DIY Conspiracy
The (International) DIY Conspiracy

Wake of Humanity: We’re Not The Cool Kids. We Want to Change The World.

An in-depth interview with Seattle based politically charged vegan straight edge band Wake of Humanity

Seattle based hardcore band Wake of Humanity have announced the release date of their new record FIGHT/RESIST for November 3rd, and the record release show for January 5th, 2019 (Seattle show with Xibalba, Racetraitor, Un and Cujo on the bill).

Being excited about discussing hardcore and politics with our favorite bands, we took the opportunity to talk with their singer Chris LaPointe and bass player Mike Chinn. We talked about band’s history, releases, and passionate interests in veganism, straight edge, restorative ecology, and social justice.

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So, where did all begin for Wake of Humanity?

Chris: The band got its start back in 2015. Mike (bass player) approached me and asked me if I wanted to sing for a politically charged vegan hardcore band. I was hesitant at first because I had a lot going on with work (as I always do) and I didn’t think my voice was up to par or if it would fit for such a project.

Mike assured me it would fit etc., so I jumped on board. He had other folks lined up for the most part. The bass player (Mike was originally going to play guitar), another guitar player but no drummer. We eventually ironed out the line up, decided on just having one guitar player, and Mike moved to bass. The drummer was still up in the air so we had someone fill in to record the At Capacity EP and then someone else as a temporary drummer for our first handful of shows.

Our first show was November 13th, 2015 (Friday the 13th), we did a Pacific Northwest run of shows around March 2016. Soon after we got rid of that drummer. We didn’t have one for what seemed like forever and we were getting quite frustrated.

We met Max a few times playing some shows together and at some point, May 2016 I believe, Max and I were chatting at a show (DROPDEAD). I asked him what Anti-Self was up to (his band at the time) and he said they were no longer playing, and that he was about to sell his gear. I told him I knew the feeling because Wake of Humanity had been looking for a drummer for a few months and I was about done so I could focus on other stuff in my life.

To that Max said “I play drums. I’m vegan. I’m straight edge. I don’t know if I can play double bass…” We got together and practiced the following weekend and the rest is history. Soon after that Jeremy, Max’s brother, joined as second guitar player. He also does a ton of vocals on the record and new songs. We did a few tours and several shows as a 5-piece but at the end of 2016 our original guitar player moved on to other things.

Since then we’ve toured a ton and wrote the LP as a 4-piece and we will likely stay with that configuration as we have a really good, laid back and productive vibe. Everyone is so on the same page and contributes a ton and we have a bunch of fun together. The last three tours have been so memorable and it’s cool to watch us grow as a band and as individuals. Although we are all busy with other obligations in life, we put a lot into this band when the time comes. We all challenge ourselves and each other while working through those challenges to become better people, and ultimately a better band. And now, three years later, I’m finally comfortable with how my voice fits into this band.

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Did you play in any other bands before?

Chris: We’ve all played in previous bands and we’ve all played in bands that have played together prior to Wake Of Humanity forming. Max and Jeremy had a couple bands that were awesome. I already mentioned Anti-Self, a grindy/fastcore band. They also had this other band with their other sibling and Max’s twin called No Future. They were heavy and chaotic as hell.

Mike and I are the old ones and have been in a ton of bands over the years. It’s weird that this is the first band we’ve played in together. One of my old bands (Closed Casket) used to share a practice space or two with Mike’s band This Time Tomorrow. After that band Mike went on to form Parasitic Skies and I was in a vegan punk/hardcore band called Olde Ghost. Mike also played in Owen Hart (now Earth Control), and Tears of Gaia. I did a short stint for Himsa where I filled in on vocals for a Japan and Southeast Asia tour a million years ago.

Max and Jeremy have another project they’re working on and I imagine it will be heavy/fast and chaotic. I just bought a keyboard so it will be interesting to see what comes of that. I mostly just make spooky sounds and mess with samples. When Wake of Humanity started we had a lot of samples and weird shit going on as interludes. We departed from that a little but we are getting back into it.

What inspired you to start this particular band and what were your initial inspirations?

