Finally I had the possibility to interview one of my all time favourite bands. Despite that I’m not a big fan of their latest release I still like their lyrics and incredibly energetic live shows. I did the interview with vocalist Karl somewhere in Belgium during their tour with Madball. The current lineup is: Scott, guitar. Ian, bass. Dennis, drums, Kris, guitar and Karl, vocals.
Value of Strenght: How is everything going so far?
Karl Buechner: The tour is a lot of fun, we are half way through. We just played Paris last night for the first time with Madball, that was awesome because a lot of kids knew us. Madball definitely got an awesome response. We’ve played some shows in Germany, a couple in France, and we got to play a couple more shows in Germany and then we got home for Christmas and new year, and on january first we played our first Path of Resistance show ever.
V: I’ve heard about that. There was also a Framework reuinon show?
K: Yeah, the same day, the same show.
V: It seems when I read magazines that Earth Crisis is going really big. Do you like all the attention?
K: Well, the point of our band is to reach people with our message, and that’s what we’re trying to bring. You know, earth, animal and human liberation is reality. So the point is to reach out to as many people as we possibly can with our lyrics, through the records and through things like this interview. So that’s good.
V: Okay, but I think you are also aware of the fact that a lot of people get involved in animal rights and veganism because of your lyrics. You as a band with these pretty militant lyrics about animal rights and veganism, how does it fell to look four years back when there was only one vegan straightedge band and now there are tons of them.
K: It’s an accomplishment, it hasn’t been easy for us you know. Definitely not from the beginning. We had a lot of people that were against us, and were trying to supress the message that we were trying to forward. But we continued to play, recorded and released new records and toured. Alot of the time we have to dispell misunderstandings that people try to create to hinder us.
V: How seroius do you take veganism and straight edge?
K: It’s like straightedge saved my life…
V: Saved your life? Why?
K: Yeah, definitely. Beause it helped to give me a clear mind and see what’s beautiful and what’s horrifying about life and what other people are doing around me. I’ve never ever at any point expermented with drugs or alcohol or cigarettes or promiscious sexual behaviour. When I discovered straightedge at age 16 I recognized is as a title of what I already had been living. It just helped me keep everything in focus and keep me on the right track. And veganism… I can’t think of anything more import than trying to save lives and that’s the whole reason behind why I live vegan because I want to support companies that are trying to offer cruelty free alternatives and I don’t want to have a hand in, you know, giving money to people that are responsible for the suffering, places like slaughterhouses and fur farms and vivisectionist laboratories.
V: Do you really think we can solve problems, for instance probelms in the third world, by being a vegan?
K: Totally, I mean, that’s what the concept behind veganism is. It’s a reverence for all innocent life. So it’s building block towards a more peaceful and justice system.
V: You have been into animal rights and straightedge since you were 16. I’m convinced that people have asked you what you stand for. I’m sure that alot of people asked you stupid questions or remarks concerning your standpoint. What’s the most stupid remark, or question, someone asked you?
K: I don’t think there’s any such thing as a stupid question, if someone approaches me with something that they think I have the answer to then that means that they’re coming to me recognizing Karl from Earth Crisis is an knowledgable person about animal rights, so that’s cool. You know if someone has something that they are really wondering about and they’re curious and maybe they are trying to become part of the struggle for animal liberation, I ecnourage them if they come up and talk to me. But definitely yeah, there are alot of ignorant comments and remarks and we have to put up with what people put into their magazines and things like that. I think it really comes out of people believing second-hand rumours about us you know, there’s a lot of lies and rumours that are concurred to get people to not listen to what we’re saying, but when somebody acutally do interview us or come up to us, I definitely see it as a positive reaction. When they can see what it is, what we’re really about, because there’s a lot of people in the punk and hardcore scene that don’t want to hear about the benefits of living drug and alcohol free or what is happening to animals in places like slaughterhouses, they don’t want to hear about it because it’s a challenge to the way they live.
V: Okay, but if I ake myself as example; people come up to me and make stupid remarks or ask stupid questions like; “why do you eat plants, they also have feelings”, or “you cannot have girl friend because that’s also meat”.
K: Comments like that are laughable, you know. Obviously you can look at how human bodies are. We don’t have huge claws, we don’t run down game or anything like that. We’re designed basically to eat roots and berries. Our digestic track is very long, a carnivourious animal has a very short one. That’s why meat rots inside of people’s bodies and that’s why they have all the health problem that they do. As far as having a girlfriend goes, I’ve been married for seven years.
V: You’ve been married for seven years. How old are you actually?
K: I’m 27.
