In the days since stay-at-home orders have been implemented during the COVID-19 era, the individuals who have taken one of the largest hits are creators. This includes musicians, artists and performers. I spoke with the Champaign-based group, Staghorn, about their newest album release, entitled “CORVUS IV”, and how coronavirus has affected their music careers. Staghorn has had an unusually hard adjustment with coronavirus cancellations becoming widespread. The group had had both an album drop, and a European tour scheduled, with both having to be postponed. I spoke with the band about their new music, COVID struggles, and what they hope the future will bring for the group.
buzz: Could you elaborate on what Staghorn has been up to since COVID-19?
Staghorn: We haven’t been up to much, since the quarantine, as far as the band goes. We’ve pretty much just been putting out fires since we had a brand new record release March 20, but with the COVID-19 virus, and the pandemic and everything that ensued, we had to cancel both of our record releases and furthermore our full European tour in May as well. So as far as the band goes, we have just been putting out those fires and diverting that momentum over to an already planned October tour. Once the proverbial air is cleared, we are hoping to do a proper send-off for the new record, or a celebration. However, it looks like we want to pretty much just pick up where we left off. However, we’re also writing a new record as well in this downtime.
buzz: Is Staghorn a creative outlet for the band, is this the way you express yourselves versus being a full-time job?
Staghorn: It is a creative expression, as well as a political movement. What I’m trying to say is, we don’t do this full time, this isn’t our means or source of income. For example, when this pandemic started happening, we told everyone please choose us last when it comes to supporting artists and things like that because, we’re hurting, but we’re not hurting like others artists whose music and touring are their primary means of income. So, you know, we are happy to humble ourselves and make sure that other people are taken care of first.
buzz: I know you mentioned briefly that a big value for the group was anarchy. Could you go more in-depth into the political side and how the group decided you wanted to be politically active?
Staghorn: Actually, pretty much all of our backgrounds are from the hard-core punk scene. Not so much the other founding member, who frequented punk shows and things like that, but for me, it was a massive part of my life. Not the toxic masculinity hardcore punk scene, the much more politically charged hardcore punk scene, that dealt with a lot of fundamental views that I carry on to this day and enact and work on… We tie both anarchist and anti-capitalist messages with eco and ecology and permaculture and sustainable practices. There are different sects of anarchism, and one of which is green anarchism, it’s also known as primitive anarchism or primal anarchism. That is a movement of people that, instead of taking to the streets and smashing windows, which is the black block anarchism that everyone knows. The green movement is more of a dissenting party, which is people that reject the status quo, reject the system and by doing that, they, green anarchists, are enacting a very real future and reality for themselves in a way that’s achievable on a local scale, like localism. It’s not all that different from a lot of politics of just eco-minded and eco not minded people, or as of recently the climate change movement. We talk a lot about food stability, growing your own food, organic and natural practices, vegetarianism, veganism. We also believe in ethical omnivore lifestyles as well, hunter gatherer and so on. All of those things are super important to us, and different calls have stemmed from that as well. For example, the previous record to the one we just put out was completely about the water crisis that is not being spoken about whatsoever. There’s a lot of issues that we take with modern civilization and we try to infuse that into the story.
buzz: What was the inspiration for the new album, like what drove you guys to release this?
Staghorn: This album is the continuation of the third chapter, which was the preceding record of this. They’re both companion albums, so this album had been written for a long time, it just took a while, it took a bit of a struggle to get out there and recorded and all that fun stuff. The motivation behind this album is to shift the story. You need a middle, so we are making a shift towards the middle of the story, you know like a beginning, middle and end. The motifs are strongly backed by Buddhist philosophy, and the symbol on the cover is one of the eight auspicious Buddhist symbols, which is called the eternal knot. It’s used in many different cultures, such as the Celtic cultures and whatnot, it’s a symbol of infinity. This album has a lot of different inspirations but most of which is the idea of Samsara, which is the title at the end of the record. What Samsara means is the endless cycle of suffering, which is to say birth, death, and rebirth. The one thing that we all share is suffering. Paired with that idea is the motif of dark and light. I just wanted to take this common battle of good and bad, dark and light and not really relate it to good and bad but more darkness and lightness because life, in general, is just a series of joys and complete and utter destruction of your emotions, and everything in between.