“When I was coming up the big thing in hardcore was flock of seagulls hair cuts and riffs that sounded like a C- version of At The Gates” – Zach Greene, Habs Fan.
I do not want to bog this down with anything other than the stories I want to share. So, to put it simply I wanted to find out what hardcore means to the people around me/in the scene.I set out by literally just asking some friends, and people in bands I have met if they might be interested in sharing some stories about their time in and around the music scene, and what it means to them.
First up is a guy that I met about two years ago, and when think of him I think of three things: The Habs, Punk, Star Trek.
Can you tell us your name, and roughly how long you have been listening to punk/hardcore?
“Cool, so my name is Zach Greene, I’ve been listening to punk for close to 15 years, and probably hardcore for most of that time, but I don’t think I knew it was called hardcore until 10 or so years ago. Like, when I was coming up the big thing in hardcore was flock of seagulls hair cuts and riffs that sounded like a C- version of At The Gates so I just naturally associated that with hardcore. The older punks always made fun of that stuff, so I did too to fit in, so it took me a little while before I clued in that hardcore was basically punk with less pretense.”
Do you have a defining moment of what got you into the genre?
“I don’t know if I have a defining memory of what attracted me to punk, like I always liked fast and aggressive music, but I can also remember being in grade 5 and hearing Third Eye Blind on Big Shiny Tunes 2 and thinking it was the heaviest shit ever.
When I was around middle school age, so like 11 or 12 I got into bands like Korn, and Limp Bizkit because that was the heaviest and most rebellious stuff they’d show on Much Music. I played hockey with a couple of kids who listened to stuff like Dead Kennedys and NOFX, and I liked it, and I knew it was punk, but I was still more into the nu-metal they showed on Much Music.
Then I think it was in grade 9, two things happened:
1) I bought the Ramones’ first album on CD, and I can remember being struck by that it was fast and loud and pissed off, but the like snotty teenage aggression of songs like Teenage Lobotomy and Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue were a lot more relatable than the “I’m angsty and hate myself” bullshit that the nu-metal bands were about.
2) A kid I went to high school with gave me a cassette tape copy of Screeching Weasel’s – Boogadaboogadaboogada. It sounded like the Ramones, and the whole album is pretty much about being a bored teenager in suburbia, which I was at the time. I was also learning to play guitar at the time and both of those albums were pretty easy to learn from front to back so that helped too. And from there I started to get into like the classic punk bands like The Clash and Bad Religion (who unfortunately turned into the most boring band of all time), and my life just kind of spiraled out of control from there so to speak.”
Can you describe the first punk show you remember going to?
“The first show I ever went to was Gob and The Black Halos at a bar in Peterborough called Sin City. It was kind of a seedy bar and there were always rumours it was owned by bikers, but that was probably just a rumor. Anyway I think I was 14 and it was on a Saturday afternoon. I went with this kid Zach Dulmage who hated every second of it and turned into a juggalo after that, and then some Indie rock Conner Oberst wanna-be. Anyway, what I most remember was that The Black Halos had this singer, Billy Hopeless, and he had this “rawk and rawwwl” kind of swagger and was choking himself with the mic cable and baiting the audience and shit, which to me was the most dangerous shit I had ever seen. It wasn’t until later I found out that they were basically just doing what Iggy Pop and the Stooges had been doing for 30 years at that point, but when you’re 14 it doesn’t matter who did it first, it’s just who you see first.”
Why is Punk important to you?
“I guess punk is important to me because it informs a lot of my politics and world view, there’s a lot about punk that drives me up the wall, but I still really appreciate the sort of do what you want how you want vibe and the DIY ethos. And it’s generally nice to have a community of other crabby and sarcastic misanthropes.”
What is your favourite memory of going to a show or listening to the music?
“My favourite punk memory? I dunno man, there are so many, but I guess I promised you a story about stage diving off of speaker stacks in basements with low ceilings. So there was this bar in Peterborough, called The Underdog which was just the basement of another bar called The Red Dog. And the ceiling was one of those drop ceilings, maybe like 6.5 feet off the ground. Anyways, The Brutal Knights were playing and the place was packed, just way over capacity, people were shoulder to shoulder, and their PA had these like 4 foot tall speakers just on the floor, way to big for a place that small. Anyways, I was sitting on top of one of the speakers and decided to stage dive off of it, because why not? Stage dives rule*. So I’m getting ready to jump and I’m kind of crouching because the ceiling is so low, and I’m waiting for the right moment and I go for it. I went face first through one of the ceiling panels and somehow everybody knew to clear away just at that moment and so I went from crashing face first through the ceiling, to landing on my face on the linoleum floor. I have no idea how I didn’t bust up my face.”
“But when you’re 14 it doesn’t matter who did it first, it’s just who you see first.”
A solid point to end on, Zach hits the nail on the head for me with this line. I’m more than sure that a lot of bands that have impacted me in a large way were not the originators of their craft, but does that really matter? When you witness something for the first time, the feeling you have in that moment is no less important just because someone else had experienced it before you. In fact if anything, it just gives us more in common with each other.
– Michel Orange Tree (still insists that Superheroes Of Hardcore don’t suck)
*Stage dives do in fact rule