Daniel of DIE YOUNG discusses the comeback of the year!

I couldn’t be happier to introduce you my in-depth interview with Daniel Albaugh, a very inspiring man and the mastermind behind one of my favorite hardcore punks ever, DIE...

I couldn’t be happier to introduce you my in-depth interview with Daniel Albaugh, a very inspiring man and the mastermind behind one of my favorite hardcore punks ever, DIE YOUNG! They have recently announced a fundraising campaign to help them record and put out 2 new releases (!) and will enter the studio in late November! Daniel agreed to take some time to answer some questions about the reasons behind the reunion, their past and challenges for the future.

DIE YOUNG will release a split with the legendary Brazilian hardcore band CONFRONTO (Headfirst! Records) and their own EP “Chosen Path”, to be released via the same label. Vegan Records will be handling a South American version of the split, as well as a collection CD version containing Chosen Path, the split, and bonus material. Ugly and Proud Records will be releasing a uniquely packaged vinyl version of the new material for the European edition.  They have also joined the ranks of State of Mind Touring, who will now be handling North American booking for the band.

They commented:

We’re very excited to play our comeback show in Houston on December 7th alongside the best in Texas Hardcore. This is not a reunion show. There will be more shows to come, though shows will not be as frequent as in our full-time touring days. We exhausted ourselves back then, and we’re older dudes with more responsibilities now, but we are going to play shows when we are able. We miss the studio, and we miss the stage.

Wanna learn A LOT more? Dive into the interview below!

Hey Daniel! First of all, thank you so much for taking some time with me. I’m of course beyond excited about seeing one of my favorite punk bands reunited! Oh.. almost reunited, right? How do YOU feel about comeback of your finest brand? :)

DIE YOUNG getting back together is actually something I have tried to avoid for quite some time. I just didn’t want us to be “one of those bands” who breaks up and gets back together, breaks up, gets back together, and so on. Plus, I am a bit older and more practical about my life now. I didn’t think I’d necessarily have such an inclination to play DIE YOUNG’s songs again. We were such an angry band. But the world is what it is, and I still have to try to make sense of it and myself, so here we are–more than 5 years after DIE YOUNG’s last recording–and these new songs we have just came out of me. No matter what band I have played in since DIE YOUNG originally broke up, I am consistently asked about DIE YOUNG or told that people miss DIE YOUNG… which is flattering and I have certainly taken it to heart after some time. Eventually, I just said to myself “fuck it, let’s do DIE YOUNG again.” It won’t be the same tour-machine as last time, but it will be fun, but I am confident we will bring all the energy and emotion to the stage that we used to–and then some. As much as I love playing guitar in WILL TO LIVE and BAND OF MERCY, I am really looking forward to being able to connect with the crowd more directly–like I used to–without anything between us. And I really can’t wait to share this new material with everyone. I wouldn’t bring the band back unless I felt we were going to pick up where we left off and take things to the next level.

Mmm, sounds promising. So what caused the break-up back in 2009? You had listed some “goals” needed to achieve with DIE YOUNG to feel fulfilled: „To keep traveling and seeing the world. To keep eating a lot of awesome vegan food everywhere we go. To hopefully maintain some meaningful relationships with the kids we meet along the way. To keep learning about the world, other people, and other cultures. And certainly, to keep conveying what hardcore and punk music means to us, and to hopefully make some positive impact in the world and in this community along the way.”

Does this mean you actually made it, felt perfectly accomplished, or quite the opposite, gave up?

I’d say we achieved 90% of what we wanted to achieve. We wanted to play British Columbia again, but we kept getting arrested and banned from the country the last two times we tried to play Western Canada. We were supposed to play Brazil and Argentina a few months before our break up, but the promoter dropped the shows a month beforehand because of a HATEBREED tour around the same time that he thought would hurt the draw for our shows. We wanted to go back and play East Asia too, but it is really hard to make the money back that we’d have to invest to pull off a tour like that, even if there are 500 or more kids at your shows, so we just weren’t financially in a position to make that tour happen. Then Jeff (our guitarist) and Kayhan (bassist) decided they needed to go back to school, so we just called it a day when we felt like we had no options left. In a lot of ways we were all burned out. I was burned out on lineup changes, and after having Jeff and Kayhan in the band for a solid couple years, I didn’t want to go through the process of regrouping without them. After 7 years of DIE YOUNG, I was just so sick of teaching new members the songs and having to relearn what I’ve always known how to play myself. But you know, looking back on the big picture, we accomplished way more than I ever thought we would when I was just a 19 year kid with a vision of starting the band. This time around, we will not be so lofty in our goals. We just want to play and have fun. Sometimes we were on such a mission to reach people with a message and go against the grain that we lost sight on having fun–especially when we quit our jobs and began depending on the band for money. That sucked a lot of fun out of the band too, after some time. It’s not going to be like that this time around.

