and exchange of personal property and resources, to an end of unlimited expediential growth, so how do we challenge capitalism? By affecting their income, and making it cost more money to do business, then they are making, thus removing the primary incentive.
So perhaps instead of celebrating Buy Nothing Day — which should really be called do nothing day – we could have Fuck With Business As Usual Day! 24 hrs of actions designed to cost corporations their profits,[i] from gluing locks, to sending solid black faxes[ii], sending 10000 emails to a bank so they can’t possibly receive their business emails and crashing their computers [iii], hacking, setting off smoke bombs in stores, talking loudly in the NIKE shop about child labor, phoney (or real) bomb threats at shopping malls,[iv] stealing, breaking windows,[v] paint-bombing or glitter-bombing,[vi] making large meal orders and not showing up for them at Mc-Restaurants, calling in sick for work, putting out of order signs on pop machines,[vii] arson,[viii] roadblocks,[ix] and anything else you can conceive of that would cost a business money!
However the big issue with this strategy would be promotions, I have to admit Fuck With Business As Usual Day does not have as nice of a ring to it, nor a good acronym, and without a glossy full color magazine in every 7-11 and Chapters to promote it, who would participate? As well you would have every liberal out there condemning the day and the coppers would be out in full force to “keep the peace” AKA protect corporate property, and business as usual. Hell if history is any indicator you would have many of the liberal pacifists not only condemning you but even working with the police to protect the property, and helping to catch anyone daring to partake. [x] Maybe Joe Foy of WCWC would even put up a bounty on us like he did to the tree spikers years ago! [xi]And in the USA under the Animal Enterprises Protection Act, people attacking any animal related industries could get up to 22 yrs in prison and be tried as a terrorist[xii] (child rapists often get 5-10 yrs, sometimes less [xiii]). Hell I could probably go to jail for even suggesting in a hypothetical that we consider any of these things, that is strategies that actually affect things. See the unfortunate truth is that whenever we actually become a threat they will use violence, fear, and threats to stop us, and as long as we are not of any real consequence to them they will be happy to continue to ignore us.
So even though Buy nothing day will really turnout to be Accomplish Nothing Day, the reality is in the end I will probably end up taking part in Buy Nothing Day, sad but true, cause honestly it’s the “least” I can do.
Currently the volunteer run non-profit infoshop I work at is planning our third annual Buy Nothing Day Sale! As a small business selling local or independent stuff, it wouldn’t make any sense for us to close down for the day, so instead we have fun with it. Anyways, they always say doing something is always better than doing nothing. All used books are 20% off and Marx is 1/2 off! Yet every year when we have the sale some folks completely freak out that we would dare mock the sacred Buy Nothing Day symbolic action.
[i] A similar idea was done years ago in the UK and was organized in part by the anarchist punk bands Crass and Chumbawamba. These actions were called Stop the City demonstrations.
[ii] A Black fax is a tactic where a piece of paper that is black is fed half way through a fax machine and then the other end is taped together in a loop so it will keep sending continuously. The tactic serves to both freeze up the targets fax machine and modem so other incoming messages won’t be able to be received, while also costing them a lot of money in toner and paper.
in 2006, members of the above ground animal rights and anti-vivisection campaign known as Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty campaign (SHAC) were charged with conspiracy to harass using a telecommunications device for sending back faxes, as well as other charges. For more information look up the SHAC 7
[iii] In October 2005, Dylan Barr was arrested after he sent out flood of emails to Washington Mutual Bank with messages saying “This is what happens to companies that invest in HLS.” This is what is called a denial of service” attack… Barr sent so many large documents to the employees that their inboxes became full and refused emails from actual bank patrons. Washington Mutual dropped HLS as a client. Bar served 29 days in jail, and was fined $25000, which is only a tiny fraction of the $1000000 estimated in loss from the bank dropping it’s shares.
[iv] A few years ago when I worked for Public Outreach as a street fundraiser,. a couple of my co-workers had to move where they were canvassing because some random guy came up to them and told them quietly they should leave cause he had left a bomb in the garbage can of the bay center mall. The mall had to evacuate, and a lot of money was lost in revenue, while they searched for the bomb that didn’t exist. The guy was never caught.
However, there is a real danger in crying wolf, as Ann Hansen once pointed out.
“in fact, we oppose the use of fake bomb threats precisely because they do cause the authorities to be skeptical of the authenticity of real bomb attacks”
[v] Common tactic used by Blac Bloc’s is to smash windows of corporations, cause they can be easy to break quickly, and expensive. As well, I have heard that often contrary to general public opinion, that many companies don’t report the broken windows to their insurance companies because it may be cheaper to fix a few broken windows than to pay an annual increase in the cost of insurance.
