KEEW - the interview (2007)

Kill Eat Exploit the Weak

July 10, 2007.
By Coral Andrews Leslie for In the Loop (the CKMS newsletter) 

Laura Wiebe created one of the most intriguing programs in the history of CKMS with the concept of Kill Eat Exploit the Weak. KEEW was a socially conscious three hour cornucopia of dark, intelligent, heavy music cleverly melded with rants and informative insightful features about animal advocacy, the environment and vegetarianism – ‘metal for vegans.’

Laura was at CKMS for 12 years as a programmer and did KEEW for 10 years - the last show was July 28th. Then in mid-August, KEEW’s Maven of Metal, her acerbic co- host side kick Dr. Trevorkian and the pair’s assorted feline foursome headed to Hamilton, putting KEEW on temporary and indefinite hiatus.
CORAL: Where did the idea come from? The first vegan I ever met that was into goth industrial was Nivek Ogre from Skinny Puppy…
LAURA: Definitely an inspiration, Skinny Puppy. My involvement with radio was based in music initially. I was very passionate about metal and loved the opportunity to play some of my favourite bands but after doing it for a few years I wanted it to mean a little bit more. This is campus and community radio; we have the opportunity to talk about things that don’t get attention elsewhere. The other thing in my life that I’m most passionate about, besides music, is animal advocacy so I wanted to make that a part of the show and that’s why I chose the name – Kill Eat Exploit the Weak. It’s taken from the Pitchshifter song – “Virus” – an ironic take on what humans are doing to the other species on the planet. We kill them, we eat them, exploit them. Soon there may be nothing left.
CORAL" This is prevalent in today’s headlines from the American Bald Eagle to the Great Whale. Have you seen a change in animal advocacy over the last decade? Is it getting better? Are people more aware?
LAURA: I think people are definitely more aware – mostly because of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals but I don’t necessarily think that’s always a good thing. It becomes a thing about celebrity and trends and almost as commercial as some of the other Hollywood and high profile celebrity issues.
Once a real issue becomes something so marketed and involving so much propaganda and publicity, it risks loses its essence. That’s not what it’s about anymore. It’s the shock value and it makes a lot of people angry, PETA’S tactics.
CORAL: I think that thing that really affected me about animal rights was years ago when I reviewed the Animal Liberation vinyl compilation album, which you also own. I had no idea what vivisection was….. and I’m sure a lot of other people don’t either. Those images of laboratory tested animals will always haunt me because anyone can see they are in a lot of pain. Are there many animal advocacy agencies in the K-W area?
LAURA: In KW, I haven’t hooked up with a lot of like minded people other than on an individual basis. There are some cat rescue groups. Pet Patrol is one that I've been involved with in the past. In the Niagara area there is a group called Niagara Action for Animals that I got involved with when I was attending Brock University a couple of years ago and I think they do a lot of great work. So I try to support them in whatever way I can – letter writing, contributing things to yard sales, handing out flyers, that kind of stuff.
CORAL: The music of KEEW is another way to spread the word…
LAURA: As I mentioned, Skinny Puppy was a great inspiration and they are good example of how music can be heavy and aggressive and meaningful and make a significant social statement, in a harsh way sometimes, about being nice to animals .

CORAL: Their show at Fed Hall was one for the record books again horrific imagery of animals being mistreated… an effective way to get a message across. Another key compilation that came out was Animal Liberation which featured Lene Lovich, and Nina Hagen.

(***Editor’s note - Animal Liberation, produced by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen for Wax Trax records in 1987, also featured Lene Lovich’s Supernature, Shriekback’s Hanging Fire, Captain Sensible’s, Wot? No Meat, Chris and Cosey’s Silent Cry and Attrition’s Monkey in a Bin. Singer, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders is also an animal activist.***)

LAURA: The song that Lene and Nina did was a club hit ("Don’t Kill the Animals"). As much as I complain about PETA and groups like that and their shock tactics and their publicity and that, I have to admit that they did a huge amount of awareness-promoting and opening people’s eyes to things that people just didn’t think about. Now a lot of people still are tuning that out and shutting it off and saying I don’t want to know, I don’t want to think about that, but at least there’s some voice there that continues to harp away in the background no matter what. It’s a huge group with a fair bit of clout now because of its significant membership.

