An Interview with a peta2 Insider
1. Introduce yourself!
My name is Daniel Albaugh. I started touring with peta2 back in February of 2009, so it’s been more than a year and half of doing outreach on all kinds of tours—concert tours, festival tours like Warped Tour and Rock the Bells, and also college tours. I started as a tour contractor, basically hitting the lines at events, or working all day on college campuses, signing people up for petitions and pledges, and distributing PETA literature and videos.
2. What are the biggest challenges and the most rewarding aspects of being a peta2 Road Warrior?
The biggest challenge for me at the moment is just that before I started touring for peta2, I had been touring in hardcore bands since I was 18—so for about 8 years. I still love traveling, but as I approach the 30 year mark in my life, I think I’d like to simplify things a bit … but oddly enough, the traveling is also one of the most rewarding aspects of working for PETA in this manner. The crew and I go from city to city, seeing some incredible sights when we have time, eating world-class vegan food every day, and then our job is to bring the message of animal rights to young people, many of whom are not familiar with the subject. To be able to be out there and make that kind of connection with the public is a great feeling, and I think it is truly important work … I like that my job is to promote the idea that all individuals deserve respect and compassion, whether they are human or not. I consider myself lucky for that opportunity.
3. What was your first introduction to veganism and animal rights? Was there a specific band, book, etc. that influenced your decision to go veg/vegan?
To be fair, my introduction to animal rights was my mother. She was vegetarian since long before I was born, and I vaguely recall going to anti-fur demonstrations with her when I was 3 or 4 years old. There are videos of those protests somewhere in one of her closets, and I keep telling some of my friends at PETA that I’ll dig them up someday to show them. We’ll see about that (haha) … Anyhow, I didn’t really consider how right my mother was about not eating animals until I was 14 or 15, and I discovered hardcore bands like Earth Crisis, Another Victim, and One King Down who had very strong animal rights messages in their songs. Propagandhi and Good Riddance were some other punk bands that I loved that talked a lot about animal rights. When I got involved in the hardcore scene in my hometown of Houston, Texas, there was an animal rights collective called Houston Animal Rights Team (HART) who made a strong presence at shows and festivals, tabling and leafleting. I thought that was really cool, and it really taught me the important connection between music and activism.
4. As someone who’s toured for years, either with peta2 or with your band Die Young, what’s your experience been as a vegan on the road?
I stopped eating meat in 1998, but I didn’t go vegan until late 2005 … All I can say at this point is that I wish I had become vegan sooner. Within a year of going vegan, I stopped having all the chronic allergy problems I had suffered from, which as I’ve learned, stemmed from eating dairy. I could breathe easier, and my immunity improved by leaps and bounds, which was a great help for me as a vocalist in a touring hardcore band. I stopped losing my voice as often as I used to, and eventually I stopped losing it at all … Being vegan is becoming easier all the time—not just in the US, but all over the world. I have eaten at vegan restaurants in Mexico, Central America, Europe, East Asia, and all over North America. There are vegan options everywhere, so there’s no reason to fear about going hungry as a vegan. And for anyone that knows me, it is well known that I am always having a blast eating a ton of food every day, no matter where I am.
5. How did Band of Mercy come together? Did you know going into it that you wanted it to be a vegan band, or did it organically move in that direction once all the members were on board?
Die Young officially played its last show in October 2009, but we weren’t much of an active band for about a year prior to that. It was around the time that Die Young officially broke up that I asked our drummer, James Rynearson, if he wanted to start a new band solely focused on promoting veganism while playing a style closer to punk’s roots. James and I love most of the same bands, so he was excited about the idea. Even if we aren’t going to tour regularly in Band of Mercy, he and I both feel a need to keep playing hardcore and punk music. And likewise, as we get older, promoting a positive and healthy vegan lifestyle is something that is increasingly important to each of us. So from the start, we set out to make a vegan hardcore band that was catchy and more humorous than any vegan hardcore band that came before it. Currently, James and I are the only members, but we’re going to focus on filling the lineup out to play shows in 2011.
6. What’s the best advice you have for someone who wants to be more involved with animal rights but doesn’t know where to start?
There are a million ways to get involved. I used to not know where to start, but honestly, getting involved with PETA is a great start, because PETA has the means to get literature and materials out to so many people. You can help at protests, set up your own protests, talk to people and distribute literature at events, set up a student group at your school, work on animal rights campaigns at your school … the list goes on. Beyond finding an animal rights organization that you like and getting in touch with them, I think there are some other things we should all take into consideration when it comes to being activists. Number one—read up on the history of the animal rights movement, learn about the campaigns that major animal rights organizations have going on, learn about factory farming, and learn about nutrition. If we are going to go out in the world and change people’s minds to help animals, we have to know what we are talking about, so getting educated is a must, and that’s something you can start doing right now. Number two—get in shape. Going to the gym or caring about your physical health does not make you a jock (unless you want to be a jock haha). Eating well and working out is going to make you feel and look better. You’ll be happier, and a better example of veganism. So in a nutshell—be vegan (and be proud of it), contact animal rights organizations out there who will help you get involved, educate yourself, and get in shape. Doing these things will make you a badass at life, and you will save more animals in the process.
Want to win a copy of Band of Mercy’s debut EP? Leave a comment below saying what your first introduction to animal rights was. Entries must be received by November 5, 2010 and three winners will be chosen at random and notified on November 8, 2010.
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