I included this interview on the backside of Not Normal Fanzine. I cannot remember what about this one particularly stuck out for me to have reprinted it, but here it is. At the time, Not Normal was going to have a reprint (some of which will end up on here, including Rorschach, Bl’ast!, Raw Power, and more) but a 2nd issue never came out…
Bessie Oakley did this interview with Ray and Porcell for Maximum Rock + Roll
Wake up and live, breath every breath
Wake up and live, until my death…
“’Wake Up and Live’ is about living life deliberately. It’s about never wasting any time in your life because of the vast amount of shit we can do. It’s not about sitting home all day watching TV, but rather going out and ‘doing.’ There are so many things I want to do in my life, I feel guilty when I sit home complacent.”
So says Ray Cappo, the rubber-faced master of expression/singer for YOUTH OF TODAY, a band that hails from Connecticut. Or New York, depending on which band member you talk to, as a few come from each state. But where they’re from isn’t important; what’s important is that Youth of Today (formed when ex-Violent Children Ray and guitarist John “Porcell” Porcelly got together with bassist Graham and drummer “Peace”) don’t “sit home complacent.” In their seven-month existence their explosive NY and early Boston “mosh” music and Ray’s growled/sung unity lyrics have managed to win the hearts of a fairly large-sized following as well as some critical praise. Along with the praise have come a few not so kind words from some of the “older elements” of the scene who seem a bit put off by Youth of Today’s Straight Edge attitudes and age-exclusionary name. But Youth of Today isn’t about age; it’s about the youth that’s in your heart today, tomorrow, and the next day. I ran into these guys on a trip back east and was so impressed by their emotional and psychical on stage energy and exuberant, fun, full of hope attitude, that I know you want to know more about them, so here goes bros….Bessie
MRR: Do you think it’s important for you to be known as a “straight edge” band? Don’t you think that sort of alienates people?
Ray: Being straight edge is a label that we’re proud of, but we don’t want to scare anybody off from our music because of it. If people want to categorize us with other bands who think and live like we do, then fine. When straight edge starts becoming a label to separate people, then I won’t be a part of it.
Porcell: Our band is about bring people together, not separating them. We see straight edge as a choice that’s left up to the individual, but what’s important is that there is an alternative to all the bullshit pressure to drink and with kids becoming more and more aware, maybe they won’t fall into that trap.
MRR: In your song “Just Might,” you seem to advocate intervention as a means to stop fighting. When do you think violence is necessary? You don’t seem like the fighting types.
Ray: Our song was written about a particular incident, but it’s pretty much the way we’ll always feel. It’s not about belligerently going out and beating up anyone with a beer in his hand; it’s about not letting violent drunks start shit.
Porcell: Being drunk at a show and just hanging out enjoying the music is one thing, but when someone gets out of control and decides to go into the pit just to kick some ass, the line’s gotta be drawn. It’s just not fair to have one drunk ruin everyone else’s fun and all we’re saying is that a person is gonna hafta realize that if he’s looking for a fight, he might just get one.
Ray: I think 95% of the time most fighting can be avoided, but our song is about that other 5% and how we’re not going to back down, especially if we’re in the right. Man, by nature, is non-violent. No one likes fighting, but usually alcohol is sort of a catalyst. It’s too bad. Passivity has its time, but not in the instance our song was written.
MRR: Do you tend to place more emphasis on your lyrics or music?
Porcell: I’d say we tend to emphasize the lyrics a little more because when it comes right down to it, the lyrics reflect what the band is about. Then again, without the music to back up the message, a band just won’t cut it. We work hard on our music, trying different ideas, using creativity, but hey, a band can have the greatest music in the world but if the lyrics are meaningless, they stand for nothing.
Ray: We definitely feel music is as important as the lyrics. That’s a problem with the hardcore scene today, so many kids are getting turned on to these inane halfwit metal bands who don’t have shit to say but play their instruments great and get great production on their records. Hardcore always meant more to me than that.
MRR: I’ve seen you talking to NY skins, so what are your feelings on the whole skin “movement” in NY?
Ray: We’re friends with some of the older skins in the scene who we just know from going to shows and stuff. From my point of view, I’m in no position to say if the shit that goes on is right or wrong. I don’t live with them and I can’t see all the shit that goes on living in the city. It’s also hard to generalize. In fact, in this case it’s impossible. Now, being a skin is a trend; kids changing their attitudes and appearances to be accepted. If being a skin unites skins and separates them from everyone else, then I think the whole skin thing is wrong. As far as Agnostic Front goes, we’ve been friends with them for about two and a half years and they were always cool to us. They help a lot of CT bands get shows at CB’s and we always try to get them shows here. I mainly hate when people use Agnostic Front as a scapegoat for all the problems in the scene.
Porcell: People don’t realize that in every scene there’s bound to be a few screwed up people, but in NY this sometimes gets exploited and the sad part is that a lot of great hardcore bands get overlooked in the process.
Ray: To sum it up, all people are different and not living in the same atmosphere with most of them gives us no right to come to conclusions about how they conduct their lives.
MRR: I know you guys are all fans of the old Boston bands. What did you think of the “end of hardcore” show there last year? Do you think there will always be a place for hardcore?
Ray: I guess our band and Al (SSD) have two different ideas of what hardcore is all about. It’s sad to see people’s fire burn out because they’re getting too old. In my eyes, hardcore is a feeling I could never see it “dying.” It sucks to see all these people wishing the days of 1981 were back because hardcore today is great, strong, and new. I see a great future and all these people just want to live in the past. They’re just as bad as the people at my school wishing they were in the 60’s during the time of Woodstock. Face the facts, today is here, so make the best of it. Anyway, saying something is dead is just a copout for someone who wants to back out of the scene.
MRR: Don’t you think that bands have the right to grow and progress?
Porcell: Not only do they have the right to grow, but I think bands should constantly try to improve. Bands that turn their back on what they stand for just to make money or obtain more listeners are a different story. Instead of playing to an audience, these so-called hardcore bands are just out to impress people and I don’t call that progression at all.
MRR: Give us the line on up and coming east coast bands, if you would be so kind.
Porcell: A band I see becoming real popular is Verbal Assault from Rhode Island. Then, of course, there’s one of my favorite bands, Crippled Youth from right around my home town. They’re just real cool kids who have a good attitude as well as playing great music. They’ve got plenty of time to develop though since they’re only 14 years old. But man, there’s so many up and coming bands like The Numbskulls (NY) and Fit For Abuse (Albany) that have so much potential. I definitely think some awesome material is gonna come out of the east coast.
Ray: Abusive Action are an intense thrash band from Poughkeepsie NY.
MRR: Any plans for the future with Youth of Today?
Porcell: As far as the band is concerned, I’m really looking forward to a successful tour this winter and would like to record a 12” by summer and start touring again. Basically, I just want to take the band as far as possible and reach kids who are willing to listen to what we have to say. Personally, I hope to be getting more involved in Futile Effort from Albany who are a crucial bunch of really dedicated kids that put on shows, do fanzines, etc. and who are currently working on a straight edge compilation that is looking great.