Interview with Chris of 7 Generations 2013
by Bradley Smith
As I am pretty new to 7 Generations and have been out of touch with the scene for awhile, I was wondering if you could give me a bit of background into the birth of the band? How did you guys meet and what was the motivation for the band? What philosophies guided your music and lyrics and what bands did you consider influences? And finally, where did you come up with the name for the band?
John Johnson, the original guitarist of 7 Generations, and I were in an animal rights band together called “Sentient.” The band was not very fruitful or functional and broke up after a demo and one show. Upon the break up of Sentient in early 2003, John said that he thought he and I should continue working on a band together. The Orange County vegan straightedge was very small at the time, being about only 15 people who were actively engaged in the hardcore or activist scenes, so John and I were already friends with the other folks with whom we wanted to work on a new band. Our motivation was to form a band that could reinsert some discussion of radical leftist politics into the hardcore scene. In the southern California hardcore scene at the time, there was a near complete dearth of bands discussing radical politics. This was in the wake of 9-11 and the war in Iraq was just about to get under way, so the atmosphere in the entire country, as I’m sure you recall, was very aggressively nationalist and reactionary. Unfortunately, hardcore in southern California mirrored this paradigm to a considerable degree. Most of hardcore was dominated by overly ornate, fashionable metal core that aspired to mainstream success, was largely vacuous in content and completely unlistenable. There was already a revolt against this trend in the form of a reemerging youth-crew revival scene and a nascent Los Angeles thug scene, but the revolt was mostly superficial. Both primarily defined themselves as separate from the fashioncore trend only by the style of music they played or the clothes they wore, but basic attitudes remained androcentric, misogynistic, nationalistic, and anti-intellectual. The members of 7 Generations wanted to contribute what we could to providing an alternative to the nauseating effluvia that had so completely saturated this time and place. We therefore decided that our band would be intractably outspoken and radical in political orientation and that we would use the music we created as a vehicle for activist fundraising and community building. We all came to the effort with very little in common. The minimal territory of overlap between our various perspectives was that we were all vegan, eco-centric, straightedge, and cleaved to some variety of far left political ideology. Different members had different idiosyncratic interests and beliefs, but we knew we could work together on the basic project of creating a band that would harken back to the radicalism of many of the mid-90s hardcore bands we admired, such as Chokehold, Born Against, Struggle, Earth Crisis and Trial (though individual tastes in music varied among the members even more than did political ideology,) a spirit we felt was sadly absent from the hardcore scene of the time and an essential component to a dynamic subculture. Our band name was our drummer Tim’s idea, which he had wanted to use due to his admiration for Native American culture. The name stems from the constitution of the Iroquois Nations, which states “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation.” Tim felt that this ideology had considerable congruity with the overarching eco-centrism that informed of our collective paradigm at the time. (It should be noted that 7 Generations more or less had two distinct eras of existence. The first from 2003-2006 and the second from late 2006-2009. Except for Tim and myself, there were different line ups for these different eras and the second era had a far more cohesive character than did the one presently under discussion.)
The only album, To See The End really made an impact on me. The quality of the music and the passion of the vocals/lyrics really stood out. Can you give me some insight into its creation and what you were trying to achieve with the album? I mean were you trying to make a statement or set of statements with it?
