Join Date: Nov 2004
We're not hard core enough to be hardcore
A-ha, soooo ridiculous.
The Fear in Faith's Sid McClain, 18, sings -- or screams -- as Alex O'Masta, 16, plays guitar. The hardcore band, composed of Northern Virginia high school students, plays a type of punk music known as screamo. The group is recording its first album. (By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)
In the basement of 16-year-old Alex O'Masta's Ashburn home, with the foosball machine and his little sister's dollhouse pushed aside, the teenager's screamo band plugged in one recent Saturday, shook the walls for a while and then took a break to contemplate the future.
With a few months left of school, three of the band members are looking toward graduation and what guitar player Niku Azam, 18, called "the most unsure time of my life."
The Fear in Faith, which plays an offshoot of hardcore punk music with screaming vocals, is recording its first album. The band plans to send it to bass player Erik Schumacher's uncle, who works in the music industry in Los Angeles.
"We'd like to be signed by graduation, so we know what we are going to be doing," said Schumacher, 18.
But they've run into some troubles lately, not the least of which is that their lead singer, er, screamer, might have quit.
Under a posting titled "Overwhelmed," Sid McClain, 18, had written on his MySpace.com account a few days earlier that he wasn't sure he wanted to scream anymore. "I don't know what to do? So much is about to happen," he wrote. He went on to say that he thinks the band could be a waste of his time: "Needless to say it's over, guys."
In McClain's absence, the other band members wondered what it would mean if he left: We're not hard core enough to be hardcore, they said, and not soft enough to be emo. We're not indie enough to be indie, they said, but without a screamer, can we still be screamo?
Their momentary musical identity crisis comes at a time when identity means everything, and anything could change in a matter of months. But perhaps it's the underlying question that drives their anxiety: Could their music, so much a part of their lives now, be a meaningful part of their future, or will it amount to just another passing fad?
Their angst is very screamo. It's a genre for the torment of adolescence, filled with aching lyrics about breakups and failed relationships, like emo music (short for emotional) but not as mainstream. Teens flock to it en masse.
By the following Wednesday night, McClain was back at practice. He said he didn't want to quit the band entirely, but he did want to talk to the other guys about switching to more melodious lyrics. The screaming was taking a toll on him, he said, leaving his throat sore and his voice hoarse, and he was concerned that it could affect his long-term ability to sing.
As the rehearsal wore on, though, he showed off his now trademark performance -- seemingly devouring the microphone, while he growled the low notes and wailed the high ones.
When the band first got together last spring, they played "really poppy emo music," and McClain was a mere singer.
But as they ventured onto the concert circuit, the new performers found they were lightweights compared to the other bands that regularly play at community centers or fire safety centers around suburban Northern Virginia. They started ratcheting up the intensity of their music and encouraging McClain to try screaming.
At first he was reluctant, unsure whether he could do it. One day they cranked the volume in Schumacher's car, a Mitsubishi Montero, and McClain gave it his best shot.
"At first it felt like I had discovered a new talent," he said. Good screamers need lung capacity and endurance. "You have to be fit," he said. Bad screamers sound like they are crying for help.
Within months, the band was performing nearly every weekend and changing its look to match the scene. They grew "emo hair," long in front with streaks of color; O'Masta and McClain started wearing girls' jeans. As a "cool band thing," they all got white belts, and the guitar players wore the buckles on the side. A few of them pierced their ears with rubber or metal plugs, stretching the holes wider and wider as the year went on. Schumacher gave himself a lip ring, but "it was a huge family ordeal," and he took it out until he turned 18.
With their new tight pants and salon-styled hair, they were some of "the most made-fun-of kids at school," said drummer Zak Cantner, 16. But at shows, surrounded by similarly clad musical compatriots, their star was rising. Their MySpace accounts filled with new friends and admirers. Schumacher, who was credited as the first to bring the music to his school, became known as the "king of screamo," said his friend Jenny Erice.
Internally, there was turmoil. They lost three members, changed the band name three times and fought over almost every decision, but McClain said it was all worth it when they performed. Summer was a blur of performances and shows.
Back at school in the fall, the underground scene seemed to be gaining traction, even becoming trendy. Schumacher said there were six or seven "scene kids" in the freshman class at Broad Run High School, along with dozens more who "faked being in the scene." Those are people who aren't truly interested in the music but are only trying to impress someone, he said -- people who listen to the popular punk band Fall Out Boy but don't listen to the roots of that kind of music.
On the night of March 21, a Friday, Schumacher said it was "ridiculous" how many people turned out at the Sterling safety center to hear a metal band from Pennsylvania called Circle of Dead Children and five local bands. "I bet there's about 48 hours spent on hair combined in this building," he said.
Over the previous few weeks, some of the band members had been altering their looks again. McClain shaved off his dreadlocks, and Schumacher clipped his emo hair. "I'm just realizing I'm stereotyping myself into a genre," he said, and not for the right reasons.
He said he doesn't like going to shows that are overwhelmed by fair-weather fans. "They say they're in the scene, but they won't be here next year," he said.
He's pretty sure. He and McClain are going to school at Northern Virginia Community College, and Azam can come back on the weekends from Virginia Commonwealth University, so they can keep the band together. Who knows? Maybe they'll be signed by then.
Regardless, he's in for the long term.
"If I can't do music, I'm going to have to lose my earrings and sell out," he said. "Given the way we look, I don't see ourselves doing anything else."
Cantner said there's nothing else he wants to do. He has worked at a golf course and a pizza place, but he "hated making salads and washing dishes and doing stuff for other people." He's sure he could be happy touring for the rest of his life.
At the show, a popular Manassas band took the stage, and a circle formed as people rushed to the center to dance. The dancers "two-stepped," doing cartwheels and moving as if on an elliptical machine at the highest setting.
Schumacher and Cantner had to leave after the first song so Cantner could get home by curfew. McClain stayed till the end, braving the dance circle, looking out of sorts in his plaid shorts and soccer jacket.
By the end, he said he was feeling woozy. There was a little bit of dried blood under his nose where someone's flailing arm had hit him in the face.
"It's dangerous" out there, he said.
He said his plans for the future remain uncertain; he wants to stay with the band for now, but he doesn't know for how long. "I was thinking of going off and doing my own kind of thing with myself and the guitar," he said.
On his MySpace page, he went into more detail:
"point is . . . things are changing . . . i've grown out of the "emo" phase . . . CHICK PANTS ARE REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE, and screaming hurts my throat . . . I guess I'm not hardcore enough to do it."
Or maybe it's just time to do something different.
Originally Posted by METALLICA89
Ive seen you on muiltipul forums saying Metallica and slayer are the worst **** you kid go suck your **** while you listen to your ****ing emo **** I bet you do listen to emo music