AFI - ZU BOUTIQUE - DAVEY HAVOK
You have to admire AFI. Not just for their constantly evolving musical creations (new album ‘Crash Love’ really is THE album to fall in love with), but because the quartet have strong moral beliefs, most noticeably their abstinence from eating meat. Frontman Davey Havok and bassist Hunter Burgan have been vegan for years, while guitarist Jade Puget and drummer Adam Carson are strict vegetarians. They often stand up for our fellow inhabitants of earth and show the world that you can live an amazing life without eating animals, using animals or wearing them. In fact, Hunter has designed a vegan shoe with Macbeth (and is their ‘vegan ambassador’) and in 2009 Davey began a vegan clothing company, Zu Boutique, which sells limited edition T-shirts, hoodies and jewellery. Zu Boutique has also now collaborated on a vegan shoe with Macbeth – a dazzling rhinestone shoe that comes in ‘zu blue’ or black. Shari Black Velvet caught up with the inspirational Mr. Havok while the band were in Europe (before a stunning live show – if you haven’t gotten yourself to an AFI show lately you’re really missing out) and after interviewing him for Black Velvet (catch the interview in issue 65) had time to squeeze in a handful of vegan related questions for SaveAScream.com. While we didn’t have time to get through all of our questions (another interviewer was waiting, drat!), and would have loved to have sat talking to Davey forever, we did manage to find out a little bit more about Zu Boutique as well as discover Davey’s views on the horror that is horse racing and the fact that he loved Fantastic Mr. Fox. Which reminds us, we STILL need to watch that movie… And you should too if you haven’t.
By Shari Black Velvet
Davey began Zu Boutique, with his friend Danny. The website, www.zuboutique.com, mentions that the shirts are born out of their love of music, movies, vegans, heathens ‘and anything else our self-indulgent hearts desire’. The shirts are limited edition and the range has included animal rights related T-shirts such as a running hotdog with the word ‘MURDER’ above it and one with a rabbit with make-up on with the word ‘TORTURE’ above. Unfortunately as these designs were so ingenious (the ’cuteness’ of the designs makes them attractive while bringing home the message that animal cruelty is not cool) they have sold out. We begin by asking Davey if there are any plans to reprint these designs – or if they’re gone forever.
“We don’t really have plans for second runs but specifically the ‘Murder’ shirt that you’re talking about, it does kind of break my heart that they don’t exist any more because I feel it’s such a great shirt and the message is so great,” he replies, “so there are pieces like that that we have created and that I look forward to creating where I feel that I would like them to reach as many people as would want to represent a message like that. So we haven’t quite figured out how to reconcile that or if we WILL reconcile that – we continue to make clothing of the same ethos. Though ‘Murder’ is unavailable, ‘It’s Alive’ and ‘Suffering’, there are some sizes available in those. It’s a similar message just with a different graphic and different terminology. So we continue to create pieces that have the same message. I’m not sure if we would ever do a different version of the same general shirt or not… It’s hard to say.”
‘It’s Alive’ is a smiley beefburger with arms and legs, while ‘Suffering’ is more to showcase the evilness of dairy. It’s an ice-cream – with the word ‘PUS’ on the cone and the word ‘SUFFERING’ above. It’s quite novel the thought that has gone into the designs – although they are quite uncomplicated graphics, they do spread the word about the cruelty in each area. Many people for example don’t realize how cruel the dairy industry is, with millions of dairy cows suffering every year. Female cows have to be impregnated in order for them to produce milk, often getting mastitis, while being in dirty, crowded cubicles (while male cows are of no use so killed for meat). Researchers have revealed that every cupful of milk includes pus from the cow. Nice, huh?
Davey thinks that not everyone will immediately get the meaning of each design though.
“I’m not entirely sure who understands and who doesn’t understand what it is that we’re doing, but something I wanted to do with those pro-vegan shirts, was to create a very poppy, very palatable image that draws people in and that will appeal to people and then have it juxtaposed with a very serious message – to really drive that message home. Because if you’re drawn in with something pretty and then you’re met with something serious you’re already there. I think it would be difficult to not understand the message of those shirts but a lot of people are really obtuse, so there’s no saying…”
Since the company doesn’t JUST sell animal rights/pro-vegan shirts, there are music, movie and other related shirts too, we ask if the objective was to have a variety of subjects to pull people in and then see the animal rights ones and become educated.
“No, it’s all very self-indulgent for me,” Davey replies. “It’s not trying to get people to do anything. It’s me creating a lot of pieces that I would want to wear, that I wish I saw on the racks and am very happy with and excited by – because my affinities lie throughout culture whether it be the vegan culture or the straight edge movement or different music scenes or different countercultures, all that goes into who I am and what inspires me, so all these different inspirations come out in what I’m creating graphically.”
