Gaia Bleeds have been making enormous waves through the UK hardcore scene with their demo which dropped earlier this month. Their relentless metalcore makes no attempt to welcome the listener, instead it punishes with bloody imagery, welcoming vegans into their ranks and forcing others to question their lifestyle.
As outspoken vegans they are part of a rare breed; however they’re holding their own in a scene that’s more than content with ignoring the plight of animals. I caught up with lead guitarist Conor about Gaia Bleeds’ swift rise and the ideals behind the band.
Chris: Straight off the bat, congratulations on releasing such a fantastic demo and getting such an enthusiastic response.
Conor: Thanks for that. It’s been far, far better than we expected when we started writing it. The reception has been insane; we thought it would just be the four of us and only our friends would’ve cared about it. It’s been very overwhelming. We got a message from Rat (Statement/Unborn) saying that he enjoyed the demo, for me that was incredible because his bands have been such a big influence for me to go vegan.
Chris: What motivated four vegan straight edge guys to start the band? Is it just you guys wanting to play hardcore to your local scene or is there a wider motivation to the band’s formation?
Conor: Well, Sam from Newcastle just wanted to get the band together, we got a couple more guys together to form a vegan straight edge band and play a couple tunes. Make some music people can mosh to. There’s no “Let’s make this band huge” mentality, we’re just here to play.
Chris: One thing I noticed throughout the demo was the lyricism; it’s provocative and uses a lot of violent imagery. What’s the reason behind that?
Conor: Sam, who wrote the lyrics, was saying that he didn’t want to hold back; he wanted to be provocative, as you say, he wanted people to feel uneasy, that they were feeling attacked for their choices. It’s a very no-prisoners approach to song writing.
Chris: The track ‘Stuck’ seems to really aim to make people uncomfortable with lines such as “You are not one of us”, it kind of goes against that whole stereotype of Hardcore Unity; I feel like you’re stating that you have a problem even with people who support your music.
Conor: Actually the intention behind that song is that it’s against vegetarianism as a concept. Vegetarianism, in and of itself, is half-hearted. If it’s a stepping stone to veganism that’s a different matter, but you’re still buying in to the dairy industry, you’re still buying into the meat industry.
I suppose the song could be seen as letting people know they’re not welcome, but primarily it’s about vegetarianism.
Chris: What I quite like is the idea of someone being at your shows and singing along to your songs, or moshing, and the very song they’re singing to is calling them out. Like you said, Sam’s not holding back in his lyricism, and I really respect that.
Conor: Well, one example is watching xRepentancex (vegan straight edge from Nottingham) play at Blunt Fest earlier on in March and being one of roughly ten vegans in the room, not counting the band, and it’s very weird watching all these people sing back to all these songs about killing animals, and how cruel the meat and dairy industries are, and then seeing them eat a hamburger and a milkshake. We wanted people to feel as if they had to go vegan. There’s no other option.
Chris: On that note, would you have a problem with people who aren’t vegan actively supporting your band, or your merchandise; or do you welcome them as spreading the message, and bringing them a bit closer to veganism.
Conor: For me, personally, I have no problem with it with people buying merchandise et cetera, it means we can continue releasing music off the back of them purchasing it; plus they’re spreading the message to others even if they themselves are yet to go vegan. That is a good thing.
Chris: Fantastic, so I won’t have to feel bad if I buy one of your shirts then.
Conor: No, I have no problem with that.
Chris: Why do you think that so many people aren’t vegan, or are completely unsupportive of veganism’s ideals?
Conor: I think it comes down to stereotypes, a lot of people still think if you’re vegan you’re a skinny guy with no energy to do anything apart from whine about being a vegan. Others think it’s incredibly difficult being a vegan. I think that’s a big factor for a lot of people in choosing not to go vegan, they think it’s not for them because they think it’s a struggle, not realising that you can go to any supermarket and buy ingredients for a full vegan meal for very little, cheaper than meat.
Chris: What kind of advice would you give to someone who is looking to go vegan, or who isn’t sure with where to start in changing their diet?
Conor: Well, if anyone has heard our music and is looking to start going vegan you’re more than welcome to email the band, or message any of us or the band’s page, and we will give you our knowledge and other people’s knowledge to help you go vegan. We’re more than happy to help people. We’re also looking to pass out recipes and leaflets to hand out at shows.
Chris: How important is straight edge for the band’s message, and the band’s ideals; is it just that you all happen to be straight edge, or will it play more of a part as the band continues?
Conor: As it continues and the new songs get written we will continue on this straight edge theme; the demo is more focused on veganism, but straight edge is a big part of our lives and a big part of the band.
Chris: What’s next for the band then, what’s the next move?
Conor: We’ve got tapes and T-shirts coming out on Rage in Southampton, and a few shows coming up – the last No Rest show, amongst others. A few songs will hopefully be up by the end of the year as a promo for our LP that will come out next year.
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