People we admire - #2: Russ Rankin (Good Riddance, Only Crime)

We get our inspiration from people with a can-do attitude, people that show us different paths. Like Russ Rankin, punk singer, songwriter, activist, writer - and professional hockey scout.

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“MUSIC IS MORE THAN ENTERTAINMENT”

There is no doubt, that Russ Rankin belongs the most influential people in punk during the last 30 years. Russ is the lead vocalist for Only Crime, Creep Division, and best known for being front man of punk rock heroes Good Riddance. With these, and numerous other projects, he has not only contributed to the punk scene worldwide. Since 2012 he also releases solo records, delving into social and political topics, as well as songs about personal love and loss.

So far so good. Besides his life as a musician, Russ Rankin has always been outspoken about his political stances and done many charity actions. Good Riddance participated in benefit concerts, donated portions of their records sales and at their live shows you can not only buy t-shirts and merch, but also animal rights literature. Russ is also a member of the Green Party in the USA and clearly serves as a catalyst in advocating for social justice and animal rights, reaching beyond the borders of the punk scene.

Sounds like his days would need 28 hours, rather than 24? Well, in addition to music and activism, he also works as a professional hockey scout.

Wait: that’s not all, as Russ has contributed writing to magazines such as AMP, New NoiseAlternative Press, Razorcake, and The Washington Times.

Russ Rankin

Taking all that into account, we feel very stupid to ask this man how a “normal” day looks like: “Typically I check out my news feed on the iPad, check Twitter, share and post articles or pieces I find relevant, and that I think might be relevant to my followers, or fans of the band.” After that he gets a run in (because he also loves being active himself), maybe checks the surf. 

If he has writing to do, he’ll spend some time in his office doing that, before music takes over: “Well, I usually bang on a guitar for a little bit.” And pondering about lyrics for his songs: “I have always thought of music as something more than entertainment. I think it can be an effective way to carry a message which resonates, and hopefully lift people up, inspire them, and let them know that they are not alone.”

Russ is indeed not holding back with his ideas about capitalism, the way people treat each other and animal rights. Was it music, that made him think and care about that? Or is there anything in the way he grew up?

“I grew up in a fairly political household, and both of my parents kept up on current events, and would often discuss the political issues of the day at the dinner table. I was further radicalized by punk and hardcore music, once I first started getting into it in the early 1980s.”

One of his main topics is the consumption of animals and how we treat them. Why is this a key area to look into? “I think that our climate is becoming unsustainable for human life, and I think that the meat & dairy industries, and the hours of factory farming are the largest reducible causes. Also, most people claim to love animals, yet continue to consume products which are the result of horrific violence and cruelty towards them.”

Russ makes it very clear: “I think it’s time we started living our values, and fighting to preserve the precious resources on our planet, rather than contributing to their waste and destruction.” Nothing to add here.

We missed one thing, while talking about a “typical” day in Russ’ life: “Depending on what time of year it is, I will watch a stupid amount of hockey on TV.” Not a surprise, as he also works as a Hockey Scout. How did that start?

“I work for the Tri City Americans (WHL). I scout California for the team, so I travel around the state during the season, watching elite, bantam-aged players (14 turning 15), identifying the best of the best, writing and submitting scouting reports to our GM and Head Scout, and talking with the players and their families about our league, and our organization.”

He just fell in love with hockey some day and goes all in, which just seems to be his way of dealing with things he loves: “I grew up surfing and skateboarding. I was really heavy into skating for a long time. I still surf when I can, and I play in a men’s hockey league once a week.”

Russ has three big loves in his professional life: Music, changing the world for a better place and Sports – how could we not love him for that?

Here's one more thing we admire Russ Rankin for: He turned (and stayed) Straight Edge while being a part of a scene where drugs and alcohol played a big role and a number of musicians totally freaked of or even died from overdoses. Straight edge is a subculture of hardcore punk in reaction to the excesses of early punk subculture. Adherents refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. We can only imagine how tough it might have been to keep living to your own values while your entire environment live their lives differently.

Check our Spotify playlist to listen to 26 Songs of Russ' music and values:

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