Farewell, My Love are a band intent on motivating fans the same way that their musical heroes helped motivate them. Fronted by vegetarian straight edge musician Chad Kowal, the band released their new album, ‘Above It All', on their own CRCL record label in 2016. ‘Welcome To The Beginning', we're greeted as the album kicks off. It marks a new beginning for the band, whose line-up has changed somewhat since their original formation in 2011. Chad Kowal himself was originally the drummer, but now takes on the role of frontman. We caught up with Chad to find out more about music being his fate, discovering vegetarianism and how Blink-182 definitely deserved to win peta2's Libby Awards.
Shari Black Velvet: In ‘Who Are You?' you sing, ‘we only find our fate when we're at the end'. When did you realize that your fate was to be in a band? Do you think it's your fate? Chad Kowal: I definitely think that's my fate. I think it was one of those things that was very gradual. It just started very innocent in terms of beginnings. I had some friends who were drummers and they lived very close to me, so I would go over to their house and start experimenting with playing the drums and then I got my first set at Christmas that year and decided to teach myself. I just kept pursuing that, started my first couple of bands, playing drums and then fast forward, started Farewell, My Love with Röbby, and then fast forward again, I'm now singing with the band. I think the one piece of the puzzle that really changed my perception of things was when we started doing Farewell, My Love and started getting fans that were saying what our music had done for their lives in terms of impacting them, making them feel alive and all that stuff. The lyric was meant to be a little bit poetic but ‘We only feel our fire when we're on the edge', that means when you feel like when you're about to break down and you've had enough and you're very, very tired and worn out from the grind of every day and pursuing something, that's when you usually find your fire and you become the most driven to make something of your life and I think ‘We only find our fate when we're at the end', that lyric, what that lyric means to me, is that I don't think any of us will really realize what we've done with our lives and what we've accomplished with our lives until it's time to go. I think that's the biggest moment of reflection there will ever be and that's kind of what that lyric means to me.
SBV: The band tweeted on Dec 24th that ‘Burn Out The Night' ‘goes out to everyone who's felt the pressure to change who they are in order to fit in. BE YOU'. Have you felt pressure to change at all?
CK: I think for me, as I've been very outspoken on my social media and in interviews, I live the straight edge lifestyle. No drugs, no alcohol, no smoking. I like to keep it very clean. The real reality of ‘Burn Out The Night', the song… like the saying ‘burn out the night' is somebody who does a lot of those things, is encouraging my character, ‘burn out the night', do all the things that you never would have done before, which, I haven't really felt as pressured but I know it's one of those things that's just there with the territory of rock and roll and bands and stuff like that. People tend to try to morph you into something you're not, just due to the rock and roll stereotypes that are out there. That's kind of what the song started as, but it blossomed into a general theme of just anybody who's going through life and feels like they're pressured to change into something that they don't want to be. I know that if it's a young kid going through high school, or somebody that's in a professional… they're pursuing their careers and they're feeling like they need to change, it's an element that's there no matter who you are, and I think people need an anthem for it, so I think we did a good job giving them that.
SBV: Is anyone else in the band straight edge?
CK: None of them claim straight edge. It's not like a thing that they claim wholeheartedly. I'd say everyone in the band is pretty mellow when it comes to stuff like that. The only thing that my guys do is drink a little bit but it's not anything excessive and that's really it.
SBV: I heard that Davey Havok inspired you to go veggie and be straight edge. When did you discover AFI and get inspired by Davey?
CK: Absolutely. I had found AFI a couple of years before I went vegetarian, but Davey Havok, still to this day, is one of my biggest inspirations as a person, and it's carried into my lifestyle, it's carried into my image, the way I dress, I definitely try to do my own thing and put my own spin on it but I can't deny that that influence is very, very there and apparent.
SBV: Was it through Davey that you first heard about PETA?
CK: I think the way I first heard of PETA, I had a friend growing up who was vegetarian. He was one of the people that had kind of educated me a little bit about it, so it was a combination of him telling me about it, and I think I had gotten one of the DVDs at Warped Tour or something and that was my initial thing, and then I realized that so many bands that I had looked up to were either vegan or vegetarian, and some people that aren't even either and are just animal rights activists. I know that Trent Reznor, at least if I'm remembering correctly, I don't think he's vegan or vegetarian but he doesn't wear animal fur, animal products, he's very against the harming of animals in that way.
SBV: Farewell, My Love were nominated in peta2's Libby Awards for ‘most animal friendly band'. Blink-182 won. Do you think Blink-182 deserved to win?
CK: Absolutely. The thing about our band versus Blink-182 is that every single member of that band is vegan or vegetarian, whereas with my band, I'm the only one that's vegetarian. All of us are animal rights people in terms of we don't believe that animal cruelty is a good thing in terms of people that hurt animals or mistreat animals, but I'm the only one that doesn't eat meat, doesn't wear leather and things of that nature, but overall, they absolutely deserved to win. When I saw who we were nominated up against I was not holding out too much hope that we were going to win with Blink-182 being as big and successful as they are.
