Interview: Peregrine’s Kevin Tucker
Some listeners may be somewhat hesitant to approach the band because of their hardliner stance on the misunderstood philosophy of anarcho-primitivism, which holds that the only way for human to survive is to “rewild”, or forgo the stresses of civilization for a less technological, more natural society, more in line with hunter-gathering than anything we’re used to. Not exactly a philosophy that is currently in vogue, but then, metal always tends to be ahead of its time, and frankly, as metalheads, we should be proud of our forward-thinking nature. Likewise, Peregrine are always moving forward even as they propose to move back, so to speak, making them one of the most consistently interesting groups of the past five years. Mixing blackened death metal a la Behemoth with ’90s crust of the His Hero is Gone breed, Peregrine are never ones to avoid challenges or expanding their sound. I spoke with Peregrine frontman and philosopher Kevin Tucker (himself a renowned theorist on primitivist theory) about the band, their beliefs, their future, and their past, and his responses were as surprising to me as they were enlightening.
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[Editor’s Note: I highly respect Mr. Tucker and his various philosophies, and can say, from what little experience I have had in contact with him, that he is a very dignified, thoughtful man. That said, he is quite passionate about views that most people would call VERY radical, and I will admit that there are many things he believes that I do not agree with. However, as with all philosophies, there are doubtless some things which one agrees with and some things which one doesn’t: It is up to the discerning reader to choose which is which. Thus, keep an attitude of open-mindedness while reading this interview.]
First of all, this may be a question with an obvious answer, but you guys are playing metal music, which is a post-industrial musical genre reliant upon electric instruments—hell, the name of the genre is “metal”, which is about as non-organic as one can get. How, then, do you reconcile your chosen art form with the fairly radical brand of anarcho-primitivism you subscribe to? What is it about metal that appeals to the primitive ideal?
There’s a clear gap between the world as it is and the world as it has been and will be.
To put it simply, anarcho-primitivism is a response, a reaction. A central aspect of AP revolves around the idea that nomadic gatherer-hunter societies and some horticultural societies embody the reality of “primal anarchy”. That isn’t an ideology, but a situation which is lived, not prescribed. So you wouldn’t come across nomadic gatherer-hunters who were self-described anarchists or anarcho-primitivists. To be an anarcho-primitivist almost necessarily implies a juxtaposition between where things are and where you’d like them to be.
It’d be easy to say that we’re hypocrites, yet that’s missing the point. This isn’t just some notion about how I’d like to live my life. It’s not some solitary ideal based on being pissed about not being a gatherer-hunter myself, but a statement about the impacts of civilization. It’s all a reaction and a response.
I wouldn’t try to argue that there’s something that’s innate about death metal to a gatherer-hunter’s existence. Indigenous societies the world over are all fond of singing, but I think you’ll rarely find a blast beat or growl. It’s preference and obviously has to do with culture, but within civilization you have so much anger and frustration. And it has its place. We’re living in this completely disconnected society, built upon subjugating the wildness that surrounds us and drives us. All of our needs for community and movement are crushed by economics, politics, and religion, and then we’ve got this constant overload of technological garbage, gadgets, and “social networks”, and it just leads to overload.
What has drawn me to death metal is the aggression, the immediacy, and the power of it. You can feel it. Obviously it’s not for everyone, but the impulse has more to do with being thrown into a powerless situation and just having so much disgust for the “air-conditioned nightmare”. In a way, that’s channeling the primitive ideal of addressing your reality through music, but also that underlying want to just be able to get up and move on, to get on with things. But the problem is still there. Civilization is still there.
I’m not saying the AP critique is all just about anger, but it’s there and needs to be heard.
So, in turn, do you feel that, through death metal, one is able to obtain a small portion of the primal truth through musical aesthetic? When I listen to Peregrine, I hear lots of parts with heavy tom usage and lots of pounding fills, somewhat reminiscent of tribal drums. Is at least part of the appeal of death metal the fact that death metal vocals sound like the grunts of a wild beast or, in particular, a rewilded human? Do you often connect this vocal presence to this concept of a greater, primal state of being accessed through the violent passion of death metal?
