Activists + > Celebrity Interviews

Lindsay McDougall is the guitarist with Australian band Frenzal Rhomb. He's cute 'n' cuddly, crazy and compassionate. I also have it on good authority that Frenzal Rhomb 'are the punkest band in the world'!

'Dick Sandwich' was their first EP (1994) followed by the LP 'Coughing Up A Storm' (1995). The band has charmed and offended fans at shows as diverse as Livid, Big Day Out, Melbourne's Push Over, Homebake, some shows with Offspring, Propagandhi, SNFU, You Am I, NOFX, and The Meanies (amongst others).

In 1997 Frenzal Rhomb became the biggest selling independent artists of the year with their radio hit 'Punch in the Face'. The album 'Not So Tough Now' went number 1 on the national independent chart and stayed in the top 20 for over 90 weeks. In April 1999, Frenzal Rhomb released their mega album 'A Man's Not a Camel' which spawned some huge hits such as: 'Never had so much fun', 'You are not my friend' and 'We're going out tonight'.

The band are, unbelievably, all into animal rights ... but as I couldn't fit everybody into my caravan I picked on Lindsay for this interview ... read on ....

 

Interview by June Bird, May 2000.

June: Lindsay, I believe you're a vegan ..... when did you make the 'big break'?
Lindsay: When I first joined Frenzal Rhomb, I was quickly made aware of the Vegetarian issue, before then I had no bloody idea. I was brought up very 'Meat and Potatoes', much like your mate Rikki Rockett, and it was Jason, our illustrious lead singer, and our managers Dianne and Chris, who alerted me to the whole animal cruelty business. So I cut out all meat about 4 years ago. I always knew the problems with dairy, but used the 'at least I'm doing something' defence to justify my cheese and egg lovin' diet. Then, about a year and a half ago, I realised that it wasn't any defence at all, in fact acknowledging the problems but not doing anything about it was almost as bad, if not worse, so I cut out all dairy products, too. Now it is only by extreme ignorance and mistake on my part if any animal product ever passes my lips.
June: Any problems doing the vegan thang?
Lindsay: When we're on tour, especially in more remote areas of the world, where there is less awareness of vegetarianism, it is harder to find vegan stuff to eat, but you can always eat something. I'm sure there are people that say; 'oh I had to eat this, there was nothing else and I was starving', but you can always get something even just a packet of chips. And sometimes, on more organised days, we'll realise the trouble that lies ahead, and bring supplies accordingly. So, it's really only hard if you make it hard.
June: What 'excites' you about your diet and lifestyle?
Lindsay: Every part of it. The food, the general feeling of well-being, the crazy exhilaration of doing something against the norm. It's fucking anarchy, man. Smash the system, fuck the state. No, seriously, it does feel good to be in a group of people doing the right thing, when the majority of people aren't, it 's probably how people brainwashed by a cult think. But I realise that's just a superficial feeling of superiority, and I would feel a lot better if everyone in the world was vegan, and I was no different to them at all.
June: What spurred you towards being the owner of a squeaky clean colon?
Lindsay: Jesus Christ, I just answered that in your first question. Alright, I'll answer again. After being vego for almost 3 years, I realised that it wasn't enough, and I knew that cheese, eggs, gelatin, whey, milk solids non fat, albumen, emulsifiers 471, 481 etc... were also causing gross animal cruelty, sometimes worse than the production of the actual meat itself. And I realised I couldn't justify knowing that and still eating it. And so I stopped. Just like that. And starting finding out about all the animal ingredients hidden in food that they don't tell you about.
June: When you were an innocent little nipper (were you ever?!) what do you think enlightened you about animals their rights and their suffering?
Lindsay: Well there was no one thing, besides being introduced to the whole lifestyle when I joined Frenzal Rhomb, who incidentally have a new single 'I Miss My Lung', out now thru Shock records! But there were times in my life when I realised things were a little off kilter. Like when friends would say how they could never hurt their pet, or how much they loved their horse, and I'd think, 'but you still eat meat, isn't that the same'. And I knew about the evils of big meat-using corporations, such as McDonalds not that I did anything about it, save general schoolyard jibes. But when I learnt about vegetarianism, it all started to fit in and make sense. Or no sense at all, more to the point.