SBV: Travis is involved with Crossroads Kitchen in LA, right?
CK: Yes. It's amazing. That's definitely a great place. I tried it for the first time a couple of months ago, and yeah, it was a great, great experience. Very great, amazing food.
SBV: You had PETA out on your last tour. Tell me about that. Did you have one person do the table the whole tour or different people?
CK: Unless it was shows that were nearby, it was a different person at each show. They would have somebody that worked for the company come out in that city. If there were shows nearby they'd have the same person come out. The whole team was wonderful. They did a great job. I think they got a really great message out there. I'm really happy that we got to work with them on that. Who knows, maybe we'll be able to do some more work with them in the future.
SBV: Farewell, My Love are based in Phoenix. How is Phoenix for vegan food? I saw you posted a pic from a place called Green Restaurant. CK: There's a place called the Loving Hut, that's another vegan place that's pretty awesome. Those are the two only places that stick out in my mind as being straight vegan food. There are always restaurants that have maybe a vegan or vegetarian option, but it's not so much of a thing in Arizona as it would be in somewhere like California or maybe some other places.
SBV: You posted a pic of The Chicago Diner while on tour. If you could go to any vegan/vegetarian diner in the world with any musician in the world, where would you go, who would you go with, and what would you want to eat?
CK: I think I'd probably go back to Crossroads but I'd go WITH Travis Barker, and pretty much anything on the menu I'm open to eating.
SBV: Do you get to go to many veggie places on tour?
CK: Unfortunately we don't get to go to many vegetarian places, but if there's ever one within walking distance of the venue coincidentally, then I'll definitely be partaking in that. We had a tour manager once that was vegan and he did some of the driving so there would be times where the rest of the band would be sleeping and I'd be up co-piloting with him and we'd just drive to a vegan place and we'd go eat there. That was definitely a good memory that I have of being able to try a lot of vegan places. And actually, Chicago Diner, that picture I posted on Instagram, that was from the tour with him. I had a lot of vegan food on that tour that was fantastic.
SBV: Aside from being vegetarian and supporting PETA, have you purposely done anything to help or save an animal?
CK: Not as of now. I really want to work with some organisations. That's actually one of my goals this year, to reach out to, whether it's PETA or some other ones, work with animals and do some sort of things like, I read in Alternative Press that Andy Biersack was going to be auctioning off his original leather jacket and giving all the proceeds to an animal rights foundation, so that is something I'd definitely love to do, and I'd like to dedicate a big portion of my life later on to rescuing animals and doing things of that nature. It's just hard to find the time right now but I absolutely will be making time in my life for something like that because I feel like it's a gigantic part of my purpose here.
SBV: What will you remember from 2016 in relation to animal rights? Did any victories or disappointments stand out?
CK: I feel like the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles are getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I'll go to the store now and there's actually a section that's health food and there's a growing amount of vegan and vegetarian brands that seem to be doing better and better and growing in size. For me, I don't know if I think about it on a yearly basis, where it's like 2016 I remember this, but every year it seems to be getting bigger and bigger.
SBV: You had a song called ‘Friends & Fiends'. Tell me about any animal friends you've had.
CK: I had a dog named Fiona who passed away. But now I have three little cats. One's name is Triss, one's name is Catniss and one's name is Pierre. We've always had cats, my family. It's always been the pet that we've had more of is cats, but we had a dog before she passed away.
SBV: You also have a song called ‘Inside A Nightmare'. If you were an animal, what would be your worst nightmare? What animal cruelty would you most hate to have happen to you?
CK: I think anything that McDonalds does is probably my worst nightmare. Anybody who serves meat probably has a thing going on behind the scenes but they've had arguably the most videos that have come out with how they do their thing.
SBV: There are reports that meat can cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes and lots of different diseases. What are your thoughts on that? CK: I've heard the same thing myself and think that could definitely be the case, especially with how processed things are now, and not even just with meat, but with food in general.
SBV: Tilikum, the orca that was the subject of the Blackfish documentary in Sea World, has just died. What are your thoughts on that, and animals in captivity that are used for entertainment?
CK: I think it's wrong. I understand the idea behind why zoos and Sea World have become a thing, because you can't just go outside your house and see a monkey or see an orca, and there's obviously a human interest to want to see those things but I think of how the animal feels about that side of things and I don't think it's worth it at all. I did watch that Blackfish movie too, which was how I came to know about Tilikum and the whole situation, but yeah, I don't think it's right and I don't support it or back it. There are a lot of people that think it's wrong and with the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle growing so much I feel like people are starting to see how things actually are and they're becoming more outspoken about it, so I don't know if places like the zoo or Sea World will be a thing in the next ten years.
SBV: Finally, have you ever written any songs in relation to animals or animal rights or would you?
CK: With the band, not necessary being a band that's branded as an animal rights band, with it being me mostly, I think that would be something that I would absolutely like to do if I did a solo project in the future. I would absolutely love to do that and maybe releasing it and giving all the proceeds to a wonderful foundation or something. Probably not with this band, but definitely me in the future, I can see.