I don’t want to pretend that there’s some form within death metal that’s innately more “primitive”. I really do think it has more to do with the aggression resulting from civilization. In a sense, we’re making the noises of an irate, captive animal because that’s exactly what we are as individuals caught in the domestication cycle. It has to do with circumstance.
The anthropologist Colin Turnbull was extremely interested in music and gatherer-hunters. As a part of his work with the Mbuti, he did some analysis about the nature of their songs and found that they were tonally and structurally more complex than music in increasingly domesticated societies. That is until you have extremely stratified societies with entire classes of experts, at which point it becomes a science more than a passion. If we’re going to make a stretch, you could say that maybe death metal’s structural complexity is channeling an innate form of expression, but it’d be a stretch at best. It’s a lot more honest of me to just take the “violent passion” at face value.
Death metal is always presented as an intrinsically destructive force, and Peregrine does seem to be heavy on the destruction of civilization. However, in primitivism there’s the idea of a rebirth of the world after civilization falls, a new growth of nature and wilderness. Do you feel your music communicates this birth, and if so, why does the quintessentially destructive death metal subgenre work so well for what is essentially a philosophy of life and vigor? Does the death metal sound always work for what you wish to convey, or do you sometimes wish to switch things up a bit? What do you want people to hear in the music of Peregrine?
I don’t want to sound too grandiose about it, but while I hope that there is a bit more than just the destructive aspect, I know that’s where the music really stems from. The other side is there, but I’m not sure if I’m a skilled enough musician to really convey it. The music, in my eyes, comes from the gut. I don’t use traditional song structures for Peregrine and part of that is that I want the song to have a kind of arc to it that is like a little story. I’m not sure how well that really translates for anyone who is just listening to it, but all the emotion that extends beyond the anger really just goes into the lyrics. It’s not based on a rigid structure that allows for a chorus or set verse or something like that. For what I’m doing, repetition generally just doesn’t work in a typical manner.
However, it really depends on the song. Something like “Starvation’s Servants” (which is about the religious justifications in the domesticating process, i.e. “work for your rewards”) is pretty straightforward, but a song like “Reduced To Ashes” (which is about resisting domestication through physical acts) or “The Final Act” (which is about being unable to live in the world civilization has created) have a totally different narrative, and I think the song fits the arc there. I feel like Peregrine is meant to be kind of blunt and straightforward. I know a lot of somewhat-similar bands will feel the need to move on, to have clean vocal parts, or some kind of acoustic, folksy element. I don’t judge them for it or anything, I just don’t really see it as a part of what I’m doing with the band. And if there is some kind of interlude on an album (which there currently isn’t), it’s meant to convey a particular point.
So while it’s not a matter of disrespect or disinterest, there’s not going to be some huge surprise album down the line that is all folksy and really dramatic in the classical sense, because I feel like those emotions aren’t being represented in the death metal side. If I’m inclined to do something which isn’t in line with Peregrine stuff, I’d just do it under another name. If the nature of the music is leaving a particular aspect out, I just have to work harder to push that through the lyrics, booklets, talking between songs, etc.
On a less theoretical level, I personally hear lots of Behemoth and His Hero is Gone in your sound; are there any other musical (not abstract, so to speak) influences that you consider unique and/or integral to the Peregrine sound?
Unique, probably not quite, but definitely Behemoth and His Hero is Gone are both huge influences. Napalm Death are a huge influence, early and recent stuff really. I’d say that I wouldn’t be playing death metal if it weren’t for them, but would any of us? Misery Index are another one and I’m always stoked to see another band like that keep it political and real. From Ashes Rise might be up there above His Hero is Gone in my book and I’m really excited that Brad Boatright from FAR is going to be mixing, mastering and doing some guest vocals on our side of the upcoming split 7-inch with the mighty Masakari. I think a lot of the influences come through in little ways here and there, but for the most part it’s pretty straightforward; mix crust, death metal, and a touch of black metal and there you have it.
I’d agree with the straightforward nature of the Peregrine sound, and also with the overarching Napalm Death influence. (I’d even go so far to say that, if you’ve been playing extreme metal since 1987, you have been in some way influenced by either Napalm Death or Repulsion.) Speaking to the musical side of the band, who in Peregrine writes the music and/or lyrics? Is it an entirely collective effort, or do you, as the band’s philosophical center, generally have the largest role in guiding its aesthetic direction?