V: Do you have any kids?
K: I have a nephew.
V: Did you adopt him or what?
K: Kind of (laughter).
V: How do you think your life will be in 20 years from now?
K: I don’t know. I’ll be doing what I want to do you know. And as far as my comittment to straightedge and veganism and beign involved in human rights struggles goes, I’m committed forever.
V: About the song Broken Foundation on your latest release, what is it exactly dealing with?
K: The song Broken Foundation is about overcoming cycle abuse, you know, that could be child abuse or say a woman is abused by her husband. The lyrics apply to both situations. And the point is just to make people think about something that doesn’t get too much attention. Because it’s behind closed doors of people’s houses, you know, a lot of other stuff is already in the open, like nazi skinheads trying to oppress black people or native americans, they make themselves disappear more than as a word. There is equally horrifying oppression going on behind closed doors and it doesn’t get that same attention, as far as people working to stop it. Do you think I can get a copy of that picture (pointing at a Value of Strenght flyer). That looks like a good picture for a record or something, do you have it?
V: I took that picture but I didn’t bring it with me.
K: I didn’t expect you to have it with you.
V: Yeah, you can have it.
K: Ok, that would be cool. I never see good pictures. I’m just really critical. Kids take good pictures but I don’t know. That one looks really good, I would like to use that.
V: Why did you name your band Earth Crisis. Could you translate the band name “all problems happening on this planet” or are there any other connections?
K: The man reason is…The medical definition of the word “crisis” is the point where the patient begins to recover or die, and that coupled with the word “earth” is kind of obvious what it is about. We’re trying to offer solutions to our problem through our lyrics.
V: Do you think illegal actions are useful?
K: It depends. Sometimes education, peaceful protest and trying to change things through legal means aren’t that effective. We always have to remember that the most important thing is to save innocent lives, like an animal in a vivisectionist’s laboratory. If education isn’t working, the struggle has to remain but the strategy has to be a little bit different and if militant intervention would be the answer to save them then it’s right. You know, destruction and violence are the last thing I want to see but tragically, they are sometimes necessary. We place so far greater value on the lives of the innocent beings than any type of worth that could be put upon someone who’s sadistic or greedy and doesn’t want to change their profit system.
V: So it won’t be a problem for you spending a couple of years in jail when you are caught during illegal actions?
K: No, because we don’t do illegal actions. Syracuse is in my mind famous for a lot of heroic people that have rescued animals. Over 1000 minks were liberated from a fur farm north of Syracuse, as well as there’s been thousands and thousands of dollars in damage to businesses in Syracuse by people who are carrying up direct actions. It’s all businesses who had a direct hand in the exploitation and murdering of animals. But no one in Earth Crisis does direct actions, we have all been under very heacy surveillance for the last three years and alot of our friends have as well. It would be suicidal for us.
V: Let’s see it like this, not because you’re playing in Earth Crisis, but in general…
K: I’m not going to jail, fuck that! I don’t know what you are trying to say dude…
V: Ok, forget about it.
K: No, I’m not mad at you.
V: What I mean is, if you were not playing in Earth Crisis. If you were just like me…
K: Oh yeah, it’s like I can either be above ground or underground, one or the other. You can’t be both or you’re cutting your own throat. If I hadn’t set myself up with my band and wasn’t doing what I am doing, yeah sure! Of course I would be out wrecking, you know.
V: When I was in the US last summer, I heard about the ATF beating up ADL people.
K: Yeah, the ATF has handcuffed some of my friends and beaten them and stuff like that. ATF is like the Federal Agency, when there are bombings and stuff like that. They are the anti-terrorist version of the FBI. They’re not too stoked on a lot of Syracuse vegan straight edge kids. As well as they do lots and lots of illegal harassment, towards me and they also had threats made to members of my band. My car was sabotages and crashed, all kinds of bullshit.
V: It’s stupid that they can do things like that when they’re a government agency.
K: It make you sense that they’re trying to protect their system.
V: It scares me, beause the goverment is doing something illegal.
K: But they just see it for what it is, a war.
V: If you take an outside person to discuss the fact that a fur store has been bombed again, and that it was right to do. He will say that he can understand the fact that you’re against fur but doesn’t understand why a whole store is bombed. What would be the answer if he said that there were possibilities to do it in another way.
