By Nicole Kobie
Many people want to say good riddance to animal cruelty, poverty and other social ills. Few actually do. Among those social healers are the punkers from Good Riddance. But don’t think they’re all serious–their lead singer is engaged to the one and only Rachel Perry, VJ for MuchMusic.
The energetic, politically-driven band supports causes such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Food not Bombs, Amnesty International and smaller, local food banks, says Riddance founder and vocalist Russ Rankin. With support ranging from fundraising shows to donations from the proceeds of every CD they sell to educating their fans by distributing literature, both big and small groups are sure to appreciate the help.
"It’s phenomenal the amount of kids that just grab something off our [merchandise] table, put it in their pocket and maybe a week later they read it and something just made sense to them," explains Rankin in a deep, pensive tone. "We get a lot of kids that come into our shows saying, ‘because of you guys, I stopped eating meat.’"
Vegetarianism and veganism are a noticeable trend here. Of the band members, three are all-out vegan, while the remaining one, along with their two roadies, are vegetarians. Rankin has been vegan since 1993. Introduced to the lifestyle by music, friends and the book Diet for a New America by John Robbins, he changed his ways. Slowly, he removed animal products from his diet and stopped wearing leather and fur.
"I feel better… healthier," he explains. "I don’t have the death and suffering of animals on my conscience."
While they respect their health, don’t accuse Good Riddance of being a straight-edge band. Though often reported to be non-drinkers, they aren’t, and never have been. Several of the band members lead the clean-living straightedge lifestyle but not the entire group.
"It’s a really common misconception about our band that we’re straight edge," muses Rankin. "I guess there’s worse things you could be mistaken for."
And there are worse Canadians to be engaged to than MuchMusic’s Rachel Perry. The distances between them are difficult on the couple, however.
"We live 3,000 miles apart and we’re probably going to for at least another year," says Rankin. "But I get to visit Toronto a lot."
And when in Canada, do like the Canadians. Rankin loves music but there is another industry he’d like to get into: hockey. The vocalist, who has played the sport for the past seven years, brings his gear with him while touring and books ice time in every city. He would love to be a professional hockey player, but as a grounded individual he realizes he’s not good enough, so he’s come up with an alternative.
"I’d like to be a hockey scout," explains Rankin. "But I’m covered in tattoos with pink hair… I don’t know how that’s going to fly."
Along with animals, Perry and hockey, Rankin loves his music. While southern Alberta is one of the band’s favourite places to play, Rankin enjoys performing anywhere. The interaction with fans, from audiences screaming to the dancing and crowd diving, the chaos created is cathartic for Rankin.
"Ever since I first heard it, I’ve been in love with the energy of punk and hardcore music; it’s so frantic," Rankin says, adding how much he loves Albertans. "I just wanted to [offer] a big thank you for all the people in southern Alberta. They all treat us very well… like family. It means a lot."
Good Riddance play Oct. 18 at The Warehouse.