Propagandhi hits the road with Supporting Caste
- It's not too often that you get lectured by an aging thrash rocker about nutrition. In fact, it's not very common that touring punks worry about their eating habits at all, but Propagandhi's frontman, Chris Hannah, is one rather vocal exception.
For 12 years, Hannah has been a promoter of the vegan lifestyle, which he and his entire Winnipeg-based entourage have adopted -- not so much as a health-conscious measure, but as a cruelty-free gesture to society's framework of Big Bad Capitalist values.
"I've been a vegan since about 1994," he says, noting that the band has toured the world more than twice-over and has never found difficulty sticking to its dietary regime.
"The staple foods in most cultures are plant-based and then they add animal products on top of that, so I've never had trouble. If you're not the type of person that defaults to processed junk food, if you enjoy and eat fresh fruit and vegetables, they're everywhere on the planet. Outside of the extremes of Antarctica and the Arctic, there's something to eat."
This practical, direct advice comes from the man who encourages cannibalism of "organically-fed, free-range human corpses" on the band's website.
Formed in 1986, Propagandhi has become known for its often tongue-in-cheek damnation of the capitalist machine. The band hasn't toured all that frequently over the past 23 years, and this spring's release of Supporting Caste brings its grand total of full-length albums up to a humble five. But you still can't accuse the band of not keeping busy.
In 1997, Hannah and Propagandhi co-founder Jord Samolesky started G7 Welcoming Committee Records, a music label focusing on bands that promote social change and radical ideas. Since the label went into hibernation in 2008, Hannah's been giving his band some much-needed attention -- they've toured Europe twice this year already, and are now making their way across Canada before they head back overseas in December.
"This is the busiest we've ever been in the entire time of the band," he explains. "When I went on sabbatical from G7 things, the band really started to take off in terms of creative output and our ability to play shows. It's kind of a surprise," he notes, adding that as self-professed "aging Prairie skids," it is an odd time for Propagandhi to start pulling out the touring stops.
At 39, Hannah has spent over half his life with those "skids" and still gets a thrill out of feeding fans the Propagandhi message -- especially now that the band has had a couple decades to hone its sound.
"The reason we're in the band is because, at some point in our lives, we were being fed a conventional diet of information. Bands came along outside the mainstream, like MDC in the early '80s, and they offered us a transformative experience through '80s hardcore; they turned our world upside down.
"I think we've just inched closer and closer to actually being able to make the sounds that we wanted to when we were 16. We had this idea about being a progressive thrash band but we couldn't play instruments," Hannah laughs.
"As the years have gone by we've become a little bit better at certain things, and more nuanced at our approaches to the music. Now it's 2009, and because we don't have any natural talent for music, we're finally getting close to the point of being like, 'this is what we talked about in 1986.'
"When we were in high school, this is what we were trying to do."
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