Q: Do you ever feel like you're intimidating people?
A: I know I intimidate people.
Q: You want to do that?
A: Well, my clan, the people I know, were real friendly. One of my great things was a real dress-up, looking violent, mean. Go to a store and we're totally honest. We don't do graffiti. We don't even litter, that much. We're just like trying to start a contradiction. Really bomb people out on an appearance factor. We will be really good so they can't do anything to us. And we shop until we get thrown out of Georgetown. No problem. People watch us. I walk into a store and get followed by store detectives. The idea is to break it all down by being like very polite. I don't know exactly why we did it, but it certainly did teach me a thing or two about the way people think.
Q: They deal with people by their appearance?
A: By their appearance, yeah.
Q: You talk a lot about how you guys are basically good. That includes a moral conservatism. You guys don't drink. You don't smoke. You wrote "Straight Edge." What is that straight edge philosophy?
A: Well, I've been straight all my life, basically. I drank when I was 12. I never smoked dope. I've fiddled with nitrous oxide and stuff like that. But when all my friends got into drugs, I was not into it and I just got lots of s - - - for it. Growing up, people put so much peer pressure. A lot of people would get into the guilt factor of the dope thing. If I'm straight, sitting there, they can't handle it. They give me a hard time. So I finally decide, I mean like from 13 -- straight edge. I'm straight and there's nothing to be ashamed of. Almost to the point where it was like cool to be straight.
It's not like some brand new philosophy. All I do is put it into words. The straight edge is obvious. It's nothing I hate more than people go like, "Uh, did I do that? I'm sorry. I was f - - - ed up." People have to start taking some responsibility for what they do. People get like into sex relationships. Suppose like I was drinking. I could put a move on some girl. The next day I could say,"Did I do that? I'm sorry. I was out of my mind." Straight edge is just basically an anti-obsession, pro-positive-thinking idea. That's all it is. Nothing more.
Q: What do you think of people who drink and use drugs? Do you think people can use them rationally, to relax?
A: Yeah. I'm not a person who like, if you take drugs, I'm not going to talk to you. All I'm saying -- no, I have no interest in it at the moment. But almost all my friends partake. The whole acid thing, the whole '60s thing -- I was fascinated by it. Some of the hallucinations are really interesting.
Q: Not doing drugs and not doing alcohol -- could that be a rebellion against the '60s generation? Couldn't you see this as a rebellion against that rebellion?
A: It could be. I think that my rebellion -- I guess it is a rebellion -- is against the society's staples. Every TV show, you see people drinking. Drinking, cocaine -- staples. That's what you have to do. Even in the '60s, I wouldn't drink, I don't think. I may have taken acid then. I can't tell you cause I wasn't there. The whole like hippie thing, I like the ideas. It was after the initial investigation that people just became lethargic drug-takers. The kids just grew up taking drugs. It became a nice crutch for everybody. Whereas before, it was kind of a challenge thing. You know, the late '60s even destroyed a lot of people too. I was just reading in the paper that mental institutions things are like just going up. People from the '60s are all like kooked out now. They're just like wigged totally. That's kind of a bad thing.
Q: Punks have this really fraternal feeling. In your songs like "Stand Up," you use the metaphor of a fight -- how if you're in a fight, your friends are behind you. How much is that part of being a punk?
A: I am fascinated by the whole idea of gangs. I don't like going out as a gang and beating peoples' a - - es. But I like the idea that if I have trouble, I have a lot of friends that are going to help me out. "Stand Up" was like the first song we wrote, practically. At the time there was a lot of violence at shows. To me, it was a great thing to see all these people get together and be able to put back the bouncers. Put back whoever the people were who were like hurting somebody else. Good to see you have friends like that. That's basically what "Stand Up" was about.
Q: You talk a lot about violence. Once a fight is started does it thrill you?