I’ve always written all the lyrics for Peregrine. There are and have been other members on the same level, but it’s just something I’ve always done. I originally started the band with Clem [Adams, guitars/vocals] who was on the Agrarian Curse and Green Scare benefit split and now does Savagist (with former Peregrine bassist, Daniel Shroyer, as well). We started coming up with some riffs that set the tone for Peregrine and some of those were on the Agrarian Curse, but I’ve written all of the music. Whoever is drumming usually plays a big role in how the writing process goes. For the most part, writing the music is kind of a solitary thing for me. It helps to have a drummer there and everyone’s input, but for the most part I write alone.
How has the metal community as a whole and the death metal community in particular reacted to your existence? I am most interested in the death metal scene’s response because so many death metal scenes are ultra-orthodox (read: reactionary) and/or intensely apolitical. Do you get positive feedback about the band’s politics when playing shows, or does the philosophical aspect often go secondary to the music? Have you ever faced outright hostility?
It’s been a mix. How many people listen to us for music or for the lyrics? I really don’t know. The surprising thing is that I came up from crust punk and grindcore. To me they were always just innately political or anarchist genres and I expected to have a bit more traction there, but it’s just not like that anymore. So much of what’s going on in music is just like background noise for having a good time. I’m not saying that’s always a horrible thing, but it’s just become totally one-sided. I remember that you could see crusties somewhere and just know, off the bat, that they’d be anarchists, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobe, etc., but those times are gone. No more assumptions.
There are still good folks there, but when I talk between songs or something at a crusty kind of show it’s just like this irritating thing. Not in the sense that they’ve heard it all before, just that they don’t want to hear it. Like being punk as fuck is enough. And it’s bullshit. I’m not sure what happened or where, maybe it’s just part of getting older, but I remember when you’d see a band and they had substance. You can look at those bands now and see that it was a phase for them, but why let it slide? Keep it angry!
Outright hostility? Surprisingly not. Some homophobe was spouting off outside a show once and that was ended, but it was more or less unrelated to what we were saying or doing. Most of that shit is on the internet. Just like 99% of shit talking that goes on now, it’s all just hype. A lot of the hardcore scene has been hostile towards Peregrine because I’m a former vegan. Never mind what we stand for, it just comes down to that a lot. We played the Day of Suffering reunion show and I expected at least someone would say something, but, again, all internerd hype. The response that we got was really positive. A lot of hardcore kids have shown a lot of support and really get it. It’s great when they come to shows, and I almost feel bad when they have to wait so long for such short breakdowns! The metal scene has been the most surprising. There’s no real expectation for metal when it comes to some real issue banter between songs. There’s not much precedent for it, so it’s never really seen as a cliche thing, and the response has been better because of it.
In terms of anarchist based scenes, anarcho-primitivism still has been a peripheral idea. You have tons of bands pushing on it without really knowing or acknowledging it, especially crust bands bashing notions of “Progress”, but the wording isn’t there. So the fall-back is the old IWW/Syndicalist, tired thing. That’s where Profane Existence left it and, at best, that’s kind of where it remains. So, while the notions aren’t always there, the banter is. The Syndicalists hate anarcho-primitivism. And it’s easy to see why; it’s the antithesis of their anachronistic ideas about industrialism and production. So if, and I really mean if, there’s some direct blow back when I’m talking about the philosophical underpinnings, it’s usually knee jerk reactions and they never follow through with it. I try, but they just back off it.
The metal world has its anarchist roots, but they’re not so clear. What would we have without Napalm Death, Carcass, At The Gates, and all those bands? But when you see them, it’s not really in your face, so it’s not expected. The ideas behind AP are very real things. Domestication isn’t some vague concept; it’s a daily reality check that we face through religion, work, politics, and in the city or on farms. We can all feel that there’s something horribly wrong about this civilization, regardless of our ability to pinpoint or articulate its source.
