What is Straight Edge? RTP interviews 3 Straight Edge Dudes

RTP took the time to interview 3 people about the straight edge lifestyle so we could better explain it to you. Here’s what they had to say…

RTP: How do you identify?

12546301_10153884920709443_3569175_oZephyr (pictured above): i identify as a vegan straight edge gay trans male

12596695_963661967054504_1647232197_oAlex (pictured above): i identify as a guy

12571071_10205694477469351_411907744_nJacob (pictured above): I’m Jacob and I’m a straight edge dude.

RTP: What is Straight Edge?

Zephyr: “to me, straight edge is an extension of the hardcore community that represents a purposeful abstinence from drugs and alcohol. it’s very much about maintaining control of my actions and emotions and not contributing to the culture of addiction that drug and alcohol corporations have created, as well as stepping away from addictive tendencies that run in my family and are commonly experienced by folks with mental illness.

Alex: “Straight Edge is looking out for yourself, whether it being that you know you wouldnt possess the self control to limit yourself from substances, or the fact that you hate the effects it has on you/other people. It’s a life style that characterizes a lot of people. No drugs, no alcohol, no cigs (or anything of the sort ) and no promiscuous sex.”

Jacob: “Straight edge is taking the phrase “everything in moderation” to the fullest you can, it’s about taKing the extra step in knowing what’s best for you.”

RTP: What does someone have to do to label themselves as straight edge?

Zephyr: “i believe that as straight edge grew out of the hardcore community, that being a part of that scene is intrinsic to being straight edge, in addition to (obviously) not partaking in drugs, alcohol, or smoking cigarettes or vaping. i think the “third x” nonsense about abstaining from “promiscuous sex” is a fundamental misrepresentation of the values of being straight edge and an extension of cultural misogyny and the purity myth, and really has no place in straight edge.”

Alex: “To label themselves as straight edge you have to be drug/alcohol/tobacco free. And most consider refraining from promiscuous sex as a straight edge value.”

Jacob:  “It doesn’t take much to be straight edge, just a couple generic guidelines; no drugs, no alcohol and no promiscuity. Some people go as far as ostracizing those who drink caffeine or have sex in general but I think that ruins the community aspect of it.”

RTP: Hardcore music and being straight edge go hand in hand, right? Do you have to fit into the hardcore music scene to label yourself as straight edge? Are there people who don’t fit into the hardcore music scene or don’t even like hardcore music that are straight edge?

Zephyr: “that’s tricky. i really do believe that straight edge is a part of hardcore and vice versa. that being said, radical sobriety is a part of many countercultural scenes, and hardcore in particular can be extremely inaccessible to women, queer folks and people of color, so i hesitate to insist on a generalized hard and fast rule about it

Alex: “It does go hand in hand, but not being into hardcore and being straight edge is pretty common. I know kids who have no idea about the culture but still identify as straight edge.”

Jacob: “I don’t think you have to be into hardcore or punk or any sort of music to be straight edge. I think it definately helps though, just because hardcore is where the origins of the movement lie, it’s just good to know the history I think.”

RTP: What’s the most common misconception about Straight Edge?

Zephyr: “that it’s inherently violent. while hardcore is a music scene that is characterized by aggression, straight edge does not come hand in hand with intolerance or violence. while certain crews may feel the need to impose their beliefs on other people through violence, the truth is that a lot of that tough-guy attitude is getting left in the past. it’s becoming part of common radical dialogue to acknowledge the power structures in place that encourage and exacerbate addiction, and to recognize that we can’t expect our values or morals to be universally upheld. i like to believe that the gang mentality that people come to expect from straight edge is no longer the norm.”

Alex: “The most common misconception is that we are all very militant and elitists. With the exception of a few crews, most straight edge people are friendly and humble.

Jacob:  “I’d have to agree with Alex as far as most people thinking straight edge kids are elitist in most cases, I’ve actually lost friends over this even. People think that just because we hold ourselves to a higher standard of living it means we think of ourselves more highly I think. Most of the straight edge kids I know are the furthest thing from militant and yet the stigma still applies.”

RTP: There’s a stereotype that violence is part of the straight edge lifestyle…Is this true for some? Why is this a stereotype? 

