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Interview: Gather

Originally Published: Monday, October 03, 2005
Written by: Kirby Unrest

Who is in Gather, what do they play, when/where/why did you begin and  what do you have out record wise?

 Dustin: Gather has four members, right now, but we like playing with five members better.  Allan plays guitar, Eva sings and writes the lyrics, Randy plays bass, and I play drums.  On one tour, we had our friend Kurt Catalyst playing another guitar, and in when we played Mexico City, Eric Vanguard, from New Eden Records, played the second guitar.  We began playing music in Berkeley in February 2004, right after experiencing the Total Liberation Fest in Erie, PA.  We were so inspired, that Gather came out of the fest.  So far we have a really great 5 song demo out on New Eden Records.  We’re about to have our second New Eden release with the Seven Generations/Gather split release, which will be amazing!  We also have plans and are working toward a full length release!What does your name mean?

Dustin: In one sense, our name stands to capture that which is so important, to us, about hardcore: getting together with peers to go to shows, cook food, hang out, or take action.  In another sense, though, we wanted to make a statement about living a more simple lifestyle, like  ‘hunter-gatherer’ cultures do, but without acknowledging the ‘hunting’ aspect.

 I know you had a couple change ups for the bass spot. Were Pete and Katie always going to be fill in’s or original members who just moved on from the band?

 Dustin: When the band started, it was just me and Allan. Eva joined soon thereafter, but we had no bass player.  Well, early on, we were given the opportunity to tour the country with some amazing bands as a part of the Total Liberation Tour, in the summer of 2004, and so we needed a bass player then.  Pete, a good friend and a vegan straight edge bass player, stepped up and toured with us.  We had a blast.  That next Fall, he started school in Davis, and Katie filled in as a bass player for a couple good shows in Berkeley and Santa Cruz.  Randy eventually became the ‘official’ bass player once he was able to move his ass out of SoCal.  He’s been a long time friend, and a radical dude, and we’d wanted him in Gather since day one.

On your last tour, didn’t you have Kurt Birthright playing second  guitar? How did that go?

Dustin: Great!  We met Kurt when we played Indiana during the Total Lib Tour.  He was impressed that we were a radical VSXE band, and seemed to really like the music.  He kept in touch with us and quickly became a good friend because we get along so well!  He’s funny, has good energy, is thoughtful and political – all things that Gather tries to be.  So we made it clear that if he wanted to come out to CA to tour with us, that we’d love for him to.  So he flew out, added some good parts to our songs, and we all had a blast on what was a really successful tour.

Allan:  We are all very new at this whole “playing in a band” thing.  Before Gather most of us had never been on tour before.  In a lot of ways I think we’re very inexperienced people.  It was really great having Kurt on tour with us because he has spent a lot of time on the road with bands.  On tour he seemed to play the role as a ‘big brother’ type for me.  Every time I spend time with Kurt I feel like I learn something new.  Additionally he is familiar with the sound and style that we are trying to produce.  In a lot of ways our band reflects what many bands were doing in the early and mid-90s.  Being in Birthright Kurt was in the midst of that era of hardcore.

You recorded your demo with Scott Crouse (guitarist for Earth Crisis, Isolated), which I’m sure must have been a tremendous honor, as obviously ExC is a huge influence on your music/lyrics. How did you get hooked up him, what was the recording like, how can other bands get in touch with Scott and his studio, and how awesome was it to have him guest on the “Wrath Of Sanity” part in “No Contest?”

Dustin: Man, Scott’s a really awesome guy, and we really like him!  We also get along really well!  He has a studio in Fresno that he uses to record bands with.  We had heard his really good recordings through bands like Fresno’s Dead Elizabeth and The Occam’s Razor.  Plus, he only charges $20/hr.  So, we felt it’d be worth it to drive down to Fresno.  Plus, we were confident he wouldn’t fuck with our sound, since he helped invent the fucking genre that we play most like: mid 90’s mid-tempo VSXE hardcore.  As for the Wrath of Sanity part, we weren’t gonna record it unless he gave us the thumbs up.  He actually ended up playing it (and showing how to play it correctly – haha).  It was fucking awesome!

Speaking of that, was that part always in the song or did you add it in  while you were recording with Scott?

Dustin: It was always in the song.  It’s pretty cheesy, but I have a huge reserve of cheesy ideas for our band that every once in a while get used.  I wanted to pay homage to Wrath of Sanity by covering that part, and so we ran with it, and I think (hope) that it got pulled off well.

