Stray Bullets – Joel Growney

Name: Joel Growney

Age: 30

Location: Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK.

Band: Stray Bullets

Vegan for: Two and a half years. Vegetarian for seven years before that.

Musical style in his own words: Filthy buzzsaw riffs, blackened Punk Metal, hateful nihilistic noise.

On becoming vegan…

I’m not a fan of people at large, as well as being fairly reactionary, so learning about the fuller extent to which we’re fucking the planet as a species drew both those things out of me, and made the final jump something which made total sense on every level.

The whole world is going to shit, it’s everywhere you look and I’m resigned to that, but there’s no way I’m going to contribute to it. Maybe some people will see that being clichéd or holier-than-thou or whatever; I don’t care, I’m at a point in my life now where the views of others don’t bother me much compared to how I see myself, and the idea of being someone who condones the exploitation of unwilling living things, silently or otherwise, and in any way, is something I couldn’t live with.

On fellow band members being vegan…

Both Rich (vocalist) and Matt (drummer) eat vegan frequently to my knowledge, while Mark (bassist) is heavily into marine conservation and as such follows a diet of his own design that suits his beliefs. To my knowledge, Elliott (guitarist) doesn’t have a particularly meat-based diet either. It’s not really something we discuss whenever we’re together. We mostly just write and rehearse.

On music and veganism…

Veganism and animal rights don’t really feature in our music explicitly yet.

We used to play a song live that had the idea of “not in my name” running through it, and obviously that logic applies to a vegan lifestyle. I think a few lines even addressed the idea of animal rights but most, if not all, of our current setlist is more about pointing the finger at how fucking shameful the human race is in general, and how much better the planet would/will be once we’re not around.

There’s certainly a recurring nihilistic theme that’s unconsciously crept in to the lyrical content. The emptiness of human existence? Maybe disgust at the behaviour of so many people to act how they do with something that isn’t theirs. The futility of trying to stop what’s going on as future generations are set up to inherit a dying world.

So there’s no overt references to opening cages or sabotaging hunts (as much as we all agree with those things) but some of the same ethics behind a vegan lifestyle inform the music we make, yes.

On other aspects of life and veganism…

No leather, no fur, no animal glues; everything is checked.

Documentaries and websites provide the usual distractions and confirmation bias, so to that end, I engage but at arms length.

I enjoy reading books about the ideas surrounding animal intelligence and rights when I get the time.

On vegan activism…

My day job is working in a store selling exclusively vegan products, so to this end, you could argue that my every day life is a mild and peaceful form of activism; promoting and enabling veganism to both those already on board, and those looking to adopt the lifestyle. I don’t necessarily see it that way all the time though.

In more real terms, I recently went on a 5,000 strong animal rights march in London; it received mainstream news coverage, and spread awareness of the movement, as well as providing a sense of community that I’d imagine can sometimes be missing for some.

Still, while I don’t want to discredit something like that too much, I came away asking myself if anything had really been achieved. There was a sense of self-satisfaction and back patting that really seemed to miss the mark for me. I couldn’t understand if some people wanted animal freedom, or wanted everyone to know how great they thought they were.

On anti-vegan rhetoric…

I’m actually very fortunate that I’ve not really had anyone bring me their bullshit. The occasional “but bacon” has tried to get something out of me, but I don’t have the time or patience to get on their level.

I’ve never met someone trying to start that argument because they want a discussion; they’ve all always made up their mind before I’ve even said a word, and I see no point in taking their bait and engaging with someone so clearly unwilling to think.

Fuck ’em.

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

I suppose it could be interesting to be a whale, or a bat, or something with a different range of senses to humans. A different way of perception.

Favourite vegan recipe…

Now we’re talking.

Everyone’s got their own recipe, and everyone probably thinks their one is the best, but I make the perfect chilli for my own tastes.

Loads of vegetables, 70:30 bulk to sauce ratio, and the kind of hot that just creeps across your face without ever being painful.

Want a tip? Chuck a can of coke in there with two bars of dark chocolate.

Favourite vegan restaurant or take away…

Purezza or Beelzebab, both in Brighton.

The former is a vegan pizzeria, with all the expected fake meats and toppings, but also stuffed crusts and calzones. They also do a chocolate ice cream calzone. A lot of high street places are catching on to this kind of thing, which is great, but Purezza do it better.

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The latter is the ground floor of a pub venue called the Hope & Ruin, and it’s pure junk food. Last time I was there I had a pepperoni pizza topped hotdog (pepperoni, cheese, sauce, 9 inch tofu dog), peanut butter cheesy chips, chicken poppers, deep fried olives and a beer. Amounts of junk food that border on self-harm. Bliss.

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