Like it or not, the straight-edge movement first appeared in the early eighties and still inspires people to live their lives more healthily, far away from drugs, nicotine, alcohol, and promiscuity. At first, Ian MacKaye promoted the movement through his work with Minor Threat and Dischord Records, but the bands gradually embraced the ideas and the straight-edge hardcore scene cultivated throughout the years. Bands like 7 Seconds, Youth Of Today, Judge, Earth Crisis, Bane, Battery, AFI, Bold, DYS, Good Clean Fun, Negative FX, Floorpunch, Turning Point, Project X, and Snapcase are just some of the names that promoted a healthy way of living. The list of bands who still preached or still preach these ideas is endless. Luckily enough, the new bands are popping almost daily, so the scene is healthy and going stronger than ever.
You can always rely upon the lyric sheet if you are looking for a profound meaning of straight edge, but the book about ethics provides more information. Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics by Gabriel Kuhn is a more than appropriate guidebook for everything you need to know about the current stream of straight edge. In this particular book, Kuhn included the essence of the movement by providing a collection of interviews and essays with/by some of the longstanding edgers. Therefore, you will have the chance to read interviews with Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat, members of Manliftingbanner, Dennis Lyxzen of Refused, Frederico Freitas of Point Of No Return, and Bruno Break Teixeira of New Winds. There are also interviews, or should I say scene reports, about the straight-edge scenes in the USA, Sweden, Israel, and Poland. The following section explores the connection between antifascism, anarchism, and sXe. These manifestos were written by XsararaqaelX, Carrie No Nation of Crimethinc, and Nick Riotfag.
The fourth chapter carries reflections and interviews with Nick Riotfag, Lucas, Jenni Ramme, Kelly Leonard, Bull Gervasi, and Andy Hurley. It touched the topics such as anarcho-primitivism, radical queer critique towards the intoxication culture, the connection between the sXe movement and crust punk, etc. These reflections provide in-depth views by some of the longstanding figures but also criticize the flaws of the DIY music scene. The fifth and final chapter delivers perspectives on hardcore networks, the relationship between culture and politics, building connections, and improving the movement. It’s distilled into a couple of essays by Santiago Gomez, Laura Synthesis, Ross Haenfler, and Mark Andersen and an interview with Federico Gomez.
If you’re looking for an expanded history lesson about the sXe, then Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics might not be a perfect choice for you. This book provides a sneak peek into contemporary streams of the movement without going too deep into its humble beginnings. This book may seem too radical to some readers, but the author and the contributors intended to show everything you need to know about the straight edge. It’s not candy-coated praise but an honest observation showcasing all the pros and cons of the straight edge. It’s a comprehensive collection of writings and interviews you need to check out if you’re interested in the topic. Sober Living for the Revolution: Hardcore Punk, Straight Edge, and Radical Politics is available as a snapback or ebook at PM Press, and it’s distributed in the UK/EU by Earth Island Books.