‘Die Young and Save Yourself’ or How I Grew Old and Still Listened to Emo Music

‘Die Young and Save Yourself’ or How I Grew Old and Still Listened to Emo Music

The Smiths are my favourite band. Perhaps some but consider them a guilty pleasure but I don’t. I think they are unrivalled and possibly the greatest band that there ever was (excluding the Beatles). But don’t worry I’m not here to wax lyrical about my undying love for Morrissey or indeed the whole of the ’80s. It’s funny that some would consider the ‘80s as a bit of a write off period musically or consider bands like Soft Cell as definitely falling under the header of ‘Wedding Disco’ or ‘Guilty Pleasure.’

For me, my guilty pleasure is a modern band. A modern American band. I used to be a really big emo. Admitting this is causing me quite high levels of discomfort. I like Arcade Fire and my favourite colour is pink. I’ve renounced all but one of my emo indulgences. That indulgence is Brand New.

I liked a plethora of emo bands: Jimmy Eat World, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, The Used, but most notably Brand New. Brand New were my number one favourite. I hear their most recent albums have been very good but the only ones I ever listen to are their 2001 release ‘Your Favourite Weapon’ and 2003’s ‘Deja Entendu’. When I listen to these two albums I feel angry and confused (just as I did when I was 13-16) but most of all I feel young. Brand New meant something to me, pathetic though that might sound. They meant I didn’t have to be the person my parents or teachers wanted me to be. They meant I was part of something that older generations could never understand. Emo was a youth movement and Brand New embodied the movement for me. The anger in sons like ‘Seventy Times Seven’ (‘Don’t apologize! I hope you choke you die!’) helped me get through those angsty, spot-ridden teenage years.

I went to see Brand New when I was about 14. It is one of my very best memories. I squeezed myself into Topshop’s skinniest drainpipes, wore two studded belts (to show I was hardcore) and cut my fringe even further into my eyes to mark the occasion. Embarrassingly, I actually cried during the set (during ‘The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot’) I found it that moving. I went with my best friends and we used about 4 eyeliner pencils between the 8 of us. We screamed, shouted, danced, ‘moshed’ and yes, cried together. Hey, as lyrics go, these ones are pretty emotional: ‘You are the smell before rain/You are the blood in my veins.’ (I am glad, however, that I decided against getting this tattooed around my wrist, as was my original plan.)

Brand New remind me of being a teenager and will always have a place in my heart and on my spotify. Even if the Smiths did steal their position as ‘best band ever’. But perhaps Brand New knew that would happen anyway, as they said in ‘Mix Tape’, ‘you always criticise The Smiths and Morrissey/ [But] I know you’re a sucker for anything acoustic.’