STAY VOCAL is not just a brand selling T-Shirts to customers. Together, we are a community. And collectively, we ARE the voice of a progressive, positive world. This interview series features members of our community who are passionately staying vocal about a social issue important to them.
I was a freshman in college at the University of Missouri in Columbia, and I heard that The Code, None More Black, Rise Against, Against Me! and Anti-Flag were playing a show together in St. Louis. So, I called the rest of the Bent Left dudes who were still going to high school in Rolla at the time, and we each drove the 2 hours from our respective homesteads to Mississippi Nights (formerly one of St Louis’ better venues to see bigger punk shows). Alex was there with a booth set up in the bands’ merch area; peddling his original line of “Vocal” brand reuse shirts. I loved the message and I needed a new shirt to replace the sweat-soaked one I was wearing, so I bought one and told Alex I would send him some of my band’s music.
A few months later, we recorded our first real full-length, and I sent a copy to Alex hoping he might like what we were doing enough to add us to his roster of musical co-promoters (which included Strike Anywhere – one of my favorite bands ever). He dug it enough to put us up on his website and send us some schwag to sell and pass out at shows, and we’ve continued collaborating ever since.
2. What’s the main social issue that you stay vocal about and how do you do it?
The other Bent Left guys and I have put a lot of social and political opinions out into the world through our music and community efforts, but the issue that I’m most personally passionate about is equality. Social stratification is the cause and effect of some really evil shit in this world, and it leaves hard working people like you and me sandwiched between two very powerful masses – megalomaniacal sociopaths and lazy assholes. I’m not a fan of either, so I try to level the playing field by encouraging people to cooperate more, compete less, take responsibility for themselves and get something worthwhile out of the human experience – primarily through leading by example and conversation, but also through music, art and even business.
3. Why is that issue passionate to you?
I’ve had a lot of really great influencers over the course of my life, including my family, friends and educators, and the need for human equality has always been a common thread in their teachings.
4. Do you have something specific that you’d like to share with the SV community: art, song, video, etc?
Here’s a video for a song that’s mostly about the need to find positivity in really fucked up situations, like being hopelessly caught in a conflict perpetuated by witches and war mongers.
5. So, as you may know, it takes 400 gallons of water just to grow the cotton for 1 new T-Shirt. If you had that much water to use, what would you do with it instead?
Fuck, man. I live in Carmel Valley, CA where it hasn’t rained like it’s supposed to in 5+ years, so 400 gallons sounds like a ton. I’d keep that shit in my own personal reservoir to use for drinking, cooking and brushing my teeth so that they don’t rot out from the ridiculous amounts of fluoride in our system. Then I’d take that same 400 gallons out of our gray water system and use it breathe life back into my very modest collection of fruit-bearing trees and garden vegetables. Then I’d eat the vegetables and hope the carrots cleaned my teeth well enough that I don’t have to waste any additional water on brushing them again.
6. Besides wearing our shirts, how do you reuse in your daily life?
I love and live with Ali Morris, the famed videographer from the first half of the Stay Vocal ReUse Documentary Tour, so I reuse and pre-use everything from dishwater to carryout containers to grocery bags and back again. I also live in a community with a lot of contractors and construction workers, and they have a common yard for reusable lumber that people can take from to build fences, decks, sheds, etc. It’s really awesome.
I’m a big fan of the George W. Bush design where he’s standing at a podium with an empty speech balloon floating above his head. I’ve had some really great fun with that one. My favorite GW quote of all time – “I enjoy a good bologna sandwich.”
8. If you could design a T-Shirt for STAY VOCAL, what would it have on it?
I would do something about the amount of water wasted on growing the cotton and tobacco for commercial cigarettes. I fucking hate that industry. It would probably be a set of lungs full of water with a short statement on the belly button and upper back that encourages people to roll their own smokes with sustainable materials.
9. Any last words?
The whole world has been fucking itself to the same pornography for centuries, and it always ends the same – our poor, addicted, ignorant faces get covered in the hideous and unspeakable, and we’re forced to repeat the process under the illusion that things will end differently until we’re too old to be worth anything to anyone, and then we die. Preserving our resources is the only way to free ourselves of that inevitable fate, so I say we do it. It’s way easier than dealing with the shame of endless public defamation and self-sabotage.