MINDSET are just a couple of “upstanding gentlemen ready to buck the system” one basement show at a time. Recalling the hardcore scene of the early 2000s, the Baltimore five-piece is keeping the dream alive with anthems reminiscent of Bane and Carry On. We recently caught up with guitarist Mike Clarke to discuss his personal animal rights convictions and how MINDSET hope to influence others to lead by example. Check it out, and enter to win the band’s new LP, out now on REACT! Records.

mindset photo
Frederik Malthe 

1. What prompted you to go vegetarian? Were there any bands, books, etc., that influenced your decision?

Mostly a guilty conscience. At the time, a lot of bands and a lot of my friends were into vegetarianism. It was sort of like my eyes were forced open. I didn’t become vegetarian right away, but once my eyes were open, I really couldn’t turn away from what I consider to be an immoral, unethical, and uncivilized way to live. It’s weird because I would try and justify eating meat, the way I think a lot of people do—hiding behind apathy, jokes, etc.—but the truth is I was scared, scared of missing out on traditions, breaking away from what I had done the first 18 years of my life, etc. The initial step was really scary. I think a lot of people experience that and then somehow totally forget it and lack empathy for people who haven’t made the leap yet.

Bands influenced me more than anything—The First Step, in particular, but also Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Insted, The Nerve Agents. I remember seeing The First Step and thinking, “These dudes are just like me.” They weren’t granola heads, they weren’t having bongo jam sessions, and they definitely didn’t have sandals on. They were a badass hardcore band that went off with the most intensity every set. It was never a message of “You better stop eating meat.” It was way more like, “Here we are. This is what we are all about. Join the parade, man.” I think MINDSET continues that vibe. We certainly strive to be inclusive. I think it’s all too easy for a straight-edge band or a vegetarian band to come off as exclusive, but that’s the opposite of what we’re all about.    

2. What are some of your favorite vegetarian foods?

I’ll just give my top five vegetarian restaurants rather than foods in particular:

1. Shandel’s in Bridgeport, Connecticut

2. Golden Era in San Francisco

3. The Chicago Diner in Chicago

4. Great Sage in Clarksville, Maryland

5. Harvey’s in Canada (Harvey’s is not strictly veg, but they get major nostalgia points for creating a classic, greasy, fast-food vegetarian burger and fries.)

3. Of all the major animal rights issues, are there any that are particularly close to your heart?

This isn’t so much an animal rights issue, but it bugs me when you meet “animal people.” You know, their thing is they are “animal lovers,” and yet despite their “love” of animals, they have no problem wolfing down a chicken sandwich. It just seems backwards to me.

4. If a fan or friend were to approach you with questions about how to get involved with animal rights, what advice would you give him or her?

I’m not really into clubs and organizations or some sort of movement. I’d tell that kid to “be the change.” Set the example through your actions—that sort of stuff is infectious. The dinner table discussions are inevitable. You don’t have to go out and try and convert people. Your friends and family will see what you are doing, and they’ll want to know why. And I think that’s the most effective way to turn people on to vegetarianism. Let them hash it out in their own mind and come to their own conclusions. Nobody likes being preached at. In the end, it’s just casting stones in glass houses.

5. What does MINDSET have coming up that we can be looking forward to?

MINDSET just released our first LP, Leave No Doubt, on REACT! Records. We’ll be heading out to California in March.

For your chance to win a copy of MINDSET’s Leave No Doubt LP, leave a comment below telling us which bands have influenced your opinions on animal rights.*

*Three winners will be chosen at random from submitted animal-friendly comments in which the commenters tell us which bands have influenced their opinions on animal rights. One grand-prize winner will receive a copy of “Leave No Doubt” on vinyl. Two runners-up will receive a “Leave No Doubt” digital download. Entries must be received by February 11, 2013. The winner will be chosen at random and notified on February 12, 2013. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law.