I honestly find that it’s at metal shows where there’s more reaction because there are more people who care enough to listen. We’ve played bar shows before where it’s a bunch of rowdy drunks and we’d just play and I wouldn’t talk as much. It’s not often, but it’s just inevitable when you’re in a band. There was one show where some relatively sober folks in the back approached me after we played and were seriously bummed that I didn’t get into it and just lay it out there. That really said a lot to me. I honestly don’t even find the shows as interesting if I don’t get that out there. It’s like neutering the music. The music and the message go hand-in-hand. I can’t do the fake crowd rallying. I’m not really a front man in that regard. If I’m not doing it honestly, then it’s not worth doing.
You mentioned that you started out as a crust punk. How did you get into metal in the first place? Was it a leap in faith from the often cynical crust scene, or a logical progression?
I was into metal when I was really young, but when I got into anarchism I got into punk and that whole scene. Back then all the crust stuff was really tied to direct action in terms of protest, actions, boycotts, and the like. I don’t think there was always a huge depth to it, but people were trying. Bands were touring with book distros all the time, talking between songs, lengthy lyric books, the whole deal. Like I said before, the sad part is that it obviously didn’t go deep enough. All the CrimethInc stuff seemed to take over, and it became about this personal stuff more than overarching ideas and action. Everything just fell by the wayside.
I don’t know if I would have said the crust scene was entirely cynical in the ’90s. Obviously you had the junkies and that kind of stuff there, but it was really charged at the time. It had energy and anger. It’s hard to tell now because back then it was horribly recorded demos and 7-inches, so it doesn’t really stand up, but it was pissed. The punk stuff was always more cynical, but I wasn’t really that stoked on it. Metal came back into play really quickly. I was always more drawn to grind. Bands like Extreme Noise Terror and Disrupt just bridge the gap, but then it’s right into Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Carcass, Nasum, Hellnation, and so on. I don’t think it’s a matter of being a logical progression, just personal preference really. There’s definitely a metal side to crust, but it’s not really a place where there’s total crossover.
Again though, listening to crust or hardcore at the time generally seemed easy and the metal world was a lot more complicated. There are a ton of racists, misogynists, homophobes, etc, so it’s always a pain in the ass trying to filter out the fucked up bands. But in the crust and hardcore world there was a scene element and when someone was fucked up, you’d hear about it and then it became a huge thing. Unfortunately it’s not like that anymore and there’s a ton of sleaze in the crust world, some of it even facilitated by CrimethInc. It’s actually pretty disgusting how bad things have gotten. After we did the Green Scare benefit split with Auryn, we found out that their singer was totally using the band to sleaze with young girls in really sketchy ways. Everyone from Auryn called him out and dissolved in response to it, but he went on tour with From The Depths (a CrimethInc band through and through) immediately after. Even worse, the CI high-uppers tried attacking anyone who called this dude out even though he was knowingly using the politics to spread STDs. It’s pathetic, but that’s where things are now. The politics, for the most part, are gone. Or at the very least they’re not a given within genres.
I don’t want to give the impression that it’s all gone. Ictus, Marytrdöd, Masakari; just to name a few, are openly green anarchist crust/hardcore bands, but you have metal bands like Misery Index, Arch Enemy (even if it’s a bit cheesy), and, of course, Napalm Death that are all still really political. It’s easy to blame CrimethInc for sinking the politics and anger in crust and hardcore. To a degree that’s true, but it’s got more to do with society at large and the changing nature of technology. Everything is just so fast now, and changes come and go so quickly that the attention span is too short to stay pissed. People aren’t reading much and a blog has about as much credentials as a researched book or some completely inane tweet. I don’t know how to change that. It’s a huge question, but it’s rarely being asked and it’s a serious problem. It really just comes back to keeping it out there and pressing on everything. It’s another part of the domestication process and it should be fought like any other
On a similar note, what bands are you listening to of late? In terms of anarcho-primitivist music, the only other metal band besides Peregrine I’ve heard of in that realm is Seeds In Barren Fields, who Peregrine did a split with last year. What are some other worthwhile primitivist bands (or even bands who are able to evoke the aural image of primitivism while not having any stated agenda)? Is there a community of sorts, and if so, how much diversity is present within this community?
