This is the first entry for the WHAT DOES HARCORE MEAN TO ME? series. The idea has been brought by my old time friend Nikolay who features here. You might think this question is very cliché and has been asked a thousand times already, well I can’t argue with that. But isn’t Hardcore Punk perpetuating a bunch of clichés that define our scene(s) anyway? Youth Crew kids wearing sneakers, Tshirts over hoodies and X’d fists, Skinheads lacing up combat boots and bleaching their jeans for over 3 decades… The list can go on and on. We all have our very own story about how we got into Hardcore Punk and I’m always curious to hear about others’. If you wanna tell what’s yours, hit the contact button and drop me an email!
Hardcore. One word. Different meaning for each person. I was supposed to do an interview way back in the summer but life got in the way. So here am I – “stealing time from my job” and writing a column about hardcore and what it means to me. It took me some time to start writing it (big ups to my day job that kills creativity) but this time I’m finishing it!
Hardcore. I remember how I discovered it in 2001. I wasn’t too fond of music until I was in my teenage years. Once I got in high school I started listening to various records. At one point I also tried to be one of the cool kids listening to techno and new metal back but it just wasn’t feeling right. I even went to a few techno parties and posh nightclubs. However, I never felt at home there. All this changed one autumn evening. I was heartbroken after I split with my girlfriend at the time and just wanted to go somewhere. I found a flyer for a hardcore show in an old payphone on the street and decided to check it out. That single gig changed my life! I talked about it with a friend in school and he knew someone who knew someone who’d go to the same show. Of course, arrangements were made and instead of going alone I went with a pack of hardcore kids. The venue was quite far away from the city center but was still packed. The bands played and it immediately felt like I belonged there. I knew on the spot I had finally found my place – my thing, my music, my scene – our scene. It was love at first sight! I started hanging out with my new friends and they gave me lots of music to listen to at home. It was during those days when every single song of every single band wasn’t just one click away from you. Back then it was a struggle to find CDs or zines in Bulgaria, even in the capital city Sofia, but from time to time something would reach us and made us happy. It was an exciting time for sure. If I am to regrets anything about it that would be that I didn’t discover hardcore earlier.
Fast forward 6 years and you’ll find me booking my first show in Rennes, France, where I was studying at the time. I continued booking shows when I moved back home in Sofia, Bulgaria. Less than a year after I booked my first gig I started Ugly and Proud Records. Since then, it’s been mostly a cool story. Thanks to hardcore I’ve met tons of cool people and I’m happy to call them friends. This is also how I met Alexxx. In 2007 we went together to see Gorilla Biscuits in Nantes… Those were the best days! But honestly now are the best days as well!
I recently turned 33 and I am still at a place in my life where hardcore feels relevant. I am still excited to check out new bands and go to shows (okay, I might have become a bit pickier). There are still lyrics that move me. I still love finger pointing or moshing in my room while playing a favorite record and I still feel like a kid with a new toy when I get records in the mail. I’m certain this excitement is not going anywhere. I only hope to start seeing more younger kids at local shows as we somehow don’t know whom we can pass the torch. But that will come too. I hope this new generation of kids will see an inclusive hardcore scene where everyone is welcome. I hope it will be strong and will the fire within them the same way it happened to me some time ago.
The same goes for straight edge. I never liked drinking or doing drugs so claiming the edge felt right. And it still feels so after all these years. I’ve been always laughed at and ridiculed for refusing to partake in the “party scene”. However, knowing there are other people like me out there made it way more bearable. Together we are strong! I feel like I was never been more into straight edge than I am now. It’s a feeling that keeps on growing. With age I find myself less tolerant but that isn’t a big surprise for those who know me closely. I speak my mind when I can no matter what people might think. Straight edge in your face!
Stop consuming hardcore or whatever subculture you are in and start getting involved. That’s the only way you can be a part of a thriving scene!
Reach me at uglyandproudrecords AT gmail DOT com.