VegNews Music Week: Converge’s Jacob Bannon's Ethical Arsenal

The hardcore vocalist shares what’s spinning on his record player, his current creative projects, and the connection between vegetarianism and punk rock.

Jacob Bannon has brought fervent energy to stages around the world as the front man for Massachusetts-based hardcore punk band Converge and co-founder of seminal underground music label Deathwish. Bannon, who is known for his intense vocal sound and impassioned lyrical imagery, has incorporated a meat-free diet into his ethical arsenal as a personal protest against factory farming. We caught up with him to see what makes this cerebral singer tick.

VegNews: What inspired you to go veg?
Jacob Bannon: When I was younger, I naturally stayed away from meat products. Through punk rock and hardcore, I became educated on the subject and was compelled to read more about it. Over the years I’ve found that a vegetarian diet works for me, though I’m still exploring the moral and ethical implications of it. From what I’ve learned, human beings have flexible diets, and just like all other animals we eat what is convenient and necessary for sustenance. In 2013, we exist in a very strange place—our hunter/gatherer instincts are still firing, but technology has given birth to “advanced” populations, so we’ve created factory farming and other unnatural ways of harvesting food. Those are the moral and ethical dilemmas that have led me to the diet I have today. A vegetarian diet is the logical answer to the world I live in.

VN: What are the best vegan or vegetarian restaurants you’ve discovered while on tour?
JB: I don't really get a chance to search for restaurants while I travel. To be honest, I’m not as food-centric as many other vegetarians are.

VN: If you could only eat one food or meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
JB: Coffee.

VN: What projects are you currently working on?
JB: I am mixing the new Wear Your Wounds album, which is essentially a solo recording. Converge released an album a few months ago as well, and we are trying to finish a new Converge DVD.

VN: Converge has a loyal fan base. What’s the most inspiring, unexpected, or overwhelming thing a fan has done for you?
JB: Just that they show up and let our music into their lives is moving. People traveling to see our band has always impressed me.

VN: What artists or songs are on heavy rotation on your iPod or record player right now?
JB: The Isley Brothers, Ignition, and Integrity. I’ve been in the “I” section of my music library this morning.

VN: What do you see as the strongest connection between vegetarianism and the hardcore/punk rock movements?
JB: There is an element of social and ethical awareness in certain pockets of the punk and hardcore. The animal-rights movement is something that fits into that world well. It takes a person who is searching for something to drift into subcultures like those musical ones. I think minds like that are open to other ways of thinking.

VN: Who would you most like to see go vegan?
JB: Honestly, no one that doesn't want to pursue that choice on their own. I see dietary choices as intensely personal, and not something that I would project on any one. People should find their own path to vegetarianism or whatever diet ethically makes sense to them.

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