This question is always a little harder than I’d like it to be. Again, I think anarchist ideas within the music realm generally stay pretty stagnant. There were a lot of older crust bands that really toyed with AP ideas; bashing the notions of Progress, the merit of civilization, technology, etc. For the most part though, it was kind of a separate thing and you didn’t have the divides that you see within more explicitly anarchist circles because anarcho-punk was enough of an identity to cover a lot of contradicting ideas. So you have bands like Amebix, Neurosis, Nausea, His Hero is Gone, Dropdead, Doom, Disrupt; all these crust bands that bashed in the right direction, but didn’t use the wording. Some were really on point; Initial State/.Fuckingcom, Sedition (they had Survival International pamphlets in the “earthbeat” LP), Anti-Product, Appalachian Terror Unit, Axiom, Black Kronstadt, and so on, but very few self identifying AP bands. So there’s a lot of musically oriented stuff in the AP world, but it’s not attached to punk or metal or anything like that the way anarcho-punk is. Any bands picking it up have been kind of peripheral in the development of AP ideas, action, or whatever else. There are some there, but it’s not as easy to pinpoint. So the list is kind of underwhelming, but that’s not to understate their quality.
A few easy bands to mention are ex-Peregrine bands: Savagist, Barren Scepter (ex-Auryn as well), plus Tim, our current drummer and drummer on the Green Scare split, has an excellent AP blackened death band called Woccon. Seeds in Barren Fields are another one. Killtheslavemaster probably merit the title of the first explicitly AP band. Burning Empires (ex-KTSM plus past/current members of Misery Signals) are a bit more in the hardcore realm, but fully AP. As a whole, I wish my list had dozens of AP metal bands, but it’s just not out there in the metal world the way that it is with the more crust/punk/hardcore elements. Misery Index are definitely heading in the GA direction, but I’m not sure if they’re identifying that way or not. Heirs to Thievery toy with a lot of really AP leaning topics. Heaven Shall Burn, where hardcore and death metal meet, have some amazing stuff. If Peregrine did the ‘Endzeit’ video, I’d be in jail right now.
Green anarchist bands are a little easier to pinpoint; Undying, Lockstep, Gather, Martyrdöd, Ictus, Resistant Culture . . . I’m not sure if Masakari would identify as GA or not, but they’re amazing regardless. And Corubo offer up some amazing indigenous black metal. I imagine that somewhere in this list there’s probably an expectation for Cascadian black metal and the red and black metal stuff. There’s a lot going on there, and I’m sure that there are some bands in there that identify as AP or green anarchist, but I don’t easily put those bands in the AP/GA category.
For the most part, I’ve been really disappointed with bands like Wolves in the Throne Room. I get that black metal is supposed to have this mystique to it, but it gets so irritating seeing people peddle this pagan identity as some inherently eco-radical persona because that’s not the case. The pagans were colonizers. They weren’t worshipping the earth when they were attempting to conquer Arctic gatherer-hunter societies with their gods and agriculture. If it’s a rejection of Christianity, well, it just doesn’t go deep enough. It’s only through Christian eyes that Viking culture looks earth-bound.
Now I know a lot of the Cascadian BM scene looks at it differently and for the most part, I don’t care. If you think you can find some positive, eco-light in the pagan stuff, I hope it’s a stepping stone for you. But it becomes entrapped in all this identity games and I just wish every single time I see some mysteriously short interview with those bands that they’d just step the fuck up and make a statement about what they stand for. I’m not into the artsy shit and just dancing around the edges of this historically racist milieu and playing with who owns what. If someone is asking you questions about race, the answers are black and white. You don’t need to justify playing black metal if you aren’t racist. Just take your stance. It might make you look a little less eerie, but that’s better than looking Aryan right? It’s a little harsh to make a tirade before some ritual set, but I don’t care. I’ll give credit to Austin of Seidr/Panopticon for putting it out there: anarchist, anti-racist, etc. I don’t agree about the pagan stuff, but it’s that easy to take a stand.
What happens instead is all these bands playing with the imagery, wearing Thor’s hammer necklaces, and all that shit, and then suddenly Burzum is just scary music about gnomes and wizards. Yeah, fuck that, it’s about crazy ass, racist bullshit. Or, just the same, I get furious about people pretending that shitty ass Darkthrone being racist was just a thing of the past. They put out racist press releases at the same time that anarchist bands were getting fucked with for suspected links to the ALF/ELF. Darkthrone is the same dudes, same band. Why do they get a free pass? If you want to put on jewelry and try to look evil, cool, but when you come around looking like a Neo-Nazi, expect to get treated like one. The RABM stuff has attracted some decent stuff, but I generally feel like it’s a lot more forgiving towards Communism than AP. It’s been a path for some to find out about more and even better for getting some of the Cascadian BM bands to stand up as anarchists, but kind of equally estranged when it comes to more GA/AP leaning bands.
