How Do You Remember 100 Songs in 4 Days? For Pop-Punk Band Alkaline Trio, the Answer is Veganism

Matt Skiba says eschewing dairy helps with his voice and his on-stage energy level.

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Perhaps you know singer/guitarist Matt Skiba as one-third of pop/punk/indie band Alkaline Trio. Or, maybe you know him as the most recent addition to pop-punk group blink-182 or his work as a solo artist, with his backing band The Sekrets, as singer of Heavens, and with theHELL. What you might not know, however, is that Skiba is an unabashed vegan who says he will “(expletive) up some mushroom gravy.” In 2014, Alkaline Trio played a four-night hometown residency in Chicago in which the band played all eight of its studio albums (two per show). These shows were recorded and released last month as an eight-LP vinyl box set (and a set of four Blu-rays) titled Past Live. Knowing he had to play approximately 100 songs, we decided to ask Skiba how being vegan helped him maintain his energy throughout these intense performances. Here are his answers.

VegNews: When did you go vegan?
Matt Skiba:
I have been eating vegan for the past 20 years or so. I don’t remember the exact date, but as most people do, I was vegetarian first and then slowly began eating vegan.

VN: For the Past Live shows, you played a lot of songs in a short amount of time. How did you remember all that stuff? Were there any songs or lyrics that you spaced out on either during practice or the shows?
I had a teleprompter for those shows and was using one with blink-182 as well. Playing in two bands full-time is work enough on the memory, but playing every album is insane, and there was no way I was going to remember all of those songs without a teleprompter at practices and at some of the shows.

VN: Does being vegan have a positive impact on your live performance?
Yes. Dairy is especially bad for your voice and your energy. I’m not sure about meat, but I haven’t eaten it in so long I couldn’t tell you. I know that when friends eat a big steak dinner or something before a show they just want to lie down. That can’t be good for a person. I feel better knowing nothing died screaming so that I could eat.

VN: Have you addressed veganism or animal-rights in any of your songs?
I have referenced meat farming in songs and dead animals, but more as a metaphor. I’m sure being a herbivore has factored in the use of such metaphors.

VN: I read that blink-182 had Mary Mattern on tour. What were some of your favorites of hers?
Mary was amazing to be on tour with. She is an amazing chef and a great friend. Everything that that woman made was amazing, so I can’t really pick a favorite. It was always delicious.

VN: What cities do you look forward to visiting on tour in terms of vegan food? What are some of your favorite restaurants/dishes and what restaurants haven’t you experienced but want to try?
New York City and San Francisco are the big ones, and coming home to LA. Chicago has some great restaurants as well. So does Minneapolis. The Herbivorous Butcher in Minnesota, Golden Era Vegetarian in San Francisco, Millennium for fine dining, The Chicago Diner, Candle 79 in New York City, and, of course, Crossroads in Los Angeles.

VN: In terms of the food that fans bring you on tour, which has more vegan fans—Alkaline Trio, Heavens, The Hell, your solo work, or blink-182?
All of them. Most of our fans know I don’t eat meat or dairy, so it’s almost always vegan and always very thoughtful of them.

VN: You opened two shows for the reunited Misfits. Did you eat vegan food with Doyle (Misfits guitarist who is rumored to be vegan)? If so, did his devilock get in the way?
I didn’t eat with Doyle, but I saw him without his makeup on, and I assume that’s probably how he eats. His devilock was tied back.

VN: If you could put together an all-vegan band, who would you enlist (you can be in the band or just be a fan)?
Hunter from AFI, and I would call it The Sekrets.

Ryan Ritchie is the features editor who first saw Alkaline Trio in 1999 with 20 other people.

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