Recently 1Q94, a heavy/groove metal band from Bangkok, Thailand, came to the attention of our HeadBangers LifeStyle headquarters, featuring musicians who prefer to stay anonymous. The four band members, known as “The Nameless Beasts”, are not doing that because they want to be cool and trendy, but because they don’t want to distract the world from the real purpose and message of their collective.
The band idea was sprout in 2013 and a year after their formation 1Q94 released the first 3-track demo `12 Monkeys’. Remarkable is that since then these guys have only been recording metal covers of popular songs and acoustic covers of metal songs [all penned by plant-powered artists] for their YouTube channel. Probably a smart move, since 1Q94 donate every penny they earn to the Vegan Foundation of Thailand, and YouTube being a platform that reach an enormous crowd.
Anyway, the info sheet and the lyrical themes about Anti-speciesism, Animal Rights and Animal Liberation definitely has made me curious about the story and purpose of this band, so I decided to get some answers of these selfless metal heads with a mission.
What made you decide to form a Vegan and Green metal band back in 2013 in the first place?
,,The Beasts first started to play metal together at the end of August 2013. For many months, the songs were sung in doggerel since they could not find any lyrics that matched the music they were trying to put together. All of them were following a plant-based diet for different reasons, ranging from animal compassion to health concern by way of eco-responsibility, which naturally led to lyrics focusing on animals and the way they are treated which impacts the population and the environment.’’
But what does it exactly mean, being a Vegan and Green metal band?
,,“Vegan metal” expresses the direct relation to animals whereas “Green metal” includes them in a much broader approach of the ecological disaster happening at the moment and which started the sixth massive extinction.’’
Where does the band stand for and how do you present that in your music and lyrics?
,,A metal web radio DJ described 1Q94’s music as “the most hippie form of metal”. That comment made a lot of sense! The motto of the band is “Live and let live” but instead of conveying the message with easy listening music and general public lyrics, the band chose a much darker and heavier approach.’’
How do you promote your message in general?
,,Living in Thailand, we are quite isolated so we mainly rely on the Internet to give an echo to the band’s message and music. 1Q94 try to strictly stick to a video release schedule, which follows the solstices and equinoxes with special celebrations of songs or plant-powered artists. The band would also like to do more collaborations.’’
What do you want to accomplish with 1Q94?
,,Give the Vegan Foundation [of Thailand] the resources they need to accomplish meaningful educational projects, both at national and international levels. In order to do that, the band hope to become the soundtrack of people sharing similar concerns and who could get involved.’’
Why are the band members anonymous and present themselves as The Nameless Beasts and why not presenting their real names and identity?
,,Right from the beginning of the band, the members wished that their potential audience pay attention to the actual content rather than the people behind it, especially when the latter highly consider private life. They read and heard so many thought provocative stories from celebrities for whom stardom became a burden: they cannot even go to a convenient store to buy a drink without being almost assaulted by fans or people in quest of social recognition.
As far as the real names are concerned, the Beasts have always considered bands as a collective effort, which has already a name. Therefore, there is no need to add more names. We can easily compare this with food: you call a dish by its name but not by its ingredients. The latter are essential but it is only when they interact together that they constitute a new entity. That is the way that the Beasts prefer seeing bands.’’
The band has two mascots: Aldo the Ape and P’ Tangmo, the Watermelon Man. What is the idea behind that?
,,Aldo first came to life when the band logo was drawn. The very first version of him had quite a happy face but it did not reflect the rather dark mood of the first original songs. Later, 1Q94 started to record cover songs to feed their YouTube channel; those are either metal covers of popular songs or acoustic rendition of metal songs, that were originally penned by artists who are/have been veg(etari)an in their life such as Herbie Hancock, the “father” of the Watermelon. It’s after the shooting of the video and the account, given by the videographers, of the positive reactions of the public during the filming, that the idea of having another mascot to show the brighter side of the band came. 1Q94 is highly influenced by films, especially Korean ones in which heroes are not 100 % good, and villains are not 100 % evil like we can too often see in blockbusters; both categories have at least two faces and this is what the band wanted to recreate with those two mascots.’’
The only release with original songs seems to be the 3-track [demo] EP `12 Monkeys’ in 2014, featuring the songs: “12 Monkeys”, “War Horses” and “Schrödinger’s Cat”. What can you say about this release? Can people still buy it and where?
,,It is right, the only physical release so far is the 2014 “12 Monkeys” EP but the band has been regularly recording and releasing cover songs for their YouTube channel. That CD gave us the chance to be included in the great and selective Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives. It is a great honour! There are only few copies left that are not for sale. There is no plan to press that record again since an LP is on its way and which will be released in the coming months.’’
You play a mix of metal, thrash, and doom. Why does this style suit your message best?
,,When Steve Harris was asked about the lyrical content of Iron Maiden, he simply replied that cute lyrics about life or love would totally be inappropriate for the kind of music their band was playing. Even if it took some time for the words to come together, The Beasts knew right from the start that they did not want to address the topics that are usually found in popular music. So, an aggressive music was the foundation of what had to be built on top of it.’’
Are you working on new material right now?