I am very grateful that you feel that way. Thank you. To See The End would be the release I would want to define the band more than any of the others, so your focus on that album is deeply appreciated. The record was written by a band that was very much mortally wounded. After the exodus of the members of the first line up, the remaining members (Tim, Adrian and myself) were exhausted and disheartened. Yet, our friend Nicholas James, who had been in the band Hellfire Trigger, with whom we played several shows, called me one day and offered so much support and encouragement that he should be largely credited with the band’s decision to carry on and rebuild. Nicholas was asked to join the band on bass and our friend Kevan Aguilar, who had been a kind supporter of ours for some time, joined on second guitar. This new line up took a break from shows and set to work on recording new material, because the old line up’s vision of the band had become so discordant that we had been playing multiple shows on a monthly basis and touring regularly for two years with no new material. The new membership of the band shared far more in common, both in terms of political vision and musical influence, so a far greater degree of fruitful cooperation became possible. The music was reoriented to focus more on emotive 90s bands such as Unbroken and Undertow, certain politics that had to remain implicit became explicit, such as feminism and anti-theism, and the lyrical aesthetic became more existential. Musically, Adrian becoming the main guitar player rather than Erik (from the previous line up) meant that someone with a far more enthusiastic attitude to writing music and a more nuanced taste in hardcore was now at the helm. He came to practice first with the music for what would become Vanguard and Apostasy, and later Ritual, Falling Grains of Sand and Derrumbado, all of which were far more exciting, dynamic and emotional than Erik’s writing, which had become first static and then completely absent. Kevan on second guitar added a more fitting source than John’s guitar playing would have because John was mostly into 80s hardcore like Judge, which we all could appreciate but was not terribly fitting with the style we were playing (though I by no means intend to convey that John was anything but a great fellow traveler for the time he was in the band.) Kevan was more influenced by Catharsis, Refused and His Hero Is Gone, so he was capable of adding some dark and chaotic elements to the backdrop of Adrian’s riffs. In addition, Kevan wrote the music to Endymion and reconstructed Adrian’s original structure to Falling Grains of Sand into the form that would eventually be recorded on the full length. Nicholas joining the band added to it a bassist who understood the fundamentals of rhythm far more than any previous member had, and so his playing really rounded out the riffs in a more full and tempered fashion than before (this is, of course, not to disparage our previous bass player, who was a very capable musician and put on a tremendous live performance.) The drop into a more mid-tempo, darker style of playing allowed Tim to experiment on drums in such a way that he could attempt to emulate some of the drummers that had been more influential on him, such as Bloodlet, Rage Against the Machine and Quicksand. As for lyrics, I was given far more free reign in the new line up to follow my inclinations and aesthetic preferences than I had before. Some influences from outside of hardcore were vital in helping me create what I hoped could be my new voice, so to speak. Further immersion in some of my favorite poets, such as Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, William Butler Yeats and Dylan Thomas, as well as the writings of my favorite poetry critic Harold Bloom, helped me progress as a song writer and to try to evolve away from pedagogy and sloganeering. Additionally, the new style in which my bandmates were writing allowed me to try to incorporate some of the euphony of Morrissey and Leonard Cohen’s lyricism or Bruce Springsteen’s story telling on the album The Ghost of Tom Joad. The primary shift in lyricism was one away from activist militancy and toward a personal and existential viewpoint that was rooted in having deeply felt, passionate beliefs for which one wanted to live, yet simultaneously being caught up in a world that was absurd, callous, intricate and far beyond one’s personal efficacy in bringing about change. Behind all the lyrics on that record is a sense of one’s own insignificance, imperfection and pettiness mingled with a desire strive toward authenticity with one’s beliefs and to attempt to transcend present personal limitations. The attitude I was attempting to convey was that we may be incapable of changing the world for the better, we may be up against something far more powerful than our individual efforts can hope to contend, yet the likelihood of our own futility cannot drive us to renege on our commitment to acknowledge a common plight with one another, nor can it cause us to succumb to despair, forsake our conscience and wallow in cynicism. The