How are things going with New Eden Records?

Dustin: Things are going great with New Eden!  Erik is a friendly guy, who likes to talk a lot and spend lots of money on making his releases the best possible releases.  We’ve been friends for a long time, and he really likes our band, and so nothing but good things for us has resulted from working with him.

Allan:  Erik New Eden works much harder than most people realize.  More importantly Erik has a great deal of integrity.  He is true to his beliefs and sincere in his actions.  He runs a very solid record label and manages a distro called rebuilding communications distribution (www.xrebuildingx.com).

I heard you have a split coming out with Seven Generations. How many songs are going to be on it, and how would you compare the material from the 7″?

Dustin: There are going to be two new songs from each of the bands.  The songs that we recorded – again with Scott Crouse – are really ‘full,’ mature, and true to the sound we strive for: super heavy and super meaningful hardcore.

Will the demo ever be released in CD format on a label?

Dustin: New Eden has talked about releasing the Total Liberation Demo on a CD, since lots of kids – especially kids abroad – don’t have record players.  Keep your eyes open for that (www.newedenrecords.com).

What have you going on tourwise for the rest of ’05?

Dustin: We don’t really know, for ’05, right now.  We’re hoping to do some sort of tour this winter break, although we’re too afraid to drive out east during winter, so it may just be another west coast tour.  We really want to make our way back up through Oregon and Washington.  So we’ll see.

Allan, I know you will be relocating soon from NorCal to SoCal. Will Gather stay together, find a new guitarist, or are you going to be working on a long distance relationship?

Allan:  At the end of May I moved to Santa Barbara which is my hometown.  I have every intention on continuing my participation in Gather, even though the distance and my new busy schedule will make things more difficult.  I’m in the Teacher Education Program at UCSB working towards my Masters degree in Education and my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  I still find time to work on riffs and record them on an 8-track recorder but songwriting will still be difficult without the rest of the band in close proximity.

Dustin: Allan lives in Santa Barbara, right now, working toward his master’s degree and teaching credential.  We keep in touch regularly, and he is still the guitarist and songwriter for Gather.  We just have a lot less practices.

I really like the design work the 7″. Who are the Empty Design Coalition and how can people get in touch with them?

Dustin: Erik from New Eden worked with Alan Hunter of Graf Orlock to design the 7”.  It’s beautiful!  If you compare it to the Purified in Blood CD and the Naj One CD, both released on New Eden, you’ll notice a similar style.  I really love the style, and you can get in touch with them by going to www.emptydesign.net.  Amazing stuff!

Gather definitely has a mix of both traditional mid 90’s metalcore and more modern styles in your songs. When you started this band, did you have any particular intentions for how you wanted things to sound?

Dustin: Oh yeah, definitely.  Gather started out with the deliberate intention of sounding like our favorite bands from the mid 90’s: Chokehold, Culture, Unbroken, Harvest, Green Rage, and bands like those from that era.  But at the same time, we were playing shows and listening to a lot of great current bands, like Make Move, The Warriors, First Blood, Greyskull and Takaru, and so we can’t help but be influenced by them!

Who/what has inspired you the most lyrically/musically (you can give individual answers here, or a group response)?

Dustin: Well, i don’t know if a drummer can really answer this question, but honestly, I’m musically influenced by bands like Cave In, Bloodlet, Integrity, and Earth Crisis.

Allan:  I’m not very involved in the writing of lyrics but I know that as a guitar player and songwriter I’m most influenced by Unbroken, Chokehold, and Culture.  I think each of these bands had a lot of emotion put into their music and that really appeals to me.  Plus, I love divebombs.

Eva: Lyrically, I’ve always loved Anti-Product, Chokehold, Crass, and Earth Crisis for their blatantly political lyrics.  I like how straight forward and pissed-off they are, so that’s what’s inspired me.

New (and old) bands you are extremely hyped on?

Dustin: Right now? Hands down Seven Generations.  They are our best friends and the most inspiring band to play with.  Such an awesome show, with an awesome sound and an air of sincerity lost in the big hardcore shows that most people go to.  Greyskull from WA is another super heavy band that inspires us.

Eva: Also, Tears of Gaia from California.  I was so excited that these kids in California were starting a vegan straight edge band because this had been greatly lacking.  Hearing them was the first time it hit me that vsxe hardcore was making a come-back.

Dustin: As far as old bands, Chokehold continues to inspire us with their right-on lyrics and style.  All the old Catalyst Records bands are constantly being played in our CD players. 

