Herbivores - Seattle, WA
By HotBands Editor - Pat Ferris
I ran into the Herbivores for the first time in years at last years Seattle Hempfest, and was so impressed at how they had matured as musicians, that I was inspired to cover them in a review last May.
They have been a crowd pleaser for over a decade in the Seattle area, and have been an instrumental (no pun intended) part of the Seattle Hemp Coalition, which has created the largest pro-hemp movements in the world. Their message seems simple enough: "An end to the Drug War and a release of all politcal prisoners of this war".
As a music site, I have always tried to shy away from political causes and stay focused on the music, but in 1988, I wrote a term paper while in college, on drug reform, and how it is affecting our country.
My personal belief (as an Economist) is that prohibition has never worked with anything. Demand for a product is what drives a market. Laws to prevent the traffic of products create black markets and "criminal" (bringing product from supplier to the market) activity, which in turn creates a "Prison Industry" who then lobby to keep their jobs by making more laws that shouldn't be in place to begin with. Here are some issues surrounding this phenomenon:
Just think of how much the country would gain in tax relief if drug-reform abolished prohibition on everything!! Relief not just from 700,000 tax-paying citizens becoming an asset instead of a burden, but by the income that would be created from State-run "drug stores", similar to the State liquor stores. BILLIONS of dollars of revenue with BILLIONS available for rehabilitation centers. The arguement is "We'll have people on drugs all over the place". The reality is: "You do anyhow...you're just not benefiting from it". Laws don't curb demand, and people should have the choice to do what they want, provided it isn't hurting others.
So the Herbivores philosophy goes hand in hand with some of my rebellious beliefs AND, their music is awesome...which is what we're here to talk about!.
I finally got them hooked up to ICQ, and here is what they had to say:
<HotBands> Hi Guys. Let's start
with with the beginning of the Herbivores.
<HotBands> I guess I met you guys in 1989 when you had Thursday nites and we had Wednesday nites at the Bistro (now the Big Time Brewery). Are you both originally from Eastern WA?
<Herbivores> Jim was born in Eugene, OR and i was born in Frankfurt, Germany (military brat).
<HotBands> What brought you to the NW and how did you all meet? Tell me the Herbivore "story" including how you got Jay in your band.
<Herbivores> Share and I met while I was in CA playing music with a bluegrass
band. We were both travelling to the Northwest to visit friends and decided to combine our
trip. That was in 1980. We had a great trip and decided to get a piece of land together in
the mountains of eastern WA. We built a log house, gravity flow spring water, solar power,
etc. After 7 years, been there done that..... Decided to go to SEattle and put together a
reggae band. Share started playing bass in 1985. We thought of the name in 1988 and moved
to Seattle. Members at that time were Bernie Matthiessen (drums), Dougan Matthiessen
(guitar, vocals) Fred DeFord, (lead guitar), Jim & Share. Ras I joined on for a bit in
<HotBands> Wow! quite the resume! Jay is also a drummer? I've heard bits
and pieces of his own legend over the years.
<HotBands> can people find it elsewhere?
<HotBands> So does the name represent your diet?
<Herbivores> It's a combination of things actually. We feel that there are too many people in prison who don't belong there, only guilty of seeking rights guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We will continue to direct our energies towards putting an end to the Drug War. By volunteering for Seattle Hempfest, the Million Marijuana March, vigils outside the jails for Drug War prisoners. Our goal is to bring attention to the public; ultimately resulting in change or reform.
<HotBands> So the name Herbivores signifies more than your diet!
<Herbivores> Lots more!!
<HotBands> You are PART of what is happening...more than that, it seems that a lot of the drive is created by you, and your band's message.
<Herbivores> Thank you. We feel in the music industry there's a lot of attention
focused on relationship music (love songs). We're helping fill a nitch in music that we
feel is needed, songs about rights, freedom.
<Herbivores> They used to be. Jim started playing message music in the
60's. The Norther CA San Francisco music scene was very political and conscious. In
the 70's, when things cooled out, we went to the mountains and lead the quiet life.
But in the 80's, reggae music came to the forefront and we were moved to get back at
it. Thank you reggae! Now the music can be put together any way you like.
<Herbivores> We just produced HEMPLENNIUM Compilation and releaed it at Seattle
Hempfest. It is a benefit CD to help support WA NORML, JAMPAC. On our next
Herbivores CD we will be doing some of the new material we did at this year's Hempfest
which is decidedly going in a jazz/rock direction.
<Herbivores> We would like to say that we've been bending the rules of reggae all
along! The Herbivores have grown and as our abilities increase, so does our desire
to step up to the next level musically.
<HotBands> What does the
steering committee do?
<HotBands> I guess I was referring more to the music end of things on the net.
<Herbivores> We have started Killer Weed Records on 420 Warehouse. What is LOL?
Give me a minute. We have just started 420 Warehouse and are building the record pages
now. Hemplennium is available on line at the present time. We are going to start a virtual
Hempfest with an eye toward raising funds for Seattle Hempfest, a year round internet
<Herbivores> We've looked into all of it and plan on taking advantage every way
we can to get out the message which will get out the Herbivores.