stress on the individual psyche that thus results from the antagonistic forces of what Freud called the limitless transcendental self and the limited animal self, one side being internal and capable of imagining perfection and omnipotency while the other side is external and subject to mortal reality, was the muse for the songs on To See The End. I wanted to try to have my own dreams and shortcomings as a person with an acute sense of duty to my political and social conscience laid bare for others to see so that they could hopefully find something with which they identified and thus we could commune with one another in an attempt to stave off alienation, disillusionment and conformity. As far as specific songs go, Chimera is the most definitive of the entire project. It is about the will to resist domination and to believe in a transformed and just society despite the likelihood of failure. It is about a vision enduring beyond the limitations of possibility. Rising of the Sun, a rerecorded song from the era of the first line up, is essentially a song about the yearning for revolutionary change and the imperative to recognize one’s own freedom as vitiated by the oppression of others. Ritual is an indictment of the animal murder industry. The song is intended to draw the attention of the listener to the fact that a piece of meat is the end result of a string of events that began with a living, feeling, sentient creature being born into unremitting captivity, raised its entire life in horrendous conditions in which it is regularly brutalized and tormented, finally ending in a horrific and violent murder. Vanguard is a song addressed to a specific individual, our former guitarist who at the time went by the name Vanguard but has recently changed his name to Rik Dachau, who surreptitiously used his position in the hardcore scene (as a member of 7 Generations, Tears of Gaia and Inhumane Nature) and his male privilege to indulge a predatory sexuality that relied upon the coercion, blackmailing and demonizing of women. Though the title of the song is used to single out one male who pursued non-consensual sexual conquests, the purpose of the song is to state that men do not have the right to disregard a woman’s bodily autonomy for their own sexual gratification. In Wolves’ Clothing is a song about the necessity for hardcore to be underground and self-sufficient if it is to be a vital and meaningful subculture. Falling Grains of Sand is about the inescapable reality of pain and suffering as part of an individual life and the need to accept this reality as an invitation to grow into a wiser and more fulfilled being rather than to drown it out with tactics for evasion and repression, such as intoxication or denial. Derrumbado is about the plight of impoverished immigrants who come to prosperous countries in an attempt to gain for themselves and their families the sort of security that has been elusive in their home countries. This song was written in 2007 as immigration was hotly debated in the then upcoming election and was intended to rebuke the slander of immigrants voiced by conservatives, nativists and racists, and instead encourage solidarity, understanding and compassion for poor and working class immigrants. This song was specifically inspired by the stories told to me by a couple who came to this country illegally and lived with my family for some time in the 90s. I wrote Apostasy about my experiences with Christianity in my youth. It is about the way in which belief in an afterlife drains the present life of its vivid beauty and how faith in a perfect being strips one of faith in oneself, causing one to attribute all personal virtues to divine assistance while attributing all personal shortcomings to oneself. Endymion, the closing track, is simply a song about despair and failure. It is about the inability to be seen by others the way one understands oneself, the pain that led Sartre to write that “hell is other people.”
There is the Viva Hate Edge LP which as I understand it is just a different version of To See The End. Is that true? Why the different cover? And it appears to be an obvious Morrissey influence on the artwork, is that correct?
The Viva Hate Edge LP was just a limited cover for the To See The End LP that we printed up as a special edition for our last show at the Che Cafe in November 2009. It is a takeoff of the artwork for Morrissey’s Viva Hate LP. Instead of Morrissey on the cover, we have our good friend and collaborator Chris Conner photographed by our friend Tosh Clemens. We just wanted to pay homage to our dear patron saint while giving our fellow record collectors something for which they could hunt. In fact, Chris managed to deliver a copy of the Viva Hate Edge LP to Morrissey years later during a live show.
Your Slave Trade EP was just a precursor to what was in store on the debut, however by itself it was still a powerful dose of SxE hardcore. What all went into the recording and writing for that EP? Was that your first real experience in the studio? What lessons did that recording teach you that you applied to the album?