Randy: I want to reiterate how amazing Greyskull is, and our friends from SF, Send ‘Em to the Cemetery, are really awesome and blatantly political.  Old bands I’m really into lately are Trial, The Swarm, Catharsis, Propagandhi, and Creation is Crucifixion.

Allan: I think one of the best releases I’ve heard lately is the new To Kill CD on catalyst records.  They’re a sort of mosh-metal sxe band from Rome.  I’m also really into a band from Argentina called Nueva Etica.  I really hope to have the opportunity to play with both of those bands one day.

Recommended reading material for fans who are interested in learning more about your ideas?

Dustin: Oh boy – there is so much.  We have a recommended reading list in our 7”.  Primarily, we recommend reading The Culture of Make Believe by Derrick Jensen.  It’s a great book that tackles most of what we, as a band, collectively care about so much.  Ishmael by Daniel Quinn is a great book to read, also, as it reflects a lot of what we sing about.  We’re also very committed to Animal Liberation, so some books that might be good introductions to the issue are Animal Liberation by Peter Singer and Free The Animals by Ingrid Newkirk.  If you’re looking for something more radical, check out Declaration of War: Killing People to Save Animals and the Environment by Screaming Wolf.  Good magazines to read are No Compromise, Bite Back, and Adbusters.  A good ‘zine is Strong Hearts, a ‘zine created by Rod Coronado while he was serving time in prison for liberating animals.  Wanna learn about taking action? Check our Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching by Dave Foreman.

Allan:  Since a big focus in my life right now is education I think two of my favorite books right now would be Walking on Water by Derrick Jensen and Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Freire.  I recommend those to anyone interested in radical education.

Why are you vegan straight edge, what do those terms mean to you, and what keeps you involved in the hardcore/all ages scene?

Dustin: I am vegan because I have internalized the belief that animals, including myself, have intrinsic desires and emotions that deserve to be carried out free from impediment.  No human deserves to limit another animal’s ability to partake in their own natural activities and desires.  Trapping hens in cages for their entire lives to lay eggs removes the ability for them to root in the dust, sunbathe, raise children, etc. The same examples can be laid out for every captivated animal, including humans.  Further, those who are responsible for trapping, holding back, confining, torturing, and murdering animals must be stopped at all costs and by all means.  I’m straight edge because I love the straight edge hardcore scene and recognize drugs and alcohol as substances that can limit and subdue the lucidity of my life experiences.  I’m vegan straight edge because they write the best songs (j/k).

Eva: When you realize that you have the power to deal with your own insecurities, pains, and boredom, you realize that drugs/alcohol are really there to keep us pacified, out of touch with ourselves and the world.  The media makes us feel as if we need these things to be happy, which is bullshit.  That’s part of why I’m straight edge.  As for veganism, when you are opposed to hierarchies, it makes sense to live vegan and allow other beings the freedom to live by their own will and not be enslaved, tortured, or murdered for humyn convenience.  One can live a healthy, happy life without oppressing others by being vegan, so there’s really no excuse not to.

Randy: I became straight edge because i realized that I would be much more effective achieving our political goals with an alertness that can only be found in abstinence from intoxicants. I agree with Eva that drugs exist in order to placate us and leave us without agency in our own lives. As far as veganism, it is the logical extension of the opposition to hierarchy. I mean, what gives any humyn the right to say we can decide how another being’s life goes, especially if we subject it to such cruel conditions?

Allan: The rest of the band has made a lot of really great points about straight edge and veganism.  I suppose I can summarize my reasons for subscribing to these ideals by saying that I think that both veganism and straight edge have great potential to bring about a greater quality of life for all life on the planet.  I was raised with the idea that we should leave things better than we found them.  Veganism and straight edge are a good way of starting to achieve that.

Is Gather, as a band, prolife or prochoice? Why? What about the death penalty and euthanasia?

Dustin: Gather is a vocal and adamant Pro-Choice band because Anti-Choice assholes stand in the way of, and degrade, Womyn’s Liberation. The death penalty is, in our opinion, antiquated and an ineffective means of deterring crime, and so seems pretty pointless.  As far as euthanasia goes, ‘euthanizing’ animals at the pound is a euphamism. It’s murder. Dog’s have no choice in the matter.  However, suicide and euthanasia of humyns may be the result of a profound understanding of one’s own life and is the ultimate control people can have over their existence: controlling the ‘how’, ‘when’ and ‘where’ of their deaths. And so, in an un-coerced setting, euthanasia just might be the best choice for that person.

