So a few weeks ago I came across an article about DriveThru Records. It’s been quite some time since I’ve thought about DTR (outside of the hooded sweatshirt that I love so much, that says “more rock than a crack house” on the back.) and I got a little drunk with nostalgia after reading the article and a handful (or 5) of the responses. I decided I needed to write about what DriveThru records meant to me, too. Being as I am so usually succinct, I thought it best to take it off of Absolutepunk.net and bring it over here. (Also, I can’t remember my password on that site and I’m pretty sure I made it with my oldie old old e-mail address)
So you can definitely expect more musically nostalgic posts and essays up in this jawn (I mean, hellooooo BRAND NEW) but for now we’re tunnel visioned on DTR.
Alright, so it’s safe to assume I’m a little bit old if I’m writing about the glory days of DTR, right? Right. So whatever, I’m old. But I don’t feel old. (Especially with this fabulous DTR playlist, that I just made, playing the background of me writing this post.) I feel like I’m perpetually 16 with just different scenery, things to do and freedoms. (BEER, DUH.) But nothing really feels as 16, as music, to me. Not even just 16, but 13.
THIRTEEN, GUYS. WHAT THE CRAP?! THAT WAS 13 YEARS AGO. Can you believe that I am a whole-person-disovering-great-music away from being 13? I mean, you probably can because you probably just take this blog and its contents at face value, but I CANNOT.
Anyway, I was 13 and finally in the high school. 8th grade; Memorial High School in Millville. In love with Hanson, because “they actually write their own songs and play their own instruments!” I didn’t know it at the time, but my choice in boy bands was TOTAL foreshadowing into my eventual music obsession. I had real standards even back then.
I became fast friends with some cool kids who liked cool music and had the grace to share it with me. Back then we used LANDLINES to talk to each other on the phone, kids. It went something like this “Hey Mrs. so-and-so, is Kevin home?” Can you imagine a life where you have to talk to your friends’ parents or brothers or whoever-the-hell picks up the phone, just to get to them?! Scary, I know. But this is how we did it back then… you know, once we stopped using the carrier pigeons.
So I remember my music savvy friend of the time suggesting I should listen to New Found Glory. Or maybe he played it for me… on his WALKMAN. (google it, kids.) I don’t remember, exactly.
I do, however, have this very vivid memory of coming home from the music store in the mall with the very colorful CD, ripping off the plastic wrap, putting the disc into my giant radio and hearing the first bars of Better Off Dead, “Ash his heart onto the ground! Pull his guts out by frustration… be careful you might kill him” Holy. Crap. This was a serious thing that just happened… my mind was blown. I played that cd every day, over and over, for a long time. I really loved this band and felt really frickin’ cool because of it. I loved Jordan’s stupid face and high-pitched vocals. I worshiped their (original) video for Hit Or Miss, with Cory Feldman. Nobody knew who they were, save for a few of us, and I loved them.
It wasn’t long after that, that I discovered The Starting Line. I have no recollection of how that officially happened, probably another friend or AOL chat room (google THAT one too, kids) I don’t have the same vivid memory of getting that album, but I do have a few-years-long record of almost groupie-status fandom. Kenny Vasoli could do no wrong. He was a spikey haired, angel voiced, pop-punk king and I was content to worship at his Vans-clad feet.
I cannot stress the importance of this enough, they were the first band I really, really loved. Like, joining-the-street-team-printing-out-fliers-and-handing-them-out-at-shows LOVED. Especially since they were from our area. I mean, technically they were from Philly but they claimed South Jersey as their fanbase home.
It was deliciously un-complex, love-stricken, pop-punk. And it was perfect. I had a TSL keychain, lyrics written on my book-bag and Converse, and an obsession.
Next to step up to the plate was The Early November. Forget Philly, these dudes were ACTUALLY from South Jersey. This was the glory of the pop-punk era, my friends, everyone was in a band and some of them were actually good, and some of them made it.
The first time I saw TEN was in a dirty little venue (Eugene’s), the town over, for probably $5. I stood 2 ft from Ace and got knocked into him probably 30 times before one of their friends jumped in the front and tried playing bouncer for us poor girls in the front. Also, because the mic kept getting knocked over. I saw them in a little russian-orthodox church once, too. It was summer, hot-as-hell, and about 300 people were crammed into this space with 2 large, but ineffective fans, running. Ace fainted at one point & Sergio tripped over him. A little later Serg rocked a little too hard and put his guitar head through the wall. I had them sign a shirt for me at that show. I still have it & wear it. This was my Adolescence.
And don’t even get me STARTED on the DriveThru DVDs. HOLY MOTHER. They were seriously the best thing that ever happened, back then. Ever. We’d all watch them together, loving the insight into these dudes that felt like friends anyway. I still, to this day, occasionally say to myself “The system, is down. The system, is down.” (vol. 2)
DriveThru became like an extended family. We loved everything they did. For a few of those years, they literally could do no wrong. I’d buy albums just because they had the arrow on them… because I knew they were good if they were on DTR. Rx Bandits, Steel Train (I am still listening to For You My Dear like it came out yesterday. They were probably too good for DTR), Finch, Allister, HomeGrown, Fenix Tx, Something Corporate, Senses Fail… seriously!? This was a hit factory for the pop-punk scene. This was auditory drugs.
Guys, I know this sounds a little dramatic, but this sappy, simply, stupid pop-punk music changed my life. It literally made me who I am today. It cemented friendships, it piqued my interest into music and it got me to shows. SHOWS. DO YOU REMEMBER GOING TO SHOWS!? Kids, forget the mall, forget Facebook, forget the movies or wherever it is you’re going these days, THIS was what we were doing on our weekend nights. Brenner’s Brew in Bridgeton, Club X/Eugene’s in Vineland, The Franklinville VFW… holy crap. Hundreds of us crammed into these tiny spaces, listening to our friends play music, meeting people and losing ourselves in THE SCENE. It had an innocence once, you know. It wasn’t always about being cooler than everyone else. (though, in full disclosure, I did make a pretty baller hoodie for myself towards the end of the glory days that said “Cooler Than You.” It was a huge hit & everyone was jealous. Obviously) It was about loving music, signing along, jumping, dancing, high-fives and smiles. Ok, so lots of them were drunk or high, but not all of us! (edge ’til 21!) It’s just… this music became my life. My actual life. And maybe that sounds stupid or trite or superficial to you now, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
My glory-days DTR playlist, on shuffle: