For me getting involved with hardcore punk among other things was a pivotal turning point in my life. I could have just as easily went down the path of the norm. Luckily I was heavily influenced when I was a kid by my older cousin Brian. He had introduced me to Hip Hop and Breakdancing in 1984. This was around the time when Hip Hop was starting to get big in the mainstream and filtering down to us suburbanites. With movies like Wild Style, Beat Street and Breakin' as well as Hip Hop radio shows I was quickly becoming a devotee of all that was Hip Hop. But the breakdance boom that took place in suburbs was a bit short lived and quickly around the corner was skateboarding for me and my friends.
There was a local pool in a neighborhood across the highway from where I lived where the older generation would have intense skate sessions. I was initiated into the fold thanks to my cousin and along with the skateboarding subculture came punk rock. One of the first tapes I got was The Repo Man soundtrack which had Fear, Suicidal, Circle Jerks and Black Flag among others on it. I never heard anything like this music and was blown away. It seemed the perfect soundtrack for skating and my ever growing distaste for the status quo. Soon I heard of more bands from a local skater Skinhead Fred. He turned me onto Nuclear Assault, Lethal Aggression, Dead Kennedy's, Celtic Frost and many others.
Soon after I started skating I got into surfing as well. After a surf session at our local break my cousin flipped me off Dag Nasty's Can I Say. Once I heard that record I became very interested in what the East Coast had to offer in the way of Hardcore/Punk. Soon I had tapes by Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Cro Mags, Youth of Today, Underdog, Sick of it All, Crippled Youth and Gorilla Biscuits to name a few. The East Coast style seemed to be something I liked a lot more compared to the west coast.
But beyond the sound of the music was the message. I was introduced to alternative ways of thinking and lifestyles. Whether it was straight edge, different forms of Spirituality, the vegetarian diet, leftist political views (for lack of a better term, etc, etc. All this along with my still budding love of Hip Hop such as BDP and Public Enemy would be the ingredients for a social outcast in the making.
So to get to the question...Hardcore is important to me because it opened my eyes to life beyond the suburbs and the television set. It showed me that all the things I was feeling were not strange, there was a whole subculture of people who felt just like me. The American dream wasn't my dream and life seemed to be a joke as you became an adult. I looked around at all the adults around me and realized I could never be happy living their lifestyle. Working a soul killing job, being a numb minded follower where the only pleasure seemed to fade away into television fantasies, booze or to consume, consume, consume. I was more excited about being creative. Reading, writing, music, skating, surfing, etc. These were the things that made life beautiful and interesting to me.
Hardcore gave me the vision and the will to believe in myself. To look to myself as well as people I admired for inspiration. Not to the boring and sheep like mass cook cutter plastic people the media and popular culture were selling me. Hardcore to me is more then a sound of music, a social circus, a youth subculture, a style, etc. It's a state of mind, a consciousness, a way of being, a way of life and a general awareness of what is happening around you.
I continue to take part in hardcore as I approach 34 through writing, music and other avenues. The reason I do so is because it is part of me, it is part of who I am. I also want to give back to something that has given so much to me. If I can give just one person out there an alternative to the deathstyle of modern civilization I have done my part. I love hardcore because when society wouldn't...Hardcore showed me love.
Shawn Z, April '08