K: But you really can’t. There’s a fur store in Syracuse called Georgio’s that’s been protested for about ten years by different animal liberation organizations. Activists are continously out in street in front of this shop, distributing literature and stuff like that which doesn’t do anything good. The store is still in business, it hasn’t even made minor changes on how it operates. They could be selling synthetic fur coats or clothes but instead they continue what they have been doing from the beginning. I’m sure the owner is aware of the needless suffer the animals go through before they’re killed, for something as a fur coat which we really don’t need. I wouldn’t have any pity for him at all if his store is damaged. I think the store sucks. I’d love it if he’d sell something different, but he has a direct hand in profiting from the exploitation an murdering of helpless beings, and that is unacceptable.
V: If an average person reads your lyrics he’ll conclude that you write them in a pretty militant way, why do you choose to write your lyrics that way?
K: Because several groups and individuals came together and made groups such as the Black Panthers, Earth First!, A.L.F. These groups literally saved lives and brought justice. And a lot of time when talk falls down, militancy is necessary. So that’s why we choose to glorify it. But most of our songs are educational, like Edens Demise, New Ethic and Morality Dictates. So it got both, two prongs of attack.
V: How come you changed so much through the years, musically and lyrically?
K: I really wouldn’t say it’s a change, I’d just say it’s progression. Things have gotten tighter, overall I think we’re more precize now about what we want to do. I think the vocals have improved and the lyrics get a little more poetic with every release, and the music just gets heavier too. That comes from constantly playing together, being on the road and putting new material together. That just happens with time.
V: About your progress, you’re saying that your voice has changed and that the ideas are different.
K: They are not different.
V: Have they progressed?
K: Nothing has changed as far as our ideals. Every lyric and every word on “All Out War”, “Firestorm”, “Destroy the Machines” and our new record are about things that are al whole truths of my heart, and will stay there until the day I die.
V: People are saying that Earth Crisis has a metal sound. Did you listen to metal before you got into hardcore, or did you like the ’88-bands from New York?
K: See, when I was a little kid, like maybe 11 or 12 years old, my babysitter was into punkrock. And she played me all these records from the 70’s and early 80’s. Well not really 70’s I guess. And then my cousin was into punkrock, I was always into that kind of music. I got into hardcore in my early teens. I was never a “metalhead” or anything, but I’ve always listened to metal. I appreciate the music part of it. You know, the lyrics don’t have anything in common with us, with a satanist who would sacrifize and animal to the devil or something ridiculous like that. So, what I like about metal is the power and slow breakdowns. And hardcore, I like everything about it. I’m a hardcore person. We just combine those elements of metal into the hardcore sound. Or music is designed for kickbox-style dancing.
V: Have you heard of this Belgian metal/hardcore scene called H8000. These people are totally into metal and even black metal, 666 and stuff like that.
K. No, and I’m not interested either.
V: That was not my question. What do you think about things like that?
K: The devil is an ultimate loser.
V: My experience is that people are attacking me because I am not listening to the basic hardcore stuff.
K: Yeah. Even our taste in music is different. I don’t want people to bother you for the style of music you listen to. It’s like if you’re into hardcore, then you’re into hardcore. If you listen to Madonna, you listen to Madonna. Who cares? You know what I mean?
V: Yeah, that’s true.
K: I just like agressive music. I like the best stuff of every genre, be it hardcore or metal or death metal. We also have another band called Path of Resistance, which is like the traditional hardcore sound. With three singers which makes it a little bit different because I think we’re probably the first straight edge band who has ever done that.
V: Have you played any shows with Path of Resistance?
K: No, not one yet because we tour all the time with Earth Crisis. This year, we recorded that record with Path of Resistance, “Who Dares Wins”, and then four live songs with Earth Crisis for a live record with Snapcase and Strife. And then the Earth Crisis full-length “Gomorrah’s Season Ends”. We also did an east coast tour, a Japanese tour, an extensive US tour and now we’re over here, opening for Madball. Everthing is back to back, we’re super busy and playing shows with Path of Resistance is very hard because we don’t have that much time. But when we get the oppurtunity, we’ll take it. But it’s honestly not going to happen. If we play once every two years it will be cool.
V: So we can not expect Path of Resistance together with Earth Crisis on tour overhere in Europe?
V: There are rumours.
K: They are all just rumours, you know. It would be nice, it would be fun and I would like to. But honestly, I don’t see it happening in the near future at all.
V: When you do Earth Crisis tours, do you care with which band you’re touring with or doesn’t it matter to you?
K: No, it matters alot. You know we had… Our booking agency is trying to hook us up with a lot of bands that we won’t absolutely never go out with because I hate their message and their music’s weak. We only tour with bands that, you know, whose message I like and get on with the people in the band.
V: Ok, thanks alot for your time and good luck with your bands.
Interview by :Value Of Strength #4