The Bensonhurst lawmaker behind the suite of animal rights bills approved by City Council on Wednesday once played guitar in a hardcore death metal band — which was fronted by two pitbulls!
Vegetarian Councilman Justin Brannan formerly shredded with a New York City grindcore band, called Caninus, which featured four-legged vocalists Basil and Budgie, and he attributes his activist leanings in part to his furry band mates
“The hardcore scene in the ‘90s was a lot of people talking about social issues and animal rights,” said Brannan. “I really got my start as a teenaged animal rights activist, and that’s something that has never left me.”
Brannan introduced two bills included in a package of animal welfare legislation that passed Council on Oct. 30, the first of which requires the formation of a new city agency, called the Office of Animal Welfare, which will oversee animal regulations, propose animal-friendly legislation, and host educational programs on the humane treatment of animals.
The second bill calls on legislators up in Albany to ban puppy mills from operating throughout the state, while legislation introduced by other council members, but approved alongside Brannan’s, included laws that ban horse-drawn carriages on hot or humid days, prevent people from capturing pigeons and other wild birds, and forbid the sale of foie gras — a luxury dish of fatty goose liver — among others. Brannan voted in favor of all the bills, which he called “a long time coming.”
“We’ve been talking about doing this forever,” said Brannan.
Brannan, a Bay Ridge native, has long been a vocal supporter of animal rights. In the early 2000s, he and members of his successful hardcore punk bands Indecision and Most Precious Blood, which mostly sang about animal welfare and human rights, formed a spin-off group called Caninus, whose two vocalists were rescued pitbulls.
The human-animal ensemble released songs including “New Yorkie Crew (Loyal Like a Stone),” “Bite the Hand That Breeds You,” and “F— the American Kennel Club.”
The group enjoyed some success — one song, “No Dogs, No Masters,” has racked up over 700,000 views on Youtube.
According to Brannan, he and his bandmates wrote actual lyrics for their various tracks — but they were all sung by dogs!
“We pretended like they were singing the lyrics,” Brannan said.
Caninus disbanded in 2011, but Brannan’s animal activism is still going strong. Two months ago, the vegetarian councilman and his wife adopted two greyhounds that used to be race dogs named Fiorello and Luna.
“These dogs were basically disposed of once their racing career was over,” Brannan said. “We kind of fell in love.”