DA: How long have you been straight edge?
Since 98/99, nearly 19 years.
” I drank until I spewed on the girls I was trying to impress and then later got woken up on some stairs in town (fuck knows how I got there) “
DA: What were the reasons for choosing the sXe avenue?
I stopped drinking before I claimed straight edge. I grew up in a small country town in the victorian mountains (Bright). Being a teenager in a country town with easy access to alcohol, drugs and unsupervised parties every weekend, you could party and I did. I never really like the taste of alcohol and tried a few joints at a party once but the “buzz” was just not my thing. At a mates 18th I drank until I spewed on the girls I was trying to impress and then later got woken up on some stairs in town (fuck knows how I got there) then I rode my BMX along the bike track home falling off every few meters. Not really a strange night out for most but it was enough for me to think to myself “I don’t need this shit”.
DA: Growing up being straight edge, were you hassled much because of it? Or any peer pressure?
The easy answer is no, not really. I have never felt any peer pressure to get drunk or take drugs, it was just always around at parties, family events, festivals. After going edge the only hassle I got was constantly getting asked do you want a beer, a joint or bowl, I would just keep saying no. I cant remember anyone trying to be pushy, but people still ask even when they know I didn’t drink or take drugs.
“We were constantly riding bikes and if having a hangover meant not riding then I found it easy not to drink and go riding the next day”
DA: Do you think where you grew up had an influence in your lifestyle choices?
It must have. Within my circle of close friends some didn’t drink growing up and some stopped around the years I stopped. We were constantly riding bikes and if having a hangover meant not riding then I found it easy not to drink and go riding the next day. Music was the biggest influence on me becoming straight edge.
DA: What bands had the biggest influence on you?
Suicidal Tendencies started it all. My uncle was right into them in the mid 80’s so growing up ST was the first band that i heard where i thought this sounds great. In high school punk was the order of the day, NOFX, Good Riddance, Satanic Surfers, most of the Fat Records bands. Riding BMX, Mountain Bikes and Motor Bikes all the time, my friends and I were sucked right into the Moto XXX and Crusty Demond videos and the music on them.
NOFX’s cover of “Straight Edge” was where I found out about the Straight Edge movement. That song got me into Minor Threat “THE” Straight Edge band. The message Minor Threat has in their music really made me think this life style was for me. Searching and finding other Edge bands like Bane, Good Clean Fun, Gorilla Biscuits, Earth Crisis, Judge, H2O, Our War, inside out, etc just made the life style stick.
A Raised Fist song “Envy is Dangerous” seemed to really resonated with me and got me searching out heavier, louder, faster music which lead me to bands like Mindsnare, Against, Toe to Toe, Converge, Strife, Integrity, and metal bands like Kreator, Brutal Truth, Testament, Anthrax, Slayer, the list goes on. The biggest message I got from these styles of music was basically to say FUCK YOU WORLD I’m my own person and to look through labels and stereotypes and see the individual for who they are.
“For this reason I think its important to not shy away and talk about these issues in our everyday lives not just when we’re confronted with them.”
DA: Tell us about Genuine Error and how it was started.
The band was a good time dude. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.
We started it at the same time as I had the BMX store (Sanction BMX) it was cool how it just happened, one of those things where we we’re all in the right frame of mind, had the time to do it and it was just for fun.
I was living with a young guy Ben who really wanted to start a band. I had been jamming with a few dudes but nothing was really taking off. I had plenty of space to jam at the shop, I told Ben i would sing and I knew a drummer (Bucky), guitarist (Aaron), bassist (Tim) all BMX riders who would be keen to play, “GENUINE ERROR” was spawned.
Ben was super into the punk/hardcore bands that were big at that time like champion, comeback kid, have heart etc. He was writing some original riffs and was the biggest push for how the music evolved. We started jamming some covers to get a feel for what sound would come from the noise and if we could play together. Funny thing was Aaron, Bucky and myself were all into metal and hardcore so i think it got frustrating for Ben when we were trying to quicken the pace of the music and I would scream instead of sing.
We ended up not really being into the covers we were playing and concentrated on our original music. We all had input into the songs we ended up playing. I was writing a lot of the lyrics, Ben and Arron would write guitar riffs then we would crudely record our jams change what needed to be changed and out of that came our sound. We played a heap of local shows, benefits and birthdays, recorded a demo and had a fucking heap of fun.
DA: The song ” Edge of Reality” is about mental health and suicide awareness, is that something you and the other band members have strong feelings about?
