The idea that a band can save your life tends to divide people. I’ve spoken with musicians who take pride in the notion that someone can feel so strongly about something they’ve created, and others who feel daunted by the prospect of unwittingly holding such responsibility over another person’s state of mind.
Considering the sentiment alone, this is a celebration of the musicians that have, unintentionally, created the soundtrack to my own rollercoaster through adolescence and adulthood.
I remember gawping into my MSN screen when a friend linked me to My Chemical Romance’s ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’ for the first time. The exhale of Gerard Way’s vocals bubbled around in my brain, layered over ambitious riffs and rampant drums that made you feel like marching into school and sticking it to the bullies.
Identifying as little more than a music-obsessed emo in my teens, I went back to discover the rebellion contained within ‘I Brought You My Bullets’ and instantly felt like it was my duty to share this band with the world. It may not sound like much, but as social media grew and real life interactions lulled, having bands like My Chemical Romance to fuel new friendships saved so many of us from feeling locked away and alone.
I discovered The Movielife somewhere in the depths of MySpace around the same time, and instantly took comfort in knowing they would remain one of my favourite bands long after Tom had disabled his admin account.
Vinnie Caruana’s grimacing punk rock vocals couldn’t be more contrasted to the soaring sound of Gerard Way, but the passion he pummelled into every note was the same. I’d play ‘Kelly Song’ on repeat, relishing in the way Vinnie sang so concisely about complex, personal frustrations.
In school, I dedicated myself to listening to Alexisonfire on loop. The collaborative effort of all five members was as inspiring as the music they produced together. Even on record, you could hear them thrash about beside each other, feeding off the communal fury that structured the backbone of synonymous tracks like ‘Accidents’ and ‘Happiness By The Kilowatt’.
Then there was ‘Homeless Jazz ‘; my go-to track when letlive. first came into my life. It was chaotic, lawless and sort of messed up. The snarl of Jason Aalon Butler’s voice between lyrics encompassed the aggression I carried through life, coupled with an energetic release brought on by ruthless breakdowns and screaming guitar parts. The entirety of ‘Fake History’ became an anti-dote for times when I felt stuck trying make sense of things, providing an unexplainable genius that would make everything else feel inferior at that point in time.
More recently, it was our zine’s leading ladies, Camp Cope, that provided me with a renewed sense of self worth. Vocalist Georgia Maq epitomises singing from the heart, and does so with a naivety that my Spotify playlist was severely lacking. She sang about being a female in a male dominated world, about resisting the restraints of womanhood, all while encouraging an unspoken feeling of being powerful enough to own our anxieties. ‘Keep Growing’ is the fire-in-your-belly anthem that I still so often return to.
Taking ownership of your favourite bands and making their songs the soundtrack to your life is what makes music so personal, but remembering that you are choosing to live, choosing to surround yourself with things you feel passionate about, and choosing music as your escape, is the most wonderful thing of all.
Words: Jess Hope
This article was originally published in the Don’t Fret Club Zine #1, available in physical and digital format here.