Music and the Animal Liberation Movement – by Josh Eldridge

I’m from a small town. The place I grew up had less than 1,000 people living in it and it was very uncommon to have a meal – any meal – that didn’t have meat in it. There was no vegetarians or vegans but there was music and that’s what I clung to. Music opened me up to a whole new world – one that none of my friends from school ever found. Music was an escape from being stuck in a soulless, non-descript town and it taught me about things that I would have never learned anywhere else.

Originally, music brought ideas like vegetarianism and straight edge into my life, things that I would never learn growing up in a southern town but that’s just when things started to get interesting. I stumbled across a band called EARTH CRISIS and I heard their seminal hardcore album ‘Gomorrah’s Season Ends’ and I was completely blown away. The concept of violent direct action was completely new to me; it was shocking and slightly insane but I also wasn’t opposed to the idea. One thing’s for sure, it stuck with me.

Over the next few years, I became vegetarian and then vegan while working alongside bands in the hardcore scene. I also began to learn more about the organizations and actions that inspired the bands that I listened to and worked with. I learned about why these bands were so passionate about their message and these issues and the more I heard, the more I agreed. It wasn’t humans’ place to imprison animals, experiment on them, kill them or eat them. The even more frustrating part of this whole thing was that it seemed as if no one even cared that these atrocities were being committed. In fact, some of the world’s largest corporations purchasing monkeys and testing their products on them; this is when I learned that you had to use force if you wanted to be heard. A meek voice falls on deaf ears but a fire that engulfs a business gets the message across loud and clear.

This newfound knowledge made me feel connected with the bands that I was already passionate about. The beliefs that they sung about were now beliefs that I shared – their songs took on a whole new meaning for me. In a culture where musicians play a large role in what the youth is discussing, it only makes sense that we use this art form (and others) to continue to expose people to the horrors that are committed every single day, while most people turn a blind eye to them. Music is something that finds people in a different state of mind. A heated conversation or debate cannot inspire inner reflections but a song can just as a letter writing campaign falls on deaf ears while a torched leather factory gains everyone’s attention.

If the animal liberation movement is to continue and grow, it is important that we continue to influence pop culture. We must continue to be heard through our actions and our art. Art is resistance and art inspires dialogue and change. Art will bring more people to our cause and, from there; the facts and message will convert them. I urge everyone to not only continue to promote our movement through music but to also act with the same ferocity that these songs promote. The only way to bring about real change in a numb society is by sparking emotions. Animal liberation, by any means necessary.

“Violence against violence, let the roundups begin, a firestorm to purify the band that society drowns in.” – Earth Crisis, ‘Firestorm’ (1993)