Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Apr 30 2009
Earth Crisis split up eight years ago but the band members stayed close in the ensuing years while pursuing other musical projects. The band reunited to play shows and are releasing their comeback album To The Death via Century Media Records. Guitarist Scott Crouse checked in with About.com to discuss the new album; staying vegan for life; the challenges of highly physical shows in your mid-30s and the band’s family-like relationship.
Justin M. Norton: How did Earth Crisis get back together after separating in 2001? How are all of you different than when the band parted ways?
Scott Crouse: When we stopped it wasn’t for the reason that most bands quit. Usually it’s a falling out or musical differences. We had just been doing it for 10 years and things like family and other career goals were being neglected. So we just decided to end it while things were good and let everyone pursue other ideas. When we look back on it, the smarter thing to do would have been a hiatus, because in the back of our minds we knew we would play together again. We’re pretty much the same people, but there may be other things on the table; people have families and different responsibilities and careers. But for the most part we are the same guys we were eight or nine years ago.
With global warming an increasing threat and even things like drinkable water not a given for people anymore do you feel like the things Earth Crisis warned about are coming to pass? And given that do you ever consider your fight futile?
It’s definitely more undeniable. Most people care about things like the environment and our resources being tapped out than when we first started. These were controversial topics when we started in the early ‘90s. The average person now sees the irresponsible footprints humans have been making on the earth. When you are involved with any struggle you go through a point wondering if it’s worth it and if anyone listens. But you have to look at the positive things that have happened. If you look at all the accomplishments, like animal rights have really come to the forefront. In the last five or six years people have also started to notice the environment and hopefully it’s not too late.
Was there ever talk of bringing Earth Crisis back before this given the widespread dissatisfaction with America’s political and social direction during the Bush years?
We’d been talking about it for years. About three years after we broke up we talked about doing a record or playing a couple of shows. It was just one of those things we didn’t get around to until 2007. In hindsight a hiatus would have been the proper way to go rather than an “ok guys, we’re done.”
With Karl’s frequent appearances on television and the band always lumped in as the prime example of straight-edge ideology in music do you ever worry that the music is overlooked for the message?
Sometimes it can be frustrating. Karl and I had a conversation about that recently. He was telling me that he met someone while he was on tour with his other band Freya who said they just read his lyrics and didn’t care for Earth Crisis. Karl writes all of lyrics and I’m responsible for a lot of the music. You wish that people would be into both but that’s not realistic. There is a core group of people where it’s a perfect marriage. Then there are some people who only appreciate the heavy music or Karl’s lyrics. In a lot of ways we’re fortunate to have both.
Friday, November 27, 2009
* To start off, can you tell us where the inspiration came from to start this project?
My inspiration comes from the Earth and its beauty. It comes from watching animals in the wild, living free from human touch and it comes from people, people who resist and who stand up for what they believe in. Every single day, species extinction takes place on a huge scale. The biodiversity of this planet is shrinking, our waters are being polluted, rainforests are being deforested, we vivisect on animals; indigenous peoples, those that are left anyway as most have either been wiped out or assimilated into our culture are struggling for survival and all the while, civilization, like a juggernaut just does not stop. It scares me when I think about what we are doing to this planet and its inhabitants. We just could not sit back any longer and watch this carnage take place. Don’t get me wrong, we are under no illusions that we will reach lots of people or even change people’s thinking, we probably won’t, but we just needed to do something.
* The recordings sound very raw, is it home recordings?
Yes they are home recordings. Our aim is to go into the studio once we have more songs written and once we know more about what we are doing; we are complete amateurs at making hip-hop. This project was and is only about one thing and that is the message. The sound and everything else regarding Kurohata is secondary to the message. We are aware though, that in order to reach more people we will eventually have to invest time and money in order to make this project more professional, but for now though I guess we are kinda happy with what we have got.
* How has the reaction been so far?
The reaction has been great. We have only been in existence since January 08, and in this short time we have had lots of positive feedback. We have been played on radio / internet stations and have had a few labels asking to put our stuff out. We are also on a vegan hip-hop comp from the US which we are really excited about.
* Do you come from a musical background? if so, what other projects have you been involved in over the years?
I have been in various bands over the years, Slavearc, Canaan, Eyes of Armageddon and Touchdown. However, this project suits me way more than a band format as I can be more creative and am not restricted in what I can or cannot say.
* Who and where do you draw your influences from?
Lyrically, primarily from hardcore bands such as Earth Crisis, Abnegation and Day of Suffering and other bands from this era, lyrically these bands were awesome. I even quote an Abnegation lyric in one of the songs. Musically, Lost Children of Babylon, Dead Prez, Paris, and Immortal Technique, the list goes on. The overall and I guess more important influence is ideological. This project is influenced by the many social uprisings throughout history and the people who fought for that. It is the courage and the heart of these people that really pushes us on to do something. In all of our songs we try to talk about these influences as much as possible. We feel that it is very important that we keep these names and struggles in people’s minds; we do not want them to be forgotten.
* What keeps you angry, and determined to carry on doing what you do? Do you ever feel useless in your fight against the injustice in this world?
You know, what we are doing to this planet is just awful, it’s not right. I have to do something, talk about these issues or write about them, anything, because if I don’t what is there to look forward to? Yes I do feel pretty useless and I guess no matter what we do right now will change much, but I look at it this way, soon this system, capitalism, civilization, will crumble, it has to. This system survives only on the resources of the earth and these resources will not last much longer. So before that crash happens it is imperative that people are made aware of how we got to this stage in order to never let this happen again.