There has been some changes to the lineup before. What lineup are you bringing for this new era?

Yeh…I don’t want to have lineup changes this time. When I started BAND OF MERCY with some of the DIE YOUNG guys I told them the emphasis would be on playing with a consistent lineup whenever we are all available, as opposed to the DIE YOUNG method of replacing whoever needs to be replaced to keep touring. Quality over quantity. So this time around we plan to keep the lineup as consistent as possible and only play when everyone is able. Eric Gibson, who was our original bassist who played on all the early recordings through Survival Instinct, is rejoining us on bass. Jeff Williams from Alabama, who was our touring guitarist for the last 3 years of the band, is going to be doing rhythm guitar. Chris a.k.a “Hasp” Gentile is going to play lead guitar. He did all the guitar solos and bass tracks on the Loss EP, and toured with us for years on either bass or guitar for about 5 years on and off. On drums, we’re bringing a new dude to the lineup: our buddy Wendel from Mexico. Wendel used to play drums in ALGUNA VEZ FUI CIEGO (a prominent vegan metalcore band in Mexico scene years ago) and also a great political hardcore band called LIBÉRATE. He’s a drumming machine, and he’s been begging me to play in a DIE YOUNG lineup for probably 5 years now, so I caved in, and now he’s in the band. 

Great! Can’t wait to see this new setup live in action :)

Were you tempted to change the name and come back with a new label? Especially while having in mind all that legal issues concerning “DIE YOUNG”?

Like I said earlier, I tried to avoid getting DIE YOUNG back together. I was originally thinking of starting a new band which played a similar style to DIE YOUNG that could sometimes cover DIE YOUNG songs in the live shows. The band was going to be called CHOSEN PATH, but now that is going to be the name of the new DIE YOUNG 7-inch coming out next year. I’ve been living in Philadelphia over the past year, and I was seeking to reform BAND OF MERCY out here some east coast vegans, or possibly do this DIE YOUNG-esque type band, but it just hasn’t worked out to find anyone reliable for either project up here. My girlfriend and I are moving back to Texas soon, and that basically prompted me to ask all the guys what they thought about doing DIE YOUNG again. They were all really excited about the idea, so now the wheels are in motion. I haven’t been concerned about legal issues concerning our name because the other DIE YOUNG (who owns the trademark to the name) is long broken up. I haven’t heard from any of those guys in 5 or more years. We will continue to put the “TX” mark on all our merch and records just in case. That was the written agreement we came up with in 2006. As long as we stick to that we should not have any problems.

Cool. Speaking of the names, do you have all the new songs names already?

Yes. All of them.

Are all of them brand new? Or did you have a bunch of them written already, hidden in your secret stash?

There will be 7 brand new tracks total, plus 2 oldies redone for the CONFRONTO split, and 1 oldie redone as a bonus track for the European version on our solo 7-inch. There are a few older recordings of ours that I have wanted to do properly for some time, because I don’t think we got them right the first time. 

So what’s the plan actually? You’ve launched a record fundraiser shirt campaign, teased not one, but two different releases for November this year and asked for some help. How did you come up with the idea to play it that way and what’s the status? Are we talkin 2 EPs then?

The first idea was to do a split with CONFRONTO from Brazil. They have some new songs in English and they want to do an american release for them, so their singer, Felipe, asked me if I could help to arrange that. I said “you know man, I have some Die Young songs I’ve been working on, so how about we do a DIE YOUNG and CONFRONTO split?” He was shocked at the suggestion, but into the idea immediately. John from Headfirst! Records was into the idea immediately too. So once we figured out that was going to happen, I was left with the issue of still having more than enough songs for another release. Since Headfirst! was down, we just figured we’ll just do our own EP too. Being that we have not been an active band in over 4 years, we realized we need some help getting things going again, because running a band can be pretty expensive. I never thought about making a comeback without new material. New material is the reason for the comeback. When we broke up in 2009 I was just tapped out on writing this style of hardcore and touring the kind of circuits we did. I was exhausted and needed distance from it. Over time, in the last couple years, the inspiration has gradually come back to me, song by song, and I am really proud of the writing. It just feels natural and effortless–and fun–like it needs to be. And fortunately there are kind people out there who enjoy what we bring to the table enough to buy a limited edition shirt to help us out. So far the fundraiser has been going well. Thank you to everyone who has picked up a shirt! As of now the plan is for Headfirst! Records to release both records–the split with CONFRONTO and our own solo 7-inch–in February 2014. Vegan Records, based in Argentina, will handle a CD version and South American release for the vinyl, and Ugly & Proud Records will handle the European vinyl release. We’re very excited to have everyone on board with us to do these releases, because everyone involved has been a long time fan of DIE YOUNG.

