Just last week, Life Force singer Flint Beard hit No Echo up to let us know he had launched a new musical project. Citing such influences as Seven Generations, Earth Crisis, and Foundation, Vanguard finds the Houston-based vocalist delivering lyrics reflecting his unflinching support of militant veganism and socialist politics.
In addition to Flint, Vanguard is rounded out by guitarist Josh Conlee, drummer Reice Perez, and bassist Davis Driver.
To help spread the word about the new endeavor, No Echo chatted with Flint and also got its hands on the premiere of "To Suffer," a track that will appear on the group's forthcoming debut release for New Age Records.
Tell us how Vanguard came to be.
It started out as a side/pet project of Josh (guitarist) and I. He recently relocated to Houston and we connected through common acquaintances and became fast friends due to our eerily similar political and moral beliefs, interests, musical tastes, and hobbies.
Just before the quarantine started, he and I were driving in his car on the way to eat dinner here in Houston (shout out to Korny Vibes Vegan Cafe), and we were talking about music. He asked if I’d like to hear some riffs he’d been working on and had scratch recorded, and the minute he showed me the ball was rolling.
Through the course of the quarantine we were able to totally conceptualize the message, goals, and aesthetic of the project, plan for what we want to do, recruit other members, and record a 6-song debut EP. Josh actually acted as producer and carried out the final mixes himself (he’s insanely talented), and then we got it over to Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios for a master.
Wow, it sounds like things moved quickly.
We got the entire thing recorded, album art done, two preliminary merch designs done, and some promo materials put together all before we pitched it to New Age Records, so as to present an almost finished product that was focused and obviously thought out and developed.
It goes without saying that we were thrilled they decided to bring us on board, and we’ll be releasing our debut EP, titled Rage of Deliverance, as a one sided 12” record with the B-side featuring a yet-to-be-unveiled etching.
How would you describe the band’s sound?
From the beginning we have been very adamant in paying homage to vegan hardcore bands of decades past (bands like One King Down, Earth Crisis, and Seven Generations), while also interweaving into that sound some other different influences (including Merauder, Foundation, and Inclination) as well. Peppered with our own style and what we like to think of as unique input, we are unashamedly super proud of the resulting sound.
What can we expect both musically and lyrically from the rest of the material on Rage of Deliverance?
The writing process, stemming from the riffs and structure ideas that Josh had already conceptualized and approached me with, as a group we contributed input as to changes and additions here and there, and then I sat down and wrote the lyrics for the whole EP over basically a two-day period. Knowing that we wanted the project to be very openly, aggressively (to the point of militance) vegan and leftist in lyrical subject matter, I was able to address several subject within that framework that I feel don’t get talked about enough in the world of hardcore (and even more broadly in general).
It gave me the opportunity to channel some of my rage that wells up when trying to discuss animal rights with people who say things like “Well, I hear you, but me not being vegan is really a personal choice," or “Oh, you’re vegan and into the animal rights thing? I used to be too, but I went back to a non-vegan lifestyle," etc.
The truth is, the definition of a personal choice is just that: a choice that only affects the personal life of the individual who made the decision. Veganism, by definition, is expressly a choice to help others, and to that end the choice to not be vegan is truly not a personal choice, as it directly affects the lives of the animals tortured and killed so they can become a meal for these people.
Similarly, when people who are already admittedly aware of that torture and murder (by having formerly adhered to and embraced a vegan lifestyle) then turncoat and decide to go back to a lifestyle that is dependent on the pain and suffering of animals, they are expressly showing that they know what they’re contributing to and have chosen to do so anyways.
In my opinion there are very few things a person could do that are more disgraceful than that knowing choice to betray the animals.
These two concepts were the first two pieces I wrote for the project, and the subject matter for the remaining pieces flowed naturally from there.
Will Vanguard play shows down the line?
Unfortunately, due to the realities of the COVID shut down, no one (including Vanguard) has been able to play shows in 2020, so we have yet to perform and connect with a live crowd with this project. That being said, we have low key been sharing the material with close friends and family as we were developing it, leading up to the New Age announcement, and the resulting reviews were nothing but absolutely glowing.
We think the band hits all the check marks for what people are really looking for in a modern hardcore band, and we can’t wait to get out on the road and not just play shows but have the conversations and even debates that our message is sure to spur.
The more we all start talking about the critically important subjects that a lot of bands in 2020 unfortunately skirt around, things like radical politics, the embracing of concepts of animal liberation, being proud armed leftists, etc. the better and more morally mature our scene as a whole will become, and that is of the utmost importance to us.
Before I let you go, is there anything you'd like people to know about Vanguard and the forthcoming record?
Vanguard is unapologetically a vegan leftist band, and actively supports and promotes a host of critical social and political causes, both lyrically and through the direct action and activism of its members.
The band is ideologically tied to the animal liberation movement, endorses socialist political theory, is vehemently anti-fascist, and believes and fights for the political, legal, educational, and economic equality of all people, regardless of race, gender, orientation, or class.
Rage of Deliverance will be out Fall 2020 via New Age Records.
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