Chris: Original inspirations to form this band were basically all what Mike envisioned for this band and as I mentioned earlier he wanted to start a political vegan band…I believe there are phrases he used when he first asked me was “militant vegan hardcore band..” That made me laugh a little.

He said he wanted an outspoken singer who wasn’t afraid to talk in between songs. Now, he likely regrets that. I always wanted to be in a vegan straight edge band but that was always hard to do in Seattle. Olde Ghost was vegan as hell but 2/5 of that band partied so we just did the vegan thing.

With Wake Of Humanity we never really had an agenda to specifically be an XVX band. It just evolved that way. We had several conversations about labeling ourselves as such but we always had vegan and straight edge members so we just moved forward being a low-key vegan straightedge band.

As far as other inspirations, we all draw inspiration from our surroundings, current events and our loves. I love the the environment and animals and I’ve dedicated my life to the world outside of Wake of Humanity—to the animals and the environment. We’re obviously inspired by current events, social injustice and as we will discuss in a bit, we are inspired more and more by personal issues.

Musically, we’re inspired by so much different stuff. We all have super eclectic musical tastes. Some of which don’t get woven into Wake Of Humanity. It’s weird, when we first started people always compared us to Earth Crisis. I never got that as we sound nothing like them. Perhaps it was just the aesthetic and the vegan straight edge vibe.

I think when we started we were going for more of a thrashier vibe, or more of an All Out War type vibe, with some Integrity here and there. Now, as I listen to the demo of the new LP, I’d say we have more of a Damnation A.D./Integrity/Tragedy vibe going on. We never set out to write songs that sound like a particular band but we are all most definitely influenced by 90s hardcore (my favorite era), dark hardcore and crust. Jeremy thinks I should rap more on the new songs…

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Why it is so important for you to write lyrics and their explanations, touching such subjects as the destruction of animal lives, the environment and all that surrounds us? What are the positive goals you try to achieve through the explanations of certain frustrations of this world we live in?

Chris: For a band like Wake of Humanity, in 2018, it’s of the utmost importance. To me, punk and hardcore was a political movement and still is a political movement. I grew up as a punk and always thought of it as a movement with the overall objective to reject the system which dictates the norm (thanks for that line, Crucifix) and to inspire change.

A lot has changed since I first got into punk but a lot has also remained the same. There is still oppression and injustice all around us and our platform is to address that and ultimately change it. With punk I believe, or I hope, we are done with the shock value bullshit and we’ve evolved to actually making a change and going against the grain while voicing our detest of mainstream ideals that are harmful to all.

I feel like I’d be a fraud if I didn’t write such lyrics and delve deep into social issues. To me it was important to come out of the gates swinging with a record that unapologetically, and at times ignorantly, addresses these issues. Ultimately, we are trying too change lives and make this world a better place. We are not in it to climb some bullshit hardcore hype ladder and just play festivals like some bands seem to doing these days.

We are not the cool kids. We want to change the world. We live what we talk about in our songs. Each and every one of us has dedicated our lives to the environment, to the animals and to social justice. This is us and our lyrics reflect that. I like to think Wake of Humanity has integrity and is a band of four individuals who genuinely care for the animals and the environment and when we come together to do our thing we’re that much more effective in doing so.

One of the most positive outcomes for me would be if someone changed their behavior due to our influence. Our goals are to educate, influence and institute change although we rarely come out and say that. It is the underlying theme when I explain some of the songs. And we are seeing returns in this regard. I had some folks come to me on our most recent tour and thank me few what I say and for what Wake of Humanity stands for.

Someone literally said “I want to be straight edge now after listening to what you said in that one song…” Luckily, they were already vegan!

Do all your releases follow a certain topic throughout the record? It seems the underlying theme in At Capacitywas animal and earth liberation, while Grotesque Liewas about the atrocities of rape culture, patriarchy and sexual abuse. Can you elaborate on that and reveal some of the topics that we can find in “FIGHT/RESIST”?

