The newest upstarts in Northern California pop-punk, San Jose’s Stickup Kid, have won over West Coast ears with lovesick lyrics and breakdowns worthy of singing along to. This fall, they’re headed east to cut their teeth at the punk-rock promised land (see: Fest!) and will join up with fellow buzzworthy bands I Call Fives and With The Punches along the way. We caught up with bassist Jon McMaster to discuss his vegetarian diet and how it shaped his opinions on animal rights. Check it out and stream the band’s new EP, Nothing About Me, out now on Adeline Records:
I have been a vegetarian for over three years now. I would say the largest influence in me turning vegetarian were the bands Paint It Black and Propagandhi. As goofy or cheesy as that may sound, those bands (and Dan Yemin in general) have influenced the way I look at a lot of things. I believed in and agreed with a lot of things they had to say about other topics (like equal rights and feminism), but they also talked a lot about animal rights and being vegan. I listened to the songs, thought about what they said, and for a while I did nothing about it. But it nagged at me, and these questions kept getting brought up that I didn’t have a good answer for. It got to the point where I looked on the one hand at the downsides of eating meat—harmful to my health, the impact of meat production on the world, and the cruelty these animals experience—and I looked at the other hand, and all I could think was “Well, I guess I like the way a burger tastes.” That answer just wasn’t good enough for me anymore, and it certainly wouldn’t be good enough for the people I respected.
2. Is it tough being the only vegetarian in the band, or is everyone generally supportive of your diet?
No, it’s not really hard for me being the only one. I’m pretty used to being the only vegetarian around. I’m the only one in the band, only one in the family, and the only one at work. Everyone pokes fun from time to time or makes an offhanded comment, but everyone is respectful. I find something to eat no matter where we go.
3. Do you have any favorite vegan spots at home or on tour that you swear by?
There are some great spots here in San Jose. There is a small chain called Loving Hut here, and the one by my house has a vegan tuna melt that I can’t get enough of. My favorite burrito place, La Victoria, has a great sauce (orange sauce) that is vegan that I would almost put on everything. Down in Southern California there are some great spots, too. Veggie Grill is insane, Native Foods rules, and I finally had Doomie’s for the first time, and I fell in love. My favorite place on the road has to be The Chicago Diner. If we are driving anywhere near Chicago, I MUST stop.
4. Has going vegetarian opened your eyes to any other animal rights issues?
It definitely has. Once I got out of the groove of eating meat, I took a step back and looked at it more. The whole thing started to feel way more barbaric than it did before. I made excuses to eat meat, and once I threw those out, it was easier to take a closer look at what was going on. I have naturally become much more sensitive to animal issues now that I am not looking at them as a source of food.
5. What advice would you give someone who’s interested in learning more about a meat-free diet and living cruelty-free?
My first advice would be to try it out. A lot of people I talk to firmly believe that they absolutely cannot live without meat, which is totally ridiculous. I think people believe being vegan or vegetarian is a really impossible task, but it is way easier than most people think. And if they would just try it out for a few days to a week, they would see that it’s not all that difficult. Then once they know that it’s not impossible and that it is something achievable, they should go out and find something in it that they believe in. I bet a lot of people would find something about it that they could get behind if they bothered to look. And once they believe in what they are doing and know they can do it, it should be very easy to make the switch.
6. You guys have dates with I Call Fives and With The Punches coming up as well as a trip down to Gainesville, Florida, for The Fest. What are you most looking forward to this fall?
FESTFESTFESTFESTFESTFESTFEST! I never thought I would get the chance to go, and I didn’t even bother to dream about playing it because that was never going to happen. But now it’s happening, and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m also really excited to be totally immersed in the punk-rock culture for a full weekend and just live in a little section of the world where everyone has come to gather and rage.
Check back with peta2 for more with Stickup Kid in the coming weeks!