San Diego-based artsy hardcore band The Locust has gone through more lineup changes than J. Lo has husbands, with members of bands such as Album Leaf and Cattle Decapitation going in and out of the band. Through it all, The Locust has maintained a sound that has been described as a “car crash with vocals,” spitting in the face of convention with songs that are shorter than their titles. Because we’re all about questioning authority, this is right up our alley. So, when vegan vocalist Justin Pearson got in touch with us and mentioned that he’d like to get involved with peta2, we were positive the inaugural interview would be nothing short of genius—much like The Locust’s music. Of course, as you all know by now, we were dead-on.
How’s Three. One. G going? It must be great being on a label with other bands so closely related to you.
Well, it’s going. It’s tough with the Internet and its effects on the sale of music. Getting new releases out is odd. We’ll shell out a grip of cash for recording and manufacturing releases only to have it on the Internet for free before we even get to sell a single copy. But that’s not your problem.
How long have you been vegetarian? What was it that first made you decide to make the switch?
I pretty much became vegan right away. I was vegetarian for a couple of months and then went vegan shortly afterward. I learned about the issues at age 14 and was really drawn to it for ethical reasons. I think what turned me on to vegetarian politics were aspects of the punk community. The main thing was a band called Downcast, as well as No Answers fanzine. Originally, I wasn’t concerned with health issues and eating well. I mean, at that point, my physical concerns were how to fuck up my hair, not how to eat well. But as I was turned on to—and became educated about—the politics of vegetarian eating, I became more and more upset at the meat industry and factory farming, as well as the corporations that test products on animals and the universities that use animals for experiments.
There are more and more people going vegetarian and vegan every day. As a result, the variety of good veg options is growing. What was it like when you first turned vegetarian? Do you think it’s easier now?
Sure, it’s easier now. I remember when I would tour eight, nine, 10 years ago; it was rough to eat well and find vegan food. Even in other countries, it’s easier now. Now you can pretty much hit any supermarket and find good options. I try to eat raw and avoid wheat when I can. I also try to avoid corporations and chain stores for the most part when I’m on tour. But for people who are less concerned with the quality of their food, there are fast-food options at just about every major fast-food chain. One of the best things I have stumbled upon is the Healthy Highways book. If you’re in a band or just traveling in the U.S., I suggest you check out that book.
What do you think is the most effective way to spread the word on vegetarianism?
Just be an example: To turn people on to a vegan or vegetarian diet, educate yourself and try not to push your views on others. I don’t speak out about this issue at shows or socially unless asked. It comes up from time to time in a non-aggressive manner, and people seem to be receptive. Obviously, education is the way to spread the word and the key is to get people to want to learn. If you could show someone how it would feel to have colon cancer or to be force-fed hormones, it would be a lot easier to show the extreme effects that a nonvegetarian lifestyle might have. But we can’t do that, and unfortunately, a lot of humans are lazy and don’t care about being educated on the effects of what they eat.
What do you think is the best city to find good vegetarian or vegan food? Is San Diego a vegetarian-friendly place?
The best city would be any major city, really. It’s super easy to find good places to eat in Los Angeles and New York. One of the best places I have ever eaten is Real Food Daily in L.A. As far as San Diego, there are tons of awesome places to eat, as well. Some of my favorites are Cilantro Live, Ranchos Cocina, Jyoti Bihanga, Kung Food, and Sipz. San Diego has some great places to eat—it’s a good-size city, and there are progressive people that seem to have an interest in culture as well as being health conscious.
One of our biggest campaigns is against KFC for scalding chickens to death, cutting off their beaks, slitting their throats while they’re still conscious, and committing other horrific abuses. What message do you have for KFC and other fast-food outlets about how they should treat animals?
First off, the treatment of the animals is disgusting. But what really shocks me is the fact that a person would eat such crap. Seeing someone eating two hot dogs from a.m. to p.m. for 99 cents is probably the nastiest thing ever. I had no idea what I was eating for the first 14 years of my life. I thought that McDonald’s was the best food ever. But as I was educated on factory farming, I learned about the eggs that are bleached of their green color due to all the hormones that are pumped into chickens; the way that pigs are slaughtered; the deforestation caused by raising cattle; and the amount of grain and water that goes into creating the meat that people eat. So, yeah, the obvious issue you brought up about KFC’s practices is sick. But so are a lot of humans who could care less about what they put into their bodies.
Not only does peta2 promote vegetarianism, we also campaign against fur, vivisection, and animals used for entertainment. Is there a particular animal issue that you feel most strongly about?
All are important issues. I think the main thing is the fact that people are so far removed from what goes on behind the scenes. What gets me are things like the larger pet food companies that test on animals—pet owners buy products for their pets from companies that brutalize the very same animals that they have and love! With science and technology, it seems that there is no need for things like vivisection.
What do you think PETA should do to educate people about what is going on in labs and what the alternatives are?
The fact that alternatives do exist shows that not only do the medical industry and corporations not care, but humans in general are complacent and ignorant. The companies and industries can cut corners and do outlandish practices to secure a higher profit margin, but as business goes, when people stop purchasing products by a company, it dies. So education about the facts and how one lives their life based on where and how they spend their money is a step in the right direction. If one is to be concerned with the politics of how animals are treated, they should research activism and support organizations such as PETA.
What’s next for The Locust?
We are working on a new album at the moment and plan to tour Europe just before the New Year and then the States, Japan, and Europe once again after the new album is released. Thanks for the interview. Keep up the awesome work!