Sunday, 12 September 2010


We couldn't use here the interview we wanted. This is an oldie: Milton Keynes Junior performed this informal interview in the last months of 2006 in a series of email exchanges. Thanks to Sean, Milton, Br. Olav P. and all the ‘northern stations’ crew for the editing!

What have you been up to these days?

Still into the struggle, cause etc. vegan still and so on.
I run a record label now, full time. It’s grown into a really big business the last few years, which is why I haven’t done as much of my own music for some time.

I've also taught martial arts, Qi-gong, etc for years - everything, from full contact and street fighting, to meditation, Chinese yoga stuff and so on.

Any new music projects going on?

New musical projects…, I have not done anything in a while. I am working on some dancehall soon, oh - and some older stuff – ‘Pressure’… if you can check that out.

I am getting a lot of people asking for Vegan Reich again. If we do - would be just animal liberation oriented, not an Hardline thing. Cos Vegan Reich started out as animal lib. only, long before the other stuff.

… Yes what about Vegan Reich? …does it still exist…?

Well, yes and no. We broke up in 93, and did one reunion in 99. However, we're considering doing some new stuff again next year - so maybe.

Lyric-wise you’ve been branded as fascist, intolerant and offensive… What’s your views on that?

C'mon, the Vegan Reich lyrics really aren’t that offensive :)

I could tone’em down like 'instead of "fuck you shut your fucking mouth, we didn’t ask for your opinion" it could be like 'please be quiet, i don’t have time for your opinion right now"...

See - all the Vegan Reich lyrics were militant against people we all agree are messed up - vivisectors and so on. Never sung about killing someone for eating meat. Even our one song against drugs was against people drinking and driving. i.e. we were never a militant straight edge band - most of our fans were drunk anarchists!!! HAHAHA

In terms of a Vegan Reich possible tour, would you try to change VR’s philosophy/politics in order to get more acceptance and/or avoid boycotts or would you just stick to the book? What is the response you expect ? An Us vs. Them?

We won’t change some of the stuff, others we will. My point is not to say that each person in the group believes this or that - I mean, for instance, for me, abortion is not good, but it is permitted in Islam up to a certain time period. Again, even in Islam, it is not considered a 'happy" thing, but life is difficult, and not everything is meant to be perfect. On the other side of it, I think that too often in the west, it is used as birth control - or worse, population control by racists (planned parenthood in America, was created by a racist KKK woman to get black and Latino women to abort their babies) - so a lot of scary stuff there. On the other end, I do not want to be linked with right wing Christian groups on the other side either. I have my opinions on it, but it will just not be a focus. So no, we won’t come out trying to back peddle and change everything. Rather - we will focus on the issues most people can agree on, and on the others, I think, if we talk about it rationally and clear, not trying to force other views - then many people will respect that. i.e.

I will never let Vegan Reich be a mouthpiece to make people Muslim. It did not start as that, and it is not what it is for. If people see I'm Muslim but don’t try to force it on them, it makes them respect Islam and me better. No one likes being forced to do anything.

It has always been the "them" that you speak of, that caused us to break up. We just couldn't ever handle the crowd we drew. Haha. So I think now, the plan will be to just ignore. Do our thing see what happens…

I may do Captive Nation Rising again as well, and also I am doing a dancehall record this year. So plenty of non Vegan Reich stuff…

In terms of the Changing of views in the band…from Animal Lib. to Hardline to Muslim (as for a while the name changed to Vegan Jihad)…and now back to the beginning again…Wouldn’t that be hypocrisy? Or at least paradoxical?

What I was trying to say, is that very often, at certain points in our lives - we profess one ideology or another, grow, change, merge etc into stances - that may seem counter than earlier ones, or at least different - but that if any of us our honest with ourselves, very often, we always hold many ideas within us at one time. And sometimes they may be real variances, other times just perceived.

I for instance simultaneously believe in Islamic government for Muslims - I am Shia by the way:) - whilst at the same time also holding strong Anarchist beliefs. It may seem a contradiction, but it is not on a deeper level, see - I believe in the principle of non-authoritarianism, and the movement towards ALWAYS fighting government oppression - but I also see the human need to have order, and rules of law. So to me, it is very much the Tao. We need order, and the counter balance to order, is struggle and Anarchy - resisting too much control. There is no perfect static utopia, always movement. Change.

Likewise, I do consider myself a conservative on many moral issues, whilst perhaps also being a libertine on many matters. i.e. I am not an uptight Christian moralist who thinks sex is evil.

So there are many differences within my own brain, Insha'Allah, that makes the point clear.

Tell us a bit about your conversion to Islam…how it affected you, how did you experience it ? How was having new rules in your life? Were you considered a weirdo/fanatic back then … ?