June: Could you ever envisage eating flesh again?
Lindsay: Well, I have a habit of doing things kind of impulsively, and so obviously people originally thought that this was just another spur of the moment thing, and debated my various reasons for doing it, but I think by now they understand the motivation and realise that I'm not about to go back to your Big Mac's, Quiche Lorraine's and 2 Moons over my Hammy's in a hurry.
June: Significant others ... what do they think 'about it all'?
Lindsay: My Mum actually owns a health food store, she's a veg-aquarian (or vego except for fish); so she is very supportive up to a point, where she starts saying I need my essential fatty acids from fish, but she's great in that I can get bulk wholefoods and on the rare occasion that I take supplements, for free. My Dad is very meat and 3 veg, although he does delight in telling me he's given up most red meat, which is cool, but he doesn't really understand the ethics behind it. My two brothers, 19 year old twins, have both studied hospitality, and so get paid for cooking meat, so they're a little further off.
June: Frenzal Rhomb's music and animals do they go together?
Lindsay: Well we've written the very funny song 'Guns Don't Kill Ducklings, Ducklings Kill Ducklings' about gun shooting from behind the eyes of a paranoid duck shooter. And to paraphrase the Beatles; 'all of our songs promote cruelty-free living'. And I'm sure our forthcoming album, which should be out in September thru Epic, will also touch on this subject, that's so dear to us. The one thing is that we don't want to preach, the majority of our audience aren't stupid, and so we're not going to tell them what to do. What we can do is let them know what we do, and maybe it will inspire them to find out for themselves.
June: Were folk dumbstruck when they discovered you were one of those crazy herbivores?!
Lindsay: You betcha, and people still reel back in surprise when they find out. But we do get a lot of correspondence from people who have heard something of that nature, and want to know more, because they are considering it or are vego or vegan and want to congratulate and thank us. So that gives us a warm, snuggly kind of feeling.
June: I pray to Baby Jesus every night that one day everyone will come to the conclusion that we don't need to slaughter animals to live well. What are your thoughts on this?
Lindsay: Of course, and there is an ever-increasing awareness of the truth. But the industries filling the majority's head with 'food pyramid' and 'calcium from milk for healthy bones' crap are massive industries, and it it going to take a lot to get people to see past their propaganda.
June: So what do ya eat anyway?!?!?!?!
Lindsay: A question that a lot of ignorant people ask, expecting a very limited and boring answer. I eat bloody heaps pastas, rice dishes, all manner of vegetable dishes, beans, nuts, seeds, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Tibetan, Indian, Australian, African. Bloody everything!
June: When you're touring are there plenty of good munchies to be had? What's the best and worst country for finding non-animal delicacies?
Lindsay: There's heaps of great vegan fare to be found. All over the place. Sydney has the best for me, because I live here and get to try it all. In Japan, it's pretty hard, what with the language barrier and the fish stock they try to put in everything. America is pretty intolerant, especially in the more 'hicksville' areas, but our tour manager has a list of all the vego restaurants in the country so that helped immeasurably. The internet is also great for finding places to eat.
June: I'm coming around for dinner to your place next week ... (thanx for the invite Lindsay!) what's on the menu .... ummm ..... can you cook or will it be takeaway again?
Lindsay: I'm not all that bad, actually, contrary to what most people would probably think. I had to start cooking when I went vego, living with my Dad there weren't many options. I'm pretty experimental in that I'll chuck a bunch of things in together and see how they taste. But I'm not really one for presentation, it often looks like a pile of filth, but tastes awesome.

Here are three pictures of Frenzal Rhomb.
(Click on each picture to see a larger version open in a new window).
(From left to right) Pic 1: Lindsay, Jay, Lex, Gordy Pic 2: Jay, Lex, Gordy, Lindsay Pic 3: Jay, Lex, Gordy, Lindsay.

June:

Anyone still making fun of your beliefs? Can you laugh along with them, ignore them or get totally pissed off?

