Vegetarian U.S Champ Wins Air Guitar World Championships
Craig "Hot Lixx Hulahan" Billmeier and I have a lot in common. We've both played air guitar on top of a dugout at a professional baseball game. We've both had to play Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train" in the compulsory round of an air guitar competition. And we're both vegetarians who love Israeli falafel.
Tonight, Hot Lixx did something that I'll probably never do: He won the Air Guitar World Championships. Hot Lixx, who became the first two-time U.S. champion earlier this month, is the first American to win the world crown since 2004. As the Los Angeles Times' music blog put it, "Forget the Olympic medal count, America just won the only title that matters Friday at the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland." Congratulations to Hot Lixx for making Uncle Sam proud!
Earlier this week, Hot Lixx commented on heebnvegan to say that he's vegetarian. Yesterday, while on a plane en route to Finland, Hot Lixx responded to my interview questions about vegetarianism (and his experiences touring Israel with his punk band, Your Mother). Here he is in his own words.
For how long have you been vegetarian? Why are you vegetarian?
Been vegetarian since 1996. Always toured with bands who were veg/vegan but being young myself, I resisted the ideology out of a sheer teenaged need to do anything opposite of those around me. Eventually one day I swapped out cow’s milk for soy milk in my breakfast cereal to see if I would become less tired mid-morning. It worked and from there it was just a slow modification on my eating style. Realized I could swap out meats for hearty alternatives, started to take note of vegetables I enjoyed, etc… Deep down all the reasons people go vegetarian affected me, so when I was finally strong enough to change my lifestyle I had a wealth of justifications – health, politics, cruelty, environmentalism…they are all valid reasons for living a veggie lifestyle.
Air guitar is about world peace. Is vegetarianism consistent with that?
Of course the concept of vegetarianism angles itself towards making the world a better place on so many levels. There are many paths to enlightenment, these are but two of those paths.
Do you credit vegetarianism for your success as the United States' first two-time air guitar champion?
No. I credit vegetarianism for the great influx of amazing mock-meat restaurants in the Bay Area. I credit winning to stupid and unsafe acts of ridicularity.
Later this week, you'll be going to Oulu, Finland, to compete in the Air Guitar World Championships for the second time. Have you found that the Oulu area is vegetarian-friendly?
I’m actually on the plane to Finland right now! Finnish people eat a lot of fish, it’s everywhere and in everything. However, they are also a progressive country and are aware and compassionate towards vegetarians. In Helsinki there is a very strong veggie community (mostly the punx, of course) and Oulu is a college town so they have veggie options at a lot of the restaurants.
I'd love to hear about your experience touring Israel with your band.
As far as touring goes, I had a band called All You Can Eat and we put out a split record with the band Useless ID from Haifa. We would always go see any foreign band that came through San Francisco in order to meet them and talk about international underground music. Usually we would try and parlay these experiences/connections into a tour and so AYCE planned to go to Israel after meeting up with UID. AYCE couldn’t make it so I swapped the tour with my ‘other’ band Your Mother. We went over there in July 1997 and planned on staying for 10 days. We had such a good time we stayed for a month. There was so much history there that it took us a long time just to vaguely understand all the conflicts. Thankfully we were with people who were impartial to the whole mess and explained (in what I believe to be) very neutral terms. It was eye-opening to be sure. And very enriching. And the food was AWESOME. Best falafels ever.