Wow! You’ve just knocked me out, Daniel. Considering my good memories from your Warsaw, Poland show with CONFRONTO, this makes the comeback even more exciting!

Yeh, we had a great time with CONFRONTO on that 2008 European tour, and we have kept in touch with all those guys ever since. It’s great to be doing a project with such good friends, whom also have a band that we are fans of.

By the way, it reminded me of an awesome book attached to The Message 12” and Loss 7” I got from you back then. It served a perfect merch bonus actually. I’m looking for it right know as I must have lost it somewhere :( Tell me about the tiny black magazine and your ideas to enhance the upcoming releases. Are there any? You’ve been sharing some crazy stories from the road. Aren’t you tempted to collect them and publish them all in one book?

All I can say is that the booklets will be very candid and done with an artistic vision, as you may have come to expect from DIE YOUNG, but nothing has manifested at this point. I am going to work with all the labels involved on each individual layout, and that’s not something we’ve gotten to yet. We just announced the releases this week, and it will still be about 4 or 5 months until the releases come out, so we have some time to put some thought and creativity into the packaging. It will be cool, I promise!

My mom has told me she wants me to write a book about all of my experiences haha. There are some weird, hilarious tales for sure. But I don’t know, I have certainly shared stories from the road in my old zine, The Message. I don’t know about a book though…

Ha! Of course! It was the zine… sorry :) It was consumed right after the show and I’m really turning my apartment upside down to find it. How do you recall it? Aren’t you tempted to resurrect it?

A zine is a lot of work, and I doubt I have time for it, even as much as I would like to do it. I only did 2 issues of The Message back in the day, but each issue took me months to get together. I won’t say I won’t do another zine, but at this moment in my life it doesn’t fit into the equation.

How many friends do you see reading zines these days? Does reading printed zines and books versus online content and blogs affect the quality of our lives and experiencing things?

Most of my older friends in hardcore still find value in zines. It seems to be a generational kind of thing at this point. When I see a zine on table at a show I am at least probably going to look at it and browse through it real quick. Personally, I am more inclined to read a print zine than to sit and read something in PDF format in front of a computer. Obviously it’s not realistic to be able to avoid computers all the time, or downplay their value in our society at this point, but it’s really nice to take a book or zine, sit down somewhere, and read. I think there is a quality to that which you can’t experience in front of a computer all the time. It’s the same reason why I have never gotten into the age of digital releases. So many kids have entire band catalogs on their iPods and they may even say this band or that band is their favorite, but to be able to sit down and hold a booklet with artwork and lyrics, and to take in the full experience of a release is something that cannot be replaced. If you can’t do that with your favorite releases you are missing out on important dimensions of them. To me, there is power in the art and the printed word that makes the experience of music and literature more full and enriching. 

How do you like the idea of crowdfunding? Weren’t you able to do it the good old DIY way? Oh, and what’s the plan to repay people for their help? :)

I really didn’t feel right about doing a Kickstarter-type campaign for these projects. I considered it, but it’s just not DIE YOUNG. I considered doing a TeeSpring campaign, but it really ends up costing too much. We save more money shipping you all the shirts ourselves, and I think everyone would more greatly appreciate getting the items directly from us anyhow. I decided to do a limited shirt to get people aware that we are reactivating the band, in hopes that some people will anticipate what we’re going to deliver. And so far that has been the case. I think I made the right decision. This way, everyone who participates gets something up front for their contribution, and they still get to be involved in the process of helping us make these records happen. So far so good. Again, thank you to everyone who has contributed and picked up a shirt.

Shall we expect a free streaming on bandcamp? :) How do you feel about the direction music scenes are heading? The whole ‘industry’ has been redesigned, everything’s available online for free. It’s a hard-knock life for an artist, isn’t it?

