This is a very difficult question because there are so many aspects of Hardcore music and the underground Hardcore/Punk scene that are important to me. If I had to break it down, it would have to be quite simply, the music and the message.
As a teenager I was totally attracted to loud, fast, aggressive music. Maybe it was because I was hyperactive or I didn't fit in with the "cool kids" or I had an inner anger that needed to be released and music turned out to be that outlet. Underground metal sucked me in like a magnet back in 1983 with it's loud distorted guitars, pounding drums and bass and fast tempo songs. I didn't pay much attention to the lyrics at first because I was young and was totally pumped by the aggression of the music. As time went on and I started familiarizing myself with bands and songs, I naturally started singing along while driving in the car. There was something cool about being viewed as evil and demonic and a "Metal Head", but it just didn't seem real or heartfelt.
By 1985 I was going to shows and experiencing music from a live perspective. It was all pretty exciting seeing shows at L'amours Brooklyn and The Ritz NYC with all the lights and all of the amplifiers, the smoke machines and the huge crowds headbanging and moshing. By mid 1985 in NYC, metal, punk and hardcore were all crossing over into each other and I was starting to see punk and hardcore bands billed together with the metal bands that I was seeing live. Hardcore/punk music had that same loud distorted guitars, pounding drums and bass and fast tempo songs as metal, but the lyrics actually meant something that I could relate to. Could this be for real I thought, these bands are singing about the same feelings and emotions that I feel and are talking about important political and life issues that I understand and agree with. I started buying Hardcore/Punk albums like Minor Threat, Dag Nasty, Dayglo Abortions, 7 Seconds, Uniform Choice, Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Social Unrest, etc and the lyrics were blowing my mind. No one was singing about Satan and decapitations and ghosts and fantasy, the bands were singing about mankind and brotherhood and politics and having a positive attitude and being good to your fellow man... WOW! Powerful music with a powerful message!
Metal heads at shows were cool and most would say what's up and/or nod at you, or if you had a Slayer shirt on, would yell SLAYER!!!!!! as you walked by, but outside of that there was no real connection. As I started going to Hardcore/Punk shows and meeting kids and other local bands, the vibe was totally different. Everyone was extremely welcoming and I felt like they actually cared to be my friend. In no time metal was fading to the back burner and the Hardcore/Punk scene was my new home.
I can sit here and list bands, records and shows, but what it comes down to is these very bands, records and shows shaped me into the person that I am today. The lyrics saved me from myself and put me on the right path in life. The songs taught me about politics and world events that I normally would have looked right over. The songs taught me that it was okay to be yourself and to forget what others think about you. The songs taught me to think for myself and not to believe everything that I read or heard. But most importantly the songs conveyed a feeling of unity and the sense that anyone with the motivation can be in a band and play shows. Hardcore music gave me an outlet to create my own music and play in bands, record records and travel the world! Hardcore music gave me the opportunity to meet and befriend people from all over the world, some of which have turned out to be my best friends still today! Hardcore music is still just as strong in my heart and soul as it was back in 1985! If you surround yourself with positive music and positive people trying to make a positive world, you cannot help but to stay positive!
Jeff Terranova, Feb '09,