Part Two – Getting to the “meat” of animal rights

What I found really ironic about this chat was the fact that I had worked on a pig farm, worked at a chicken processing plant and the most horrendous place of all – a rendering plant – images and sounds that would give poor Laura and co-host Trevor nightmares for life! I had this revelation during the chat.

Part Two of Kill Eat Exploit the Weak, the interview: 
CORAL: Another thing that disgusts me – the way that exotic animals are killed simply for luxury items like ivory or sharkskin.

LAURA: They will kill animals for a tail, a fin, a tusk and then they leave the carcass there to rot and they are killing them with weapons and in numbers. The animals cannot possibly hope to combat whether in self defence or in just replenishing the species. habitats are shrinking too so it makes it harder for the species to recover or maintain themselves.

CORAL: I used work in a chicken processing plant. .. and I have seen the kill floor and evisceration first hand.

LAURA: I have heard horror stories of the other end of the chicken-farming industry, when they are actually catching them – the treatment...

CORAL: Oh yes, they stuff plastic totes containers with as many chickens as they can get in there – think of a GRT bus at rush hour when high school gets out for the day… it’s called Stuff the Bus. They stick them on a truck and they have no water – totally dehydrated. I see them stuffed into these livestock trucks and I’d hear them squawk…

LAURA: You have brought up one of the key issues of animal advocacy and that is industrial agriculture. We don’t look at animals as living creatures that we have a symbiotic relationship with, that we have to treat with some respect in order to continue to use them or interact with them as a source of food or whatever that may be. Of course, I don’t eat any meat, don’t eat dairy, don’t eat eggs, partly because it’s a statement for me. I feel that I have to take that extreme a stance, because of how strongly I feel. If we could just rid ourselves of industrial agriculture at that level, and looking at animals as a commodity to be used entirely for making profit without any respect for the individual lives that are involved, that would be huge. I believe that if we could have more respect for the other species that we share this planet with, then that could translate to having more respect for other humans on the planet, which we are sorely lacking in.

CORAL: I have been around a lot of animals over the years .. I once worked on a pig farm. Again I witnessed their treatment ...

LAURA: ... including being fed horrible, horrible food, and when they are made into cannibals, it of course leads to diseases like Mad Cow…

CORAL: I also worked in a rendering plant, so I have witnessed every horrible thing you are talking about – how ironic… there is a lot of refuse and by-products.

LAURA: There are so many animal by-products in so many things that we use on daily basis that people have no idea. Being a vegan and trying to avoid all animal products – it’s nearly impossible so I kind of consider myself a practical vegan. I actually took that phrase from Animal Alliance –a talk I went to years ago at the Vegetarian Food Fair in Toronto. But it’s about trying to live as harmlessly as possible without beating yourself up over the fact that these things are hidden everywhere. You just do the best you can to avoid them and provide an example for people – for yourself, that it’s possible.

CORAL:  People still have no clue what they put in their mouths on a daily basis. I was listening to an interview the other night about eating healthier foods. A woman was saying that eating a salad is inconvenient at a public place. With a salad you have to have a utensil. It would be easier having a hot dog! What’s in a hot dog?


Part Three – Meatless Music!

Part Three of my chat with host metal maven / vegan priestess Laura Wiebe from Kill Eat Exploit the Weak. In the final segment of this three part series Laura and Trevor recalls her favourite non-carnivorous guests!

LAURA: The way this ties into the radio show is some of the bands we play Skinny Puppy, PitchShifter... are vegetarians or activists. Pitchshifter is no longer together but they were a huge inspiration. We play bands like that but a lot of the bands we play are not necessarily vegetarians or animal activists, although there are a lot more vegetarians in the hard music scene than ever before.