A: Yeah. To me, anger and violence is the same thing. I can be real happy and laugh and fool around. Or I can be mad. It's just, like, another emotion. And yeah, I do find a thrill in it. I like the exertion. But I also stress that I do not, like, maim people. I like the thrills, the ego, nothing more. That's a fine line, I know. Sometimes you get taken overboard. I might get in an altercation with somebody and just want to cool this guy down, basically. My friends might destroy him. Which is certainly not what I had in mind. That's one problem with the "Stand Up" philosophy. But in general, any fight that I'm in -- and I get in a lot of altercations -- they're not fights like you've seen on the street. Not like someone just getting killed. It's more like a slap on the wrist. "You're not so bad."
Q: Slam dancing and stage diving. Can you explain what that is?
A: Now it's become too ritualized. In the beginning, stage diving is you just go on stage and jump. It's all based on the music. Fly off into the audience. Really good feeling at the time. Now, of course, it's more like what you expect at a show. People even now go in circles, which seems to defeat the whole purpose. Before it was like an orchestrated violence. We didn't slam into each other. We worked with each other. We moved in and out. Like a workout. It was great. The whole slamming thing -- like hurling young male bodies into each other -- was wrong. It's not the idea. Now my whole thing is like break dancing, which is a totally different dance.
Q: What is break dancing?
A: They like spin on their backs and stuff. It's a real action dance. It's a real hard dance and almost violent but it's like one person. You sort of do this groove thing and spin around the floor, jump up and down like on your back.
Q: Somebody split the back of his head open break dancing?
Q: It all seems to me at least slightly sado- masochistic. When you're jumping off a stage that is at least 5 feet tall into an audience, there's a big possibility you're going to hurt someone else. And a definite possibility you're going to hurt yourself.
A: I think it's a thrill like going down a roller coaster. You're out there and you're moving. At the beginning, the idea of stage diving was to jump into a crowd of friends and people'd catch you. The people now, of course, are going to put their boots in. Maybe it's sado-masochist. I think it's like football. It's not real violence. It's a lot of action. It's just sort of blowing it off. I don't like to crack my head open. You know, that hurts. Now, of course, I mean I've done it plenty of times where the crowd just wasn't there. I mean, I've taken 6-foot dives right on my head.
Q: Do people react to you differently (now that you're a punk-rock star)?
A: Yes, real differently. I'm like a big-time celebrity guy, supposedly. Maybe not in the real world, but in the punk world certainly. It's fun, in a way, but there's also the self-imposed responsibility. Being a celebrity guy or whatever, how I, like, react to bands is really noted. Whether I show up at a show, that's a big deal. Maybe I have something going on that night, but that doesn't make any difference. I have, like, the responsibility. And that sucks. If I get in a fight, too -- "Oh, look, he's fighting." They draw all kinds of stuff from that. I don't even fight that much. I talk about it a lot because I think, for some reason, it plays an important role in this whole thing. Fighting is perhaps just an unorthodox form of recreation.
Q: Have you ever been arrested?
A: Never been arrested, no. I've been stopped a lot.
Q: How do you mean stopped?
A: A car, breaking into a school, stealing.
Q: Just regular stuff that boys will get into?
A: The usual. Another thing about our crowd being straight -- I don't get arrested.
Q: You're never drunk, so the police can't ever hold that against you?
A: Yeah. When you're stopped for driving drunk, that's like very serious. All they need is to find you a little intoxicated. If I'm straight, they can't do anything to me. Also, like if I get into a fight and I'm straight, any kind of problem I have, I feel like, I'm able to figure out how I'm going to get away from them. Or be able to talk my way out of it, which I'm pretty good at, actually.
Even when I broke into the school, it was not even bad. We were in journalism class and we had our own newspaper office. We didn't break in, we just climbed in a window cause we wanted to work on our offices and fix them up cool, you know. But on a Sunday.
Q: How about girls? You don't see a lot of girl hard-core bands. You see girls trying to slam dance and they don't quite make it. People dance around them. You can tell the guys don't like it.
A: The girl thing is kind of strange. I've never seen a band with a girl. Maybe one across the country, two. Girls are like angry. I don't know why girls don't get up on the stage. I mean, a lot of these girls are furious because they get s - - - just because they're girls. Why don't they say something about it?
