Originally Published: Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Written by: Ann Marie
I am a girl in hardcore and straight edge, and this is my story.
When I was 14 years old, I had just gotten into the “scene”. I started off with punk rock (as so many of us had), and progressed to old school hardcore, to new hardcore, to pop-punk, to ska, to metalcore, to emo, to indie rock, to hardcore to well, you name it, and I’ve listened to it. I had a friend who also is female, I just met her my freshman year and we became pretty close friends. We went to our very first show together in January of ’96. It was a small, local show, with small, local bands and a pretty small crowd. I remember being introduced into all these bands I never even knew were operating in my area. It was a whole new world to me, and I loved every second of it.
To be able to know that there were alternatives to music on the radio, alternatives that drew me into a scene that I had never even known of. This music had something to say and I was listening. Shortly after my first show, I met a senior at my high school named Rich. He was into old school hardcore, and hardcore in general, and I looked up to him as a sort of mentor. Rich showed me what a lot of hardcore was all about. He introduced me to bands like Minor Threat, Endpoint, and Ignite. He introduced me to Straight Edge (something I still hold close to me to this day).
Rich made me a mixtape of a bunch of hardcore bands and I listened to it religiously. To me, this tape was what I had been looking for for years! I finally got to learn that music could be meaningful, music could have a message, music could be powerful enough to inspire change! It was so much more than the radio had to offer me, and I couldn’t be happier. After receiving that tape, I progressed to more bands. Some were punk rock, some were hardcore, some were old school-but I listened to it all, trying to find a niche in the scene that slowly became a huge part of my life.
I remember talking to my friend at the time, who had pretty much entered this world with me, about wanting to sing in a band. We had our first taste with a female-fronted band while watching Standpoint play at the county college nearby. I hadn’t seen it, before-a female, fronting a band like this. I thought that in a scene dominated by men, what females joined bands? They were outnumbered, and I never thought it could be accomplished. I was so wrong. I knew from then on, I wanted to do my part, I wanted to be up there singing and expressing myself just like the guys got to do. It was set in my mind, but would never surface until almost 5 whole years later. I floated in and out of the scene, different genres (mostly hardcore though), went to all the shows I could get myself to on the weekends, immersed myself in as much of the culture as I could get. At one point, I would get my first taste of true negativity in the scene.
There were a small group of assholes in my school who simply didn’t want “new kids” involved. They tried to make us feel smaller than them, they tried to belittle us, but at the shows-they were a small minority within a group of kids who actually did want to make a difference. It was at one of these shows that I picked up a zine, and begin to read the thoughts of a kid just like me. I was inspired, and shortly after, decided to start my own. My attempt at a zine was a small, but a heartfelt one. I printed out a few pages of some thoughts I had on the scene, music, and life in general, and handed them out at shows. I got some kids who were into it, and some kids who weren’t, but at least I did my part. Soon after that I would write another zine with a different taste to it, and publish those as well. Nothing felt better to me than expressing how I felt and being able to share it with people who went through the same things I did day to day. The kids who felt as if the scene were such a huge integral aspect of their lives. I didn’t care if most people didn’t appreciate my efforts-I was doing this for me, and if I picked up a few kids along the way who appreciated it, then that was all that mattered. Meanwhile, the thoughts of starting a band lay dormant in the back of my mind. It was always there, pushing me, and tapping on my shoulder every once in a while to remind me, but members were hard to find and I was still young.
Transportation was an issue as well as paying for equipment. In the meantime-to feel as if I were giving back to something I was a part of, I wrote zines, I took pictures for bands, I did a website. I wanted to do all I could to get my ideas out into a world that I felt needed to be heard. I started to get older and started to get introduced to more female-fronted bands like Berzerk from Oregon and Fast Times from New Jersey, Walls of Jericho from Michigan. Bands who all had female-fronted singers, all over the United States, getting their message across-speaking up for themselves and having a damn good time doing it.
That’s what I wanted, I wanted to be a part of that, I wanted to get up there and express myself and never have to apologize for it! Just because I’m a girl, does it mean I have to be quiet? Does it mean I have to stand in the background? Hell no. I knew it was time to start finding out how to live out my dream. As the years went on, unfortunately, I found the scene to take a fairly big turn in a fairly negative direction. I saw kids become apathetic and cold. I saw zines stop being published, I saw kids give up on doing shows simply because there was one club that got “all the good bands”, and competition for a crowd was impossible, I saw kids choose sides, I saw kids become violent, disrespectful, and frighteningly unfriendly. The sense of unity (if there was any when I got there), had vanished. I didn’t have a “crew”, I wasn’t friends with the “cool kids”, and the high school mentality I needed to escape from when I was 14 just came right back into my life.
I’d have to fight my way out ever since…. I was older by this time, learning a lot about myself, and a lot about other people’s personalities and feelings. Some kids became cynical because they saw no hope. Some kids said, “if you can’t beat em, join em.” Some kids got picked on in high school, and this was their way to BECOME the bully. This was their way to be on the top, in a scene that didn’t know them, where they could establish a new life, and a new identity, and finally be the ones in control. For whatever reason people became truly negative-I’ll never know. At times it became so discouraging that I gave up my dream of singing in a band, knowing now just how hard it is to be “accepted”. Something I worked so hard to keep going, something I worked so hard on to be a part of, to be embraced in a group of people who I had so much in common with-was falling apart, and leaving me behind.