The writing and recording of the Slave Trade EP was an exciting time period. It was the only period of the early line up of 7 Generations that happened quickly and fluidly. It was a time when the five personalities that comprised that line up shared a rare moment of synergy and congruity. As far as the music goes, John wrote the riffs to Character Witness, which was our first song, and No Other Way, which was written immediately after, and Erik Vanguard kind of polished and edited them into their final form. Erik then wrote the music to Slave Trade as our third song. After we had three songs, we played our first show in early December of 2003, the set list being Slave Trade, Character Witness and No Other Way with a cover of Trial’s Reflections to wrap things up. The show was at a venue in South Central Los Angeles called Casa Del Pueblo. It was a small show, but people who would form the nucleus of what was to become a new source of southern California hardcore were in attendance or playing in some of the other bands. It was a good place for different people who were active in and enthusiastic about their respective scenes to come together and begin a collaboration that would contribute much to the next two years of southern California hardcore. Shortly after this show Erik came up with the music to the song Cauterize and we were ready to record our demo. Unfortunately, not much can be said as to what we learned about recording from the experience. 7 generations never had an easy time accomplishing anything, especially practical matters like getting recordings done in a fluid and timely fashion. We were always learning on the fly. Lyrically, I was given tentative permission to decide what to write about, so long as it conformed with the general political consensus of the rest of the band. Tim and I were especially involved in anti-globalization activism at the time, so I wrote Slave Trade about the insatiability and criminality of international capitalism, primarily manifested in groups such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the World Bank. My opinion was that these organizations had achieved the ability to enforce free trade capitalism on any country throughout the world, transcending local laws that could be protecting vulnerable species, ecosystems or peoples, and enshrined profit as the ethos upon which global relations would be justified, much to the detriment of the poorer nations, the working class and the environment. In Character Witness I attempted to vent some of the animus I felt toward the police. I had come to feel that the police were most saliently an armed force whose purpose was to protect the dominant order imposed upon our country by rich white people. Their brutality, the arbitrary nature of their authority and the fundamentally abusive nature of their relationship to common citizens was something that I felt earned them the just resentment and even eventual violent reprisal of the great majority of the people. The song Cauterize was intended to be an act of solidarity with the various revolutionary movements throughout the world that sought to rectify the injustices of neo-colonialism, industrial capitalism, speciesism, theocracy or conservatism. It was inspired by groups like the ALF, the ELF, the EZLN, the Black Panthers, the Provisional IRA, and Umkhonto We Sizwe, for example. Lastly, No Other Way was written to express the notion that an end to the animal agriculture industry was both a pragmatic and ethical necessity. The song is a polemical and anthemic attack on the murder and confinement of animals for human consumption. As a polemic and anthem it is, of course, overly simplistic, but the idea behind the song was that the animal exploitation industry has created a crisis for those who, after philosophical exploration, have decided that the species barrier is not morally significant and thus the greatest mass murder in history is being accepted as evolutionarily stable, environmentally innocuous and practicably moral. The main purpose of the song is to reject that mindset, even to the extent of accepting the notion that laws must be broken in order to try to save animals and the planet from this monumentally destructive industry.
You guys were signed to New Age Records which for me is possibly the best/most important record label in hardcore with classic releases from Outspoken, Unbroken, Turning Point, Mean Season and the list goes on. Anyways, how was it to be approached by such a legendary label and did their roster/history play a role in signing with them? How was it working with them?
For me it was one of the resplendent moments that illustrate why the hardcore community is such a special place. I grew up listening to all the New Age bands with great relish. Those bands did more than any other to shape my adolescence. I used to spend countless hours with those records, listening to the songs, reading the lyrics, emblazoning the live pictures and artwork on my mind. To have my own project offered the chance to be a part of the great lineage of New Age bands was the sort of affirmation that I do not think could have been experienced elsewhere nor could
have even been meaningful in another context. Mike Hartsfield has been a great friend and supporter. Working with New Age, from my end of things, was a positive experience and I am very glad that To See The End has the classic New Age logo on the back cover.
Being ignorant as to the events that caused the eventual break-up of 7 Generations, I was wondering if you could enlighten me as to what transpired and led to the band's demise? How do you look back on that period in your life? I mean I know it hasn't been that long since it happened, but how do you feel about it on an emotional level?