Lindsay: I can laugh along with them, or at them, because they're the ones still shovelling carcass into their bodies to rot inside of them, aren't they.
June: With your chums at a good ol' Aussie barby do you find that your hosts are sympathetic to your beliefs, and cater for you, or do you bring your own plate of tempeh and sit in a dark corner?
Lindsay: Most of my friends are vegan, vego, or vego-sympathetic, so they can cater, or at least suggest I bring something. Although on occasions we've been offered the barbecue after all the meat and fish has been cooked and dripped all over it. Not very appetising...
June: How about leather, or feathers in your bedspread Lindsay .... into it?
Lindsay: I take it as far as I possibly can. I don't wear any animal products, and I'm pretty sure my doona and pillows are cruelty free, wait a sec, let me check ... yep, they are. I'm sure I trip up sometimes, and I welcome it being pointed out, I'm not too proud to learn new things and anything to help me stay cruelty-free is fine by me.
June: Zoos, circuses with animals and rodeos your thoughts please?
Lindsay: Bloody horrible. Apart from being a pointless, callous and gratuitous use of feeling, hurting animals, for the entertainment of idiots; the non-animal stuff is pretty dull too.
June: What's your point of view on factory farming: such as hens in battery cages, pigs in cramped stalls, and cattle feedlots?
Lindsay: It makes me feel angry, and a little frustrated that it goes on and all I've done is quietly protest by not eating them, when people are actively protesting and getting themselves locked up for it.
June: Is there one particular area of animal exploitation that you find particularly disturbing?
Lindsay: The exploitative bits of it. And the way people can be so patronising of the poor little vegetarians and still be so sucked in by the bloated greedy companies that they give so much money too and are themselves being completely exploited by.
June: Who else do you know in the music biz who are vegos?
Lindsay: Lots of my friends are musicians, and a lot are vegetarian. For instance: Peabody, 78 Saab, Nancy Vandal, Neil Hamburger, Propagandhi, NoFX, silverchair, 28 Days, Discount, a lot of bands that I've forgotten, too. All are vego, vegan, or have vego/vegan members. And all rock!!
June: How does your non-animal diet make you feel? Pale, wan, weak and sickly?
Lindsay: Well, I always said, I didn't do this for health reasons, our lifestyle is a little crazy sometimes. But I often wonder how much worse I would feel if my body had meat and dairy to deal with as well as the lack of sleep, over consumption of alcohol (occasionally, and only vegan alcohol) etc...
June: Girlfriends and children .... would you encourage them to be vegos?
Lindsay: Yes, and I have with past girlfriends. I don't stress the point, but my views are important to me and I would hope that counts for something. And if I ever had kids I would definitely bring them up aware of vegetarianism and animal cruelty and hope they would make the decision for themselves, and perhaps even influence others.
June: Do you take vitamin supplements?
Lindsay: Well, my mum does own a health food store, so I do have access to them. But I don't take them to supplement my diet, like my Mum would probably prefer, I just make sure I get enough vitamins in my normal diet. I do take herbs and vitamin pills when I'm getting over some sickness or flu, though.
June: Companion animal/s ... do you have any?
Lindsay: I don't, and I'm a little undecided on the issue. I'm sure people with a predominantly cruelty-free lifestyle would have to treat companion animals better than carnivores, so I think I'd prefer seeing them go to good homes. But I know I couldn't justify having any. I would have trouble giving him/her a good life, and so don't.
June: Have you been involved in any animal rights protests?
Lindsay: Nothing crazy and revolutionary. We've done benefit gigs for Animal Lib and other organisations, but I've been a little limp and flaccid on the activist front. That could easily change though.
June: Are there many people that you know who can attribute their vego diet to you?
Lindsay: Yes, people often tell us, and me, that we've influenced them and I know people I've personally informed, more than influenced, and that's a lovely little feeling.
June: Any messages for those who are still consuming animals? For those who want to know more about animal rights?
Lindsay: That it just makes sense, and if they want more information they should get our new single "I Miss My Lung', out now through Shock, and while they're at it, get our current album; 'A Man's not a Camel' with the bonus video, 'Travelling Flea Circus'. there won't be too much vego info on it, but I'll feel more like talking about it to them if they own them.
June: I'm going to give you a 10 out of 10 for plugging your wares and the great interview. (I might give the 'pile of filth' a miss mind you ...)
Lindsay: No bloody worries, any friend of Rikki Rockett is a friend of mine.

Frenzal Rhomb website: http://www.frenzalrhomb.com/