Making music for meat lovers

Chicken Cordon Blood Sack is "a funky little dance number" by Meat the Vegans. The Whitehorse band writes all its songs collaboratively. And it's recording them at Laurie Malo's studio, which the band affectionately refer to as "the meat locker."

Chicken Cordon Blood Sack is “a funky little dance number” by Meat the Vegans.

The Whitehorse band writes all its songs collaboratively.

And it’s recording them at Laurie Malo’s studio, which the band affectionately refer to as “the meat locker.”

But not all its songs are about meat.

In fact, bassist Alex MacKay is a vegetarian.

“But the rest of us are carnivores,” said frontman Mike Anderson, with a laugh. “And my cousin’s girlfriend is a vegan so we always give her a hard time.”

The group formed less than a year ago and has already played a host of shows around the city.

But Meat the Vegans has a tough time describing its music.

“It’s like a funky groove with an edge,” said Anderson.

“It’s kind of a mix of hard rock and reggae,” added MacKay. “It’s groovy and gets people dancing, but it’s also got some complexity. We’re not playing three-chord rock.”

The group has a montage of musical backgrounds.

Anderson, who grew up here, used to be in the local band, Donkeysmell, before moving to Victoria, B.C., to pursue a music career. There he played in the Smoked Out Brainzzz, and later in the punk band Beer A Tribute To Fear.

MacKay did the opposite.

He used to play in metal bands on Vancouver Island, but after moving to the Yukon, he stopped playing for more than a decade.

It’s only in the last year, not long after Anderson moved back home, that the pair met in drummer Steve Jacob’s basement.

Jacob and guitar player Simon Charles had been jamming out tunes for awhile and they were ready to get a band together.

“And it just gelled,” said MacKay.

“It’s exactly the kind of band I was hoping to get involved in,” said Anderson. “It’s good rocking music people can dance to and enjoy.”

Now Meat the Vegans is fundraising for its first CD with a show at the Jarvis Street Saloon on March 30.

But the group isn’t in it to make money.

“Over the years, I’ve spent thousands and thousands playing music, and I’m nowhere near breaking even,” said Anderson.

“We do it because we love it,” added MacKay.

At the Moonstroke Festival, a winter fundraiser for Humane Society Yukon, the band actually donated not only its time, but also all the proceeds from its T-shirt sales to help support the animals.

It also played a fundraiser to help a local family buy a vehicle that can accommodate their sons who have muscular dystrophy and are in wheelchairs.

“We’re playing because we just enjoy our art,” said Anderson. “And it’s a good feeling to have people dance to your original music.”

Meat the Vegans has more than 10 original songs so far, including the Undead Shuffle.

“I got the idea seeing all these mostly white people so drunk in the bar they’re just swaying around like zombies,” said Anderson.

Another tune, called Ritalin, is about prescription drug use. “It’s a hot topic in the news right now,” he said.

The band hopes to take its music south on a small tour after releasing its CD this spring.

But Meat the Vegans don’t want to become road warriors.

“I’ve seen lots of bands make it by sleeping on floors or in their van for months at a time,” said Anderson.

“But I’m not sure any of us want that. The biggest thing is making music and making it available here.”

However, if Meat the Vegans did get a hit song “I’m sure we’d all jump at the chance to pursue it,” said Anderson.

Making art together is not easy, he added.

“We all have to work with each other and each other’s wives.”

Meat the Vegan’s drummer is “a family man” who used to play music in Vancouver “way back in the day,” said MacKay.

Its other guitarist busked his way up to the Yukon from Ottawa about 15 years ago and never left.

Anderson didn’t pick up a guitar until he was in his late teens.

“I was about 14 when I saw my cousin play guitar and I told my parents I wanted a guitar,” he said.

They told Anderson to get a job.

“So I went to work, saved enough money for an electric guitar and went from there,” he said.

MacKay found himself hanging out with too many guitar players so he picked up the bass. “I found a niche for myself,” he said.

Now, the guys all have day jobs.

One is a dentist, another works at a high school, Anderson does drywall and MacKay works at a daycare.

But music has remained their passion.

“None of us think we’re huge rock stars,” said MacKay.

“We’re just putting out music and having fun with it.”

Meat the Vegans is taking to the stage Friday alongside Common Knowledge, Speed Control and Electric Cheese.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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