Being that these releases are going to be EPs, I don’t know if we will stream the entire releases right away. Maybe we will for a limited preview. It’s really up to the labels we’re working with, too. You will definitely be able to check a new song or two out by early December. Yeh, it is hard to sell music these days. Most labels don’t pay for recording anymore–either because they don’t have the money for it, or they know they won’t make their investment back on the music alone. Most record labels have evolved into merchandising businesses, because that’s the only way they can survive. The last time a label paid for our recording was when we were on Immigrant Sun and Eulogy Recordings, so it’s been since 2006 since we had help paying for studio time. And that’s part of why we are selling a limited t-shirt to raise funds for recording instead of playing shows first. Yes, it’s a very hard knock life, but we do this because we are compelled to out of obsession and love for music. As they say: when there’s a will, there’s a way. We will put out this music one way or another. We’re very grateful for everyone’s interest and support (especially the financial support) for our return to the studio.

To the studio, period, or are we talking massive touring, as well? Should I start ironing my DIE YOUNG tee in preparation for a gig in Warsaw?

Karol, would you really be that guy? The one who wears the DIE YOUNG shirt to the DIE YOUNG show? haha.

Haha, you got me! ;)

I can’t specifically say what our show schedule will be like, but we are going to do what we can when we can. We do intend to play Europe again, and Latin America. Hopefully Asia too. Australia would be nice. We never did it before. As to how often we can tour domestically or internationally, I can’t quite say. Maybe a couple short excursions a year. But I am certain there is no way we will ever tour like we used to, which was most of each year. The touring lifestyle is incompatible to me eating well, lifting weights, and sleeping in the same bed as my girlfriend, so we are going to very selective about the tours and shows we play. I’m 30 now, and as much as I love performing, I do have different priorities in the big picture of my life now. I think everyone who is the lineup now can relate to that.

How do you recall all those past European treks, or your first Asian tour back in 2006? Is it still fresh in your mind?

There are certainly memories that stick out, but it’s been 7 and a half years since we played Asia. I realize it was exactly 4 years ago this week that DIE YOUNG flew home from our last European tour. I remember a lot of things, and fortunately plenty are documented in photos or are written down. I am really glad we toured so much and saw so much of the world, but to be honest, I don’t miss touring at this point in my life. If I ever go on tour again, and I am sure I will, I don’t want it to be more than two weeks haha.

Do you remember your appearance at Belgium’s Ieperfest 2009?

Some people would give a lot to see you guys reunited at Fluff Fest. What’s your association with punk festivals? Is it a completely different experience than a regular show?

I do remember that set at Ieper. It was okay… Ieper was a well-done production, and the food was great. Listen, if you know the right people regarding Fluff Fest, put them in touch with me. We’d definitely be interested in making that happen. Festivals can be a bit exhausting, but I will try almost anything once.

Considering local hardcore scenes, what are some of the major differences between Asia, Europe and both Americas? Is there a fine line distinguishing the differences between certain places?

The best fans, of all music, ever, are in Latin America. If go play for them, they will go nuts and love you. They will come back to see you time and time again and be grateful that you keep coming back. However, everything happens late and is usually disorganized in those parts of the world, even if the best person in the world is promoting your show. Latin people are late. It is in their genes. One time a fest we were supposed to play in Colombia started so late it caused a riot. Even in the best case scenarios, a promoter may advertise a show to start at 7pm, but people show up, bands included, around 10 or 11pm…if you are lucky. We play at 2am. Show ends at 3am. I don’t get it. My American mind can’t rationalize it, and I find it agitating to some degree haha.

Asia, when we went was a varied experience, and I wouldn’t be surprised if things have changed since we went, because some scenes, Thailand and Hong Kong especially, were very young and new to modern hardcore. The responses we received there were just so positive and energetic. Scenes like Singapore and Malaysia were more well-established and DIY as fuck. Those kids deal with a lot of government repression, and I sensed a lot more political consciousness among them than in most places DIE YOUNG played over the years. I still remember the kids who picked us at the Singapore airport: “Welcome to the police state of Southeast Asia!” Haha. An older scene like Japan is full of fans who may love your band, but quite honestly, they may very well just stand there and look at you blankly while you play, and it is confusing.

I’d say the overall European scene is most like the United States. Europe gets a lot of tours and sees a lot of bands, all the time. In some ways I think it detracts from people getting excited about shows there, since they may be so frequent. But at the same time, I think Europe has very loyal music fans, and I always appreciated how organized the shows were and how the hospitality and food were great. There’s a lot of social and political tension in the European scene because of all the racial tension in the European Union these days, so it is interesting to see what it’s like in Russia, or Germany, where there is a strong Antifa movement. Even kids in bands playing a style like MADBALL or HATEBREED may be very politically conscious, whereas that would not be as common in America. I find that interesting.