One animal that pops up quite a bit in the range are bees. There are bee keychains, there’s a bee T-shirt and bee necklaces as well.
“I like bees, I’m a fan of bees,” Davey says, “but our first T-shirt was The Smashing Pumpkins homage which called for the bee – and so we just kind of went with the bees.”
A lot of people don’t really like bees or wasps – or any kind of small insect. You’ll often see people either shrieking and running from a bee or trying to cruelly swat a bee or wasp.
Davey says, “People are mean to every insect and every animal but because bees and wasps can actually attack you I’m sure they receive a little bit more animosity than some of the other insects. I like bees, I think they’re cute. I mean, I’m frightened by wasps too… I’m not a big fan of wasps. Bees are less aggressive though, wasps are aggressive.”
One of our favourite movies is actually Bee Movie, the animation movie directed by Steve Hickner and Simon J. Smith and starring Jerry Seinfeld and Renee Zellweger, which saw a bee venture from his hive to become the friend of a female human before realizing he had to stop the injustice in the world and sue the human race for stealing bees’ honey. Davey has seen the film too and says, “I enjoyed it,” – although one of his favourite recent animal related movies is Fantastic Mr. Fox.
“The most recent one I watched was Fantastic Mr. Fox which was absolutely fucking amazing,” he coos. “You have to watch it. I’m a fan of Wes Anderson who was the director of Fantastic Mr. Fox, He has made some of my favourite movies and has managed to really infuse a stop animation film with his voice in a way that it was absolutely amazing. It was shocking to see the anthropomorphism of the actors and actresses that he uses in most of his films (he has reoccurring actors come through) and that medium is unbelievable. It’s so good. And the style of stop animation as well was something that was really not redundant for this time – because a lot of the stop animation in these times tends to throw to Tim Burton, who has really set the standard in modern times, when you look past the Brothers Quay and the early Rudolf The Rednose Reindeer type specials, Tim Burton sets the standard for it and it’s a great standard but even animation has moved on in a very unique way. The book is the book but the movie is great as well.”
Currently in the UK foxhunting is thankfully banned. Yes, Labour actually did something good and banned it – although horrifyingly the insensitive Conservatives want to bring foxhunting back (currently Queen's Brian May is campaigning against the hunting act being repealed - see http://www.save-me.org.uk). It seems that the Labour party are definitely a little kinder towards animals than those Tories. We received word that Labour are actually planning to ban the use of wild animals in circuses – although I guess that may depend on whether they win the election.
“Really? That’s great!” exclaims a pleased Mr. Havok when we tell him. When asked what he’d most like to see banned, the straightedge frontman replies, “The consumption of animal products entirely,” before adding, “I’d like to see the complete disuse of recreational drugs entirely… not necessarily a banning of it, just a dissolving of it through a consciousness would be nice. Any sort of government restrictions on anything is kind of dodgy.”
At the time of the interview, The Grand National had just taken place in the UK. This involves lots of horses racing, lots of people betting and some horses dying. Many people don’t realize that every year a number of horses die from this race. A lot of the horses also on top of that don’t finish the race because it is so hard and head woundedly off back to their stable with injuries.
“It’s awful. It’s just abuse,” agrees Davey on the subject of horse racing – or any animal racing for that matter. Greyhound racing is equally as bad with millions of dogs killed or needing to be rehomed when they’re of no use to their racing owners. “I don’t have a problem with gambling,” he says, “but gambling on tortured animals is not ok. You can bet on runners! They’re doing it on their own malleation, they’re destroying their knees and ankles because they want to! The horses get no choice in the matter.”
So what made Davey become vegan?
He replies, “Really I went vegan for two reasons; 1) I really try to live the healthiest lifestyle that I can and to be vegan is the healthiest diet that you can live – as long as you’re not eating a bunch of French fries – you can abuse the diet! But when eating properly it is the healthiest way you can live and it’s the best for your body and thereby your mind. Also I have respect for animals. I love animals. I really don’t feel that it is our right to abuse them and I would feel awful abusing them for any reason. When I was vegetarian I knew very well that it wasn’t enough, that just because I wasn’t actively murdering animals that I was torturing them by consuming things like milk and cream and cheese and whatnot. Then I finally made the step to commit myself to a cruelty-free lifestyle because I just felt it was right.”
What a star this man is. Whether you love the band’s music (and you really ought to), you especially have to love him for his intelligence and compassion. If only there were more Davey Havoks in the world!
Visit www.afireinside.net and www.zuboutique.com for more info.