If skateboarding saved my life, then Hardcore music showed me how great that life could be. One of my favourite bands* asked a simple question “Could we be something more, than we are right now?”
The first time I ever heard my favourite band Shai Hulud, it was through the headphones of a friend in home room and my immediate response was “What the hell is this, I can’t understand what he is screaming” It was a shocking introduction to a band that would become my most listened to bands of all time.
When I was thirteen or so I was listening to bands like Insane Clown Posse, Slipknot, and other loud or shock gimmick driven bands of the day. I liked that these bands did not care how they appeared or sounded, they were singing loud and passionately (with opinions I now strongly disagree with, I’m looking at you ICP) in a way I had not been introduced to before. My introduction to punk and hardcore would follow not long after, I remember it fairly clearly. I was sitting with a few friends sharing songs we liked, when someone put on “Sex & Violence” by The Exploited and it hit me hard and fast. The people in the band could barely sing, or play their instruments for that matter, but it was fast and angry. I was hooked.
It would take me until I was about eighteen or so to really discover hardcore music. It happened slowly, without my really knowing that it was happening. I had been going to local music shows as often as I could, bands ranging from metal, to indie pop. I had started to hang around with people who kept inviting me to hardcore shows, I think it really took off when a good friend of mine joined a hardcore band and got me to come see them perform. It was the beginning of a new obsession. I had discovered something new, a home.
If you were to ask me why I love hardcore, I would be able to answer quicker than any other question including “When is your birthday”. Community, community that is driven to make a difference. These are bands willing to talk about the fact that our society is in a poor state, and angry about it. The bands can range from downright silly parody bands (Superheroes Of Hardcore) to youth crew bands trying to get us to be a bit more positive and involved in our world. They were passionate, screaming words that needed to be screamed for us all to hear. Other times singing silly songs about Yetis, or crossing the strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Above all else I had found a home, amongst peers that cared about the same things I did. People that did not care how I dressed or what I looked like, they accepted me as I was. Awkward, shy, nerdy, but the only thing they needed to know was that I loved the music just like they did.
Hardcore music challenged me to look at myself, and the world around me to ask if I was happy with who I was and my surroundings. The reason being if I was not happy, I could change it. Even more so I figured out that people in bands were just regular people, and anyone could be in one. All you needed to do was pick up an instrument, and write about the things you wanted to say. As my idol Joe Strummer put it “We’re not particularly talented, we just try harder”, it was as simple as that. You did not need to be a superstar to play in a hardcore/punk band, you just had to give it your all. You had to fully put yourself into the music, as cheesy as it sounds you needed to be a part of the music you were playing.
It is safe to say that I take hardcore music a little seriously sometimes, the same way that I do with tattooing. It is so close to my heart that I am protective of it, but at the same time I want to be able to share it with everyone. I want everyone to be able to find what I found in this community of misfits and outcasts wearing Madball jerseys and basketball shorts, moshing like gorillas sometimes. It is not so much that the music is unable to be silly or fun, because it very much can be just that. However it gives such a good platform to give a message, whether that message is something like Toronto natives Fucked Up have to say (anti-suicide, pro-body image, dealing with depression) or the hard hitting screams of Bad Brains (one of the bands that effectively started it all).
In all honesty I could talk about this subject for hours, and I likely will revisit it again in future articles. Really what I hope to achieve is to give you all some bands to check out, and maybe you’ll understand a little more why I feel so at home in a crowd of people screaming along to bands in a dog pile of like minded hardcore kids.
It’s because that is our home.
Some bands that are very important to me: