Portland vegan Straight Edge band xcauterizex have released their debut. The band was formed in 2017 and features Jack Potter of Outcast Agenda and Sea Shepherd.
We got a chance to talk to the guys from xcauterizex about their band, the Straight Edge, and what it means to be a "Vegan Straight Edge band". The full album stream follows our interview:
How did you guys come to form the band?
The band started through a desire for Colton (guitar) and Ben (drums) wanting to put together an explicitly political vegan straight edge band. This was an idea that was formulated late 2017 and really started gaining momentum around May or June of 2018 when Sean (bass) and Stevie (Guitar) got brought into the fold.
The momentum really picked up from there with writing and arranging these songs. It was probably around September when Stevie said a friend he knew may want to sing for the band. Jack came to one practice and it all clicked well. The rest is history.
I understand that vocalist Jack Potter is often at sea with Sea Shepherd. How do you guys work around that?
Our guitar player Colton is responsible for the bulk of the writing, with some input from Stevie. They spend a lot of time going over what they have heard and liked in recent songs, or classics that they’ve been listening to for years, drawing inspiration from all of the above and developing the sound in their own way. Colton then meets up with Ben to get the drums to work well with the tempo, mood, and vibe we’re going for. Sean and Stevie are then brought in to work on their parts, focusing on the second guitar accenting the lead guitar as well as incorporating octaves, guitar alternations, etc.
Getting the vocals worked in poses the biggest problem, as Jack is an officer onboard Sea Shepherd ships and is at sea nearly half of the year taking part in campaigns around the globe. Our work-around incorporates a lot of band practice recordings as well as Colton and Jack working through lyrics together through Skype, so music and vocals weave together seamlessly.
There were a lot of people that came together to help get your first record made. Did you want to shout any of them out?
We are really privileged to be surrounded by a lot of great people in the scene that made the recording of our demo go smoothly. We recorded with our good friend Gus Bowman, who is currently in Moonkisser but has played in Pulling Teeth and Desperate Measures, so he knew what we were looking for. We recorded the demo in our practice space with a 24 track Tascam recording console with standard microphones, super DIY.
We then had the ever-talented Jason McGhee do the mixing for us. We met him through our friends in Cutting Through and Safe and Sound, and his work with them really spoke for itself and sold us on working with him. He took what Gus did, polished it and really made it shine. Everlasting love to Jason for being the most communicative and invested mixer ever. Finally, we got it mastered by Stephan Hawkes, putting the cherry on top. We are all super grateful to be in a community with such talented people who support us and made the recording happen.
What does the Straight Edge mean to you? What impact has it had on your lives?
Everyone in the band followed their own unique path that led them to becoming [Straight Edge], whether it was experiencing loved ones go through substance abuse issues, friends using drugs to distract themselves from deeper problems in their lives, or simply finding party culture to be vapid and uninteresting. However, I do think there are a few reasons for being straight edge that bind us together.
First and foremost, we believe straight edge can be used as a means for a deeper understanding of our lives and the world around us. Too often drugs are used to distract from more structural problems we face daily, such as the profound feeling of emptiness experienced from living in a capitalist society that values profit over community. These personal revelations can then be applied to the world around us by examining how drugs affect our communities.
This leads to the second stance on straight edge that unites this band: straight edge as a weapon of resistance. There was a reason the Black Panthers published the pamphlet, “Capitalism Plus Dope Equals Genocide.” They understood the destructive power of drugs and the urgent need to take a principled stance against them, especially within the context of a capitalist society. Likewise, we believe a first step toward effective resistance against structures of oppression is to resist the power of drugs over ourselves and our communities. We hope the freedom gained by this act of refusal will facilitate stronger communities and more robust movements for liberation.
Punk rock and the Straight Edge have long been a way to resist the influence of mainstream consumption culture, but there is a push now for hardcore to be more about brotherhood and community. That politics is too divisive, especially with so many Straight Edge people in the military and dedicating their lives to upholding American hegemony. Where is xcauterize on that spectrum?
Our politics are just as important as, if not more important than, the music we play. It is one of the main things that brought us all together in the first place, and it is one of the main things that propel us forward. Foremost we are an anti-fascist, anti-capitalist band. Some of us have been, and continue to be, involved in confronting fascists here in the streets of Portland, organizing workers to fight for a better life, and disrupting Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations.
Further, this band believes in the tactic of direct action as the most efficient and empowering means of confronting injustice. Electing politicians and legislating has gotten us very little when it comes to animal, earth, and human liberation. Not only do these methods of change seem to convince most people that the nation-state is the only way to change the world, it also seems to convince most people that directly and immediately confronting injustice when and where it happens is useless and counterproductive.
To the contrary, we believe direct action to be the most impactful and empowering form of political action one can take, a form of action that reinforces the idea that we can fight back. Some groups and organizations we have worked and organized with are Sea Shepherd, Anarchist Black Cross, Earth First!, The Industrial Workers of the World, CopWatch, No New Animal Labs, and various anarchist projects.
What does it mean to be a "Vegan Straight Edge" band?
Any politics of liberation must also incorporate an analysis of the mechanized exploitation of non-human animals. Our politics would not be complete if this aspect wasn’t addressed. So much of the way we treat each other in society is reflected in the way we treat animals, whether it is the commodification of human and non-human bodies, or seeing life as simply a means to maximize profit.
It would be ethically inconsistent of us as a band to recognize one form of exploitation and not another, a form of exploitation that lies at the heart of our society. Veganism is the least we can do to further the goal of animal liberation. Over the years several of us have been involved in different groups, organizations, and campaigns that fight for animal liberation. Jack currently works for Sea Shepherd Global as an officer onboard the ships and Sean has worked with No New Animal Labs and the SHAC campaign.
What does the future hold for xcauterize?
Our 3 song demo is being put out in Europe through AnimalsxKingdom, based out of Berlin and here in the US, being released on Bitter Melody. Both versions of the demo should be available late February /early March. Currently, our plan is to play as many shows as possible when Jack is off the ship. We are trying to tour and get out there as much as our schedules permit when Jack is on dry land, which takes a little more planning as several of us have careers that make touring tricky. It’s important to us though, so we will find a way. Expect to at least see us up and down the west coast this summer with a possibility of a little something happening in Europe too. Keep a [lookout] for any updates on that in the months to come.
When Jack is at sea the band goes into writing mode, trying to crank out as many songs as possible so we can put out music consistently and have new songs for shows and future recordings. Hopefully we’ll be able to get some fresh recordings laid down in the spring as we hope to put out a 7 inch later on in the Summer, also being released on Bitter Melody. Since our demo dropped it has been very well received and for that we couldn’t be more stoked. For our 7-inch you can expect nothing short of an even heavier dose of unapologetic vegan straight edge metal. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on that.
The xcauterizex debut demo was recorded by Gus Bowman. Mixing is by Jason McGhee. Mastering is by Stephan Hawkes. The record is available now to download or stream through the xcauterizex Bandcamp page.