The Jonestown massacre of 1978.
Put these things together, add some rock guitars and reggae beats, hit ‘play’ and you’ve got 100% Fat, the debut full-length album from Whitehorse rock band Meat the Vegans. It launched in June.
Classic rock inspires the music of Mike Anderson, Simon Charles, Alex MacKay and Steve Jacob, but they throw in the reggae beats so people can dance along to the tunes, said Anderson, the group’s vocalist who also plays guitar and synthesizer.
The group’s been together for about two years. Audiences respond fairly positively to the band’s material, said Anderson. But not all of the 14 songs on the album are necessarily happy.
The band plays metal, and that’s a genre that often has songs with darker lyrics, said Anderson, formerly of the now-defunct Whitehorse band Donkey Smell. His lyrics “don’t hide behind the reality of social problems,” said Anderson.
“The Hit” describes heroin addiction. “Tongue Rock” recounts violence committed by members of various cults. “Nobody believed what you did / How could you let these things be done to your own kids?” the lyrics ask.
And then there’s the six-minute track that kicks off the second half of the disc. “The Crepe” describes a psychopathic killer who sneaks into a woman’s house during a Sunday afternoon and watches her sleep while the TV drones on in another room.
“I crept into your living room while you were awake,” it begins. “You had the lights turned down / You were out for the day. / The morning light cut through the curtains like my razor blades. / I sliced them up / So you could see the violet heart that I made.”
Later in the song, the singer whispers about how exactly he will murder his victim.
But the lyrics also hint at greater problems plaguing the protagonist.
“And I dropped my medication down the drain. / My doctor’s on vacation once again / While this disease is slowly eating at my brain,” the chorus says.
All this doesn’t mean the man singing the words spends his weekends spying on women. Far from it.
“I don’t write music based on my own experiences as much as trying to put myself into other characters or stories,” said Anderson.
He’s just a regular guy, he said. Born and raised in Whitehorse, he works as a drywaller and enjoys snowboarding, camping and fishing. He moved back here three years ago after spending eight years working and checking out the music scene in British Columbia. His family’s here, and he came home after meeting his wife-to-be.
But Anderson knows people won’t learn that from listening to his music. Lyrics come last for him, he said. “The Crepe,” for example, was partly inspired by the tone of the song. But he knows the words may ruffles some feathers.
“For some reason, it seems like it’s more shocking for people to listen to music that delves into dark subject matter instead of watching a movie that has horrible things in it,” said Anderson.
He doesn’t fully understand what creates the different reactions, he said. At the same time, it doesn’t completely bother him.
“Art is made to create a reaction in people. And if that reaction is offended, I guess the art has done its job,” said Anderson.
Making music takes work, and the band doesn’t have plans to slow down. They completed their first tour, a 10-day trip around Vancouver Island, in June. They’ve made connections with a band from Chile that could lead to gigs there, and they hope to eventually play their music in Europe. And they’ve already got a handful of songs they’re hoping to record for a second album, he said.
More immediate goals include making a music video. Their song “Undead Shuffle” would make a good video, said Anderson. Zombies “are such a big thing right now, (the song) kind of came out naturally,” he said.
It begins with a mock announcer’s voice warning people to stay calm and in their homes because zombies are attacking humans. Later, citizens are told the zombies can only be stopped by removing their heads and brains.
And in the meantime, while the living barricade their doors, “the undead are making their way to the dance floor To do the undead shuffle / Shuffle / Shufffle,” Anderson sings in the chorus.
So there’s some humour in the band’s music. Humour, after all, helped bring the band together, said Anderson.
He hadn’t played with any of his bandmates before, but music came quickly to this group. After only a few months together they had enough original material to do whole shows with just their own songs.
“We just like to make fun of ourselves and other people, and different social things you’re not allowed to say. We like to make fun of stuff like that,” said Anderson.
Hence the band’s name.
“I like to poke fun at people, especially people who take themselves too seriously. Not to put everybody in the same category, but sometimes vegans can be a little outspoken about their beliefs,” said Anderson. It doesn’t hurt that MacKay is a vegetarian, and he had no problems with the name. He also didn’t really have a choice about it though, said Anderson, laughing.
The least expensive way for people to get a copy of the album is at the band’s shows where it sells for $5, said Anderson. Meat the Vegans is scheduled to play at the Jarvis Street Saloon on Oct. 4. Their album can also be picked up at Triple J’s Music Cafe on Elliott Street, or downloaded on iTunes and CD Baby. More information about the band can be found on its Facebook page.
Contact Meagan Gillmore at