The point is, if you’re reading this and playing metal, don’t be afraid to let it out.
It’s funny you mention the attempts to disconnect art and artist. A few months ago, I wrote an article on whether or not it is possible to separate the two (for example, whether one can listen to Burzum and not feel culpable on account of enjoying the music alone, not Varg’s politics, and how this becomes sketchy when you encounter more problematic bands like Arghoslent). With this in mind, is the philosophical content of Peregrine so inextricably linked with the music that separating art from artist becomes impossible or an untenable position? Would you even want someone to be able to justify this separation, or would you rather the listener either absorb the complete package or avoid it entirely?
I’ve been a musician just barely longer than I’ve been an anarchist, but I consider my views central to everything else that I do. You cannot separate Peregrine from anarcho-primitivist ideas. This is my band and that is the message that drives it. The same goes for Burzum: you cannot separate Varg’s ideas and his music. Obviously that sounds like a slippery slope. Do I need to philosophically justify everything I listen to? No. I’m not saying that I’ll only listen to anarchist or anarcho-primitivist music, but there are definite lines that I draw. I don’t listen to misogynist, racist, nationalist, or homophobic bands. Period. There’s enough bands out there that I don’t feel tethered to any particular group. If I know some serious shit about a band or band member, I just can’t get past it, and I’m fine with that. And we don’t even have to get into Burzum on this. I used to love Phobia, but then I found out about Shane beating his partner at Maryland Death Fest and that’s it. Done.
I’m familiar with this argument; that certain ideas override their maker, and I think that can have some truth to it, but when it comes to art and music, I don’t see it the same. John Zerzan [http://www.johnzerzan.net/], a fellow anarcho-primitivist writer and friend, cites Heidegger pretty often and gets a good amount of flak for it. It’s no secret that during World War II Heidegger aligned with the Nazis. When it comes to writing, there’s a context that’s more intent and deliberate. You can lay it out; you can pull apart arguments and deal with ideas in a different way. If it comes down to ideas and arguments, you can just lay it open and tear it apart. It’s all contextual and it’s not like if John was trying to cover a “Heidegger song” because it influenced him in some way.
But music is different. It’s not meant to be torn apart and examined in that way or picked over and chosen from. I’m not going to say that I listen to some band because of a tiny element from some songs, but because it’s a package that I can listen to and like hearing. It’s a package deal. And that package comes out of the persons who create it. If those people are racists, then it’s a part of that music. If it’s angry music written by drunk/junked up misogynists, then it’s a part of that music. I can’t make the distinction and I don’t see a reason to.
I look at it from both sides. I can’t listen to that shit and I don’t want some racist, sexist asshole listening to Peregrine. I edit an anarcho-primitivist journal, Species Traitor [http://www.facebook.com/speciestraitor]. Years ago, some nationalist anarchist had his profile picture on his MySpace page of him wearing a Species Traitor shirt. I gave that dude shit constantly. I wanted that dude to know, as the writer and editor of that journal, that I thought [he was] a fucking piece of shit. It’s just pretty straightforward in my eyes. I’m not into any of this for popularity or to try and sneak these ideas in to some racist shitbag’s itunes list. It’s all upfront. And that’s how I want it to be.
So, as far as the question of whether the music or the message comes first? For me it’s the message. I think a lot of people probably feel that way, but it’s hard to say. More often than not, a song comes from a message that I want to convey, and I try to tailor the music to that to a certain degree. The entire Green Scare benefit split is an example of that. I can’t make people read the lyrics or follow up on any of it. But I can definitely keep it in their faces.
I’m with you for the most part on that. I used to be on the “art, not artist” side of things, but lately I’ve come to realize that the two are often inseparable. On a differing note, for those who haven’t heard of you guys before, could you explain the origins of the name Peregrine? At first glance it doesn’t seem to be a particularly “metal” name, yet from my understanding it has much relevance as to the band’s lyrical content.
