Press Office Interview with Scottish Musicians “Pilgrims”
From All-Creatures.org Animal Rights/Vegan Activist Strategies Articles Archive

FROM Gregston Van Pukeston, North American Animal Liberation Press Office
October 2019


Rob and Kat write music to raise awareness of the plight of animals such as orangutan, tigers, calves, dogs, wild horses, wolves, whales and more. All proceeds from their music sales are donated to two Scottish animal care centres: Karass Animal Sanctuary and The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice.

Pilgrims

Pilgrims, founded by vegan song-writing duo from Scotland, Robert Davidson and Kat McDonald, craft songs about their travels around the sun; their journey into love and activism; and the animals that have been totemic along the way.

Rob and Kat write music to raise awareness of the plight of animals such as orangutan, tigers, calves, dogs, wild horses, wolves, whales and more. All proceeds from their music sales are donated to two Scottish animal care centres: Karass Animal Sanctuary and The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice.

Their music is available to stream or download on all major digital platforms.

GVP: Can you tell us a little about your band history, where , and when you started?

Pilgrims: We have both been in other bands for many years and when touring around Scotland it was inevitable that our paths would cross. We often shared a stage during this time and really got to know each other. It was also inevitable that we would get together, as a couple too, and write songs together. In hindsight, it was a natural gravitation. Pilgrims formed in 2013, at a time when we were transitioning to veganism and we knew we wanted to create concept music about totemic animals in our lives and our vegan journey.

GVP: What made your band focus on animal Liberation and Veganism in your music?

Pilgrims: All the stars seemed to collide at once regarding the origin of our music and the birth of Pilgrims. Having been moved by documentary films such as ‘Earthlings’ and being impassioned by the talks given by Gary Francione and Gary Yourofsky we just knew, instinctively, it was the right thing to do.

When Kat was a teenager she was a hunt sab but even from as young as 9 years old she took an interest in animal rights, asking her parents to donate to IFAW and the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society instead of giving her pocket money. It was the IFAW that awakened Kat to lobbying: writing to government bodies and CEOs of companies about the cruelty of their policies and actions.

We both share a deep love and reverence for animals and, as mentioned earlier, having witnessed what we saw – on film, and in reality (you never forget your first visit to a slaughterhouse) – and although we were both vegetarian for most of our adult lives, we just knew that becoming Vegan was the right thing to do. That was 6 years ago. There is no turning back for us.

The focus on animal liberation in the lyrics of our music has intensified from the almost romantic and poetic awakening of our debut album Wilderness to the unapologetic advocacy of Tundra, our latest album. Of late, we are using our music to step up our activism and raise awareness to the plight of animals.

GVP: Did any Genre of music or music have an important influence on your band to write about Veganism and activism through your songs ?

Pilgrims: We both have a very broad taste in music, however, Patti Smith has been a huge inspiration to Kat as a writer, an artist, activist and performer – and as a woman; her poetry and punk attitude, her drive and the intensity of her performance have helped shape Kat.

However, we both remember the first time we heard ‘Meat is Murder’ by The Smiths. It blew our minds wide open, as did live performances by Rage Against the Machine. There isn’t any specific musical genre or artist, with the exception of the those mentioned, that have influenced us to write about veganism/activism. For Pilgrims, it was a natural development to write about these things, resulting in a melding of riff-based hooks, harmony, poetry, catchy melodies juxtaposed with often dark and cutting lyrics.

GVP: What is your opinion on use of Direct Actions taken to liberate?

Pilgrims: We firmly believe all forms of activism have to happen to create change in the world. In the face of abject animal cruelty and exploitation and corporate might and profiteering we feel direct action is not only justified, but necessary.

GVP: What is your band currently working on and what’s next for the band?

Pilgrims: The second release ‘Man’s Best Friend’ EP from our latest album, Tundra, is about to drop in all major digital platforms. We are donating all proceeds from Tundra (and singles) to two very worthy causes: the Karass Animal Sanctuary and the Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice (UK’s first purpose-built centre for end of life care for animals).

The ‘Man’s Best Friend’ EP comprises two songs: Yulin – a lyrically graphic song that highlights a dog’s fate being determined by where in the world it is born, and Old Boy – a song written about one of the dogs in care at the Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice, who was discarded onto the streets because he had cancer. We were made Ambassadors of the Animal Justice Project recently and were asked to write a song about vivisection, which we have titled ‘Ugly’. This song is in the final mix/mastering stage and we are awaiting footage from the AJP to include in our video to accompany this song.

All proceeds from sales of this track will be donated to the Animal Justice Project. All our videos are on YouTube – just search for Pilgrims UK. Pilgrims were recently interviewed for an editorial feature in Voice for Animals magazine (based in LA, USA).

We intend to collaborate with Voice for Animals in the near future too. We are planning a series of gigs at vegan venues and intend to perform at some vegan festivals, throughout the UK, next year. We are also scoping the feasibility of organising a vegan festival in Fife (our home county).

GVP: Currently in your work in music industry are there others in the Industry you have met or worked with today that you either work with that support Animal Activism and the A.L.F. ?

Pilgrims: Locally, in Fife, there is not a huge vegan artist or business presence hence this is why we want to organise a local vegan festival. By doing this we hope to work with activists, speakers, artists and vegan businesses and bring them together to create Fife’s first official vegan event. We would very much like to see an ALF stall or representative there? We intend to work alongside other vegan creatives to form a solidarity and a bit of a scene to raise awareness and to promote animal activism.

GVP: Are you currently or in the near future going to take part in any festivals in the animal rights vegan movements?

Pilgrims: Yes, we intend to take part in as many animal rights/vegan events as we can, particularly in the UK, and further if our budget allows this. We want to be as prolific as possible – in our music, our writing, our lives in general.


Gregston Van Pukeston is a journalist affiliated with R9 Media. He is a notable Activist and musician. In addition to being a Press Officer with the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, Gregston is a member of the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) Upstate NY GMB, an Activist with Hudson Valley Earth First! and a member of the Green Party of New York. He is a long-time Activist in the struggle for Eco-Defense and Animal Liberation. Gregston can be reached at: gvp@animalliberationpressoffice.org and followed onTwitter at: twitter.com/XxGVPxX


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