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Straight Edge Interview Project: Eva Hall, 38, California, she/her

Tell us about yourself! Hobbies, jobs, passion projects, interests?
Singing in punk and hardcore bands has always been my passion. I’m currently in a straight-edge hardcore band called Power Alone (@powerxalone) and a pop punk band called No Plan (@noplanpunk). I’ve been meat-free for 25 years, and vegan for 23 years. I also like to do art, though I haven’t had the motivation to do much of it since the pandemic began.

What are you listening to these days?   (does not have to be hardcore)   What are some of your favorite bands and/or podcasts?
As far as current bands, Age of Apocalypse and Scowl have been my recent favorites. But I am still very much stuck in the 90s with most of my music, so all the bands I loved in junior high and high school are still what I listen to the most!

What’s your straight edge story? How old were you when you “claimed edge”?  How long have you been straight edge?  Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life?   How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc?  What drew you to it?  

I was about 14 when I started calling myself straight edge, and I’ll be 39 this month, so that’s 25 years! I grew up with a lot of addiction in my family, and it’s still an ongoing, devastating struggle for some of them. All of my negative associations with drug use from when I was younger killed any desire to try them. I was about 12 when I started getting into punk, but I felt like every punk I knew of drank, smoked, or used drugs, and so I never felt like I quite fit in. When I got into Minor Threat, I embraced straight edge. I finally felt like I found a niche and could be myself and still be a legit punk haha.

How do you define straight edge?  What makes straight edge different from being sober?  Is your definition fluid or concrete?   Do you think you will ever NOT be straight edge? What keeps you committed?

It’s a subculture in the punk/hardcore community. It’s tied to this scene which is what makes it different from just being sober. It’s also this commitment for life (whether that was an initial intent or not.) When you’re straight edge, you can “sell-out” or break edge, which I feel like has more of a stigma than just slipping up when you’re sober. I’m not saying this stigma is good or bad, but I think it is another aspect that makes straight edge distinctly different from just being sober. The way I see it, I’m a hardcore lifer, and my disgust for drugs/alcohol is as real as ever, so I’m definitely committed to straight edge for life.

True or False: “If you’re not now, you never were”? If you were once straight edge and now you are back,  what happened?  What brought you back? How has your relationship with straight edge evolved?

Photo by: Daniel Iverson

I don’t have strong opinions on that. Obviously, you’re probably gonna get shit for re-claiming, but at the same time, I know that some people may have gotten into straight edge for the wrong reasons initially and sold-out, but learned from their experience that straight edge is actually important to them, and I think that’s valid. I don’t want to judge those who struggle with addiction because I’m sure it’s fucking rough, so I don’t think that’s really my place to say.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon straight edge, and it has really spoken to them.  Do you feel that the straight edge community has been, and should be welcoming to those in recovery?  

I suppose if they’re also into punk and hardcore? Then yeah!

Have you ever felt that your gender has influenced your experience in the “straight edge and/or hardcore scene”.   If so, how?  Have you had negative/positive experiences?

In the early 2000’s, there was a lot of toxic-masculinity in the hardcore and straight edge scenes. People would say irrational shit like “girls can’t be straight edge”, and joke about “no clit in the pit.” One shitty band full of deeply misogynist dudes even said on stage that women shouldn’t be at shows at ALL! I can’t pretend like sexism wasn’t a real issue in that era. While I never thought straight edge should have anything to do with gender, insecure straight men felt the need to make it an issue I guess. But it only fueled my desire to carve a space for myself and other non-males in the scene even more. Only a couple times was I directly insulted by men for being a woman in the scene. The vast majority of the time, I felt a lot of support from everyone else of all genders.

Do you feel that the straight edge movement/scene is inclusive?  What are things that can be done to make it more inclusive?  What sort of changes would you like to see?

I honestly do feel like the scene has come a long way in recent times! It’s such a fucking relief! I’m so proud of this younger generation. Some of the biggest issues were blatant misogyny like I mentioned in the previous answer, but also the disgusting prevalence of sexual abuse, and the vicious backlash people received when they spoke up about it. We were almost never believed, we were insulted and blamed, and abusers were continuously defended and enabled. Thanks to a general cultural shift at large, I think people do believe survivors more now (at least they’re taken seriously far more than they were in previous decades.) I think the younger generation of hardcore kids are generally so much more accepting of people’s individuality, and they seem to be more progressive about issues like racism and sexism. It seems like people are able to express themselves more freely today, and that sense of tolerance and open-mindedness has certainly made the scene feel more inclusive and diverse than in the past.

Photo by: Rob Wallace

Has being straight edge had an impact on your relationships (family, friends, significant others). If so how would you characterize that impact?

It’s had an impact on relationships, for sure! I’ve come to realize that, in a relationship, I am not compatible with someone who drinks or smokes or uses some kind of substance. I have tried, and while they were great people, it ultimately came between us. I realize it is probably my issue, not theirs, but it’s still real. The dating pool might be smaller when you only date other straight edge people, but it’s so fundamental to who I am, so that’s the way it’s gonna be.

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what’s your thoughts on this?

I guess you don’t need to be actively involved in a scene or anything, but it seems obvious that you probably would identify with punk or hardcore in some way to be straight edge, because it’s literally a hardcore subculture. I don’t really see the appeal of identifying as straight edge if you have zero interest in its roots and its community.

Final Thoughts? Is there anything else you’d like to add? Maybe questions you think we should add or change?

Thank you so much for thinking of me for this! I remember xstraight edge sisterhoodx from back in the early 2000’s, so it’s neat to be part of this.

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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