You’ve been enthused about a lot of geographical “discoveries” in your interviews. Volcanos, breathtaking landscapes, incredible views… Do you miss that? Touring-wise, did you always plan to spend as much time sightseeing as possible? Is it something you missed the most about touring?

I’m just grateful for all that stuff, but I have so many other personal goals in my life now regarding my relationship and the need to make a decent living that I don’t really daydream about far off places the way I used to. DIE YOUNG’s glory days were our big chance to explore the world–to meet so many interesting people and visit places that were exotic to us. We actually did plan tours so we could spend time among various landscapes. I remember on one tour we did more than 10 shows in California just so we could see seals, and redwood trees, and look for bears. Shit like that. We were nuts. Sometimes we found small towns to play in the middle of nowhere just because we thought kids would be excited for a show, and there may have been a waterfall worth hiking to nearby. I recall playing Lake Havasu City, Arizona three separate times even though the scene there was completely useless just because we wanted to go cliff jumping into the lake. Those were some great cliffs. I almost killed myself there one time jumping off a 90 foot cliff…My ass was sore and bruised for a week. These days, though, I think I would just prefer to fly somewhere and play a good show, catch up with some old friends, have some good meals, go home quick, and save the sightseeing for my lady and I at a different time. I’ve seen the world with smelly dudes enough times.

Haha. What are some of the most terrifying places you’ve ever been? Is Fairbanks, Alaska still at the top of the list? ;) How did you travel there?

Honestly, the most downtrodden and unsettling place I’ve ever been in still Detroit. Place looks like a warzone. Crackheads everywhere jumping out of houses with windows boarded up that look like they’ve been abandoned for 20 years. Fairbanks was a throwback to the early 90s, but in a bad way. We flew into Anchorage and rented a car to drive the 6 hours up into Central Alaska. The beautiful drive made it worth it. Thunder Bay, Ontario is also a pretty fucked up place similar to Fairbanks in that it is a small town full of people on meth who are way behind the times.

The last stop on your tour was Houston. The October 9th, 2009 gig featured 7 GENERATIONS, FOLSOM, DEAD CITY, THE GOLDEN AGE, MAMMOTH GRINDER, LEGION, and THE SEPARATION on the bill. Was it your call to shape it that way? Considering the current times and friends/bands you’re tight with now, what would be the line-up if you were about to play your farewell show next month?

Yep, I booked that lineup. Those bands all played a significant part in our time as DIE YOUNG. All are great friends who helped us out over the years, so it was necessary for all of them to be there with us. If we had to do the show over again these days I would certainly ask the same bands, plus RUN WITH THE HUNTED and ANCHOR.

When did you have a chance to become friends with the Swedes?

The first time was in Spring 2008. It was DIE YOUNG’s first European tour and we did 3 shows with them in Norway and Sweden. I got to travel with them in the states and Mexico when I booked their tour here with RUN WITH THE HUNTED in Summer 2009. We’ve kept in touch over the years. Claes and I like to keep each other up to date on our weightlifting feats from time to time.

Cool :) How do you like his new band?

I think the new band is really well done. I am partial to ANCHOR, but I will support anything any of those guys do.

Speaking of other bands, which side-projects remain active?

I am still writing for BAND OF MERCY, but I have been living in Philadelphia over the last year, and it has put things on hold. When I move back to Texas we will be able to start doing some BAND OF MERCY projects again, too. I still play guitar in WILL TO LIVE as well. WILL TO LIVE just put out a full-length earlier this year, and then our vocalist got married and had a baby, so we’ve put that band on hold for a minute, too. WILL TO LIVE has never been a consistently active band, so I assume we’ll have spurts of activity here or there when it is convenient for us in the years to come.

Back to the story of travelling the world with smelly dudes, it was one of the reasons why you left your job at PETA, right?

No, actually I don’t think the PETA stereotypes fairly apply to most employees at PETA. When I worked there my standard of living went up exponentially, and most of those people smell pretty damn good. A good respectable bunch of people, to be sure. They impacted my life in a very positive way. Honestly, when DIE YOUNG ended and I began touring for PETA I was on the road up to 10 months a year. The most DIE YOUNG ever did was slightly more than 8 months. So after 2 years, I was just exhausted of traveling and finally wanted to settle down to try to live a normal daily life.