Years passed, and I turned 20 years old. Bands like Walls of Jericho and Berzerk became an ultimate inspiration for me. These bands, with their lyrics, their music and their passion-fueled ME to go on and speak up for me. Hardcore bands like Stretch Arm Strong and Kid Dynamite, with their positive lyrics and their heartfelt songs, inspired me to ALWAYS think for myself, and never give up on what I wanted the most in life simply because someone else tells you you’re not good enough. I was empowered, angry that the scene I once called home had become a dysfunctional family beyond repair, and pissed off to the point where I wasn’t going to take it anymore. December of 2001, I finally found the right people and started my own band. The beginning was hard. Members came in and out, the writing was difficult as we were trying to find our niche. I’ve been singing for years, but never this often, and had to re-train my voice as a result. Screaming, that was another story. I hadn’t ever screamed in my life (in music, at least), and I thought I’d never been able to do it (at least not as well as Joanne from Berzerk or Candace from WOJ!).
Regardless, I worked hard at it. I tried it. I kept up at it. At first, sure, I sounded like shit! But it never kept me from stopping. Practice evolved me into what I am able to do with my voice today. Sure, I can never say I’m as good as the women in bands that I look up to today, but I know I can hold my own. The band filled all of my needs musically and emotionally. We weren’t just writing “hardcore songs”, in fact, we’re not even a “hardcore band”. We were writing for ourselves. The music that inspired us became an influence on our writing style. We incorporated emo rock, hardcore, and metalcore-even rock and roll into a series of songs that we couldn’t be more happy with, no matter what anyone says.
Sure, you know, there were times that people had said to me I could never do it. Times that people told me how dumb I was for trying to be “just like the guys”. You know what? I’m not trying to be like the guys. I’m just trying to get up there and say my share. My words, they mean something, my motivation is strong, and NO one is going to tell me that I don’t belong here. I belong here just as much as any of you do. Why? Because I did my part for years, and I’m still here, doing my part every day. Regardless, just take a good look at the people who criticize and hate on you-what are they doing with their lives? Most of them don’t even get off their ass to make a difference. All they want to do is look good, go to shows, beat the shit out of people and form an elitist crowd in order to empower their own egos.
What is wrong with that picture? So, so much is wrong with that…yet, it’s become an accepted norm in the scene today. I’m 21 years old, in fact, I just turned 21 a few weeks ago. I’ve seen the scene evolve into something I think I’m not even a part of anymore. By choice? Maybe. By growing up? Maybe. I still have fond memories of going to shows every weekend, writing my zine, being with all my friends, but now things are different. I’ve realized that the scene isn’t my life, yet, just a part of my life that I can look back on with happiness just as much as I can look back on it with anger at times. Anger that things might have been different today if kids actually gave a damn.
If kids actually stood up for themselves instead of following the moral majority just so they’d have someone “cool” on their side. I honestly don’t care what you think of me. I know what a great person I am. I know the abilities I have, and the motivation I have to keep going is so strong, that no one can tell me otherwise. I am a girl in hardcore and straight edge. Who are you to tell me that I didn’t make a difference? I did. I am living proof. I worked my ass off to get where I am today, and I did it the RIGHT way and the positive way. I have absolutely, positively NO REGRETS. I hope you can say the same for yourselves. Don’t let people make you feel little, or underneath them. Don’t ever let anyone control what you’re going to do with your life, simply by what they have to say about you. Keep doing what you love, even if only 1 or 2 people appreciate it-or even if only YOU appreciate it! As a female, it’s so hard to prove yourself to the guys, but guess what? You don’t have to prove yourself! This is your life. You take control. You make a difference. It’ll all come back to you in the end, if you stay positive, and keep your head up. YOU are the only one who has control over how YOU feel and what YOU do. NEVER give that up. One day it’ll all come into place….
|Written by Guest on 2005-12-30 15:26:47Thanks so much,I’m 15 and feeling very similar to beginning of your story. I’ve always wanted to sing/scream in a band and I know one day I will.Its tough to see all the guys around me starting bands and doing shows and not having one of my own.I know someday though I’ll find the right people.You’ve really inspired me to not give up hope so again,thanks so much.|
|Written by felicha. on 2005-08-30 19:29:09thank you so much :]|
|Written by xgimmienoise on 2005-06-16 22:57:18While reading this, I felt as if it was me who wrote it. I know exactly how you feel, thank you for putting it into words for everyone to read. |
Keep it posi.
|ryan..fuck you im edge|
Written by Guest on 2005-06-11 07:50:18hey, that was pretty awesome.
i see something you are saying, like the unity in the scene having gone out the window.
i dont know its still pretty unified but it could be a lot better. theres fights at almost every show i go to. everyone carrys knucks or has bats and guns in their cars.
why should i need a pair of fucking knuckles to go to a show and dance and have a good time. i shouldnt. but i do.
and as for it being an escape from the structure of high school, i agree i mean im a pretty social person but theres so much less drama in the scene than in high school.
thanks for standing up and telling yout story
a guy named ryan
|Written by slonik2k on 2005-03-22 14:18:49Wow. Thanks so much for writing that.|
|Written by xunityhaintsox on 2005-01-16 11:26:40Amazing. cant say anymore.. im glad they are women like you out there that speak up!|
|this article its really coolll!!!|
Written by Guest on 2004-11-21 09:16:54
|Written by adriana on 2004-11-16 15:43:54Word. It’s hard sometimes to go against the grain in the scene for all it’s claims of “open-mindedness” (which in many respects seems like a sham). Your story is very reassuring to read at this point when I’m about to embark on some projects I know are gonna catch alot of shit. Thanks for sharing.|
Mother, wife, small business owner.