Eva: Being pro-life is nothing more than being brainwashed by religious morality, and there’s no reason we should accept that. ‘Abortions’ have existed long before the coat-hanger or ‘suction device’, long before preachers were saying it was immoral.  People have used herbal abortions (including other animals) whenever it seems right for them, and they were in control of their bodies.  Very much pro-choice, although I’m also very much for safe sex and prevention of pregnancy.

Randy: With abortion, there are so many complex circumstances in our society that pushes womyn to have abortions, even if they would prefer not to, not the least of which is the extreme economic pressure that a womyn would find herself under as an only parent. But personally, I feel that humyns have fucked up so much of this world that whenever the opportunity arises to keep another humyn off of the planet, it should be taken. Plus, not only is the death penalty ineffective, but is the ultimate example of state control, which we are also very against as a band. Prison or the death penalty are more means of oppression of minorities in our society rather than ways to deal with unwanted behavior. If you look at statistics alone, you’ll see proof that prison or the death penalty are primarily for the poor or people of color and do not prevent future crimes because there is no change in those people’s economic situation.

I definitely have quite a few very lengthy questions about certain lines in your lyrics, their explanations and your feelings on a few topics so here we go:

In “No Contest” there is discussion of making the move from just being “vegan” to becoming an “extreme vegan.” I’m not 100% what it means to be an “extreme vegan” as no formal explanation is given (just a reference to an article in No Compromise) so first and foremost I’m curious as to what this is about. I gather that it’s about making the transition to direct action. It states that this call should be taken as you will, but alludes to the idea that legal channels and working within the system is not enough. I am vegan, and I agree that it is more than just abstaining from animal products, that is a matter of educating others and doing all that is possible to save the lives of animals and to protect the Earth with available resources. I also believe that you are correct in saying that not  everyone will ever go vegan, and if they do it will be too late, and no matter what, animals will still languish and die in labs and  slaughterhouses. Yet, I personally feel as though legal measures do get things done. The catalyst for PETA was the Silver Spring lab case, where members of PETA went in undercover as lab students and were able to provide photographic/video evidence as well as firsthand accounts, that animals were being tortured and hurt unnecessarily and the lab was shut down. Now, of course, labs will stay open and continue harming animals, because there are laws that protect vivisection and animal experimentation. I’m definitely not saying that is right. Yet, they are using the law to protect themselves, so why not use their own weaponry against them? If you are trying to get people on your side, non partisan folks, firebombing the hell out of a lab or mink farm, probably isn’t going to turn anyone vegan quick. I understand that for some, getting animals out is more important than the PR boost, but while most of the those folks go to jail and are stripped of rights, they could have been out and about, free, passing the state bar exam, becoming lawyers, going undercover and taking out as many corporations and animal abusers as possible. I personally believe this to be far more effective. What do you think?

Eva: Well I included the article from No Compromise in our 7” release (the one I referred to in our demo.)  But to summarize, being an “extreme vegan” simply means staying active and educating yourself all the time.  We shouldn’t become complacent or too comfortable with ourselves just because we’re vegan because that leads to inactivity. It is true that by being vegan we are not necessarily contributing to animal murder, however, whether we are vegan or not, animals in laboratories, factory farms, circuses, etc. are being abused and killed.  They need all they help they can get, whether through legal or illegal actions. I’m sure if we were in the shoes of the animals in those situations, we would want people out there fighting for us, especially when the majority of the world doesn’t care about them at all.  Would you be upset if someone had to break some unjust laws if meant you were able to escape mutilation and death?  I don’t think so.  The reason I say that we cannot depend on legal actions alone is because those processes take a long time to get results, if they do at all.  Not all animals can wait that long (same goes for earth liberation actions.)  To think that our image to the mainstream is more important than the lives directly saved through illegal actions is naïve.  The media will always paint those who are a threat to them as the “bad guys,” but we can’t let that intimidate us.  I am not opposed to legal work because every little bit helps; it’s just not something we should depend on alone.