[vi] Glitter Bombs or Glamdalizim is a tactic used by radical queers where they mix glitter into a regular paint bomb to make the attack that much more fierce and fabulous!
[vii] I got this one from the classic Crimethinc book recipes For Disaster
[viii] I want to be clear I am not advocating or counseling here, I am talking in the hypothetical. As Ted Kaczynski stated in Hit Them Where It Hurts;
“The engine, for example, can be ruined with very little expenditure of time and effort by means well known to many radicals.
At this point I must make clear that I am not recommending that anyone should damage a bulldozer (unless it is his own property). Nor should anything in this article be interpreted as recommending illegal activity of any kind. I am a prisoner, and if I were to encourage illegal activity this article would not even be allowed to leave the prison. I use the bulldozer analogy only because it is clear and vivid and will be appreciated by radicals.”
an even better disclaimer can be found in the cover of one of my favorite zines Bloodlust: A Feminist Against Civilization, which reads;
All contents of this zine are for purely entertainment purposes. No one involved in the writing or constructing of this zine advocates or condones any sort of illegal activity. Please ignore the screams of a dying world and passively consume this as you would a television sitcom.
[ix] Roadblocks have become a tactic often used by indigenous sovereigntists when fighting against the corporations and the state. This tactic was used at Oka, as well is in 6 nations, and I believe the longest was the road block at Grassy narrows, although there is really too many to cite them all. Currently the warriors of the Wet’suwet’en are refusing entry to their traditional territories by anyone who doesn’t ask consent, as part of their assertion of their traditional rights, and resistance to the pipelines the corporations & government are trying to force through their territories. This tactic involves blocking a major road with something like logs, human bodies, trucks, overturned cop cars, or other such items, so no traffic can pass through. It has been shown to be an effective tactic.
[x] There have been many examples of this, basically any time a black bloc action has occurred, such as the toronto G20 and No-2010 anti-olympics actions. However, I think the clearest example was in the WTO protests in Seattle in 99 where white liberal middle class activists actually physically restrained young local people of color to stop them from looting stores that had been smashed and held them until the police could arrive to take them into custody. These liberals also physically blocked people from smashing windows.
In a non anarchist context, after the recent Vancouver hockey riots some people reportedly took it 10 steps further by attacking people and their homes who had been photographed at the riots, as well as tracking them down to turn into the cops. Scary shit.
[xi] On more than one occasion “WCWC offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any tree spiker in B.C. This offer still stands today” (Big Trees, Not Big Stumps: 25 years of campaigning to save wilderness with the Wilderness Committee, by Paul George). This has lead to some people referring to West Coast Wilderness Committee as WCSnitch
[xii] Marie Mason in 2009 was sentenced to 22 years after pleading guilty to arson attacks for a 1999 attack on a building at Michigan State University that caused more than US$1 million in damages, undertaken as a protest against research into genetically modified crops, as well as attacks on the property of a Mink farm owner.
Jeff (Free) Luers was initially sentenced to 22 years, 8 months in prison, but had his sentence reduced to 10 years on appeal after a large campaign to support him. He had been convicted in 2000 he set fire to three light trucks at Romania Chevrolet dealership in Eugene as a protest against excessive consumption and global warming
Also Walter Bond is currently serving 12 yrs for his 3 arsons as part of the ALF.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) is a United States federal law that makes it a mandatory minimum sentence for every conviction in relation to animal rights charges. So even if the defendant had gone out of their way to guarantee that no one would be hurt, their actions will be considered terrorism if they cost the corporation money through illegal means.
[xiii] In December 2003, Matin Tremblay was convicted for five counts of sexual assault against young Aboriginal teenage girls. However, he was released from custody the following year, after serving only a fraction of his three-and-a-half year sentence. Tremblay had originally been charged with 18 counts of sexual assault and administering a noxious substance to five Aboriginal girls between the ages of 13 and 15. Then 38 years old, Tremblay admitted to sexually assaulting and videotaping the girls while they were unconscious in his home. Feb 15, 2011, Tremblay was sentenced to 11 months in prison (one year minus time served) for two counts of drug-related charges. There are numerous new allegations by other young native womyn of waking up naked after her drugged them, and reportedly he often also would video tape himself sexually assaulting them while they were passed out.
There is also a history in BC (as well as other places) of native womyn going missing or being raped and/or murdered, and the police doing fuck all about it.
In the 2010 Victoria city council election a candidate named Pedro Mora admitted he had been previously convicted, after he plead guilty for the sexual assault of a 15 year old in Burnaby and he claims he served only 40 days in a “rehabilitation centre” in the Lower Mainland.