There is not one sole reason as to why 7 Generations broke up, but I will try to summarize as best as I can. In early 2009, I was the one to first mention the idea that I wanted to see the project concluded sometime in the near future. For quite some time I had been of the belief that what made a hardcore band vital was the volatile and ephemeral nature of the whole subculture. I have always quite liked the idea that a hardcore band was an aggregate of four or five different people, all with brash, unwieldy and often diametrical personalities, who come together and cooperate on
a project for a short amount of time, but are eventually driven apart by the same gelignite character traits that brought them to one another in the first place. I have a certain degree of skepticism towards bands that manage to stay together for years upon years, it often seems indicative of a certain lack of passion and vehemence. This, of course, is not to say that a band cannot manage to stay together and function seamlessly yet still be energetic, engaging and relevant. Naturally, most things are possible in theory and I am only speaking in generalities here, but I have not seen much by way of bands that stay together for a decade or more yet still remain insightful, enthusiastic, challenging and relevant. I never wanted 7 Generations to be a band that over-stayed our welcome or continued to play shows past our ability to evoke passion in our fellow travelers. At the beginning of 2009, after about six years of being a band, I began to sense that our ability to function together was deteriorating, that things were not going to get much better for either ourselves or our supporters and comrades if we continued for more than another year, and that if we were serious about our message and the community that we were fortunate enough to exist within, then we would have to consider bidding a final adieu to the project and let other voices take our place. Our final show was in late October 2009 at the Che Cafe. We were fortunate enough to have been able to play the show with some of our very best friends whose bands we admired greatly, such as Gather (who were kind enough to reunite for our final show), Run With The Hunted, Time For Change, and The Separation, as well as a fun Bikini Kill cover band called PussyWhipped, and two new vegan straightedge bands called Abandon and Contend. The turnout for the show was one of the most fulfilling and enriching experiences I have had in my entire life. Over 500 people from all over the U.S. and from places as far as France, Germany, Italy and Australia, inter alia, showed up. The show managed to raise thousands of dollars for the Che Cafe, which was in dire needs of funds to continue operating. I still think back to that night with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and contentment. It was the most ideal seal on the band’s existence that I could have ever imagined and it reinforced my faith that when you try to give the best part of yourself to the hardcore community, it will return the sentiment in full. Looking back on 7 Generations, I have many, many different feelings. There are, of course, the things I wish had gone differently. I do not want to highlight anything negative about anyone else here, so I will just say that, for my part, I wish that I had been more patient and less partisan in those years. We always operated under somewhat of a siege mentality because our band was a lightning rod for controversy from first to last. In many ways this was what we had set out to accomplish, to raise the level of discussion and reinsert radical politics into the hardcore scene, especially from a straightedge perspective, but having to be perpetually prepared to come under attack, to engage in arguments, debates and polemics, to be ready for the crudest ad hominem indictments, all took its toll. On the other hand, and far above what I have just said, there are the tremendous feelings of fulfillment, hope and good faith in human nature that were engendered directly as a result of being in 7 Generations. We had countless people commune with us about their experiences in life and share with us how our band had helped them cope or even progress. We got to use our band as a vehicle to raise thousands of dollars for independent community spaces, for political prisoners to hire lawyers, for battered women’s shelters, for animal advocacy groups, and for the homeless and poor. Some of us had our houses raided by the FBI or were detained and interrogated. We got to play shows with some of the bands that had inspired us in the past and others that would inspire us in the future. We got to engage in dialogue with an array of fascinating people participating in meaningful struggles. These are the dominant memories I have of our band and they give me energy in my personal life and faith in the continued viability of hardcore as a whole.
As a band that espoused the ideals of activism and awareness, I wanted to know what you thought was the most important issue facing the world today? What can we do to change it?
