Music and entertainment will always have their icons and legends. The realm of punk and hardcore music is still too young to have any real legends. Although much of punk and hardcore is about avoiding figure heads, several icons have emerged who are soon approaching legendary status.
Anyone who knows hardcore knows the names and most of the faces of Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi, Kevin Seconds from 7 Seconds, Civ and Gorilla Biscuits, Lou and Pete Koller of Sick Of It All, Mike Judge of Judge, Raybeez (r.i.p.) of Warzone, and Jordan Cooper who founded Revelation Records. These are a few of the people who helped to mold hardcore into what it was and what it has become.
That list could never be complete without the men behind the seminal band Youth of Today. The main voices were Porcell and Cappo. Out spoken and charismatic, they became solid figures in the New York Hard Core scene of the late 80’s.
Youth of Today brought straightedge to a New York scene that was dying and completely saturated with drugs. Straightedge spoke of purifying the mind and body through abstinence from substances that took control of the mind and polluted the body. They spoke out with an honest message and they never pulled punches. Positive hardcore had been around for a while before Y.O.T., but they made it so accessible that it reached larger audiences and still inspries new hardcore kids.
After Y.O.T., came Shelter, America’s first Krishnacore band. After Ray Cappo’s trip to India he came back to bring a message to the kids in the hardcore scenes around the world. That message was one of peace and understanding and life with the Krishna conciousness.
Porcell had gone through his own soul searching and come to a similar end as a Krishna devotee. After going on tour with Shelter, Porcell became a permanent part of the band.
Speaking with Porcell, one gets a sense of the peacefulness and fulfillment that has come into his life as a devotee. The progression to Krishna from straightedge seemed logical for Porcell.
“Straighedge was about purifying body and mind and over the years I’ve come to realize that we’re not just bodies and minds there’s actually a soul that is underneath all the layers of body and false ego and material conceptions of who we think we are,” Porcell said, when asked about the connection between the two lifestyles.
He saw the emptiness that people feel when they wander through life without some kind of direction. Krishna has helped him get through that feeling and make him more fulfilled. He got into Krishna when he found that all of the material possesions and fame that came from playing for bands like Violent Children, Youth of Today, Project X and Judge had left him feeling empty and unsatisfied.
He saw this in most other successful musicians as well. “Even if you look at Kurt Cobain, he was the most successful, richest, coolest musician there was and what did he do? He ended up blowing off his own head with a shotgun just out of deression and desperation,” Porcell said.
Once realizing and developing his spiritual side, he said that he “felt more of a whole complete person.”
“For me it was almost like, every single one of my material desires that I ever had got fulfilled. I just stillfound that it wasn’t satisfying. I always wanted to be in a band. Bands like Youth of Today and Judge were kind of major players in the hardcore scene I went on tour, I toured all over the u.s. I toured all over europe. I had tons of money because I put out all these records I was getting royalties from. I was living in California working at Revalation [Records] and I was about to start a band with Zack right before he started Rage Against the Machine. Things were going good. But I was just like, ‘God, my life just feels so empty. I can’t really explain it,'” he said.
He began a spiritual search through studying several different religions when he came across the Krishna conciousness. He saw Krishna as “a practical spiritual philosophy because it teaches you how to live a spiritual life in the real world.”
With the new found peace and a new band, Porcell and Cappo were once again bringing something new to large groups of hardcore kids. The expansion of the scene from the late 80’s to the present has given Shelter the chance to reach much larger audiences.
“For Y.O.T. to play a big show it was like 200 kids and we were like, ‘Wow, this is a big show’ and I think the biggest show that Shelter ever played was for 100,000. [Hardcore has] definitely become more of a mainstream thing,” he said when talking about the difference in the the hardcore scene of ’88 as compared to today.
Progressing both musically and spiritually has brought Porcell closer to the peace and fulfillment he was searching for when he was younger. Shelter’s new album “When 20 Summers Pass” is the perfect blend of the urgent raw feel of late Y.O.T. and early Shelter albums combined with a maturity that shows the listener just how much the band has gone through. Musically, it is clear for any listener to hear the improvement in Porcell’s playing and Cappo’s singing.
This album is destined to be a classic for hardcore fans across its many sub-genres. Shelter’s best album may possibly be their last one. It is fitting to go out with their best effort to date.
Since it is their last album, it also means this is probably going to be the last Shelter tour, so any hardcore or punk fans out there need to go out and support Shelter and open their minds, if maybe only for a night.
Even if their message does not make you want to convert, it is bound to inspire you and make your eyes open wide.