“Edge of Reality” means a lot more to me now than when I first wrote those lyrics. With one of my best friends (and yours) Allan Briotti committing suicide the words I wrote and that song make me cry every time I hear them. We played a show days after his death and it was super important for me to sing this song and show the emotions that came with it. I have found it hard that writing songs talking about your feelings and supporting your friends and hopefully taking my own advice still wasn’t enough to stop mental illness and suicide taking the life of a dude I loved. For this reason I think its important to not shy away and talk about these issues in our everyday lives not just when we’re confronted with them.
All of us in the band felt it was important to have a over all positive message, we even jammed out the most brutal fast music we could play and sang about sunshine, green grass and unicorns ha ha Ben hated it.
I was the only straight edge dude in the band so I wasn’t going to write don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t fuck in all the songs, but I did want to get people thinking about the so called “taboo” issues like metal illness, violence, religion and so on. I wanted to make people take a look at how they treat the people around them and maybe try to give someone some sort of support, like this style of music has done for me. Its all about spreading the PMA.
“If you’re really into hot rods, customs and hand built cars and bikes, you will have friends all over the world. Much the same as I have found with the Hardcore scene or BMX scene world wide.”
DA: You are involved in the vintage car scene here in Australia, although that can be stereotyped as a scene that involves a lot of drinking, have you come across many people that are straight edge within the scene or maybe don’t claim it but are sober?
There are a lot of people in the scene that I meet that don’t drink or rarely do, but I cant say I’ve met any other Straight Edgers.
The thing I like about the car scene is it can be so inclusive, if you “get it” the guys and girls that also “get it” only care that your there having a great time with them, Drunk, High or sober. If you’re really into hot rods, customs and hand built cars and bikes, you will have friends all over the world. Much the same as I have found with the Hardcore scene or BMX scene world wide.
” living in Melbourne made it really clear that being Straight Edge was the right choice for me.”
DA: Growing up were there any others around you that influenced you with your lifestyle choices?
Most of my close friends were my influences growing up. Only one guy, Jake was Straight Edge and as passionate about it as I, my other close friends either just didn’t drink or rarely did.
I moved to Canberra straight after VCE and that was the first time I saw some really great Australian hardcore and punk live shows. Not long after that I headed to Melbourne and moved in with all the dudes I grew up with. Being able to just go see live gigs two or three times a week, shows with 10 plus band line ups was crazy. Seeing a heap of international Straight Edge bands and getting to meet other Straight Edge people influenced me more than just the music, living in Melbourne made it really clear that being Straight Edge was the right choice for me.
DA: What are your thoughts on fast food?
I have a big problem with highly processed, mass marketed, factory farmed, drive through style food establishments. I like to think I’m pretty anti consumerism, anti corporate, anti capitalism. I do feel very hypocritical some times but it is almost impossible to not support “big business” in Australia. I try to make informed, ethical (but I’m not vegan, Hypocrite!) decisions on where and how I spend my money on food and the lifestyle I like to lead. We are very lucky to live in a country where we are able to have a choice of where and how we buy food.
DA: You seem to spend a lot of time outdoors, what is it that draws you to this?
I feel pretty comfortable when I’m alone in the outdoors. To go some place quite away from all the noise of the modern world. To sit with your own thoughts and be comfortable in that situation is calming for me. I really enjoy exploring long forgotten places or the hidden quiet places of a town or city I have never visited. Taking the time to slow down and enjoy the journey rather than the final destination is a holiday for me. Taking the alternative route like riding to work most days or driving the back roads instead of the highways really opens the world up for adventure and lets you experience everyday new.
DA: You have a kid now as well, has that effected your lifestyle much?
Not a great deal. My priorities in life have shifted around. You just find a balance with everything you want to do. She was very much wanted and we had a hard long road trying to have a kid. I feel very lucky everyday to be able to hang out with our little human.
DA: Is your partner Kellie straight edge as well? That’s always something that interests me is if you need to be with a partner that is also straight edge. What are your thoughts?
Kellie’s not straight edge and she’s is also a lot more outgoing than I am. I think thats probably why we are so good together. I think if I was with someone who had a very similar lifestyle to me we would both be missing out on experiencing all that life has to offer. Kellie has challenged me to experience different situations, people, countries, foods that I wouldn’t normally have on my own. We have gone through a lot in our life together and I’m a better person because of her.
Photos courtesy of Chris Cooper.