When Porcell and I started Youth of Today, we wanted to take it seriously. We thought Straight Edge was an important message. We wanted to take it seriously and travel around the world. I guess it was a lofty idea. Our dream was to put out a record and travel around America and we ended up doing so much more than that.
It became quite a phenomenon very quickly. We played at CBGB’s in New York with Agnostic Front and Damage. It was right before ‘Can’t Close My Eyes’ came out. I’m a big mouth, and I was really into Straight Edge. Back then, no one was Straight Edge in New York so I really went off and had a little bit of an attitude.
So, we played this show at CBGB’s and left and went to California to tour with 7 Seconds. They put out our single on their label, Positive Force. We got back and everybody was Straight Edge. It was unbelievable.
I remember coming back from that tour and seeing Todd Youth on the street and he grabbed me and said ‘Check this out, I’m Straight Edge now!’ I was like ‘You’re kidding!’ and he was like ‘No, even Raybeez is Straight Edge’ and I was like ‘Now I know you’re kidding’. I knew Raybeez from hanging out from way back and he was far from Straight Edge. Sure enough, we go to hang out with Raybeez and he’s got an X on his hand and says to me ‘We’re all Straight Edge now!’
It was also after when we came back from that tour of California with 7 Seconds, we decided to move to New York City and it took over New York quick.
The timing was so right because there was this whole influx of new people. There was this generation of kids like us who loved the old New York scene. We loved Agnostic Front, Cause for Alarm, The Abused and Urban Waste, but wanted to put our own stamp on it.
I think that era of NYHC in 1985 was when it really came into something. For people to think Hardcore stopped in 1985; maybe that’s just because they weren’t into Hardcore anymore. It might have been a personal thing. Truthfully, that’s when New York took off. Look at the bands that came out of that era: Sick of It All, Youth of Today, Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags. A big part of the New York scene happened post-’85. That’s when Agnostic Front became a global band.
Again, that’s not to take anything from the earlier era. ’82 NYHC was really cool, but it never really left New York. The Abused and Urban Waste were cult bands. Once again, that doesn’t take anything away from them. If there were no Urban Waste or The Abused, there definitely would be no Youth of Today because we literally copied them.
But Youth of Today brought a suburban element to the NYHC scene. I guess there was always a suburban element to the scene, but I think Youth of Today made it easier not to be a bad ass to hang out. You don’t have to be a criminal to hang out. You don’t have to be a drug addict to hang out.
Truthfully, a lot of the people that fell in on the Lower East Side and squatted down there, most of them were not from New York City. Not many people grew up in New York City. New York City was a hub. There was an influx of kids from the suburbs that would come up. There were kids that thought ‘I can relate to Hardcore, but I can’t relate to the negative elements’. To me, that was real deterrent because I wasn’t into drugs or the ‘live fast die young’ thing. The Straight Edge thing let you become a part of that scene but still have ethics, morals and self-integrity. That being said, the music was the common thread that brought all these different personalities all together.
When Jordan and I started Revelation and put out the ‘Together’ compilation, we really thought we were representing what NYHC was at the time. We were together and coming from all different places and coming together in the collective of alternative music. Truthfully, we were the alternative to what was going on back then. It was a great time to be in New York and making music.