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Youth Crew Across America: The Spread of sXe Hardcore

‘Straight Edge: A Clear-Headed Hardcore Punk History’ traces the movement via first-hand accounts with bands.
By Tim Scott

This article originally appeared on Noisey Australia

In the early 80s, Black Flag and their “get in the van” approach to DIY touring had a major impact on the spread of US hardcore across the country. In the summer of 1989 Gorilla Biscuits, INSTED and other American straight edge bands were continuing this tradition by zig zagging around the country in vans, crashing on floors and couches, and helping spread the straight edge message that championed a cleaner and more positive punk lifestyle that included drug and alcohol abstinence.

At the time, a young Tony Rettman and his friend Tim McMahon of New Jersey band Mouthpiece, were publishing Common Sense, a zine that covered and interviewed many of the straight edge bands of the time including Youth of Today, Gorilla Biscuits, Chain of Strength, Insted, and No for an Answer.

In a new book Straight Edge: A Clear-Headed Hardcore Punk History, Rettman traces the straight edge story via first-hand accounts from these bands as well as members of Minor Threat, SS Decontrol, DYS, Slapshot, Uniform Choice, 7 Seconds and many others. The book’s ‘Youth Crew Across America’ chapter focuses on the vans and the tours, including influential New York City band Youth of Today’s 1987 Break Down the Walls tour that became a defining moment for American hardcore.

Noisey: How important was the van in the spread and growth of straight edge?
Tony Rettman: A van was equally important to most American Hardcore bands – sober or not – in the 80s. Not only was it a vehicle to get to gigs, but it was sort of your universe. And there was a certain aesthetic with the decor of your van, too. The Youth of Today summer 88 tour van was covered in graffiti and apparently they had to stick their hands inside the motor for it to start. My high school friends in Mouthpiece had legendary Cali Edge band Insted tag the inside of their van in 91. It really brought the van together.

What was your involvement at this time ?
My friend Tim McMahon and I did Common Sense that covered the straight edge scene pretty heavily. We corresponded with zine editors and bands from around the country and would occasionally hook up bands or fellow zine editors with a place to stay.

Read the full article on Vice

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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