 
Along the same lines, and I asked Seven Generations the same question, what do you think about those who would destroy a lab or slaughterhouse (both completely legal practices/facilities in the US)  because they believed in the protection of innocent life, and parties that burn down abortion clinics (even though abortion is legal), or kill doctors who perform such operations, and citing their reasoning for such violence as a protection of unborn, innocent life. In the 7Gen interview, as with this one, I want to clarify that I’m not saying this a perfect analogy by any means nor am I going to argue whether or not a fetus is a living human being or not, while an animal is a fully realized form of life. Finally, yes a woman chooses to have an abortion, and an animal doesn’t give it’s life to torture and death, but that is not the foundation of the question. My point is that when it comes down to it, both are actions taken against legal institutions/practices because some believe that just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right, and both are shunned by the majority of society. Yet, in the hardcore community, it is an overwhelming ideal that the animal liberation groups are in the right, and the prolifers are as bad as Hitler. I think they are missing the big picture. While I’m not going to say one is more right or wrong, they are committed on the same principle: actions against a perceived evil (perceived since there are many, many people in this world who don’t consider either/or to be wrong). Your thoughts?

Dustin:  As your question points out, there is a long history of physically destroying institutions that are, as you say, ‘perceived’ as unjust.  Particularly, we know (or ‘feel,’ or ‘believe’) that institutions that are responsible for torturing animals, and preventing them from living the life that they are capable of and desire, must fall.  They will not disappear through boycott or protests, alone.  Most of these institutions make so much money that they are routinely saved and bailed out by the government: either through recovery loans or subsidies.  In that case, only a raid to liberate those enslaved and a can of gasoline will end that institution.  And so, in that case, we would support that tactic, as one option of many that might shut down that institution.  Pro-lifer losers feel the same way about their cause.  I’m guessing that so did Timothy McVeigh.  Where we, as a Animal Lib supporters, fall on the spectrum of morality and ‘rightness’ has no bearing on our decisions, especially if we don’t recognize any one standard of morality or ‘rightness.’

Randy: Well, we decide that this level of action is justified because we feel so strongly that we are right in our judgment because we have empirical evidence of the suffering of animals, whereas there is no empirical evidence as the the life-ness of a fetus. And I think that when religious fanatic psychos take matters into their own hands, it is commendable that they are taking action (however misguided their action or belief may be), because that is definitely not the attitude their religion, or society in general, teaches them to assume.

In the lyrical explanation to “Escalate” it states that certain kinds of people are accepted into the scene simply because they are straight edge. Some of these individuals include those who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, capitalistic, Christian, anthropocentric and patriotic” and are listed as “negative qualities.” I agree that racism, sexism, homophobic,  and anthropocentric are not what I would consider positive traits, but the others I can’t really side with you on. Capitalism is not inherently wrong in my eyes, though when you look at the heartless corporations in the world, it’s not easy to see why there is animosity towards the idea. In regard to Christianity, I have a difficult time grasping this concept. I grew up hating Christians and Christianity, which is funny because the best people I know (my mother/father, as well as most of my family) areall Christian. Some of the people I greatly admire (Mother Theresa, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others of similar caliber and grace) were all Christians, as are many other friends I have, and the great Catholic men I’ve met through my fathers involvement with the Knights Of Columbus. A few years back, my long, spiritual search came to a head when I embraced Christianity (so do I now not belong in hardcore in your eyes?). Not saying that’s the right choice for anyone, or even most people, just saying it works for me. In the scene, I’ve met many amazing Christian souls, people who were more welcoming (without passing judgment or trying to convert me) than most of the hardcore kids I knew, especially the very PC and so called “open minded” ones. I know that there have been many Christians in the world who have done terrible things, and committed atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, a being of pure love and kindness, which I will never understand. Yet, what faith/belief system hasn’t? Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and many less well known religions have blood on their hands from followers of the faith. Doesn’t mean they are bad people or that the religion is awful or abominable. Same goes for someone of a specific race. Just because a person who happens to be a certain race and commits a crime, should the whole race be blamed? No, of course not. Yet it happens all the time. Most kids I’ve met in the scene can’t even tell me anything about Christianity, except to bring up their poor experiences of it, or fill their arguments with personal views, instead of a scholarly approach, filled with research. Of course, I could say the same for a lot of Christians, and their understanding of what they hate. I also am proud to be an American. I believe there are horrible things stained red white and blue, and I am definitely not going to put down other nations, but I believe I live in a truly great country. If there is an empire or village on this Earth that has not had it’s share of war mongering, violence, death and abuse of other cultures in their history, I’d love to go there. I think things need to be changed in a lot of ways, and I’ll do my best to help out with that. I feel blind patriotism is wrong, but usually blind anything is wrong, yet I don’t think the idea of patriotism is incompatible with the scene. Which brings me to the end of this lengthy question/statement, if hardcore/punk is about the free exchange of ideas, and the celebration of life and music, why is there so much talk about the enemy, people we hate and the desire to destroy anyone/anything that doesn’t fit into a certain group of peoples predetermined patters or rulebook? When I got involved in this scene 13 years ago, I never signed up to decide that people don’t belong or ideas shouldn’t be shared. I see a lot of kids who seem damn eager to talk about freedom of speech and religion but surely don’t want anyone exorcising those particular rights, at least within the scene. Yet I somewhat get that feeling when I read the explanation to “Escalate.” Your response?’