Personally speaking, I just have a really deep love for birds and birds of prey in particular. The name comes from the Peregrine falcon. I’ve had people who thought it was from an old BMX company or Peregrine Took from Lord of the Rings, but it’s neither of those.
I really just think the Peregrine is an amazing bird; its resilience in particular is significant. Peregrines were almost completely wiped out because of DDT but have been making a comeback. They can survive in any number of situations and circumstances. I’ve just always felt like they’re adapting and waiting, a sign that wildness can’t be eliminated and that it lurks everywhere: on farms, in cities, in the forest, waiting for this nightmare to end so they can reclaim what domestication has tried taking away.
We spoke a little before about where you see Peregrine going aesthetically as a band. Where do you see Peregrine going from a political or existential point of view? Do you wish for a day when the Collapse will occur to the point that you no longer need to spread your message musically? If you ever do find yourself successfully rewilded, would you still have the urge to make and consume metal music (or music at all, for that matter), or would you be at enough internal peace to concentrate on other endeavours?
I’d like to think there’d be an end point in rewilding, but really it’s just a process. It’s an undoing of the domestication process. The flip side of it is wildness, but that’s not an end point. To really live wild, to really re-enter the world as it is isn’t just a step or check list; it’s a constant. Rewilding is about relearning and learning the essential skill set that life amongst the wildness requires, but it’s more than that. It’s not about a survivalistic sense of perseverance, it’s about living. There’s not a point at which you find yourself at peace with the world and know everything around you.
I think of rewilding as a process of radical humility; basically undoing all the fuddled garbage that a scientific rationality imposes on our experiences and encounters with the world. We carry this horribly unfortunate sense of economy where we have to weigh the merit and value of beings or objects. The bind of domesticity is seeing the world as a resource. To undo that process isn’t about chemistry or biology, it’s about breaking down this abstract, destructive methodology of reducing everything into consumable pieces so that we can learn about them through with the colonizer’s bravado.
The beauty of wildness comes in its simplicity. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s so easy to over analyze everything and to jump back to the books to try and understand why an insect does something, what relationship two animals might have. I’m not saying there’s no merit in field guides and books, far from it, but really it comes down to opening yourself to experience. At the end of the day, after all the dirt time in the world, you just kind of have to get over your ego and realize that the view you brought into the forest with you might not be right. There’s all kinds of moments where the connections in life just kind of line up and it’s this huge relief to just say; “wow, it’s that clear”.
Ecology, wildness; it’s all about cycles and interconnectedness. I think the world that Reason has brought us has all just been a justification for why we want to believe we’re not animals. But that’s wrong. We’re wild animals. We’re just like the monkeys at the zoo who go insane and start throwing shit at each other, getting really violent or just lost in trying to understand our surroundings. This isn’t what we were meant for. Fortunately, one of our biggest hurdles is just accepting that: realizing that we are animals, that we need each other, that we need community, that we need clean air and water, that our minds and bodies are the same as our nomadic gatherer-hunter ancestors and cousins.
My message and my purpose is rewilding. And I hope, more than anything, that I can one day live without civilization. I dream about that moment when the machines finally stop for the last time and it all goes silent: no more machines running, no more cars driving, no more planes in the sky, no worries about paying rent and bills, no worries about what will happen when the next hydrofracking site goes up, no more worrying about how I’m going to eat without demolishing forests on another part of the world or contributing to deep ocean wells that are just pouring out toxins into the sea. It goes on and on. The collapse won’t be an event. It isn’t now and it won’t be. Just like domestication, it’s a process, it’s an ongoing thing. And it began the second that cheap oil peaked.
We don’t have back-up plans, we don’t have some looming technology that will take the place of cheap oil. What we’re seeing happening all around us; wars over oil supplies, more dangerous and costly methods of energy production (hydrofracking for natural gas or deep sea oil deposits, mountaintop removal, tar sands, just to name a few), increasing dependence of psychoactive drugs (legal or not), rapidly worsening occurrences of massive violence (school/mall/social shootings), a massive influx towards alternate techno-personas, everything that is happening around us is a symptom of overshoot.