Is there is still something you can do to support vegan philosophy in your everyday life? Is there still this need in you?

Of course. I see it as a calling in my life to promote the cause of animal rights and veganism. My fiancee currently works for The Humane League, a farm animal advocacy group based in Pennsylvania, and I volunteer a lot of time with them, either at events, transporting animals when we rescue them from labs or farms, or just graphic design if they need it. Before we moved out here, I was coordinating a lot of actions with Houston Animal Rights Team (HART) who works with a lot of national animal rights groups to protest the circus, vivisection, rodeos, and things of that cruel nature. Another ting I think is important is to lead by positive example. For a year a half in Houston, after I came home from working for PETA, I worked at Houston’s only all-vegan bakery (Sinfull Bakery), and I found it was a sort of outreach to promote veganism, because we were showing people in our community how good vegan foods and desserts are. For some people who loved our products it was enough to prove that they didn’t need to use eggs and milk in baking. Now I am a personal trainer in a prominent gym here in Philadelphia, and I though I don’t get on my vegan soapbox when I am training people, they are usually surprised and impressed when they find out I am vegan. I recommend they use vegan protein powders, eat more vegetables and things like tofu and tempeh. I tell them the negative effects of cholesterol in animal based foods, and all the saturated fat that comes along with it. Plus, my powerlifts are decent these days. My deadlift, squat, and bench press combined are well over 1,000 pounds. That’s some goddamn VEGAN POWER. I have found that showing people I can thrive and become stronger and healthier on a vegan diet is a powerful way to get people to warm up to the idea of not eating animals. Most people don’t want to contribute to animal suffering, but they are worried they are going to have to sacrifice things in their lives that are convenient or pleasurable. You can tear a person’s habits down, but if you don’t give them something new and exciting to replace the old ways with, they simply aren’t going to change. So I do my best to show them new and better ways that will benefit them–and everyone (animals included).

How do you feel about people who eat meat? Are you a hardliner?

I don’t think it is necessary in the slightest to eat animals or animal products these days. In fact, as we are seeing with the obesity heart disease crisis in America, eating animal products is probably the worst thing someone can do for their long-term health. Overall though, I am an opportunist. I have family members who eat meat. I have friends who eat meat. I don’t encourage them to do that, but I am not going to be doing anyone any favors if I sit around criticizing the people in my life all the time. Like I was saying before, I try to show them a better, more compassionate way to live. When people see the shape I am in and how much I actually enjoy eating the food I eat, they become curious and at least want to try it. They become more open to the possibility of eating vegan foods more often. In a statistical sense that does relieve animal suffering, and every step toward relieving animal suffering counts. It’s also about building culture. I have to be an example to teach people that that this is a safe, acceptable, and positive way to live. All of us in the animal rights movements have to do the same. People aren’t going to want to be more like us if we are negative, nasty, depressed, and sickly. So instead of cursing at my family at holiday dinners for eating turkey, I bring a Tofurky and other vegan dishes and show them how good it is. In every experience like that, I have made eating vegan options a fun part of getting everyone together. They may not eat that stuff all the time, but they become more comfortable with it.  That’s an example of culture-building, step by step. And don’t get me wrong, I get sick of boneheaded people who are afraid of new ways, or men who think eating vegan is something that only women and gay people do. I made an outlet for that kind of bullshit, and I call that outlet BAND OF MERCY. In BAND OF MERCY I have always aimed to poke fun at the boneheads out there, and make some humor out of the things vegans often think but can’t say in public haha.

;) So you don’t believe that not everyone can adopt the vegan diet? I mean, for medical reasons, all bodies and organisms are quite different, get infections differently, etc. There are so many different views on that subject. I guess that Susan Schneck would not say that there is only one solution to vegan diet dilemmas. Do you believe there’s only one side with good points to offer in that debate?