Dustin: You’re right: Escalate is about kids in the straight edge scene.  We don’t feel that merely being straight edge is a reason for anybody to feel better than others, especially if they uphold so many other shitty institutions.  So what institution do we mean?  Well, as you noticed, two of those institutions are Christianity and America.

You pointed out a lot of experiences that you had with Christians that you admire, and of a sense of direction and fulfillment that you now have after finding your spiritual path.  Those things have very little to do with what it is we hate so much about Christianity, and hence, with those who uphold the institution: Christians. Christianity is the product of lots of myths and mysterious religions that surrounded the middle east 1,000’s of years ago – probably about 12,000 years ago.  Myths from all around culturally melded into what we recognize as the foundations of early Christianity: the virgin birth myth, the life after death myth, the rising from the dead myth, and the monotheistic belief.  Right around the same time, in the same area, there was a similar cultural shift in how people began to acquire food.  It is recognized that right about 10,000 years ago, there was the ‘Agricultural Revolution,’ that marked the shift from a sustenance farming and gathering lifestyle, to totalitarian agriculture (that we recognize today) that resulted in food surpluses.  These food surpluses and farming techniques have been linked to the admonishment of matriarchal cultures, the  birth of patriarchy, of class divisions and of specialized labor, of domestication of animals and humans (aka: workers), and of grand armies.  Other things, like technological advancements, have also been liked to the agricultural revolution.  Christianity, as a theology, served (and serves) to uphold those same ideals theologically.

We still live in the culture that resulted from both the monotheistic cultural revolution and the agricultural revolution.  This is precisely the culture responsible for the mass extinction of life occurring right now on this planet.  At this rate, and in this direction, we are headed toward extinction (and don’t call us doomsday nut’s without doing some research yourself).

In this day and age – in 2005 – it is the Capitalistic giants that perpetuate and uphold the technological, hierarchical, patriarchal culture that is destroying the earth.  Maybe people used to blame the government, but to us, corporations are collectively stronger than governments.

We, as individuals and a band, want this destructive, patriarchal culture to end, so that the Earth and be left the fuck alone. America happens to be the super power, right now, soon to be dwarfed by China.  We hate America because America, in it’s practices, hates the Earth and any cultures that live outside of it.  America murders other people who disagree with it.  Plain and simple.  If you’re an indigenous culture who lives outside of civilization, and America finds you, they will murder you, with bullets and with cultural push, usually through a TV. 

Eva: Not just America, but all countries that live under capitalism.

Dustin: In defense of those sustainable cultures that live outside of this civilization (about 0.1% of the current population) we will always hate and fight against America and those who support and uphold it.

Christianity also serves to culturally uphold hierarchy and patriarchy.  You, Kirby, may have met nice Christians and feel a sense of fulfillment in your own life by following a spiritual path, but for the countless other cultures that have been killed with bullets, bayonets, and through television-style cultural injection by those Christians with the avarice to convert heathens, we will always hate Christianity and those who uphold that institution: Christians.

Eva: Obviously, we also have friends/family who are Christians, so it’s not as simple as “hating all Christians,” but I definitely loathe organized religions, like Christianity.

Dustin: You mentioned that if there were a culture that didn’t have blood on it’s hand, then you would go join it.  Well, you don’t believe that, nor could you if you wanted to.  There was a huge diversity of cultures that existed before our culture began it’s parasitic, poisonous spread over the Earth 10,000 years ago.  Those now lost cultures weren’t free from blood, but they existed – as homo sapiens – for 190,000 years without destroying the earth.  When the agricultural revolution coupled with the monotheistic-hierarchical revolution, 10,000 years ago, we began our ecocidal descent into our near extinction, overpopulation, and alienation that we experience today.  We hold nothing but contempt for the forefathers that have upheld and progressed humyns to where we are today.  Fuck Christianity. Fuck Patriarchy.  Fuck America.  Fuck Israel.  Fuck them all for upholding this system of alienation, loss of identity, and ecocide.

Eva: A big problem that Americans have of anarchists is that we “focus on the bad” when we are only supposed to focus on the good. But that mindset has allowed America to destroy so much, so it is important to question and challenge and look outside of ourselves (as American citizens.)

Randy: And we shouldn’t forget that Gather is not only opposed to Christianity, but all religion. Christianity is simply the religion that is in our face every day (and has been shoved down my throat since birth), so it is what we focus most of our animosity towards. All religious dogma espouses delusional ideas of salvation that have no place in our lives, not to mention the fact that religions are inherently sexist, homophobic, and anthropocentric. On the website of the now defunct label, Plus/Minus Records, there is a really helpful ‘Hardcore/Punk Guide to Christianity’ that people can check out if they want to look into this more.

While I think the lyrics to “Tirestorm”, the piece written by Randy on the back of your demo, are undeniably clever and a very witty use of the ExC original, I wonder about certain lines within it and the overall message. I have no disagreement that this world really needs to utilize ulterior modes of transportation, and hopefully one day we will be free of cars, and exist within a society that uses environmentally friendly forms of fuel. Until then though, we do need to exorcise measures such as driving less, carpooling, buying electric and hybrid cars, and walking/biking whenever possible. So I agree that the dream is possible, but I can’t help but call out a lot of bands and individuals who are so adamantly against vehicles, but I mean, how are you going to tour then? Put your Marshall stack on your bike and your drumset in a Radio Flyer? I don’t mean to be mocking but I’ve seen many bands who do this, and it wasn’t like they were saying “yeah, let’s hope one day we are free of the need of cars” but more so in the vein of “we need to destroy all cars now, tear up the roads, no more fossil fuel” and then get in their massive Econoline van. So I feel the need to question your feelings on that? Is “Tirestorm” just a way to say “hey, we need to ride bikes more,” or do you really think that right now, in terms of the bigger picture, could be a thriving, successful nation without cars (and more importantly, without a monolithic alternative national mass transit resource)? Also, what about the line “violence against vehicles, let the window smashings begin?” This is again my issue with a lot of, for lack of a better word, PC individuals. I’m not saying everyone of them is a pacifist, but there definitely seems to be a lot of talk of peace, how no violence is justified, especially instances like the war in Iraq, prolifers bombing clinics, the harming of animals, domestic abuse, etc(nor am I saying that any one of those things is justified) but then turn around and embrace violence for their causes. I’m okay with people who stand in the middle and say “I don’t always think this is alright, but in certain instances” but I guess I see a lot of individuals who claim to be 100% against violence or for peace, and then are complete hypocrites about it. Just like those who says we should put all our faith in the law, but become complete vigilantes and make life/death decision or vice versa. I can’t really agree with either side. I look at an individual like Gandhi who fought back, but never with violence and made sweeping changes. Then I see people who work hard for what they have, and people destroy it because they don’t like it or agree with it. I hate SUV’s but I’m not going to torch one. I strongly feel that if you are willing to resort to violence, whetheragainst people or property, you never tried to look for a peaceful solution. Thoughts?

 Randy: First off, violence is a part of life. Always has been and always will be. Pacifism is just as misguided a philosophy as blind patriotism or religion. Pacifists may as well just give the fuck up right now because no system that depends on violence is going to give in to your requests when all they have to face as a consequence is hearing you whine and continue to beg.

I wrote the modified lyrics as sort of an anthem for the Tirestorm crew, but also as a lighthearted criticism of something I feel is a VERY serious issue. Yeah, we need to ride bikes or walk more. But it is especially poignant now, as several people I know have recently been hit by cars and injured or even killed while riding bikes. Fuck motorized transportation. I literally hate cars. If I could destroy them all right now and tear up the roads, like you suggest, there probably wouldn’t be a need for Gather to get in a van and go on tour. But I can’t do that. So we feel that the situation justifies us making use of the tools around us to try to educate others and have fun doing it. I mean, we should work to become more eco-friendly when we do go on tour by using B100 biodiesel transportation or something like that.

Dustin: Well this question started with our feelings about “Tirestorm” and ended with the debate between violent and non-violent tactics for achieving political ends.