This civilization, spread across the Earth and reaching beyond, is tied to its technologically routed logistics in order to do even the most minute processing. It’s completely dependent upon circumstance and control, yet every day, every minute, we’re seeing that illusion of control fade. We put our faith in technology, we put our faith in governments, corporations and religion, but they’re no more in control with this civilization than they were in Rome, Easter Island, Cahokia, Mesopotamia, and on, and on. This civilization will collapse just as its predecessors, but this civilization is on a global scale with no recourse for a draw down.
In all of our arrogance and pride, we tossed aside the knowledge that allowed this cancer to spread even a decade or two ago. The industrial farmer has no idea of how to grow acres of corn without petrochemicals. The tween has no idea how to do math without a calculator. My job is working at an organic, Amish farmer’s co-op, but if the internet goes down, we’ve got nothing. The power goes out and everything that the legacy of Progress has produced becomes a useless, toxic artifact. And that is the back-drop. It’s not a matter of religious or political belief, by using limited resources, we are ultimately bringing about the demise of civilization. I see hope in that. I feel some sense of gratitude that this can’t go on forever, and, in my opinion, it won’t even go on much longer. The purpose can be summed up as this: the sooner, the better; the more that change is based on choice, the better.
I think about that non-stop. And I know that indigenous societies are notorious for singing, but when you think about it, it makes sense. We spend so much time trying to cover our bases with money because we’re powerless. We have to find a way to get money to buy food and have little to no control over the system that brings it to the stores or restaurants where we work. We spend so much time, typically twice as much time at our jobs than what a hunter-gatherer spends taking care of their basic needs, just trying to work for money to spend and cover the debt required just to function in this society. And if we don’t, then we end up in one institution or another, but it’s a dead end and there’s no certainty. We’re sold the imagery of upward mobility in a stagnant environment, but we don’t have control over the environment or even the economy. So when we sing, it’s anger or escapism or longing. When rooted peoples sing, it’s reverence to what they know. Music is expression and that will always be there.
So when and if I’m living without the burdens of civilization, it won’t stop me from a little blast or double bass tapping, but it just might mean changing the medium of expression, not getting rid of it. I truly enjoy playing the guitar and the collapse of civilization won’t make the millions that exist vanish, but even if it did, I’d say it’s worth it
I leave the last words to your discretion.
Thank you for the discussion, as always, it’s appreciated when the message is acknowledged as more than just background noise. My purpose is never to tell people what to think. I’m not a part of a party selling newspapers or anything like that; I think the ideas stand on their own, and I’ll stand behind them. The consequences of civilization are very real, and it’s reach is always further than we would like to believe. I hope folks are interested enough to look into it.
That said, nearly everything Peregrine has ever done or will do has tried to raise money, even though the amounts are pretty meager, and nearly all of that has always gone to the folks who’ve been wrapped up in the Green Scare round ups and Survival International. Sadly the number of people facing time as “terrorists” despite only attacking property, not people, has constantly risen throughout the duration of Peregrine’s existence. Even more sadly, a number of those folks have turned to snitching which drives the years up for everyone else who held true. Those folks deserve support. Even if you don’t agree with their actions, it’s pretty clear that there’s a vast difference between targeting property and killing people, that getting 8, 10, or 22 years in isolation, is insane. Look into it. Survival International [http://www.survivalinternational.org/] is the one organization that I feel has truly worked to make immediate improvements and draw attention to the plight of indigenous peoples worldwide. They’re not the only one, but they might be the only ones to do it with full respect for the wants of the indigenous societies: to be left alone and be able to live as they have for thousands of years. Everything we buy, everything we do within civilization has global ramifications. It’s the epitome of irony that this fleeting civilization, even as it faces its inevitable conclusion, will go to such ridiculous extremes to exterminate those whose continued perseverance shines a light on our ability to outlive our Frankenstein.
So if you’re looking for some places to put support, those are two of the best that I can point towards. Outside of that, wildness exists. It’s not a place or thing, but a part of our being and the underlying context for all life. It’s not an ideology or platform, it just is. And when the lights ultimately go out, that’s what we have left. And I don’t think that’s a bad place to be.
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Peregrine – “Anatomy of the Machine”
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