Q: Hard-core seems to be really sexist and male oriented.
A: Yeah, but I'm not sure if it was intended. It's more a lack of vocalization from the girls. Perhaps, when the whole thing started, there were not that many girls who were interested in what we were doing. Any girl that wanted to hang with us was fine. Whatever. That was cool. But in general mostly girls are just like, ha-ha-ha. You know. Fun, fun, fun. Dress up silly. They were not into the anger thing.
Q: Are you really angry?
A: Yeah, I am pretty angry. I'm not sure why. I have mental problems, maybe. I get furious at stupid things. I can't even believe how mad it gets me to see people mess up their lives. Or just to be forced into situations I don't like to be in.
Q: Don't you think that punk expresses a lot more of hate and anger than it does love and kindness?
A: Well, outwardly expresses it. But by expressing it, I'm not too sure that it doesn't also express, you know, a want for love and the lack of it. I mean, we don't just like complain and whine. I try to offer thoughts about alternatives. I don't like whining songs. I don't like songs like "Oh, you f - -- ed up my life."
Q: Wasn't that a country song?
A: I guess so. Pretty good insight.
Q: There's a lot of people who say punks are fascists. They're wearing Nazi paraphenalia. Do they know what those things stand for?
A: Some of 'em do and some of them don't. In Virginia there are gay beaters, which I'm just not into.
Q: Gay beaters?
A: They go out and beat up gay people. People die, which I think sucks. People try and keep the macho thing going. In every group of people there's going to be fascists.
Q: In England the skinheads are a part of this.
A: Skinheads, a lot of them, they're sick people. I'd drop England. They have ruined their whole thing.
Q: But you yourself don't feel any kind of fascism?
A: I certainly don't like, have problems with Pakies or blacks. I don't think of myself as a great racist or anything. I don't hate like, black kids because they're black. I mean, I hate people on an individual basis, usually.
Q: Are you at all patriotic? What do you think about America?
A: Idealistically, I think I'm patriotic. I'm not real political at all. Of course, I'm 21 years old. Sending those battleships down to Nicaragua, we know what it means to us. S - --, it's our number.
Q: What do you think of nonviolent protest?
A: Cool. Really cool. You know what my friends think right now, like, really cool? Greenpeace. Those guys are like, so cool. I've been like following them for a year now, just reading anything. Like when they rammed that ship. Those guys to me are just like really cool. I like the idea of non-violent protest cause you're really f - - - ing the authorities. Like these people in England who are freeing animals from laboratories.
Q: Are you afraid of being an adult?
A: No, I'm afraid of the adult posture. The idea of saying, you know, I have to work and this is what you do for the rest of your life. I'm a little scared at careers. I'm sure I'm going to end up having one.
Q: Think you're going to go to college?
A: Well, no. I mean aside from I'm not interested in paying the money to learn that stuff, I'm not too sure that I'm interested in the credits -- having to work for numbers. Always having to live for the grade. It really sucks. My senior year, seeing my friends just fall apart at the SATs. They were like going to kill themselves. That's sad. That made me kind of turn off on education.
Actually on the other hand, I might want to go to college just for the atmosphere. When I graduated from high school, my first immediate feeling was how sad it was because all of a sudden I didn't have like an authority I could buffalo constantly. High school was just basically so much fun -- finding ways to mess with principals and like that.
Q: What are you going to do for the rest of your life?
A: I don't know. That's my big ace in the hole. I'm not real sure what I'm going to be doing for the rest of my life. I'm going to do this thing until it becomes dishonest or insincere.
Q: Do you think you're going to be a punk for the rest of your life?
A: I can't imagine myself changing, let's put it that way. I look forward to becoming an old man. Like hang out in the streets and talking to little kids and stuff. I love that kind of stuff. I'm not into the idea of being 30. I like being old. That sounds cool to me. To say like check it out and hang out on the porch and stuff. I like to hang out on porches a lot. Watch people go by. But the 30s are going to be real bad, I think.