I've been a practising Muslim for 12 years now. Becoming a Muslim actually made me MUCH more tolerant of things/actions which I might not have agreed with when I was younger. Since the Quran says there is no compulsion in religion - it truly is not up to me to dictate someone’s moral behaviour, or my version or understanding of what morality is to them, so long as that behaviour is not oppressing me.

Certainly, we as Muslims have a code of rules that we chose to abide by to some degree or another, and I am for instance, not that strict on those, you might say I’m a pretty liberal Muslim - but for other people, it is not my place. What I mean by this is, for instance, I don’t drink. But I'm not gonna go to some non-Muslim and kick their ass for drinking. People's relationship to God, or belief or non-belief in God is their business. I cannot compel someone to believe as I believe. The only time Muslims are required to fight people, is when those people are unjust and oppressive. So anyway - my point is that things may not be as they appear from the outside, a lot of people think conversion to Islam would probably make someone fanatical - which for most people I know, is quite far from the truth.

How you cope with living in the XXI century with a VI century belief system?

I don’t think it is fair to say that people who converted to Islam are people have not incorporated modern awareness into their lives, by the simple fact that they have become Muslim. This is really a western stereotype of Islam. That is not accurate! Certainly, there are many Muslims, who live in the past. But, entire segments of Muslim society, have always believed in progressing with the times. Shi'a Islam, in fact, by the very nature of how it views the Quran, always maintains a current up to date interpretation of things. Now, there will arise different views of what up to date means, and thus you will find both liberal and conservative rulings even within the same country - but what I am saying is, Islam is in no way more stuck in the past than any other society/religion/belief etc.

Just as say, the Anarchist movement or Communism, must adapt to changing aspects of society, as the working class dies out in some countries, arises in others etc. - as the nature of things changes, all ideas must adapt to this reality. But at the core of any belief is a set of standards by which each group adapts according to its root belief. What I mean is, a Communist may adapt to a changing world, but still believes in basic economic principles that they try to adhere to in that adaptation. An Anarchist in 2006 America has entirely different set of circumstances than say a Spanish Anarchist in 1930-36. Most Anarchists in America are far from syndicalism, and much more individualist for instance. But at the root, they have a base definition at least, which they try to develop within their thoughts. We as Muslims also have different opinions, many of which we argue about amongst ourselves - but nonetheless, we all are trying to keep up with the reality of modern times, and in general, are doing a fine job at it.

Speaking of all this modernism/traditionalism etc - have you read any of Rene Guenon's work? Very interesting read on the flaws in modernism. Highly recommended.

This one is a bit off-track…you were not born as a Muslim…, what is then your ethnic background?

My family from Mexico traces its European roots (as opposed to its indigenous roots) back to the Al-Andalus. Someone from that region came over during the expulsion, not really sure if a Spanish Jew or Muslim, and then came to Mexico and intermarried etc.

The Andalus was one of the most enlightened places ever at a certain point in history - the way Islam should be but unfortunately is not.

Ok, so in terms of Islam, tell us a bit about an hot topic!!! Sex and mutah in Shiism, ….!!!

Ah, mutah :) it is a good example of why I think Shi'a Islam is more advanced than Sunni.

We have preserved what was a practise in the original Muslim community that obviously was not caught up in rigid moralism, like Christianity. In fact, many early Christians used to criticise Muslims for being too erotic or sensual. In fact, I would say that both Shia and Sunni Muslims have better healthy sexual view than Christianity. But Shia Islam, has many rulings that I think are more enlightened - and mutah marriage is one such stance…

One thing about mutah - is it is not state run, no witness needed, no licence etc. Just between two people and Allah, so no compulsion. Thus, still maintains beauty easier.

We see the nature of man and woman being very sexual - and their being variances from man and woman in how sexual they are as individuals. Some men may marry one woman and be fine, never desire another. The same with some women. Some men may take more wives, others may need various temporary encounters. The goal of Islam is not to stifle or regulate ones "animal" nature, but to put it in a controlled context so society is not out of control. However, it does not seek to moralize on the validity of those choices so long as it does not go against what we view as Halaal or permissible.

So for instance, in Islam, if a woman does not want to be married permanently to a man, even she can make one mutah after the next - with the provision that she waits the waiting period between them, to ensure she is not pregnant, and prevent illegitimate children, confusion etc

so rules yes - but actually pretty liberal. In my mind, a more controlled form of dating, that helps prevent bad behaviour, disease and so on - and protects children in a round about way etc.

That said - I must also make it clear there are other forms of mutah. It can be used just as a way to make interaction between man and woman on a friendship level. I have a friend who travels a lot, and has women friends, and he does mutah, with no sexual activity, just to be able to stay with them etc. so there are many uses. But again - to me it is a good example of Shia Islam's progressive nature.

