Growing up is bloody difficult. It's all lovely kids' tv and pop songs and then 'bam'!, you're 14 years old. But being 14 years old isn't just an age, it's a mandatory lifestyle choice. That acne on the side of your left cheek? The acne that resembles a black metal band logo? That exists because you've had the audacity to bless the Earth with your company for fourteen years. That feeling you get every time you talk to someone of the opposite sex? The feeling like someone has just discovered your secret stash of Spice Girls' singles and is waving them behind the back of that unsuspecting girl/boy? That's only present in you because you're 14 years old. For some people, 14 is the age that they retreat in to their basements for the rest of their lives to make an existence out of Mountain Dew and 4Chan. For others, 14 means finding new bands and discovering the beautiful world of the genres that Billboard doesn't cover. For me, 14 meant discovering The Get Up Kids. Something To Write Home About, to be precise.
I remember the first time I held a copy of Something To Write Home About in my hands. I was in a local charity shop, looking for second hand releases from The Offspring or New Found Glory when suddenly I was greeted by slightly dodgy looking purple robots and a price sticker that said €3. I had (to paraphrase Macklemore) €3 in my pocket, and had read a piece in Rocksound Magazine which mentioned Mark Hoppus' love of The Get Up Kids. So, I brought it home with me. And I fell madly in love. The sugary rush of "Holiday" and "Action & Action" fit perfectly into the pop punk that had taken over my life ever since witnessing Paramore's "Pressure" on a scout of recommended videos on Youtube. I swooned to "Valentine" and "I'll Catch You". I scribbled the lyrics of "Red Letter Day" and "Ten Minutes" all over any copybook or schoolbook that I tried to study for a more than a few minutes. I jumped around my room to "My Apology". For a year or so, Matt Pryor's soft vocals and earnest lyrics soundtracked my every moment.
Obviously, I delved into their back catalogue, but at the time Four Minute Mile was too raw for my tastes, and Guilt Show and On A Wire bored me. But then I found Saves The Day and the wonderful Stay What You Are and Brand New and Jimmy Eat World and The Promise Ring and Jawbreaker and Weezer and Braid and.. basically my life changed. I suddenly discovered my inner capacity for intense 'emo'-ing out and telling confused looking 13 year olds in black skinny jeans with hair that had consumed their eyes sometime ago, that My Chemical Romance was not really an emo band, became an active hobby of mine. I was a child that was incredibly proud of my ability to listen to bands that no one knew, and I wanted everyone to know about it. However, being an obsessed The Get Up Kids fan is a bit of a lonely pursuit when you live in Ireland, so I made a decision. I would be the most knowledgeable emo fan in the whole of Ireland (I was fourteen! Forgive the clumsiness of my intents.) And, y'know what? There's a possibility that, maybe, possibly, I achieved my aims.
While I write this, Empire! Empire! (I Am A Lonely Estate) is playing in the background. I have a pile of records to review including a release from Two Knights. I have Old Gray's recent LP coming in the post and the wallpaper on my laptop is the logo for Count Your Lucky Stars Records. If I were to compile my top 100 albums, Mineral, Sleepytime Trio, Christie Front Drive and Indian Summer would all have a place. I bloody love emo music. I love the way we have a genre which is so incredibly widespread, that's filled with camaraderie and passion and the way that, with the occasional exception, we all keep supporting bands who will eventually have to give up because being in an emo band will never be a sustainable career. I adore the fact that grown men and women can stand before a microphone and can sing, shout, scream every last emotion in their heart before hundreds of people. Hundreds of people who feel the exact same way. Aside from every thing else, every wave of emo embodies what it is to be the underdog. What it is to really feel misunderstood. What it is to be fourteen years old and have too much acne.
In my every day life, I know two people who listen to any of my favourite bands. Two. One of them is a hardcore Neutral Milk Hotel fan that, despite his prejudices against Jimmy Eat World, has taken Something To Write Home About into his heart. The other is someone I converse with solely because he knows who Glocca Morra is. Yet every night, I go on to the Internet and I can email Cameron Boucher of Old Gray and ask for an interview, or I can go on Reddit and discuss why I think I might prefer Merchant Ships' For Cameron over Pg 99's Document #5 (bear in mind, it changes regularly). The Internet is a place where, depending on where you're positioned, The Promise Ring are a legendary band and a new The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die release can create a shitstorm. And whilst I haven't turned into 'basement 4Chan dude' yet (note yet), it's amazing how suddenly, an interest that most people in my life, people who I truly care about, tend to ignore, can become a legitimate acceptable interest and I think that knowing someone else, somewhere else thinks Cap'n Jazz should be in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, makes being obsessed with this genre feel so much more awesome.
This article isn't just me showing how many emo bands I can mention in a short period of time (however, if anyone wants to challenge me, great fun could be had). I wrote this for two reasons. First, to talk about how amazing and wonderful and brilliant and fantastic emo is as a genre, but secondly to discuss how everything anyone is interested in, is worth pursuing. Being a fourteen year old, female emo fan living in Ireland was a bit... awkward. My friends listened to Usher and Ne-Yo and all of those people and were convinced that I either I was obsessed with Fall Out Boy or I didn't know what emo was. So, I stopped talking about my musical tastes and got on with knowing everything there was to know about my musical tastes. And hey, look now! I got Tiny Moving Parts' album ahead of its release, I regularly deal with Keith Latinen, a modern emo mastermind, I get to review albums and sometimes (hopefully) people actually listen to my recommendations instead of just telling me to shut up and listen to Beyoncé.
Attack your dreams and interests and pursuits and tastes with all of the vigor of an emo band playing their last ever show. No interest is silly or obtuse or stupid. If something makes you happy, it doesn't matter what other people think of it, let it make you happy. Let yourself be 'that teenager' – it's a million times better than being one of 'those teenagers'. My passion in life is listening to sad boys with crappy guitars. And it's the best thing in the world. Your passion is too.