21 February 2011
by Sarah Hanneken
After graduating from UW-Milwaukee with a double major in history and
anthropology, Milwaukee native Andy Hurley rocked his way to the cover of
Rolling Stone as the drummer for the Grammy-nominated pop-punk group Fall
A vegan of 14 years, the tattooed redhead chatted it up with
his old college newspaper, discussing his favorite vegan eateries around
town as well as issues related to animal liberation and the government's
view of animal activists as 'terrorists.'
Growing up in the
Dairy State, living amongst brat-loving wearers of foam cheese wedges on
their heads while rooting for a football team called the Packers, you
weren't exactly surrounded by a culture that fosters veganism. Do you think
growing up in an environment so saturated with icons of animal agriculture
makes it more difficult for people to recognize animal exploitation for what
I suppose it depends on where in Wisconsin you live
and who you associate with. It's probably easier in larger cities since you
come into contact with more people of various lifestyles and beliefs than
you would living in rural areas. For me, being part of the punk-rock world
as a kid, I was automatically hard-wired to question everything anyway. I
was already into Rage Against the Machine and became aware of different
political issues through them, so animal liberation stuff really resonated
with me right away. But there's no doubt that in our society, and in this
state especially, the acceptability of animal exploitation is engrained in
us at an early age.
Right. But you yourself are a testament
to the fact that it's not impossible to break free of that engrained
Oh totally. It's like joining the civil rights
movement living in the South. There's a lot to overcome psychologically.
You went vegan at 16, meaning you had been following the diet
already in high school and throughout your time at UWM. What kinds of foods
did you live off of as a college student?
There's pasta of
course. And living on the Eastside I ate a lot of falafel from that place on
Oakland, Shahrazad [2847 N. Oakland Ave.], and lot of Thai food. It's a lot
easier now with places like Comet Caf' [1947 N. Farwell Ave.] and Beans &
Barley [1901 E. North Ave.], and other places with a lot of vegan options,
but back then that's pretty much what I lived off of, a lot of ethnic foods.
What are your favorite places to go eat when you're back home in
I'd say Beans & Barley is my favorite.
Their Balsamic Tofu Sandwich is great. Other than that, I'd say EE Sane
[1806 N. Farwell Ave.] has my favorite pad thai in the world, Thai Kitchen
[2851 N. Oakland Ave.] has the best yellow curry, and Beans & Barley has my
favorite vegan pancakes. I've heard the National [839 W. National Ave.] has
vegan French toast, although I haven't had it there yet. And I guess the
Palomino in Bay View [2491 S. Superior St.] has vegan mozzarella sticks.
It's awesome you can get all these different foods made vegan now.
In previous interviews you have described yourself as an
anarcho-primitivist. Could you explain what that is exactly?
Well, obviously I'm an anarchist ' that's the 'anarcho-' part ' and a
primitivist; I understand that humanity evolved over hundreds of thousands
of years as gatherer-hunters before civilization existed. Up until about
10,000 years ago, that's the way humans lived: in different forms, in
different places. There wasn't one all-encompassing society but different
bands of societies responded to their ecosystems and environment in
different ways depending on where they lived.
Does this philosophy at all play into your decision to follow a
My choice to be vegan is largely a response
to civilization. Even if you buy meat from locally raised, locally butchered
animals, it's not ethical. There is nothing ethical about the
commodification of life. You can't be an 'ethical butcher' because you're
still taking lives. In our society today, veganism is a civilized response
to a civilized problem.
Given your strong political (or
anti-political) beliefs, how do you feel about large animal organizations
like PETA and HSUS, which are basically just large institutions with little
governments in and of themselves?
I definitely think the
most important groups are groups like the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), but
I also think PETA and the Humane Society and larger, more bureaucratic
groups like that have definitely made a difference to relieve suffering.
They have celebrity members who care and who will get involved in different
campaigns they're promoting, which helps attract attention to the issue. So
I think that's important, but I don't think it's the ultimate answer. It is
only dealing with the symptoms of a greater problem, so it definitely
shouldn't end there.
There are people out there doing tons of work,
even going to jail for it. With the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act passing
in 2006, consider just how insane it is that people who are defending lives
in nonviolent ways are going to jail for life! These situations are
absolutely absurd; nonviolent activists are being labeled as terrorists.
The point is, I hope people don't think that the extent of their
responsibility is to donate money to PETA to help lessen the suffering in
factories making fucking chicken nuggets for KFC.
about the ALF. Whether they deserve it or not, their reputation has become
one of violence; they are seen as a militant, violent organization. What
would you say to that? Do you agree with those type of tactics?
It's sad that we live in a culture that's so materialistic that people
view property damage as violence. Essentially, destroying the tools and
technology of death and suffering ' that's what's targeted ' is considered
violence! There's never been human causalities from the ALF.
Yeah, that would kind of go against the idea of respecting life.
Exactly. And that's one of the highest mandates: harm to any sentient
being, humans included, is just not part of the tactics of the ALF. And yet
damage to laboratories that kill and torture is still somehow seen as
violent. People aren't willing to look past [media hype] and get a clear
understanding of the ALF's actual goals.