Your views on Ramadan?

The best time of the year… for me at least. a time to remove oneself from worldly passions, purify the soul, curb carnal desires etc - focus on humility, spiritual pursuits etc. and yes - in the evening, eating some very good foods;)…basically - no food from about 5 in the morning to about 7 at night. And also, I add extra prayers called Tarawih prayers that i do in the middle of the night. An exhausting but rejuvenating period - helps refocus all my energy and spiritual pursuits after a year immersed in the madness of Dunya (earthly affairs with biz and so on). Also, it is good for even the most wealthy of Muslims to remember what it is like to be poor, and also, to spend their money on the poor during the month, to help out the less fortunate around us.

As a Muslim how do you relate to opposite sex socially? And the ‘impure/pure’ connotation that often is charged on Muslims?

Do you mean casual touch, as in avoiding a hug or shaking hands? First of all, it should be known that this is not a standard absolute practise with all Muslims - and not one that i practice. Friends of mine who are women, I hug goodbye, even ones that are born Muslims, middle eastern women etc. this comes down to how strict one is i suppose, though there are arguments there amongst us Muslims as to what is ok or what is not.

But it should be known - that even for those who will not make such contact - it is not that women are dirty or unclean, impure etc. for likewise, there are Muslim women who will not hug a man, and it is not because the man is considered dirty or unclean. For those who take that position, it is purely an issue of their belief in non-interaction on a physical level between the sexes unless they are married. It is to avoid arousal, to avoid possible illicit activity between people who are not married. But there is no connotation that women are impure. Nor that men are.

What about the hijab? If it is to guard modesty why do women need to use it and man don’t?

Again…, it is not mandatory in terms of it being a pillar of the faith. Again, many Muslim women i know do not wear hijab. As far as some Islamic states requiring it - they are trying to push a more strict adherence to Sharia, sometimes as a response to imperialism, going further than they would have before, and in other cases, they are just societies that are inherently more conservative etc by culture. But it is important to know that it is not a uniform must across the Muslim world. And that within every country, you also find different interpretations and practices. Likewise, you mentioned why women have to and men don’t. But - the reality is, men too have rules we are supposed to adhere too. We are not supposed to wear shorts above the knees. we are supposed to cover our hair as well with kufi or turban. The issues are the same. It is just that men tend to always have less faith than women, so you see men breaking the rules more for their own desires, where as women in Muslim countries tend to be more observant than men.

As far as inter-gender relations, dating and so on.
it is easy for people who are enlightened, to be somewhat libertine in their relations, and try to adhere to conscious or some higher level of motivation - even if the standards are not religious, but just artistic, intellectual etc. what I mean by this is, I was very comfortable as an anarchist, as an animal lib person, as a musician, artist or whatever, meeting some woman who I had things in common with, and making a bond, sometimes with no commitment or whatever - and it being a good thing, no one got hurt etc. two responsible people, joining for a moment.

But society and the world is not made up of only people of conscious. it is made up of all types, many of whom operate on the most base level of desire or instinct. Islam strives to set a simple standard of rules, to create order in society, and avoid the problem of unwanted children, orphans, sexually transmitted diseases and so forth. And what is interesting, is that even with all the trouble in the Muslim world since colonialism, the corruption, poverty and so on. in areas such as the spread of aids, and unwanted children, the Muslim world is still much better than the west. western society has allowed itself to remove itself from the natural order, and from the good aspects of tradition, to a point where everything goes, whenever, and wherever, and unfortunately, not a high enough intellect of its people to behave right or police themselves.

so again, it is not that Islam sees sex in any way as wrong, sinful or dirty etc. in fact, quite the opposite. The famous hadith of the Prophet (sal) was a saying that his three favourite things in the world were prayer, perfume and women. So interesting, even our own prophet, is listing to earthly, sensual things, along side of prayer. Not to mention all the hadith present about how sex is for pleasure, i just want to make it clear that Islam is no fundamentalist Christian thing, nor some weird back to nature Hardline view that thinks sex is only for procreation.

Very often you mention references to Anarchism and how you still in a way consider yourself one, what’s then your views in terms of religious laws…rules, etc.?

My view of rules, is very similar to Taoism in china back in it's prime. Taoists very often operated on the outskirts of society, non affected by certain norms, and so forth, but in honesty, they always accepted and appreciated the bigger societal "Confucionist” norms, in that that structure permitted them to accomplish their pursuits in peace - structure in a country like china, has always been the thing that keeps it from erupting into war and chaos. So though the Taoists did not like to be personally tied into the structure or adhere to every aspect of it, they non the less, also gained from its existence…

I am not arguing now, for a casual libertine approach to interactions between people, just explaining that I have done that in years past, and showing how it was made not as bad due to people involved, but could of been worse if quality of people was worse. It is why I think better there is rules for everyone. Not overly strict ones, but at least some

And in terms of Anarchism, Communism, etc..?