Zephyr: “i mean, it’s silly to pretend that violence in straight edge doesn’t exist. it does. i’ve known people to take the community “family” feeling too far and use it as an excuse for exclusivity, which evolved into enacting violence on those who weren’t a part of it. but that attitude, i feel, is becoming less and less common”

Alex: “the violence stereotype is almost always never true, at least here in Denver. I havent seen any violence from straight edge kids in denver, but in other scenes, im not sure. It could be a stereotype because of militant crews throughout the country, but really in this genre of music, it could be anything .”

Jacob: “I wouldn’t say I’ve ever actually experienced this but I could definitely see how someone would, I mean even Ian Mackaye (Minor Threat) left the DC hardcore scene because of violence. Most of the music is angry sounding so people could just kind of assume we’re always angry.”


RTP: What’s your most favorite thing about being straight edge?

Zephyr: “my favorite thing about being straight edge is very personal. having a mental illness took away a lot of the control i had over my emotions. remaining sober and having a community to support that sobriety allows me to take back at least a little bit.

Alex: “My favorite part of being straight edge is knowing that I am always in control, not under the influence of something that could hurt my understanding of my surroundings. I like the independence from it, it’s like watching the world from a different perspective.”

Jacob: “Honestly the best part of being straight edge is knowing that you’re doing something for the betterment of your own life. I feel like there are too many things in this world that are bad for you and just finding a community that’s proud to cut some of those out of their lives is super refreshing.”

RTP: Zephyr, You just got a straight edge tattoo, can you explain it’s meaning?

Zephyr: “i’m a barista, and getting ready to move away from utah after three years (hence the golden spike). i wanted to get a tattoo that would be a nice little reminder of the time i lived here, and the straight edge community was a huge part of that. i also think it’s funny when people think coffee isn’t straight edge, so it’s a little bit snarky haha”



Interview with Brian Huntress

RTP: What genre(s) does your music fit into?

BH: It really depends on the situation. At the root, people just call me folk punk and I can’t escape it, but a lot of the influneces that make my sound come from country, amercian folk, traditional blues, and top 40 radio. But sometimes I also make horrible lo fi, noise rock shit. It really depends on my mood.

RTP: What inspires you to make music?

BH: …kind of a funny story. When I was a young kid I watch fuse tv and see bands like fall out boy, green day, and mcr and put on eye liner and dance around in my bedroom and dream about being a rock star. At that point I had absolutely no musical skill on any level. I ended up not doing anything about that urge for years and I didn’t pick up a guitar till I was 16. I think its mainly cathartic though. I make music because it gives me the ability to express how I feel in a way that a paintbrush cannot. I helps me create an emotional bridge between me and the listener. ITs just beautiful man. Breathing for the soul. I’d die if I didn’t have it.

RTP: Who are your influences?

BH: Theres different sections of my influences. My biggest influence band wise, are fleetwood mac, The wonder years, and The Used, but my biggest influences songwriter wise, are Cranford Nix, Connor Oberst, Cyberbully mom club, and a few others. But the main influence comes from the people around me like my friends and family. I see what they do in real life and it inspires me to keep moving.

RTP: In the first song on your EP “Fair Weather Friend” you mention that you don’t drink. Are you straight-edge?

BH: I do not drink. One long chapter of my life that I have not been able to escape is my battle with alcohol and drugs. I spent a really long time dealing with street violence, abuse, and mental health issues and the only way I was able to cope with any of that was drowning myself in vodka or blowing lines off of my coffee table. My life spiraled completely out of control and I lost the respect of everyone in my life until I got sober in 2012. I like to say that i’m in recovery rather than straight edge. I’m a sober alcoholic, a drug addict, a rob your mom and kick you in the face drug addict, not a hardcore kid who jumps kids at shows for having a beer. Fuck, I’d drink if I could but I spoiled it. It just ain’t for me anymore.

Listen to Brian’s new EP:

photo by Julia Levine

Jersus – Lit Design

RTP: Who’s behind Jersus?

J: “Jeremy J Frank , a man who aint scared to strike fear in the hearts of people who truly get offended, i speak on behalf of all religious and minority groups”

RTP: How long did it take you to make this song and what program did you use?

J:  “I started working on the song in October. Ideas  started coming to me around the end of September when I took time away from working on this other song. i would follow this guy named Psychic Type who makes videos on how to teach trap but during the process I guess I stopped working on it and I didn’t apply any of this guys methods to Lit Design what so ever. Over the course of Lit Design my roommates inspired me along the way. My friend gave me packs with nice sounding Kicks and Snare and Uplifters Downlifters – all sorts of effects.