Everyone in the industrialized world ought to be gradually moving their society toward a predominantly plant-based diet. I realize most people cringe about the idea of going completely vegan, so it’s reasonable to push for agriculture that is more sustainable by lessening the demand of animal-based foods which cost vast amounts of land, water, and plant resources to produce, and to also promote lifestyles that are less toxic and carcinogenic by promoting diets that more rich in plant foods, and less rich in animal-based foods. Let me take a moment to say that I have never endorsed raw veganism. It strikes me as a miserable way to live. Of course we ought to all be eating whatever raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts often, but to not eat concentrated proteins like tofu, tempeh, or seitan (if you can handle gluten) as a vegan, simply do not work for me, and will not work for most people who want to feel full after their meals. I know that some vegan athletes make things work on a raw vegan diet, but for most people it is even more complicated and less satisfying than a vegan diet that includes cooked foods. And let me say this: I have more fun eating, and I eat a wider variety of foods now as a vegan than I did in my life before I was vegan. I am also healthier and stronger than I was as a meat-eater in my younger years, or as a vegetarian for years before going vegan. I understand your point that all bodies are different organisms, and some people may have adverse reactions to this or that, or some may have a harder time absorbing certain minerals than others, but when there is a will there is a way. To everyone reading this: If you want to go vegan for ethical or health reasons, you can do it, and if it is really important to you then you can make it work. Very likely, you can make it work better for you than your current diet is. If you need support, don’t hesitate to hit me up at daniel_truth@hotmail.com, and I will give you advice about whatever you are seeking. Whatever you do, don’t listen to this woman who wrote this stupid book saying that vegetarians don’t live longer, that vegetarianism isn’t more environmentally friendly, and that you NEED meat. You don’t. This Susan Schneck woman and Lierre Keith need to be tossed over the side of a cliff for giving people lame and invalid excuses to eat meat.

Daniel, I like how you are very open minded towards ideas and obviously do more than just preach or bitch about things. What do you do to keep your mind in shape? How did you get interested in world problems?

Honestly, the best thing for my mind these days is to take care of my body. I eat well. I work out regularly. I have goals for my workouts that keep me disciplined in my daily life. I also watch a lot of X-Files episodes with my girlfriend. I don’t read as much as I used to when I was in a van all the time, because my life seems more busy living in one place all the time, but I keep myself in tune with current events to some extent when I can. My favorites thoughts about keeping the mind strong are conveyed in Henry Rollins’ famous essay “The Iron.”

Are you concerned about politics? Are you disappointed in your local politics? Oh, and who’s the most hated Texas politician ever? ;) And, what’s more important, why?

Yes and no. I am concerned about policies home and abroad, but I also want to try to live a happy life. Politics and happiness are usually contrary to one another, it seems. I am thoroughly disappointed in American politics, and I think the politics in many other parts of the world are even more depressing and hopeless than American politics. So I try to keep up to date as much as I can stand. The politics of Texas are enraging enough as is. Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott…who the fuck elected these morons and keeps re-electing them? No one I know. Please, someone put them in the same car as the women mentioned above who are writing the anti-vegetarian books and send it off a cliff. That will be a beautiful moment for the world. As you can see, I am not always in favor of democracy…

Damn, maybe you do miss a few things about touring after all. Reading is definitely something that can intrinsic to all kinds of issues, but I guess your life has been about conscious awareness even before you became a diehard touring machine, right? :) Do you believe that being on the road, discovering new places and diversity made you less ignorant about the world?

Absolutely. The way we traveled, and the way we got to stay in people’s homes most of the times–as opposed to being in resorts or fancy hotels–really allowed me to get a true to life perspective of people’s daily lives in other parts of the world. It’s interesting staying in an apartment without a private bathroom in Malaysia, or staying in a family’s home somewhere in Mexico or Peru. I mean, even the standards of living in a wealthy country like Japan are eye-opening and shocking to someone like me, just because their living conditions are generally so crowded and cramped compared to life in Texas where land is relatively cheap and you can get a spacious apartment for a really reasonable price compared to other parts of the world. Through my travels, I’ve typically found that the people who live the most modestly, or perhaps people who are even the poorest are the ones who share the most, or are often the ones most excited to be hospitable to you. I definitely attempted to read and become aware of how things are outside of America before I was touring, but there is no substitute for the hands-on learning that comes with traveling. I have been lucky to travel so much, that’s for sure, and it has definitely opened my eyes to my luck and my privilege.

Touring means new culinary adventures! Cuisine-wise, was there something that actually threatened the hegemony of Houston’s tofu luc lac? ;)

I have been lucky to be a food tourist, too. I’ve got my favorite meals in every big city, but Tofu Luc Lac at Mo Mong in Houston is my home dish. When I am home I eat it at least once a week, sometimes twice. It’s mandatory.

Oooh, now you made me hungry! :)

Ok Daniel, a few more, I promise. Please don’t go yet :)

I am really impressed by your conscientiousness. I would do exactly the same thing when it comes to these listings of your shows for instance, haha. Are you pedantic?

You asking me that pretty much insinuates that I am, doesn’t it? Sure, I suppose I can be. So be it.

