“We will build a better tomorrow
The youth of today will be the tool
American children built for survival
Fate is our destiny and we shall rule”
-The Avengers “We Are The One”
Each generation has a youth movement with it’s own loud voices screaming for change. In the mid/late 1980’s, two hardcore aficionados from Connecticut by the names of Ray Cappo and John Porcelly would beckon to be heard. With a moniker taken from a classic Avenger’s song and a musical style inspired by early SSD, Youth of Today would be the straight edge, “Youth Crew” generation’s loudest voice.
And as is often the case, those who speak the loudest often face the harshest critics. Ray and Porcell would certainly come up against their fair share of detractors over the years, starting with various personalities from the early New York City hardcore scene who declared that straight edge would never catch on in the drug infested city (were they ever wrong). Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedy’s fame also took his shots at the new band, declaring that Youth of Today was easily one of the most generic band names he had ever heard.
In my case, I felt the name YOT described me to a tee as I was just beginning to really learn about my adolescent self and the world around me through the power of punk rock, and I ordered the album We’re Not In This Alone without ever hearing the band. Deluxe Distribution (Anti-Hero, Real, Spitfire, and Thunder skate products) used to double as a record label/music distro called Beware, and after scouring ads in Thrasher Mag, I would give my mom a hand written list of goodies and somehow con her into putting a check in the mail. A few weeks later Mr. Postman would deliver a package filled with a few cassettes and other random goodies like stickers and the latest Deluxe catalog.
Without the convenience of the internet, discovering new bands was quite a crapshoot, and upon receiving the WNITA tape in the mail I honestly wasn’t exactly sure what to make of it. The members of the band looked like clean cut jock types, yet the music was basically barbaric thrash with muppet like vocals. It probably didn’t help that the initial mix of the album was a trebly mess, but something about the record kept me coming back for more (the album would later be remixed multiple times).
Looking back, it had to be the message that peaked my interest, and between Cappo’s vicious growling and vicarious use of the “F” word, he managed to drop some of his best lyrics to date. From songs about blind patriotism, overt racism, and mindless violence to more personal cuts like “Put It Aside” and “Potential Friends”, this album tackles both the personal and the political. However, one song in particular would eventually become one of the most important tunes in HC history.
While I had already been exposed to animal rights through bands like the UK Subhumans, YOT’s “No More” would be the song that turned an entire generation of hardcore kids into vegetarians. Not only did the liner notes to the album include a recommended reading list of vegetarian/vegan related literature, but Cappo and company also created a cheesy, MTV style music video for “No More” that actually featured some pretty brutal slaughterhouse footage. As a 15 year old kid, I was still on a steady diet of mom’s burgers and pork chops, but it would only be a few years later that I would become a vegetarian after reading into the real message YOT was trying to convey.
These days I am no longer a full-on vegetarian, but I try to remain conscious of the things I eat, what my food is made of, where it comes from, etc. I also still find intense inspiration in the emotions and ideas expressed on We’re Not In This Alone, and Youth of Today’s brand of raw, in your face hardcore seems just as relevant (if not more) to me over 20 years later. Say what you will about Ray Cappo and John Porcelly in 2012, but they have both influenced my life in many ways, and I at least owe them that respect.
Youth of Today’s We’re Not In This Alone is being re-issued on Revelation Records in July with the original Caroline Records artwork restored. I urge you to check out this album and YOT’s 1st proper LP, Break Down The Walls, which will also be re-released on Rev in July with the original Wishingwell Records artwork intact. You can also see YOT live on May 28th at the upcoming Punk Rock Bowling Tournament with 7 Seconds, Hot Water Music, and Pennywise.
“We’re Back!” – Ray Cappo from “The Flame Still Burns”