This is something I wouldn’t normally talk about because it’s not that much of a big deal, but it’s a significant enough milestone that warrants a post. This month marks 10 years since my last alcoholic drink and effectively becoming straight-edge.
To make it clear, I was never really a drinker in the first place. My total drink count throughout my life comes in at three; two Smirnoff Ices at a bar somewhere in Steeton, and half a pear cider while I was on holiday in Sweden, all of which came under the UK legal drinking age, naughty! The honest truth is that the concept of mind-altering chemicals terrifies me. I didn’t want to get completely wasted and lose control of my inhibitions, be it through alcohol or recreational drugs. Also, a lot of it is down to what I’ve seen it do to other people, in particular someone in my family, and I just didn’t want to end up sleeping naked in a shoe basket one night and not remembering why, as entertaining as that might sound to some. Those plus a few other episodes meant that I made a conscious decision to never drink alcohol for the rest of my life.
I actually discovered what straight-edge when I watched the finale of the third season of Skins, where Effy and Cook meander around the middle of nowhere and meet a group of straight-edge people on the way to Cook’s dad. Of course with Skins being Skins, the straight-edge group were portrayed as the antagonists. Although that episode aired during Spring 2009, I actually watched it during Summer 2010. Shortly afterwards, I did a bit of research into straight-edge and discovered that some bands I really liked had members that were straight-edge. Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory was the first name that stood out quickly followed by two members of AFI, Davey Havok and Jade Puget.
The straight-edge movement came about after Ian MacKaye wrote a song titled ‘Straight Edge’ for his band Minor Threat. Ironically, he never intended for it to become a movement, but it became one after bands looked up to the song and adopted MacKaye’s lifestyle as the straight-edge movement. The majority of those bands tended to be from the Washington DC hardcore punk scene, and many of the following bands and musicians have generally come from the same genre. Some exceptions include rapper Tyler the Creator and electronic music producer Steve Aoki (According to Wikipedia, the obviously reliable online encyclopaedia).
Rather than wanting to be straight-edge, I felt as if I already was once I knew about it, so it was more of a logical progression for me to associate myself with the label. I felt so strongly about my personal beliefs that I got a tattoo in Spring 2013. That really didn’t go down well with my family; Mum wouldn’t talk to me for nearly two weeks and my older brothers were both jealous and disapproving because they had been wanting tattoos as well but respected Mum’s house rules, whereas I didn’t.
Not many of my songs are about being straight-edge, but perhaps my most explicit one is ‘Monster’, the bonus track for ‘Re-Start The Virago’. It was specifically directed towards ‘NekNominate’, one of those internet challenges where people had to down a pint of something, and this resulted in a few deaths after some people inevitably took it too far. Two other related songs are ‘Liar’ and ‘Live Your Life That Way’. They were written roughly five years apart from each other, but both are about my observations of the family member that contributed towards my sobriety.
Truthfully, I don’t have a problem with people who drink, only when they try and persuade me to join in after I’ve already said no, and in fairness, that doesn’t happen very often. Unfortunately for those that do try, I’m just far too stubborn to conform.