Chris: Developing certain topics were not really intentional at the beginning. I’ve struggled at times for content with always being in a politically oriented or agenda based band for the past 20 years or so. With At Capacity we definitely had an earth/animal rights agenda we were trying to articulate.

But, how do you do this when it’s been done so many times? That said, I wanted to write two songs about each subject (earth and animal liberation). I looked at it with a bigger picture perspective in the title track “At Capacity.” I wanted people to react to that with a sense of “whoa, we really are fucking up the environment and totally disconnected.” While at the same time I wanted them to realize “whoa, we are the solution as well…”

Then I got specific on “WA016F” where I looked at one atrocity in our area where a breeding alpha female of a wolf pack, a so called protected species, was murdered because a human believed the wolf and her offspring threatened the livelihood of their livestock etc. when those wolves were clearly occupying the area long before the white settlement there. For those wondering, WA016F is the radio collar number of the wolf. She was trapped and was being tracked by our state wildlife department. Both “Null and Void” and “Without Valor” are along the lines of the vegan theme, like staying true to your convictions and anti-vivisection.

With the Grotesque Lie release we purposefully wrote two songs about those topics you mentioned. Although we are not all the direct victims of sexual assault, we all have situations in which our loved ones are survivors. To this day, thinking about something that happened to someone close to me gives me the chills and fills me with rage. The same feeling I get when dealing with recalling and constantly thinking about the particular person and situation the song “Living in the Shadow of a Grotesque Lie” is based on. We wanted that record to look and sound way darker than At Capacity. We wanted the vibe to match the content. I think we did a decent job with that while evolving musically.  And that record I think has had a somewhat positive impact addressing an atrocious and difficult topic to deal with topic.

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The title of the new LP is FIGHT/RESIST and I think it’s a collection of songs about all the topics we’ve taken on thus far and then some. That one follows the overall theme. We got the animal/environmental rights songs such as “Bled Dry” (which is basically At Capacity part 2—I even stole the vocal pattern from the last breakdown of “At Capacity” and used it on “Bled Dry” but with different words).

We explore the overall effects of oppression and discuss “dismantling the system” in the opening track “The New Storm.”

“To What End?” is the last track and it’s similar thematically to the first song but very different musically. We addressed newer issues to this band themes such as classism, inequity and institutionalized racism in the song “It’s Still not Enough.”

I get really personal on the song “Different Demons.” I’ve never written about this topic and it was hard to write the song but I had a collection of feelings/words/phrases/thoughts describing what it feels like to manage mental illness such as depression and anxiety and how it’s difficult dealing with those illnesses while rejecting traditional healthcare and not self medicating with drugs and alcohol. The underlying theme of that is that you know something is wrong with you but you don’t know what it is or how to deal with it.

I never intended to write this song for this band let alone explain it live. I didn’t know what to say. The last time we played Arizona I just started talking about it and I noticed I had the audiences undivided attention. That was the song and talk that motivated someone to talk to me afterwards and thank me for writing/saying those words. That was also the same person who said they want to become straight edge after hearing the song. That was a little unexpected but I’ll take it.

Speaking of straight edge, there’s also a song on the new record called “Alone & Broken” that addresses my personal interpretation and experiences of  being straight edge and sometimes chastised for it. I truly believe straight edge saved my life and I utter those words in the opening and closing lines of the song.

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I guess, Grotesque Liewas inspired by a personal real life story. What was the feedback that you’ve got after releasing Grotesque Lieand the zine accompanying the record? Do you think that such kind of zines are still as important tools to start a conversation on certain issues as it used to be? Did you make any new friends or foes by putting out the zine?

Chris: Yes, definitely based on first hand experiences. Many of which we would like to just forget but they are so important to talk about and act on. The feedback we’ve received thus far has been nothing but positive and that was unexpected. I thought we’d get called out a bunch about being white cis straight males playing hyper-masculine music talking about this issue and speaking primarily on behalf of women (the survivors of the perpetrator in the song were all female).

I try to point out while playing, talking about and doing interviews about the song, that we are not necessarily the right mouthpiece to be speaking on their behalves but we are privileged enough to have the stage and the microphone to say and do something about it. Some folks were confused by the artwork and questioned our intent on using such imagery.