“What can we do to change things?” This is certainly the most challenging and vexing question one with an acute conscience will have to ponder. As an aspiring historian, I believe it is very difficult, and perhaps ultimately elusive, to try to identify and articulate the causes of change within society throughout history. It depends on the issue under discussion, in many ways. One has to examine fundamental principles, such as whether or not the state can be a vehicle for change, if the state is ever legitimate in the first place, if violence is an appropriate means to an end, if change is progressive and piecemeal or revolutionary and holistic, if the utilitarian paradigm is legitimate, and so on. Each person has to explore these questions as an individual and I have no basis upon which I can claim to know a satisfactory answer. To the extent that I have explored these things myself, I would say that I believe change has to come as a result of dynamic efforts. I have trouble believing that any one view, tactic or cabal can do anything of lasting value without being a part of a general current of progressive effort. It seems to me that if a person is serious about his or her struggle, that person will want mainstream and underground organizing, legitimate and illegal tactics, intellectuals and activists, etc. In the layout to our unreleased record, I write in the explanation to one of our songs “The dominant order that we face is dynamic and formidable while simultaneously capable of being elusive and subtle if need be. Our best hopes in subverting this order are with diversity, ingenuity and persistence, the kind which can only arise from a general unity and a broad sense of purpose.” Thus, I think what needs to be avoiding in trying to affect change is the sort of narrow partisanship that breeds internecine strife and leads radicals into a destructive spiral of mutual recrimination. It is a sad trend in history that revolutions tend to eat their own children, and that one persecutes the near rival as a villain rather than doing so to the real primary enemy. I am not terribly sure I can say that I know of one issue that is most pressing in a way that others are not. There are issues that are most meaningful to me and that spur me to action more quickly or wrought me to sympathy more effectively than others, but my existential inclinations have no objective meaning. To my own mind, the violence done unto animals is the most heartrending atrocity in the modern world due to its devastating systematic efficacy, astronomical body count and metastatic environmental detriments. However, the poisoning of the oceans may be more dreadful in the sense of long term consequences. Yet again, all environmental, economic, and political troubles are considerably exacerbated by overpopulation, which is threatening in and of itself as well as crucially correlated with the aforementioned problems. Not to mention, overpopulation occurs at such an exponential rate that it seems as though it may be the looming global disaster to outweigh all others. Perhaps Isaac Asimov exercised too effective of an influence on me at an early age, but to my mind overpopulation is a practical and pressing enough problem to transcend ideology and even justify extensive state control over the right to reproduce. I say this with considerable trepidation, but I believe the time during which the liberty to reproduce as one wishes has long been over and thus needs to be rescinded. (I have not discussed this with any of the members of 7 Generations, so it should be noted that I am speaking only for my own opinion regarding this issue.)
Right now there is a big battle on the global stage against Mosanto and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in general. What is your opinion on GMOs and the global struggle against Mosanto? Why do you think that they were able to get such a foothold here in the USA whereas in the rest of the world they are being somewhat successful at keeping GMOs out of their markets?
From what I know of economic history, the emergence of such large and internationally influential corporations is a logical outcome of the laissez faire economic policy that has been a virtual religion to the capitalist class since the gradual demise of mercantilism. When there is insufficient oversight of corporate growth and policy by governing bodies, corporations will follow the maxim “if it is profitable, it is right.” The political structure of the USA, since the Reagan Reaction accelerated the deterioration of regulatory bodies, has demonstrated very little willingness to provide the sort information necessary to having an informed consumer population while simultaneously pursuing Friedmanite economic policies that enshrine unrestricted corporate growth and trade. Our nation, in a way that is relatively unrivaled by prosperous and technologically advanced nations, has cleaved to the interpretation of the state as a policing body, rather than an organization to control and distribute the wealth of society, hence we have an engorged military apparatus along with miserly, pallid social and regulatory bodies. This is less the case in parts of the world where many socialist or quasi-socialist policies militate for the interests of the citizenry more effectively, though there is no hard and fast rule that I know of by which one can navigate global policy on neoliberal economics. Even nominally communist nations seem to do a terrible job curbing corporate abuse of information and evasion of legal restrictions. In privileged nations, there is a real problem with the proliferation of pseudo-science within the health food market/lobby/community that does the issue no favors. Advocacy for corporate responsibility in privileged nations needs to take a dramatic turn away from the sort of anti-scientific mysticism and pseudo-scientific misappropriations that have become far too common on the left these days. Scholarly and well-researched material needs to be consulted over second hand, non-peer-reviewed popular media.
One of the big issues going on the US right now is Gay Marriage, especially as the Supreme Court attempts to tackle this issue. I was wondering your thoughts on the issue and where you stand on making Gay Marriage legal. Also, some people see it as a distraction from "real" issues occurring within the government. Do you agree, or do you see it as a truly important issue?