* Am I right in thinking that xKurohatax is the only active vegan hip-hop project in the UK at the moment?
I guess it could be as we have not heard of any other projects like this. But if so, that is quite sad. I mean, even in terms of hardcore, let alone hip hop, why are there no bands in the UK really talking about veganism or political activism? Everybody who has a mouth and is even slightly aware of these issues should be screaming about this. A band is perfect to spread this type of message, there is no excuse for apathy really, so I hope that bands start to talk more about these issues.
* Your lyrics are in great support of a vegan lifestyle, how long have you been vegan now and what made you take up the change?
I have been vegan for 12 years. I was introduced to veganism through hardcore, I mean, back then I never really knew what vegetarianism was so I learned a lot from the hardcore scene. And I guess because of my childhood I was quite susceptible to vegetarianism. I came from a pro-hunting family and as I was growing up I had constant battles with them about this and still do; so from a young age I struggled to justify the hunting and killing of an animal. Hardcore made me realise that these thoughts and feelings I had were ok and that there were other people out there who had the same thoughts as me.
* What advice would you give to someone thinking of taking up veganism, but is worried about not being able to manage it?
Personally, I would say to take it slow, don’t rush into it, and cut out meat or dairy slowly. There are meat and dairy substitutes which you can use to replace the meat or dairy in your meals. I mean, there are substitutes for everything and they taste great. But don’t feel bad if you give in occasionally, keep your goal in mind and give yourself time to achieve that, it won’t happen overnight.
* Is there any issue of animal cruelty (vivisection/factory farming etc) that bothers you most?
All cruelty in any form is the same to me. I mean, animals may suffer different forms of torture whether it’s the rape rack at the dairy farm or animals eyes being injected at the vivisection lab, but I feel that it is important not to place emphasis on any one form of cruelty over that of another. All cruelty needs to be fought with equal measure.
* Harsh jail sentences, in the UK especially, are being given to animal rights activists for doing nothing more than running legitimate campaigns and being active for animal rights. How do you think this effects the movement? Do you think it scares future activists from getitng involved with campaigning?
It’s hard to fathom that people who show compassion and love towards other living beings are given jail terms longer than rapists and murderers. My heart goes out to all those animal and earth liberation activists who are in prison right now. I think, obviously, it does have some influence and may make people think twice about committing an action. But I hope that people look at the bigger picture, for all the actions carried out in defense of animals only a small, small handful of people are caught. This has to give people some heart. We are fighting against a murderous system, an evil system that thinks nothing of life. We have to keep the struggle active. But if people feel they cannot do direct action, then fine, there are other ways of being active and helping the liberation struggles.
* What are your views on direct action? do you think there is a genuine need of it or do you see it as a hindrance to the movement that plays right into the hands of animal abusers?
Direct action is essential to this movement, absolutely essential. If you look at any struggle throughout history it is direct action that has always pushed that movement forward. If you look at the Black Panthers, they actually went out there into the streets and defended black people against the racist police and the racist system. They were able to defend their community more in the short years they were in existence than the peace movement led by Martin Luther King managed to do in nearly 20 years. Groups like the Red Army Faction or the Weathermen Underground for example, carried out militant direct action against the capitalist militaristic system. They done what they thought was necessary at that particular time. The anti-capitalist movement, particularly the Black Bloc put their lives on the line to do what they can to halt the global elite as witnessed in Seattle, Genoa and Rostock just recently. And of course, look at the ALF or ELF, how many lives have been saved through direct action which would have otherwise have been killed if it were not for them?
Whether it plays into the hands of animal abusers or not, I could not care less. You know, animals do not have time to wait for people to change consciousness; action needs to be taken now!
* Can you tell us about campaigns you currently support or might be involved with, or what we should be checking out..
At the moment a lot of my energy is placed on the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation. This is something which I feel really passionate about. A clear injustice is taking place with the seeming approval of most world governments. What’s happening there is pretty horrific. There are a lot of local groups throughout the UK where people can get further information, check out the site www. palestinecampaign. org.
Additionally, we really support the anti-g8 protests, having attended Rostock just recently, we witnessed firsthand the very direct and violent way this system deals with those who dissent. It was also an opportunity to appreciate the mutual support which took place between different left groups.
*What are the future plans for xKurohatax? could there be the chance of live shows?
We will just see what happens and basically take one song at a time and work towards releasing a mini-CD or something. But we will never do live shows; we do not have the skill or talent to do this.
* What current bands/artists are you listening to?
Lost Children of Babylon, Tragedy, Jedi Mind Tricks, Daymares, Klashnekoff, The Mitchell Brothers, Terra Firms etc all sorts really
* If you could put together a bill of 5 bands past or present - who would you get to play?
There are way too many bands to choose from, but hardcore wise, I would probably choose Abnegation, Judge, Youth of Today, Unbroken and Outspoken.
* Why should we Respect Life?
If we do not respect life I cannot see a reason for living really. I do not want another animal or person suffering because of my actions. I believe that all life is equal and we have to do what we can to make sure that we all live in harmony with each other and with the earth.
* Any thanks/shoutouts?
Just to those people who sacrifice themselves for the cause of animal, human and earth liberation. They are my inspiration.
Interview taken from www.respectlife.ning.com
Check xKUROHATAx at: