Starting in 1981 via Minor Threat’s revolutionary call to arms, the clean and positive straight edge hardcore punk movement took hold and prospered during the 1980s, earning a position as one of the most durable yet chronically misunderstood music subcultures. Straight edge created its own sound and visual style, went on to embrace vegetarianism, and later saw the rise of a militant fringe. As the “don’t drink, don’t smoke” message spread from Washington, D.C., to Boston, California, New York City, and, eventually, the world, adherents struggled to define the fundamental ideals and limits of what may be the ultimate youth movement.
Tony Rettman traces the story of straight edge from adolescent origins to enduring counterculture via fresh first-hand accounts from the clear and alert members of Minor Threat, SS Decontrol, Youth of Today, DYS, Slapshot, Uniform Choice, 7 Seconds, Stalag 13, Justice League, Chain of Strength, No for an Answer, Insted, Gorilla Biscuits, Judge, Bold, Project X, Lärm, Brotherhood, Shelter, H2O, Half Off, Resurrection, Raid, Strife, Earth Crisis, Vegan Reich, Mindset, Stop and Think, Mouthpiece, Floorpunch, Ten Yard Fight, Mental, Fucked Up, Trial, Have Heart, Praise, Clear, the Geeks, and many others.
TONY RETTMAN is the author of NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980–1990 and Why Be Something That You’re Not: Detroit Hardcore 1979–1985. His writing has appeared in The Village Voice, The Guardian, The Wire, Red Bull Music Academy Daily, and many other print and online outlets. He has provided liner notes for releases by the Circle Jerks, Warzone, the Crumbsuckers, and Beyond, and he hosted the Green Room Radio podcast. In the late 1980s, he coedited the fanzine Common Sense, in which he interviewed the likes of Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Chain of Strength, Insted, No for an Answer, and many other straight edge hardcore bands. Rettman resides on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife, two cats, and an inoperative hot tub.
“Fucking loved it!!! A great book. Tony Rettman did it once again.”—Mike Ferraro, Judge
“This book accurately recalls a counterculture within a counterculture, a movement that changed the course of so many people’s lives, including my own. A crucial and authoritative glance into that world, shining light for fans around the globe on a time that we will never forget.”—Ray Cappo, Youth of Today
“What separates hardcore from punk is that punk was just saying, ‘fuck this place.’ Hardcore was saying, ‘let’s make a difference. Let’s make our minds stronger and focus.’”—Toby Morse, H2O
“We were out to create a revolution. We loved the power and energy of hardcore, but not the whole self-destructive punk ethos. We were into being healthy and living clean, mean, and smart.”—John Porcelly, Youth of Today
“Straight edge became a religion. It’s a very strange feeling to be one of the unwitting founders of this religion.”—Jeff Nelson, Minor Threat