CORAL: why is that?

LAURA: In some ways, I think it is tied into hardcore and the straight edge movement because there are a lot straight-edgers who are vegan and I think that’s spilled over into the metal scene a little bit too. In a lot of cases, it’s just showing that people who like heavy music can also care about the environment and animals, so we play just all our favourite bands, lots of new music that’s coming through and then intersperse it with rants about news stories we have come across that have to do with an environmental issue or animal rights issue or how medicine and science interact with the animal world.

CORAL: Over the 12 years, can you think of any highlights? Favourite guests that you have had. Live to airs?

LAURA: There’s a Kitchener-based artist living in Toronto now – he goes by the name Schizoid. His Schizoid project is digital hardcore, really heavy electronic stuff. He also has a label called D-Trash Records and he was in a black metal band for a few years called Dead of Winter.
We had both Schizoid and Dead of Winter on our show at different times, and Schizoid is himself a vegetarian and interested in a lot of animal rights issues. He has a song on the one Schizoid album – All Things Are Connected – that we have played numerous times because it fits in so well with what we are talking about. The work we have done with him is a definite highlight. Other bands: Tugnut, a Cambridge band was great to have on. There are so many. I had a taped interview with Voivod when they played at the Volcano in the winter in 1995. I got to interview Piggy and drummer Michel. Piggy died two years ago of cancer, so to have had that experience, to get to talk with them, meet with them, and hang out with them on the tour bus, in such an intimate environment, that was an amazing experience.

CORAL: You are also friends with an Australian band?

LAURA: Virgin Black who were just here a couple of weeks ago staying at our place between a London and Toronto show. I found about them through a cousin and some tape trading back in the 90s, and they have the tape and CD of my band that I was in back then called Embrace.

Devin Townsend, is a great Canadian artist that I am fan of  as well, and Edge of Sanity is
one of my favourite Swedish death metal bands.

CORAL: Something I have always wanted to ask you – at what age did you get into music?

LAURA: I have always been into it... I had older sisters, which meant I exposed to music at a young age, so I was listening to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and AC/DC when I was three years old, that kind of thing. I played the piano when I was pretty small, maybe four or something like that. But it wasn’t until high school that I really got super passionate about it. I was in every band and every choir that I could possibly be in at school and I started getting away from the academic stuff and focusing on music, picking up the guitar, wanting to be in a band and of course I did that eventually.

CORAL: What’s your favourite music?

LAURA: Metal in general is my preferred style of music but within metal I tend to gravitate toward doom metal, goth metal, black metal – stuff that’s a little darker – melody and darkness are the things I tend to like, so that’s why I also like goth and some of the goth industrial. 

CORAL: We were talking about female singers …

LAURA: There are some amazing female metal singers and instrumentalists. Some of them are excellent growlers. It makes me jealous - I can do it for maybe line at a time but to sustain a whole song, and some of these women can growl like you would never believe.
CORAL: Isn’t that hard on the vocal chords?
LAURA: Well, there’s technique involved and a lot of practice, and a lot of training.
CORAL: So you actually, teach music as well.
LAURA: Popular music university classes - I’ve worked as a teaching assistant, marking papers and leading seminars, and as a researcher, so I am involved in the academic side of music as well.
CORAL: What do you see happening right now in youth music trends?
LAURA: Emo’s huge with them these days …
CORAL: Right .. for those who don’t know, what exactly is Emo music? I find it very depressing.
LAURA: It’s a little more whiny than depressing. It’s emotional hardcore or emotional punk. Tends to be the heart on your sleeve kind of stuff.
CORAL: Like This Mortal Coil, or The Cocteau Twins? The 4AD bands?
LAURA: Goth is more dark atmospheres … whereas Emo I tend to see it as a little more angsty. It’s a little more ‘My heart’s broken and I am pissed off’ …
TREVOR: Like Morrissey on a bad day.
LAURA: Ah, but Morrissey is another inspirational artist for a person who doesn’t eat meat!