RTP: How long has Jersus been in existence?

J: “I came up with the name i suppose around April of last year. I went through a tough time in May, got kicked out of my house and sent to Hilo in Hawaii cause my mom thought i had anger issues. It was a very weird time they took everything i had from me even my drum sticks. it was the worst and i had a nervous breakdown cause i knew i didn’t belong there. An expression that stayed with my the whole time “don’t forget where you came from” saved my ass. I guess i learned a lot from my experience learned about a Inflammatory Diet, which included no caffeine no sugar, anything that wasn’t natural.

RTP: How long were you there for?

J: “2 Weeks. I couldn’t stand it. All they had was an Acoustic Guitar and some bongos which we were never allowed to play.”

RTP: Did you get back into music right away?

J: “In my mind – music is everywhere. i learned that a lot from pyramind on Folsom how we perceive sound in many ways. With headphones on and with headphones off, there’s a soundtrack for everywhere we go.”

RTP: Tell us more about your drumming career…

J: “I stuck with drums my whole life – been playing since 2008 got my first drum kit in 09 and my life changed forever musically. There’s no instrument like the drums, the feels. My drum teacher taught me the differences. A guitar you can strum but its hard to accent a timbre.”

RTP: Where can we find your music?

J: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/lit-design-single/id1072159558

Catch the end of Ben Stalets Tour


Folk singer, Ben Stalets is out on the road again! Be sure to catch him on tour.

Jan 09 Ugly Mugs Cafe | Nashville, TN
Jan 13 Knickerbockers Saloon | Lafayette, IN
Jan 14 Be Here Now | Muncie, IN
Jan 15 Evangeline’s Bistro And Music House | St Louis, MO
Jan 16 THE ELBO ROOM | Chicago, IL

From his site: “Cracking the egg that is Ben Stalets is two yolks; The first is a Country tinged, folk soaked, lyrically driven song, The second is a sweaty, rock n’ roll rooted performance. However you prefer it, you’ll end up full.

Ben’s medley of soundscape allows him to open for a very diverse collection of critically acclaimed acts, such as; Valerie June, Whitey Morgan, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Local H, and Icarus Account. He’s also been a favorite at plenty of music festivals, among them, 2015’s Nelsonville Music Festival.

With releasing his newest album and stab at classifying his genre of music; Country Midwestern, and a month-long tour, Ben has had a big end to 2015. With the start of 2016, Ben is looking to show just how appropriate his latest album’s title is by kicking off January with a Midwestern tour. With an angle on his music based loosely on that of a Pot Roast as opposed to a drive thru meal – he may not be your next American Idol, but he’s got a Hank Williams howl and deep-rooted, sturdy fingerpicking style that make you feel like he’s telling tales as old as time.”


Dan Campbell “Soupy” lead singer of pop punk band The Wonder Years recently dropped his new solo project late May of 2014. Dan created this character named “Aaron West,” and decided to make an album that tells the story of a young late twenty-something year old man, that comes from a very Irish Catholic family.

The story continues with Aaron mourning the passing of his dad, he also talks about meeting and falling in love with his wife Diane at a very young age in college. Later on his wife divorces him, and he struggles with alcohol and drug abuse.  The first single off their debut album “We Don’t Have Each Other,” is called “You Ain’t No Saint,” which talks about meeting his ex- wife for the first time. The first line in the song he starts out by describing him and his wife, “Like gasoline to matches,” his vocals in the song are very rough and raw, you can feel the passion and pain in his voice.

The second -single is a soft heart wrenching ballet “Divorce and the American South,” Aaron is stuck at a truck stop phone booth where he is leaving a very heart felt voice mail on his ex-wife’s phone. He confesses everything that he did wrong in their relationship, including his addiction to nicotine, to not being there to comfort Diane during her miscarriage. Aaron lays everything out on the line as the song progresses, he begs for Diane to pick up because he knows she is listening to his apology.

Dan made his debut as “Aaron West” during the 2014 Warped Tour, minus the group of gentleman behind him called “The Roaring Twenties.”  Playing an acoustic set of songs from the album, while staying in character telling Aaron’s story. Now the band has played a number of sold out shows across the East and West coast. While this is a big difference from seeing Dan jumping and screaming in “The Wonder Years,” take a look at his alter ego that brings out the darker poetic side of him you won’t be disappointed.

– Written by Mr. Brightside