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Viva!lifeEditor, Helen Rossiter, meets Devon roots- punk rock activists, Crazy Arm, after being mightily impressed with their gig – and even more so by the fact they are all veggie or vegan


My best friend knows all about the best gigs in Plymouth. She edits a music/entertainment magazine and assured me that Crazy Arm were a pretty good shout. She wasn’t wrong! I loved the music – a combination of hardcore/punk, fused with 60’s folk/country and classic rock ‘n’ roll. Crazy Arm are not only hugely

successful – praised by the likes of historical rock mag Kerrang!– they are also veggies! So, an interview in Viva!life was inevitable. I had a chat with singer Darren Johns

about music, animal rights and his favourite foods! But first, I needed a bit of background from this tall, dark, handsome man. The band came into existence in 2006 almost by chance. “Me, Jon [Dailey, guitar] and Simon

[Marsh, drums] were in different bands but were always hanging out together and wanted to do something musically. It just happened and we’re not sure how. Eventually, our music morphed into something with protest folk, country and classic rock elements.” Morrissey, with Meat is Murder, set out

his moral stall with in-your-face clarity. Are the band’s belief’s reflected in their song lyrics, I asked?

24 viva!life

“Our record sleeves make it clear that

we reject all forms of injustice, from militarism and imperialist invasions to neo-fascism and animal exploitation. But if I tried to write a song specifically about animal abuse it would probably end up sounding as dour and laboured as the bands I grew up with.” Darren Johns is clearly a deep thinker,

a committed man and it’s always exciting to discover that someone has been prepared to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak. “My earliest involvement was as a hunt

saboteur, which put things into perspective in a very stark and brutal way. Animal suffering was no longer just a concept but you could connect real human faces to that suffering. I think the

Tour dates

JUNE 27 – Thekla, Bristol (with Lagwagon) 28 – Moho Live, Manchester (with Lagwagon)

JULY 7 – Castlerock Festival, Launceston 13 – 2000 Trees Festival, Cheltenham 15 – Mighty Sounds Festival, Tabor, Czech Republic

AUGUST 4 – White Rabbit, Plymouth (with SNFU)

SEPTEMBER 15 – Southsea Fest, Portsmouth

dairy industry and medical testing need to be highlighted now as it’s generally accepted that hunting, cosmetics testing, battery farms and fur are all unjustifiable.” “I became vegetarian in 1985 when I

was 17. You can measure the rise in its popularity since then by the way supermarkets have muscled in on veggie foods, at the expense of independent wholefoods stores. It’s clearly more popular but less radicalised.” For some people, turning veggie is a

Damascene moment, for others it’s a slow burn. Johns attributes his to the anarcho- punk scene of the ‘80s, when many bands released records in fold-out sleeves, filled with militant tracts, from animal rights to anarchist self-rule. “I guess I was willingly brainwashed,” he says. If I had to cater for this thoughtful man

it would be a doddle – he likes anything and everything and declares that beans on toast can be heaven. “But Indian food is where it’s at. Aloo

gobi, biryani, mushroom pilau rice, onion bhajis… the perfect meal!” On tour, however, guitarist Jon’s

curries and soups are the stuff of legend. But in France? Now, the French have a lot to answer for! “They barely understand what

vegetarian means let alone vegan. There’s only so much bread and houmous you can eat! So, sadly, cheese crept back in. I need to watch the film Earthlings again to remind my pathetic self always to be vegan!” Second album, ‘Union City Breath’, is

out now on Xtra Mile Recordings.

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