It’s early afternoon, and Saam Watkins is currently en route to Birmingham from his home in London to play a show.
Saam has spent the last few years carving his place in the UK DIY music scene, with musical endeavours including Nudes, Playlounge and Pet Cemetery, as well as a foray into the visual arts with Hats and Milk. “Hello, my name is Saam and I’m on the Megabus right now and I play in some bands.”
Playlounge, Saam (left) and Laurie (right)
The band garnering his attention tonight is his indie-punk duo Playlounge, where he plays drums and sings along with guitarist and bus companion Laurie Foster.
In the first of our series of interviews focussing on vegetarians in music, Saam is reassuringly candid, sharing with us his newly found veganism.
“I’ve been vegan for about 3 months, it’s all still so fresh every day is exciting”.
Prior to this new dietary leap, Saam had been following a vegetarian diet. “I’d had three stints at being veggie over the course of my life. The last time having lasted for about two years before deciding to go vegan.”
“I’ve got quite a serious nut allergy so I spend most of my time food shopping looking at ingredients anyway, so going vegan didn’t make that any harder, plus there’s so many amazing substitutes for all the foods I might miss I’m constantly wondering why it too me so long to make the change.”
A new diet is sure to be put through its paces when away from home, especially when it involves a lot of travelling, but it’s also a great excuse to try something new. “Before going vegan I hadn’t eaten houmous or falafel because of a chickpea allergy worry but I’ve since bitten the bullet and opened my taste buds up to a whole new world of joy. Houmous is a go to food for promoters to buy bands anyway, I’m so glad to no longer be missing out.”
So how does a person stuck on a bus fuel their current journey and impending performance?
“On this bus today so far I’ve had gamma houmous and Sainsbury’s falafel, a pack of Oreos and some red seedless grapes.”
It’s the sense of discovery that keeps it exciting for Saam. “I’ve got a bigger sweet tooth than I probably should so Oreos have been a godsend, and some Pop-tarts are all cool so that’s amazing. Number one for this week is soya protein chunks, I’ve put them in every meal I’ve made this week.
Bulgur wheat is still new to me and I love that, fills the gaps on the days I realise that I’ve probably had too much Quinoa for the week!
Wowbutter is this nut-free peanut butter which is so psychologically confusing me for me but delicious inside an Oreo.”
The UK DIY scene, as well as show promoters further afield, have learnt to be inclusive of a vegan diet, often offering up something meatless as the default. “A couple months ago we played house show fest (three house shows in three days around South-East London) and they made us all vegan chilli and that was pretty incredible.”
“Every night in Europe we were either given a huge platter of breads and dips and stuff or the promoter would cook for us …or both! In Aachen, Germany we played an old disused WW2 bunker that some vegan punks we’re squatting in and they made us (again) a really great vegan chilli. The hospitality out there is insane it’ll make you never want to play in the UK again!”
This connection between music, especially punk, and vegetarianism is one that is glaring. “I guess from playing in a punk band and being involved in that scene, that’s what made me aware and like, taught me about veganism. But I wouldn’t say it was music that specifically made me wanna make the transition. Just seemed sort of right to.”
Saam is probably playing a show near you soon. Check out the following links and acquaint yourself!