My response was the imagery we used was simply my interpretation as an artist (term used loosely) of the frustration entailed while dealing with the topic of sexual abuse, rape culture, toxic masculinity and so on. I feel like I want to gouge my eyes out every time I have to think or communicate about these topics. I’ve been asked if the art is supposed to represent the survivor or the perpetrator (both the image and the full title of the song “Living in the Shadow of a Grotesque Lie”). Part of my concept was that those images and that phrase could be applied to either.

With the release of that song, we always wanted to do something different, some kind of benefit that would help those affected by sexual assault. We talked about publishing a resource page and making that available at our march table. We already distribute the Learning Good Consent zine at our shows and we wanted ton do more. Sometime after completing the interview in XclusiveX zine I thought it would be cool to reprint the interview in the format of a small zine that would accompany the 7”. I asked Kat if we could reprint it and they were totally cool about it and even wrote a forward for the zine. While putting the zine together we decided to have all the profits donated to the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center.

What inspires me is some of the conversations I’ve had with survivors after playing that song. Be it in Reno, Portland, Phoenix or Berlin I’m always left with a feeling of validation for writing and performing the song and many of those conversations have left me in tears and feeling uneasy. That topic is no fucking joke and I’m glad it’s taught me to feel more and not be afraid to show my emotions that could easily be buried due some stupid ass societal norm associated with masculinity (I literally have tears in my eyes as I write this—Boys do cry. Boys should cry more).

I definitely think zines are still important tools for starting a conversation and/or educating people. I see this happen almost every time we play in Seattle. A few friends have a zine distro and they usually set it up next to us at shows. It’s amazing to watch people come up and talk to them, learn about new topics and walk away with a zine.

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Lets touch base on Straight Edge. If use and abuse are mutually supportive, can we draw a line between them, or youd agree that in a society that have normalized addiction theres no distinction to them? I mean, while vegans realize any kind of animal use as abuse, its usually not the same when it comes to intoxicants.

Chris: That’s kind of a difficult/complex question to answer but I’m into that. We have two different concepts going on here with varying levels of degree. As you’ve pointed out, on one hand, considering animal abuse there is a distinct line that can be drawn. Abuse is abuse in this regard. Killing animals for human benefit/consumption/vanity is abuse… and that’s the bottom line. End of that story.

Using/abusing intoxicants is a very different story and you’ve pointed this out but we will definitely expand on it. There can be many different levels of use/abuse with drugs and alcohol. I’ll talk a bit about these in regard to my personal experience. Also, with using intoxicants, I think it’s different for each individual and with each different intoxicant. I definitely think there’s something to be said about moderation when it comes to alcohol/drug use and it depends upon the avenue users choose to take. Having a drink here and there might be okay for some people but then you throw all the different types of drugs in the mix and I don’t think moderation always works. Personally, I have close friends who can maintain while using casually. Me, and some of the other members of Wake of Humanity just can’t do that, moderation doesn’t work for us.

The society in which we live in really has normalized addiction. It’s become such a part of so many people’s lives from so many different walks of life. Look at college students, using and abusing intoxicants has been made a big highlight of going away to college. It’s part of what those young adults immerse themselves in. Moving beyond that, looking at blue collar and white collar type jobs, after work you go to the bar or you go home to have a drink to “wind down.”

Socializing in general for most people lends itself to engaging in what’s become the “bar culture” that perpetuates this behavior. I think Coke Bust said it best, “Fuck Bar Culture!” I don’t see a positive outcome from this way of living life. Working your ass off so you can get that beer at the end of the day or going out all night on a bender fueled by cocaine and booze.

I’ve been there. I hate it. I will never go there again. And it tears me apart when I see friends, loved ones and family members fall into this trap of normalized addiction and bar culture.

Mike: I believe that it’s virtually impossible to compare veganism to straight edge. Alcohol and drug use and abuse are two different things. And like Chris said, it varies from person to person. I hate alcohol and the culture around it. But understand some people can have a drink or two once a week and it doesn’t affect their life. However, some people don’t have that option. When it comes to marijuana, I fully support medicinal use and I am glad its finally legal and available here.