,,When it comes to original material: The first album has been recorded 4 years ago but it is waiting to be mixed by a famous mixing engineer well-known of the metal scene. The second album has been written and demoed, waiting to be properly recorded. All the riffs of the third album have been already written and only need to be arranged as proper songs. When it comes to covers: As mentioned earlier, 1Q94 is doing its best to respect a strict schedule and release on a regular basis covers of plant-powered artists.’’
Why releasing covers?
,,The only original songs for which videos have been produced are the three tracks from the EP as an attempt to give visibility to the band’s project, The Beasts record covers to pay tribute to artists who share(d) a common interest for the animals and/or the planet. It is also a way to show record labels in the future that the members are not sprinters but long-distance runners.’’
Your FB page has 16000+ likes, do you feel the message of the band is heard and do you see things are changing in Thailand and maybe the rest of the world when it comes to animal rights and a Vegan lifestyle?
,,With the pandemic, whose roots (even if not clearly and surely defined yet) seem to be linked to animal exploitation, as well as the noticeable climate change due to global warming, people might have become more receptive to those issues. So, that could explain the number of people who clicked to like the page at some point. There are more and more successful Vegan restaurants opening in Thailand and around the world, big names of fast-food decided to include vegetarian or vegan options to their menu, some meat-packing as well as cosmetics companies invest in cruelty-free alternatives. All these seem to be signs of a real change!’’
Within the metal community a Vegan lifestyle is becoming more and more present. Why do you think that is and are there specific bands/artists you consider as a good role model for it?
,,This year, 1Q94 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the two first releases of the seminal Black Sabbath. It is interesting to note that Geezer Butler, the man behind most of the band’s lyrics at the time he was playing with them, is a lifelong plant-powered artist. So, from an historical point of view, the words that defined the genre were penned by someone who valued all sentient beings! He was the first of a very long series that non-exhaustively includes bands and artists such as: "Mille" Petrozza (KREATOR), “Barney” Greenway (NAPALM DEATH), Tom G. Warrior (HELLHAMMER, CELTIC FROST, TRIPTYKON), Devin Townsend, Joe Duplantier (GOJIRA), Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein (MISFITS), Serj Tankian (SYSTEM OF A DOWN)…
And if we talk about role models, we highly consider the two female singers of ARCH ENEMY: Angela Gossow and Alissa White-Gluz, who publicly and actively stand up for the animals despite the backlash they sadly endure too often on social media.’’
Vegan is a lifestyle and a mind-set. What is your advice and tips when people want to change to this lifestyle?
,,One of the main things is to have intellectual curiosity: keep an open mind and do not be put off by all the stereotypes carried by the media that are not in favour of this lifestyle. One of the McCartneys (the following quote has been attributed to Linda and Paul) wisely said:
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”
In modern societies, having lost connection with nature, there is a big ignorance about where food really comes from. Many city kids have never seen a real farm animal. Therefore, they cannot relate to them and nothing is made to “make the connection”. So, there is a real work of (self-) education to be done and the ugly hidden facts behind food industry would naturally make any sensitive person change his/her diet. There are many documentaries (some of them with very graphic material, so be aware!) and fictions dealing with animal abuse, they can be good starting points. We highly recommend the reading of Dr. Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism: The Belief System That Enables Us to Eat Some Animals and Not Others, a short book that explains very well why and how we are conditioned to eat meat.’’
Photo from Unsplash/Vegan Liftz
What is the biggest misconception about a Vegan lifestyle that you noticed?
,,That is a very good question and burning topic! First of all we could talk about the lack of understanding between veg(etari)ans and non-veg(etari)ans (also called “carnists” by aforementioned Dr. Melanie Joy but that word is considered by many as very offensive): neither will listen to the others and it is very difficult to have constructive conversations about the issue. Second, the fact that many people see veg(etari)anism as some kind of religion/cult/sect whereas it is simply a way of life that goes along with many other spiritual beliefs: you can be at the same time Atheist, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Satanist and veg(eteri)an; there is no exclusion! Thirdly, like in any groups, you have a handful of extremists giving a very bad name to the whole movement and, once again, media, always in search of shallow and sensationalistic news, love to focus on those people rather than on the well-spoken and well-mannered activists. Finally, we have to mention those YouTubers who used, at some point, veganism as a tool in their quest for fame and who later posted “No Longer Vegan” videos in which they abandoned their convictions they so fiercely defended at some point. Those videos have a very harmful potential since Wikipedia and YouTube became the new references for the Digital Natives and their young parents.’’
Can you give us a few typical Thai food Vegan recipes that are healthy and easy to cook?
,,The beauty of Thai food is that basically every single dish can be “veganized” in any restaurants by replacing animal products by tofu or mushrooms. The taste of Thai food highly relies on spices, condiments and herbs that are naturally plant-based. Here are some names of famous Thai dishes: Tom Yum, Khao Pad, Pad-siiew, Som Tam…
Of course, one of the most famous is the Pad Thai for which you can find an amazing tutorial on YouTube by the Vegan Black Metal chef.’’
1Q94 Facebook here
1Q94 YouTube channel here