Tirestorm is a bike crew that VSXE friends of ours are in, and the song was just funny.  But, if given the magical powers to decide between either the admonishment of Car Culture, roads, and gasoline use or the admonishment of bands being able to tour and play electronic music, I don’t think anybody in this band – or anybody with far reaching ecological goals – would decide that electronic music is ‘more important’ that saving the earth.  Car Culture is much worse than bands touring in vans, and it is the Car Culture at large that should disappear.  Plus riding bikes is really fun.

As far as violence versus non-violence, I recommend reading Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals by Steve Best.  It is the most comprehensive piece on this debate, and does well to relate to the tactics that we’re most familiar with.  As for our opinion as a band, we ideologically support all forms of resistance to ecocide and patriarchy, including violence.

Finally, in this series of political questions, is a two parter:
what is your definition of “PC chit-chat” spoken of in “I Hate Ayn Rand” and why do you spell woman and human as womyn and humyn. In regard to the latter, I’ve read several essays on the subject from those who agree with such alteration of terminology, and those who don’t, and I feel that in order to battle sexism, the first step is not a matter of semantics or spelling. Sexism comes from both men and women, and I believe originates in the idea that we are somehow predestined to have certain traits, attitudes and instincts and that if we do not confirm to them, we are coloring outside of both sex and gender lines (and that includes those who are biologically different, such as humans born with both male and female sex organs and their struggle against an imposed gender identity, which also of course exists for those not born with such a condition). I believe difference should be celebrated, but if similarities and positive traits common to both sexes are not recognized and realized to be a building block towards a better future, free of sexism, domestic abuse and rape, we are going nowhere, and I think that stems from the endless amount of time we spend debating things like “womyn” instead of “woman” (though if people want to do that, it’s theirprerogative) instead of finding out that men and women are not as different as history as had made us out to be, and the differences we do have are good things. Agree/disagree? Why?

Eva: We feel that, living in a patriarchy, there are so many things that are invisible to us, or just so deeply ingrained that we don’t believe we are effected by them, but they still perpetuate misogyny. Our language is just another one of those things, hence our usage of “womyn”/“humyn” instead of “woman”/“human” which is obviously male derived.  We don’t spend all our time (or any of our time really) debating this issue, but it’s not something that I ignore either.  A lot of people like to blow things like this off by reducing it to just “PC chit-chat,” when we feel that all things that uphold patriarchy should be questioned and torn down.  It’s more than PC chit-chat, it’s what maintains this world order, it’s what feeds the lies we’re taught from day one.  It’s so over looked, yet I have no doubts that things like this have effects on the way we develop our relationships with each other.I disagree that sexism comes from both men and womyn as you suggested, but I would say that is definitely is imposed upon all of us.  Because of this, we would all (not just womyn) benefit from the downfall of patriarchy, as it would eliminate the narrow gender roles we’re all expected to fit into.  There is no denying that we do live in a patriarchy however, and so the ones who ultimately benefit from this structure are men, not womyn.

Closing words/shout outs/big ups?

Dustin: We just want to say that this was a really comprehensive and challenging interview!  Thanks for that!  I hope that our specific answers to lots of these questions do us more good than harm.  I feel like if you pressed 90% of the hardcore bands out there with questions like these, they’d have nothing to say.  Thanks to you, and every one, for all the support.  We love having fun, playing shows, hanging out with friends, and creating hardcore.  I hope no one lost sight of this in the interview!  Big Ups to our friends in Seven Generations, Make Move, Greyskull, Bafabegiya, Takaru (RIP), Purified in Blood, and everyone else!  Shout outs to the NYC vegan and straight edge  kids, the SoCal vegan and straightedge kids, all the vegans in Salt Lake City, and all of our friends from Europe and Central and South America!  Www.vgatherv.com should be running soon!  GO VEGAN, STAY VEGAN!

Eva: Support those who have been caught fighting for justice like Josh Demmitt and Peter Young. Go to http://www.directaction.info/prisoners.htm for info on how to help them out!  Thanks for the thoughtful questions Kirby!

Randy: Thanks for giving us such loaded questions. Shout out to the Tirestorm, all political prisoners, and anyone who fights for the destruction of capitalism and this civilization. Vegan power!

Allan:  Kirby, thanks for challenging us and giving us the opportunity to participate in some constructive dialogue.  I think one of the greatest qualities that a human being can have is the willingness to choose and change.  It’s a simple deed but to all who haven’t yet taken the time to learn about the positive consequences of a vegan lifestyle I encourage you to visit www.veganoutreach.org or go to your local public library and check out Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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