All drugs should be legal in my opinion. Addiction is a mental health issue. And here certain drugs are demonized and used to support the prison industrial complex. There are just so many levels to this question. You could talk for hours about it. You can’t compare alcohol to meth, just as you cant compare either to marijuana.

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In what ways does being straight edge intersect with your wider politics and activism? Do you agree that SXE and veganism are not someones identity or a consumer choice, but rather forms of social modality? A social relation thats inclusive, conversational, and aware of the violence thats deeply ingrained in our culture of mutual and self-destruction. 

Chris: First, I’ve always maintained that straight edge is a personal decision, at least in my case, but at the same time I think that decision has the potential to reach far beyond the X on one’s hand. Although personal, I consider it a political decision in that claiming edge is inherently rejecting the norm, the mainstream, corporate American standards based on consumptive living, bar culture/a culture of normalized addiction as we spoke about earlier.

On the personal side of things, I had to make this decision, I wanted to make this commitment to provide accountability in terms of keeping myself sober. At the same time I realized straight edge could have a broader impact. So, for me, it intersects greatly with my and Wake of Humanity’s animal, earth and social justice activism. Rejecting the norm like I said. Refusing intoxicants in a consumptive, capitalistic, commodity based society such as the one we live in is a form of passive activism, I’d say.

I definitely feel as though both veganism and straight edge can be considered forms of social modality. They are common threads that can connect us through similar ideals and lifestyle choices. I keep thinking about how this can be applied in a situation such as Fluff Fest. Here you have a festival with tons of different styles of music but all those genres appeal to those within a DIY punk ethic. Part of which is comprised of vegan straight edge folks. These common threads, or ideologies, or lifestyles were the impetus for generating so many conversations, friendships, ideas, and overall camaraderie among people from all over the world who may not have otherwise met.

All of this provides a really effective atmosphere for connectivity, organizing and worldwide activism. So again, straight edge has the ability to intersect on a wider level with politics and activism.

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Tell me about your interests in restoration ecology.

Chris: I love this question and I can talk about it for hours but I’ll try to be brief!

My interest for nature and the environment started long ago as a child growing up in rural Florida. We lived on a lake and I had access to all kinds of cool stuff like the lake, creeks and rivers, the ocean, forests, etc.

My family was super active and always going on outdoor adventures. That, along with watching things like Jaques Cousteau, Wild Kingdom and other nature documentaries on TV bolstered my love for nature. When I was a child I always wanted to be an oceanographer or a marine biologist.

Fast forward a decade or so, my family moved to Arizona. I absolutely fell in love with the desert. I admired how brutal yet how beautiful it could be. I took up mountain biking, hiking and backpacking and took to the desert whenever I had the chance. Around the same time I started trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life besides playing in bands and touring.

I loved doing that but I wanted a backup plan so I started going to a community college. I had no idea what I wanted to do or what I wanted to focus on so I took all the pre-requisites and a few science classes. In my first semester I had an environmental biology class. First day of class the instructor turned off the lights and showed a film. The film was basically a collection of time lapsed footage off human kinds impact on the environment.

First, I thought, “what a weird and cool way to start a class.” Next, I thought “…wait, I can make a career out of this environmental stuff…” I completed my two years at that college and then transferred to a university. I received a degree in Environmental Science and Biology. I still had no idea what I wanted to do with that as I had zero practical experience in those fields.

I eventually ended up moving to Seattle and tried to find work. I soon learned Seattle was saturated with people like me looking for similar work. I started volunteering for an organization the focused on salmon habitat restoration. It was the hardest and most rewarding work I had ever done to that point. I kept volunteering and applying for jobs but to no avail in terms of landing an entry level environmental job.

After three years of that (and exploring, hiking and backpacking all over the Pacific Northwest) I decided I needed to go back to school and jump through the hoops to earn a piece of paper that said I was “qualified” for whatever job I sought in the environmental field. As fate would have it, I ended up back in Arizona for graduate school. I focused on outdoor resource management and wound up getting a pretty cool internship with Arizona State State Parks.