I must also emphasize, that it is not entirely where I am coming from either. Though also, truth be told, as I get older, am less likely to over romanticize the Russian anarchist, as well as less likely to demonize all of the communists. Life is always more complex on the ground, than it is in books, especially history books. I have always hated Trotsky for what he did to the anarchists - but recently I read an interesting article from him, talking about Bakunin. Saying how Bakunin at no point wanted to give validation to the state - BUT, nonetheless, turned to the very same state for financial support, guns and so on. Not that I think it is wrong for Bakunin to have done this either. But my point is - human nature, will always make this balance exist, between those who want authority and those who don’t. it is impossible for authority to not exist, just as it is impossible to make the desire for no authority to disappear. They are equally part of human nature.

So it is what I was saying with people. Islamically, all souls are equal in their rights, but not equal in their qualities, abilities. We see the world made up of many facets and variations of creation, both physically, mentally, creatively and so on. There are brilliant artists and composers, amazing mystics like Ibn Arabi and so on - just as there are those not concerned with such pursuits - whether inborn, or from environment. The point is - from a Muslim point of view, all life is sustained equally from Allah, and all life has an equally important role in the cosmic scheme of things. but it does not mean each individual being has the same abilities in this Dunya or physical world. it is why they say each verse of the Quran has 7 meanings, and each one of those meanings has 7 meanings and so on. Some people want the basics, some want a little deeper, some the even more abstract and so on.

And unfortunately, in a modernist world, where capital interests take advantage in aspects of human nature - like selling sex for instance, or drug use and what not, here in America, things are completely out of control. Young girls everywhere are putting themselves into Internet porn market for money when in school, getting addicted to drugs, and so on.

So all i am saying, is i am fine with freedom and people doing individual choices, but there has to be some level of rules in my mind - even knowing that many will break them, in order for things to not be totally out of control. What I am saying is, I am even fine with people breaking the rules, but if they are at least in place, it maintains society in a more stable manner.

That is what I was saying with mutah in Shia islam. it is a ritual yes. but it is no accident that muslim countries have the lowest incidence of aids for instance. These little rituals, keep just enough of an ordered approach to things, to keep stuff from getting totally out of control. Still - it permits enough freedom for those who want it. a woman in Iran, who doesn’t want to be tied down by a permanent husband, as is fastly becoming the case, with many college students, can just make mutah, for as little or long as they like, and move from this guy to that if they are bored even. But the waiting period in mutah, keeps a check on disease from spreading and kids born not knowing who fathers are etc. nothing is perfect, all i am saying is, i believe in a balance between form and freestyle, order and chaos.

Martial arts is a perfect example. I have done martial arts for so many years, that when I fight, it is very free form, I just fight instinctively now. But - many things appear from different styles over the years. yet - I do not believe in mixing styles who use different approaches. I teach the arts I know in a traditional manner, using the approaches of those specific arts within that curriculum. cos the approaches are very different from each other - and cannot be properly mixed - they are opposites. That said - if someone learned them all, like me, maybe years later, they might find bits and pieces from different ones coming up when just fighting, but it is a long process to be able to properly use it with that freedom. at first glance, and for many years, to much freedom in it, just makes someone no good at it, makes the techniques not work.

You’ve mentioned the importance of rituals, but what about the possible emptiness of this same rituals? The possibility of no spiritual presence/essence within the form…

Yes, rituals can lose meaning - but I will say, one thing that attracted me to Islam was the vibrancy of the rituals - that they have maintained a spirit to them, which so many other forms have lost.

Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as we did, any last words?

I enjoyed the discussion... cos at the end of the day, I’m not trying to make anyone be Muslim or anything else. It is sort of how I am anarchist still and Muslim at same time. Hahaha…

None of us have proof of one theory or another. Everything is faith. Even Atheism…

So for me, yes - i even have doubts - but I desire to submerge my will, my ego, the 'me' itself, into something not me - something greater. And I have made the leap, at least intellectually, of believing that the ultimate real that sustains this physical plain, is Allah, and that the Quran is the word of Allah. I cannot prove it to you - and it is why, I don’t even try. I am not a proselytizer. I only explain to people to clarify what points are, what is the nature of this thing we call Islam, but of course, I do not expect for it to make sense for everyone, nor strike the same chord with others as it has for me.

Insha'allah, this clarifies.


1 comment:

  1. Good interview! I'd love for Sean to get Captive Nation Rising back into action and release a full album,with reggae songs and songs like "Rebirth" with that "Quickness" era Bad Brains sound and spiritual lyrics.