Wednesday, November 2, 2011

John Porcelly of Youth of Today, Judge, Project X and other bands

Porcell of Youth of Today

I am really excited about this interview.  John Porcelly (or Porcell) has played in a lot of straight edge bands like Youth of Today, Judge and Shelter.  I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!

PMAKid: What are your three favorite songs (by any bands)? Why are they your favorite and what impact did they have on you?

Porcell: Wow, this is a tough question. Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely love music, and I was probably around 6 when I realized this. My dad was this old Italian guy and had the worst record collection ever. It was filled with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tom Jones and other music that even at an early age I just couldn't wrap my head around. Somehow or other, amidst the dozens of LP's of Rat Pack crooners, almost unbelievably, my square dad had one rock and roll record. I have no idea how it got there, and to this day I think it must've ended up in his collection by mistake because he never played it once or even mentioned the band's name. The record was "Between the Buttons" by the Rolling Stones. I played that thing incessantly. I would sit there with my Planet of the Apes action figures and listen to it over and over and over. After that I managed to talk my dad into buying me the Kiss "Alive" record and forget it, that was the knockout punch. I was a rocker from then on.

So, the reason why this is a tough question is because I've had hundreds of favorite songs over the years. When I was a little kid it was probably "Detroit Rock City" by Kiss (or maybe "Deuce", it's a toss up). I got into punk pretty early on when I heard the Sex Pistols in 6th grade, so for my tween years it would have to be "Pretty Vacant." Later on when I was a teenager it was all about hardcore, which I didn't just casually listen to.  I pretty much lived, breathed, ate and slept hardcore. To narrow down all the incredible songs that were anthems for my life would be next to impossible. Maybe "Rise Above" by Black Flag. That "Damaged" record really impacted me in no uncertain terms.

A few more just off the top of my head (granted, this would change I'm sure if you asked me again in an hour): "Beautiful World" by Devo, "Terminal Preppie" by the Dead Kennedys, "Teenage Lobotomy" by the Ramones, "Asleep" by the Smiths. Oh, "Attitude" by the Bad Brains would have to be in there somewhere as well.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite books? Why are they your favorite and what impact did they have on you?

Porcell: Number one on the list, just in terms of being a game changer, would be "Bhagavad-Gita" by AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I remember reading that book when I was a confused 20-something year old looking for the meaning of it all and just being opened up to a whole new world. Next would be "Srimad Bhagavatam," also by Prabhupada. It's actually not just one book but a series of 18 books on philosophy, religion, yoga and God consciousness. That would be my "stranded on a desert island" choice. Hmmm, I'm a voracious reader so narrowing this down is tough. Number three might be "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. Others that had a huge impact on me early on were "1984" by George Orwell, "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller, "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac, and "The Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite bands and why?

Porcell: Another impossible task, but I'll see what I can do!

1. Minor Threat. Songs like "In My Eyes" and "Out of Step" helped me navigate my adolescence like no others.

2. Black Flag. A lot of punk bands were smart, thought-provoking and questioned the status quo, but Black Flag was from the heart. I remember seeing the cover of the "Damaged" LP for the first time and thinking "That's exactly how I feel."

3. The Smiths. Morrissey is one of the greatest lyricists of our time, and he has a knack for taking all your feelings of alienation and isolation right out of your head and putting them down on paper. A true genius.

PMAKid: I know you have played in Youth of Today and Shelter. What other bands have you been in? Have you always played guitar or did you play other instruments or sing?

Porcell: Here's the laundry list, in chronological order... Young Republicans, Time For Crime, Violent Children, Youth of Today, Project X, Judge, Bold, Gorilla Biscuits, Shelter, Never Surrender and Last of the Famous. I played guitar in all the bands except I sang in Project X and Never Surrender. I still play guitar and write music all the time so I doubt the world's heard the last of me yet.

PMAKid: I know that being Straight Edge is important to you and that you have kids. How do you teach your kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol?

Porcell: My kids have been vegetarian since birth and I really took the time to explain to them why we don't eat meat and why straight edge is important. Right now they are still pretty young but I have my hopes that in the future they'll make the right choices. I remember my son being really little, sitting in his booster seat in the back of the car, and we passed by a McDonald's. He said to me "Dad, is it true that Ronald McDonald kills the cows?" and I replied "Yes, it's sad but true." He looked out window for a second or two and said "That's so mean." I loved that. He really summed up the whole philosophy of vegetarianism in 3 simple words.

PMAKid: What kind of schools do your kids go to? Do they have music and art at their school and how important do you think it is to have those programs at school?

Porcell: My kids are fortunate enough to go to a Waldorf school in upstate NY that is smack in the middle of an organic farm. Ray Cappo's and Steve from Equal Vision Records' kids go to the school as well. Along with academics they're taught a reverence for nature and how to tread lightly on the earth. They also have an amazing music program and my son is learning violin. I'm teaching him to play guitar too and he's getting really good... future hardcore scene look out, he's the real youth of today!

PMAKid: I know that Youth of Today has been playing live shows like at This is Hardcore. My friends in 7 Seconds have also been doing shows. How does it feel to be still playing shows 25 or 30 years after you guys were first playing?

Porcell: I'm excited, humbled, grateful and slightly embarrassed. If someone told me 25 years ago I'd still be playing "Make a Change" in 2011, I probably would've punched them! Truthfully though, I think the band's message is as relevant as ever and I'm psyched to see kids from all around the world still singing along.

PMAKid: My dad saw Youth of Today play at CBGB's and the Anthrax a long time ago. Those places have closed down and I know that Gilman street is having problems with rent increases. How important is it to try to keep all ages clubs open?

Porcell: Very important. I started going to shows by buying tickets with my paper route money when I was 13 and I was just as passionate and excited about the music as anyone. Music is for all people, not just those who are old enough to drink. When Youth of Today found out that our last NYC show was 21 and over, we immediately booked an all ages show in Brooklyn right after it, which I thought ended up being a much better show anyway.

Youth of Today
PMAKid: Besides music, what are you doing now?

Porcell: I'm a graphic designer to pay the bills but I'm also a yoga instructor, which is much more my passion and interest. It's a blessing to have an occupation that makes people healthier and more peaceful.

PMAKid: I told Kevin Seconds about how my mom and dad and I were hiking in Yosemite and we bumped into a guy who recognized my Mindset t-shirt! Where is the weirdest place where you have bumped into a fan or seen a Youth of Today shirt or something like that?

Porcell: Weird things like that happen to me all the time! I was a graphic design instructor a few years ago and one time a student who didn't look hardcore at all asked me to sign his certificate "Porcell." I asked him why and he just said "Straight edge, man!" Another time I was driving my dad to a store in Westchester NY and we passed by a bridge that someone had spraypainted "Judge New York Crew" huge on the side of, complete with the hammers. My dad was freaking out saying "Isn't that your band?" Pretty recently I was at a vegetarian restaurant with my kids and when I asked for the check the waiter said it was on the house. When I asked why he told me "The owner says it's because of Break Down the Walls."

PMAKid: Is there any chance that Youth of Today or Shelter or any other band you are in will release a new record?

Porcell: Youth of Today, no. That band represents a certain time and place and I wouldn't want to mess with that. Shelter though I could conceivably see recording something else if we all had the time and enthusiasm to do it. We'll see.

Thanks for the interview Julian, keep the PMA! xxx Porcell

1 comment:

(Noting that this site is primarily run by a kid, his parents ask you to keep profanity and offensive commentary out of your posts.)