I got to explore tons of trails, write some stuff and gain experience in public administration and public land management. I graduated and was lucky enough to already have a job lined up with a non-profit environmental organization in Seattle. It was a long path but I finally found something that I wholeheartedly embraced and didn’t have any weird guilt for what I did as a career.

What’s cool about all that is from a young age I developed this attachment to nature and have since made it the focal point of my life. It’s in everything I do. Even as a child I was aware of the massive impact humans have on the environment. It saddens me to this day that people are so thoughtless in their actions and treat the earth and animals solely as a commodities to serve them. It’s so selfish, in my opinion. So, my interests in the animals and environment have lead me down a path that involves me doing whatever I can to give back to then earth. Doing something positive where so much negativity and destruction has taken place.

A lot of the work I have done for the past 15 years involves educating and engaging the public about environmental/ecological restoration (teaching them what it is, why it’s important and how do it). In addition, I manage a full time restoration crew who does this type of work every day. I work on a lot of other stuff like strategic planning for more sustainable communities, watershed planning and promoting/supporting local organic farms but my love is hands on restoration, be it with my crew or with community volunteers. Creating new habitat for fish and wildlife in areas that were once destroyed by humans is a very fulfilling feeling.

That said, there is so much more to be done and I fear the nature of homo sapiens is leading us down a path of more destruction of the environment, more slaughtering of innocent animals and more mindless consumption with zero regard for the earth (I think I just inadvertently quoted one of our new songs…).

We’ve done so much destruction that has left only fragments of ecosystems and have accelerated the extinction of many species at alarming rates. My overall interest lies in being a conduit to restoring some of this destructiveness.

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As a restoration ecologist, I guess, you also dont agree with how mainstream veganism is often practiced. What do you believe is wrong with the standard consumer-oriented veganism that the most mainstream advocates promote?

This hits on a topic that I have been thinking about and discussing with friends and bandmates a lot lately. I’m definitely not down with corporate America (and the rest of the corporate world) making a profit off vegan products and the vegan lifestyle ESPECIALLY if they are not making an overall, more focused effort on reducing cruelty towards and the suffering of animals.

With this approach there is no sound investment in saving the environment and the lives of animals. It’s product based, targeting a specific audience, designed with the primary objective to make those companies money. Now, unfortunately, so many of the smaller vegan companies have been selling out to the big corporations. It’s cool to see these companies thrive but it seems from an economic perspective in relation to the companies so-called livelihood that there comes a point when they have to make a decision to either stay grounded as a small business or expand to “reach a wider audience.”

When Seattle based company Field Roast signed a distribution deal with Essen Foods (who distribute a wide array of meat based products internationally), this concept really hit home. Although the founder maintains all the items will remain vegan, produced in a vegan facility as outlined in his “Vegan Policy Affirmation” document, I still find myself questioning the authenticity of that decision to reach a larger more mainstream audience. Regardless of any document developed to rationalize this decision, the bottom line in my opinion is this decision aligns Field Roast with a corporation responsible for perpetuating cruelty, suffering and the unnecessary slaughter of animals so they can “expand.”

Again, the most fucked up and careless motivation derived from capitalism is greed and decisions such as these are a prime example of greed regardless of how munch you sugar coat or rationalize it. You’re not making this decision with the animals or environment in mind; only profit margins.

To me, it doesn’t matter if your product is being produced in a vegan facility by vegans or whatever, if it’s being distributed by a company such as Essen Foods to support continued growth, you are no longer taking the animals and environment into consideration. Just your profits. That said, I still purchase Field Roast products so I too am part of the problem, I guess. The only argument, if you can call it that, is sometimes these companies have the potential to make vegan items accessible to people who might not otherwise have access to them. That’s kind of a long shot but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately as well.

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Wake of Humanity at Fluff Fest 2017

Do you think that playing and touring with a DIY hardcore punk band can give you a quality of life? Of course, by quality of life I dont mean having loads of money neither striving for the constitutionally guaranteed pursuit of happiness, but finding yourself surrounded by people who are nice to each other and make use of their creative force to do everything themselves? If not, whats the point of anything were doing in this scene?

