So here’s something I’ve noticed lately that’s honestly a little bit weird. It’s the sort of weird Jungian subconscious thing that I don’t think anyone realizes exists but when you take advantage of it you see connections that are not only amazing but also that lead to better music industry opportunities. What I am talking about is shared experiences in the music industry and how you can use them to network. It’s not just that though. It’s the shared experiences of one particular genre, hardcore. Hardcore has had a lasting impact on just about every mainstream music genre over the last thirty years, yes even hip hop and rap, just as much as it has had on folk and of course more obviously rock and metal. This isn’t an article meant to document its ties to those genres. Rather this is an article about why hardcore has become this key thing if you want to try and make friends in music in a way that is meaningful and long term.
So here’s where things started to fascinate me and get weird about this hardcore thing. I, like many other dudes in punk, rock and metal was deeply involved in the hardcore scene at one point and I have a lot of friends from that scene who I still hang out with on a regular basis. When I see them I feel old bonds coming together because of the years we shared in shitty vans, sneaking into clubs and dealing with late nights and creepy old dudes. That was part of the fun of being a teenager in the underground music scene, it was dangerous and crazy but we were in it together. That’s not the weird part though, that’s just common sense. The weird part is the instant connection you get with hardcore that you don’t have with other genres. I know dudes from metal who I found out I’m connected with through hardcore and our relationships are so much more meaningful because of that. It’s not just because we share music taste though, it’s because we share an ideology.
I think the reason that hardcore is more bonding than any other type of music is that there is a whole ethos behind it. Not only that but it’s got a relatively low bar of entry and is such a ‘weird kid’ thing. That is to say, metal is for weird kids too but it requires a sort of technical obsessiveness. Anyone can go to a hardcore show and scream some words into a mic. It gives the entire thing a sense of equality that you don’t get anywhere else which is really cool to me. The ethos is probably the most important part though, the ethos is what shows we all have the same ideals and belong to what is essentially the same religion. You don’t see this in other forms of underground music that have a diverse range of ideas. That is not to say that there aren’t diverse thoughts in hardcore, but odds are if you grew up listening to Youth of Today, Inside Out and Bad Brains you are going to feel a certain way about a variety of subjects.
Say what you will about having a relatively uniform ethos across a genre, at least the one in hardcore is pretty straightforward and generally positive. Yes there are negative offshoots, but that’s the case with every type of music and those people are genetall hated. It’s this ethos though that brings countless folks between the age of 15 and 55 together. It’s what gives them something to bond over, that this was the music that brought everything together and had it all make sense. This was the music that showed us all the way and introduced us to a lot of interesting new concepts. A lot of those old hardcore bands ended up turning into highly influential acts in their own right or the musicians went on to form other bands. Two prominent examples are probably Eagles Of Death Metal and Fallout Boy but the list goes on. Again, because the barrier of entry was so low it meant that if you wanted to be in a band in high school this was kind of the way to do it. This leads to a lot of great musicians having serious emotional ties to the music.
At the end of the day, this means that getting into hardcore or at least understanding the nature of the genre is probably going to be surprisingly helpful. I know that it might sound a little hokey, but there is a lot that you can take out of working in a hardcore ethos. There is a lot you can take from training yourself to live that way. Remember that it’s not about how you wear your hair it’s what’s inside your head. If you can prove that what you have inside your head is right and valid and you can feed that back into the music that a lot of the people you admire got tied up in in the first place then it’s pretty easy to see why you will have success. Aristotle talks about how if you study the history of something you will be able to fully understand it, and hardcore is one of the most important parts of our collective history as folks in the world of independent music.
Dig in, it’s an inspiring world. It’s one where a bunch of teenagers who didn’t fully know what they were doing were able to craft a movement that was powerful and exciting, Deeply emotional and fraught with raw energy. The history of hardcore is weird and primarily been spread by word of mouth. I kind of love it for that. If you’re not in the know you’re not cool and that’s okay because someone is going to be willing to teach you. Sure there’s a lot of gatekeeping, but that’s how they keep the rabble out in hardcore. Break down the walls, learn what you can, because after all, if we can walk together, why can’t we rock together?