Straight Edge Music
(myfoxboston) - If you walked into a club and heard the music, you might turn right around. But you’d let one of these kids babysit your children and you’d probably be psyched if your daughter brought one home. They are straight edge, a shorthand phrase to describe a series of tough life choices made by the people who listen to, and create, this music. They refuse to drink, smoke, or do drugs. Most refrain from promiscuous sex, a lot are even vegetarians. They just love themselves some loud music.
The idea of straight edge was born in the early 80s, but it remained largely underground. It’s always attracted kids who want to belong to something. While their peers experiment and get in trouble, straight edgers stay clean. Some, forever.
“All my friends were straight edge when I was in high school,” says 33-year-old Chris Wrenn, who has been straight edge for almost half of his life. “It’s something that has been an important part of my life for some time, but at this point it’s just second nature. It’s just the way I am.”
Today he runs several businesses, including Peabody-based Bridge 9 Records, a hard core label with a soft spot for straight edge. His adolescent passion, is now his career. “I recognize the value in the lifestyle, and I try to work with whatever the best bands are at the time,” Wrenn says.
The music defines straight edge, and vice versa. Boston has a unique place in straight edge history, dozens of bands got started here. And thanks, in part, to a vibrant college community, they flourished. Back in 1999, Fox 25 introduced you to Pete Maher, then the frontman for a popular band, “In My Eyes.”
“I hold straight edge dear to myself. I’ve set it up as a discipline for myself,” Maher said in 1999. Pete wasn’t kidding, he’s now been straight edge for almost a quarter of a century. “I’m going to be straight edge whether I put those words to it, whether I go to shows, or listen to straight edge bands. I just don’t want to drink. I just don’t want to do drugs. It’s just something I don’t need.”
Straight edge hasn’t developed without controversy. By the late 90s, factions had turned violent. Kids who drank at straight shows might find themselves slashed, or even beaten up.
“You hear the stories about them, going up to people who were smoking cigarettes, and ripping the cigarettes out of their mouths,” says Pat Flynn. After seven years of touring the world, Flynn’s band, “Have Heart”, called it quits last month. Their last show, at the 10th annual “Edge Day”, a concert held every year in or near Boston.
“It’s very aggressive, rambunctious style of music. And sometimes, on the surface it looks very chaotic, but underneath, the message is very positive, very forward thinking,” Flynn says.
Having proven itself more than just a fad, straight edge, now a kind of philosophy, the hard shell of this sound, protecting the tender spirit of the words. All about coping with life, being honest, and respecting your community. “Have Heart” donated all the money from it’s final show, about $12,000, to a New Bedford Women’s shelter.
“A good example to the outside world that straight edge isn’t this gang and it’s really about just a positive way of living your own life, and giving back to society,” Flynn says.