Haha, cool :) I know you’re into GASLIGHT ANTHEM. Do you follow Brian Fallon’s other projects like THE HORRIBLE CROWES?

Yeh, that HORRIBLE CROWES full length is a pretty solid record. I am of the opinion that Brian Fallon can pretty much do no wrong as far as songwriting goes.

Considering non-hardcore music, what other tunes have you discovered and currently been into?

Outside of hardcore, metal, and punk bands, I mainly listen to Chuck Ragan, MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND, and FEIST.

Alright, back to the punk roots and you major influences…. Have you attended one of CATHARSIS reunion shows? They played a couple of insane show here.

I caught CATHARSIS in Baltimore back in January. It was my first time seeing them, and it was great.

What made them such an inspirational band?

Honestly, I can’t listen to them on a regular basis anymore. It’s just too intense and apocalyptic feeling, and it’s not a mode I can bear to live in at this age of my life. I used to listen to them nearly every day in my early 20s and I think it made me lose my mind. They are that good of a band. I found CATHARSIS at a time in my life where I felt completely disillusioned with nearly everything around me, and it was just one of those things that everyone recognizes–when you find your new favorite band they somehow seem to put everything you are feeling into words and music. It’s magical and you feel connected to them even though you have no idea who they are. That’s how it was for me anyway. CATHARSIS definitely changed my life and helped me find a more interesting path for myself.

Seeing them sharing the stage with Greg Bennick and BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY was really something. Greg’s simply amazing. I feel like he can work with people and inspire them in so many ways. Do you know each other?

Yep. We’ve been keeping in touch for a long time. Greg is one of those truly wonderful people that many of us get to see one or two days a year, but it’s always something to look forward to when you get to see him and attempt to catch up. I think my mom has a crush on him because she thinks he is so interesting. Whenever he comes through Texas he and my family usually go out to eat. Greg Bennick is basically everyone’s best friend that we all don’t get to spend enough time with. Again, he is one of those people (also in one of my favorite bands) who you don’t have to know well to feel close to and inspired by. The world needs more people like him–open and compassionate.

How has your perception of hardcore punk scene changed since you came up with the idea of the name for DIE YOUNG?

When I started DIE YOUNG, I was 19. Now I am going on 31. To me, back then, the hardcore scene was my escape from the world of convention. It provided me opportunities as a young man that were worth postponing adulthood for. My whole identity was wrapped up in being a hardcore kid in a hardcore band doing hardcore things. In a sense, it was a sort of tunnel vision, or a distraction from the world of reality. Through the years, of course, just like we’ve all heard punk icons like Ian Mackaye and Ray Cappo talk about, I became very disillusioned with the scene–the people in it, the bands, the senseless violence, the nihilism, the herd mentalities, the direction of it all. While hardcore has introduced me to some of my greatest friends and some of the most upstanding and inspiring people in my life, it has also introduced to some of the lowest forms of life on earth, and in many ways has been a great disappointment. I eventually discovered that someone being into hardcore or straight edge or veganism doesn’t really make them any better a human being than typical working class people who stand in line and play by all the rules. Quite often these kids in the scene are more narcissistic and more intolerable to be around than the average person who doesn’t attempt to question much. But as I see it, any relationship built on passion (like my relationship with hardcore, and the relationship so many of us share with hardcore) will calm over time, and you are left with something that you can either take or leave. For me, the stupid kids and the stupid bands are irrelevant at this point. They are no longer the focus of my frustrations. I have become more introspective and more focused inwardly. Hardcore still provides me a great outlet for expression, and Hardcore still has a lot to offer to those seek a higher value from it. I believe I still have a worthwhile contribution to make to it, too.

Is there still a goal that you have to make with DIE YOUNG and within the scene in general?

I suppose it’s the same as it ever was: to express our aggression in an honest and open way. And if people don’t like it, well too bad. I’ve always said DIE YOUNG exists to tell the world the things we think it needs to hear, not what it wants to hear. That’s always been my approach about making punk music. I don’t really care what people think of me or my ideas. I know I’ve pissed off or annoyed plenty of people over the years, but making enemies always come hand in hand with making friends. I am just going to put it all out there, because that’s what I am compelled to do. I want to talk about suffering, not just our own suffering but the way it relates to others that we know and don’t know. Empathy is of great importance. I want to talk about introspection and self-growth. And I want to talk about making positives out of all the negatives around us.

Ok, Daniel. Thanks so much for your time!

Cheers from Warsaw and hopefully see you on the road!

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DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via www.idioteq.com@gmail.com

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