I do not think any issue that addresses the inequality of peoples before the law of the nation could ever be a distraction from “real” issues. The right of LGBT peoples to have equality before the law and fundamentally equal access to benefits provided by the state is an essential civil rights issue because it has attending effects on employment, taxes, medical access, insurance and educational opportunities. If this is not a “real” issue, I do not know what is. Simply because there are other political issues that deserve government attention does not mean this issue should be skirted aside, such an attitude would be a capitulation to false dichotomies. Nor does the fact that it is only a small step in the right direction invalidate the necessity of that step. The canard of one step “not being enough” is often invoked, most frequently by folks who take no steps at all and speak from a position of political bad faith. Some folks on the far left of this subject view gay marriage as a pacifier issue and a Trojan horse for the deterioration of a uniquely gay subculture by assimilation into the mainstream. While I am no one to dictate how others ought to live their lives, I think it would be a rather paltry politics that holds to be valid only the desires of those who wish to remain marginalized against those who wish to do otherwise. It seems to me that a great deal of what Victor Klemperer called “language that does your thinking for you” is utilized to justify monolithic interpretations of the aspirations and identities of LGBT peoples. You will often hear someone speak of the desire not to assimilate in such a way that the person will be presuming that his or her opinion is definitive of the opinions of LGBT people writ large, but no one can rightly speak in such a manner. LGBT peoples are as diverse as any others, and therefore a person can speak as an LGBT person but not for LGBT persons. Enough LGBT peoples have come forward with the desire to marry and therefore receive the benefits offered by the state to married couples and enough have come forward with stories of the sort of detriments they have faced by not having their relationships acknowledged as legitimate partnerships by the state that one cannot justly say it is not a valid issue to pursue. It seems to me, the most viable and broadest approach would be to allow those who want to marry and therefore assimilate into the mainstream monogamous paradigm to do so and that in doing so one by no means precludes possibilities for those who want to maintain an underground, unassimilated LGBT identity either. The most full-blooded acceptance and empowerment of LGBT peoples is one that permits for all shades of political opinion among LGBT peoples to have traction and be taken seriously. So long as the state chooses to privilege married couples in a way that it does not single persons or nonmarried partnerships, equal access to marital options for all gender and sexual identities among consenting adults is a necessity in further evolving an egalitarian nation. In my opinion, to do otherwise is to allow retrograde theocratic interpretations and heterocentric patterns to continue to dominate our culture’s understanding of partnership. Hopefully in the future we can also begin to have some mainstream discussion of even further progressive issues, such as evolving beyond monogamous and exclusivist amorous identities and undoing the cult of virginity and possessiveness that operate so heavily upon our cultural psyche.
I watched that documentary the other day, If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. I must tell you I was inspired and it made me wish I was younger, without any REAL responsibilities so I could undertake an active role in the struggle. I know that 7 Generations hailed the ELF in the liner notes of Slave Trade. Have you seen the documentary? What do you think of their actions and the government's response? Do you ever get so fed up that you want to take up the struggle just like they did?
“If A Tree Falls” is a powerful documentary, to be certain. Ecocentric direct action activists are, in my opinion, heroic people and their efforts are to be greatly admired for their selflessness, their optimism and their bravery. Though I do not partake in those sort of actions myself, I have boundless respect for the activists who do so. I think their behavior is indicative of a beautiful humanism and I know that their willingness to act in the way that they do comes at a very real personal price. These activists often sacrifice personal security, success, psychological stability and physical well being for the sake of attempting to derail the breakneck journey toward catastrophe and extinction upon which industrial civilization has embarked. My heart is with their mission completely, but I am sorry to say that my actions and my will fall short of theirs. I have no criticism of the Earth Liberation Front or their tactics that can excuse my own inaction. These individuals live in a bold authenticity with their conscience, one which so many of us have not the fortitude to replicate and I believe that they, along with the Animal Liberation Front, are among the definitive moral exemplars that will define the far sighted radical moral conscience of our time the way abolitionists, suffragettes and revolutionaries have in previous epochs. Many people denounce the actions of the ELF or the ALF as counterproductive or futile. It is often revealing how regularly many in the radical community will run to pettifogging critiques in order to cast aspersions on the actions of others without disagreeing with their fundamental