Chris: Most definitely. Playing music, expressing my opinion and putting my heart and soul into every song live is one of my most favorite and rewarding things to do in life. It’s hard to explain the overwhelming sense of happiness and fulfillment I get from a successful show or tour.

I’m a little older (okay, A LOT older) than the rest of the band. I’ve played in a lot of bands and have gone on a lot of tours. I’ve been all over the world because of being in punk and hardcore bands. At several points in my life I tried to convince myself that I should be done with music and focus on other things in life such as my career. The minute I tried to convince myself to do that I got an offer to sing for a band on a Japan and Southeast Asia tour. I couldn’t pass that opportunity up (after I said “no” three times).

It was both the most difficult and rewarding tour I’ve ever done in my life. However, the experience was life changing and overall incredible. It turned out to be by far one of the coolest tours of my life. From that point on, I decided never to “write off” music again. Many years later, Wake of Humanity has provided some similar experiences.

The European tour in 2017 was absolutely incredible. I was euphoric the entire time. There was a lot of uncertainty before the tour as we booked it ourselves and spent a lot of our own money on a van, driver and gear. We didn’t have one bad show and it seemed as though we were well received throughout Europe. The main highlight for me from that tour was finally being able to play and attend Fluff Fest. Not just because we received an incredibly supportive reaction from the crowd but because the overall experience was so incredible.

We met people from all over the world. We reconnected with old friends from all over the world and we made so many more new friends. And then there were the bands, most of which were definitely focused on the message far beyond the music. There was that unified message in music that has meaning. Something that’s lacking in general in the US. It was refreshing.

We played with so many cool bands for the first time and a few that we’ve played with a bunch in the US. All that in a beautiful setting with amazing vegan food, conversation and opportunities to learn. I loved the info booth. Walking by there and seeing our friend Greg Bennick talk about writing more potent lyrics and what not was so cool. That’s really just incredible. Who could ask for much more? Total punk rock utopia. All of this is so enriching for me personally. This is true quality of life if you ask me.

Mike: I would say it gives you a community to meet, work with and open doors to things that you would have never thought possible. Not only that I have met some of my best life long friends through music. I am very glad I veered down this path and I only wish I started earlier in life. Its not all perfect. But nothing involving homo sapiens ever is.

Are there any important issues that are on your mind recently and havent been touched in this interview? Do you feel the need to raise awareness about something that you think is worth mentioning?

I’m on a plane from Washington State to Florida right now as I answer these questions. While writing this I was simultaneously watching the movie 42 based on the life of Jackie Robinson, the first African American professional baseball player in the United States. Coincidentally, I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about institutionalized racism and the organization for which I work has been doing a lot of work around inclusion, equity and figuring out what we can do in a primarily white “industry” to make it more accessible to others.

Anyway, watching that movie that was based in the late 1940s and was rife with racial injustice and disgusting behavior. I’m thinking about our current political, social and racial climate in the United States. In 2018, is there much difference between now and 1948? I’ll likely have some song in the future addressing this and similar issues.

Mike: There is a lot of injustice and oppression all over the world right now. I am glad it seems more people are aware and ideologically opposing these disgusting happenings. However, I wish more people would be active and fight against what they supposedly denounce.

Whether it be starting something themselves, joining with others or supporting from afar with donations. Maybe people don’t know what to do? To me all you have to do is ask and you can find others willing to steer you in the right direction.

Right now one of my friends Tim is growing his Vital Action Project in Central America. It’s a very all encompassing project. In that they help save endangered sea turtles, turn poachers into activists, cleans rivers and beaches of plastics and micro plastics, and helps feed people with food sharing. Additionally, they just established the beginning of a nature preserve! And plan to expand.

It’s an amazing work and is being done on very little funds. Basically, if you don’t want to start something like that yourself, then go buy a plane ticket and go help them. And if you don’t want to do that. Then send them money. Or do a fundraiser to help raise awareness and funds. in the end. We can all do more. And we should.

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