project nor having any deeds personally undertaken that can serve as an alternative approach. Also, the futility critique and the perversity critique are pillars of reactionary obfuscation employed to discredit a political project without confessing personal ambivalence or hostility toward its aims, as social scientist Albert Hirschman skillfully pointed out in his study The Rhetoric of Reaction. As a rather rabid atheist, I am not much on biblical wisdom, though I have read the bible many times and do not believe a person in the West can be properly literate without a certain degree of familiarity with the King James Bible, but I find a passage from the Gospel of Matthew particularly relevant. In chapter 7, verse 16, Jesus advises his disciples on how to identify the disingenuous, saying “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” The beliefs of ELF and ALF activists are translated into considered, daring and practiced actions and I hold it as further testament to the ultimate goodness of the human character that there are people who are willing to dedicate their lives to such projects despite the enormous risk they run of draconian legal consequences. The laws enacted against these groups have logical symmetry with the mode of production for which current government structures exist. Our historical epoch is one dominated by free market capitalism and, as such, it makes perfect sense that governments would use the most brutal cudgels in their legal armamentarium against activists who disrupt or subvert the smooth functioning of a system set up to buttress unrestrained capitalism. However, because something makes sense according to a certain logic does not in and of itself vindicate that system of logic. The inability of free market capitalism to protect the most irreplaceable and essential global base of society, that of the ecosystem, and the same system’s unwillingness to curb economic activity in the face of ethical atrocity, such as industrial factory farming, attest to the ineluctable irrationality and dysfunction of the capitalist system as a global structure.
What else doing you have going on in regards to music, art, activism, and personal life these days? Anything related to 7 Generations going on? I know Adrian has Children Of God, but what are the other members working on?
At the moment, Adrian is the only other member with an active band, Children of God, recording and playing shows. Tim is living in Costa Rica where he has been helping to run an animal sanctuary. He has some musical projects in the works down there, but nothing that has come to fruition yet. As ever, Tim is diligently serving the cause of animal rights advocacy when he is in the US as well. Nicholas is living near St. Louis, working on getting in touch with some members of the hardcore scene there with whom he could start a band and he is an active member of the Communist Party of the United States. Kevan is in graduate school at the University of California, San Diego presently. I am not aware of any musical projects of his at the moment, but I know he is active in anarcho-syndicalist politics in the area. As for myself, I just graduated from the University of California, San Diego and will be heading to graduate school soon. I am a European History major and am looking to become a professor, eventually. From time to time I involve myself in various activists projects, usually something to do with animal rights, but to be completely forthcoming, this is more seldom than it should be. School took up a great amount of my time because I was going to school in San Diego but still living in Orange County, so I had about four hours of commuting every day on top of a full time school schedule. I have not been able to find the right musical project in which I could get involved, but who knows what the future holds. I am open to the idea of doing another band and still feel very passionate about the hardcore scene and the socio-political issues that have always been part and parcel with punk music for me.
Thanks again Chris for this interview. I'll leave any final words of inspiration and motivation to you! Continue the struggle!!!
Thank you very much for the opportunity. I apologize for my glacial pace in finishing the interview and thank you deeply for your patience. I will close by offering two quotes that, in my opinion, should work together to influence one’s approach to engaging punk rock. The first is from The Plague by Albert Camus “The evil that is in the world always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence, if they lack understanding. On the whole, men are more good than bad; that, however, isn’t the real point. But they are more or less ignorant, and it is this that we call vice or virtue; the most incorrigible vice being that of an ignorance that fancies it knows everything and therefore claims for itself the right to kill. The soul of the murderer is blind; and there can be no true goodness nor true love without the utmost clear-sightedness.” To add to this, one should consider the words of the late, great Christopher Hitchens from his Letters to a Young Contrarian “only an open conflict of ideas and principles can produce any clarity. Conflict may be painful, but the painless solution does not exist in any case and the pursuit of it leads to the painful outcome of mindlessness and pointlessness; the apotheosis of the ostrich.” Cynicism and apathy are the results of a person glimpsing the effort required in pursuing such clarity and being found unequal to the task. Do not take the cynics and the apathetic seriously, deep down even they themselves do not. Thank you.