Interview: Edge Of Quarrel

interview by pr!

Straight edge scene; love it or hate it? Straight edge has been around since the 80’s but only became exposed to the general public in the mid 90’s (thanks to the Fox-style news reporting and popular straight edge bands like Earth Crisis). Dave Larson made a movie about it. Who is Dave, you ask, and why do I care? Dave has been in a band or two and currently runs Excursion Records, and you should care because the movie he made, “Edge of Quarrel”, is a pretty decent flick. The idea behind EOQ is basically this: kid leaves the punk scene for a few years and comes back to find they have divided between punks and straight edge groups, insuring conflict. It’s slightly deeper, but only because of details. Now while this isn’t (insert major motion picture drama name here), and is filmed on B/W 8MM with what looks like five days of hard rehearsal, it’s definitely worth a watch if but to check out your favorite band mate buffing his acting skills. You see, Dave was wise enough to add popular band members like Aaron Edge, Spence and Derek of Murder City Devils and more to the film to give it that realistic feeling. The film has been out a few years, but I though it would be worth re-exposing it, especially while he’s in the works for a DVD release next year and a possible sequel.

What’s Dave doing today?
Working on some records. Actually working on some layouts for vinyls for excursion records.

That pay the bills?
No way. I work a day job at a laser communication business, adjusting alignments for optical transceivers.

Sounds pretty intense (laughs) so, how’d Edge of Quarrel come about?
I wanted to make a movie for a long time, but didn’t know how to do it. It wasn’t until a friend of mine made “Heartbreak Beat” that I found out I could make my own.

And you were in that movie
Yeah, I was. You know what movie I’m talking about, then. It’s funny; Matt actually got the idea to make a movie after watching “Walking Between the Raindrops” by Evan Jacobs, which was the same thing. Hi-8 filming, etc. So I started reading how to write screenplays and figuring out how to direct a movie.

What, in the movie, most represents the scene you were around?
I have not seen, first hand, the straight edge zealots that were in the movie. You hear about them, like in Salt Lake City, and see them on TV specials and the such, but usually if there is a TV report about it then the scene is just naturally violent. Rocky, the main character that plays Brian is kind of my mouthpiece. I’ve always wanted the scene to get along and punks to co-exist with straight edge. I’ve never been involved in something as extreme as what happened in the movie.

So you aren’t Rollo?
(laughs) no, but there is always the enforcer, someone who doesn’t talk much but kicks ass.

Who is Rollo, by the way?
In real life? Aaron Edge. He’s been in a number of bands, like Himsa, Genuine and other acts. He seemed like a perfect guy for the part.

What do you think about people who weren’t straight edge, become it, and then drop back out? Like, the guys that get straight edge tattoos then fall back out of it totally?
(laughs) oh yeah, there are definitely some of those kinds of people out there.

I’ve heard from straight edge kids that that’s a very evil thing.
You lose credibility. I don’t know many people who jump back and forth. Usually what happens is that you weren’t, then you were, then you weren’t for a while, and then you go back to being straight edge. A lot of times, people can understand. If they’re in their 30’s, chances are, you wont leave/join straight edge. It is funny that a lot of vocal straight edge kids drop out; they’ve got tat’s and then you see them at the bar.

Do you think kids join straight edge not because they want to be drug free as much, but to be a part of something?
Sure, you have that. If it wasn’t attractive to people, you wouldn’t have straight edge kids. For every ten people who act that way, one of them will actually realize it’s a decent lifestyle. The rest will go to college (laughs)

Earth Crisis.
Earth Crisis.

Tell me about your feelings towards the big E.C.
Um, I’m not trying to sound like some elitist, old school guy but..

Yes you are!
(laughs) but, uh, when I heard Earth Crisis for the first time, I had already been straight edge for four years, and at no time during the EC scene did I ever like them. Okay, early on they played some good music that did have a huge influence on straight edge but, but, I did not like them. I didn’t like their pro-life stance on their first record, and I definitely did not like how they tried to cover it up and how they went back and forth with that. I did not like the hardline point at all, and I know they weren’t trying really to be hardline, but…

‘Hardline’ being…
a term for this small movement that was associated with straight edge at first. Basically, this vegan-straightedge-kill-people-who-you-see-smoking attitude. I’ll get into that later (laughs) let me finish my point about Earth Crisis. I really didn’t like when Karl said that firestorm was about the black panthers.

Seriously! I read it from an interview with him, and that’s not what it’s about, or why wouldn’t he have said that before. I don’t know, little things like that bother me. I thought Earth Crisis was kind of a joke, and I’m sure that’ll make me a lot of friends in the scene, but well, too bad.

And see, that’s where people get this impression that the straight edge scene rides the line of cult/religion views. Your opinion of one band will make or break other people’s viewpoint of you. That’s got to be frustrating.

Spencer from MCDis in your movie.
Yeah, I knew all those guys from the shows at the Old Firehouse (?) in Seattle. They were one of the few bands that could attract just about everyone. All age’s shows included everyone.

Fan of Pretty Girls Make Graves?
Totally. Derek was actually pretty important to my writing practice for Edge of Quarrel. He worked at this record store in downtown Seattle where I would always stop by during lunch to check out records and talk to Derek. Pete, his boss and owner of the record store, is the ‘angry record store owner’ from the movie.

Started in California by some kids who thought it was time for a new movement.. They had an outline of an X with a m-16’s in the middle. If you search on the Internet, you can probably find their manifesto still. When that came out, I realized that it wasn’t my straight edge. A few times in the 90’s there was small surges of hardline. Here in Seattle, a few small groups of kids tried to start it up and we butted heads a little.

So are these the kids that will beat me up if they see me smoking a cigarette? Or will straight edge people do that also?
Well, (laughs), specifically different parts of the country react differently. You hear stories from Salt Lake City about kids who carved an X into a smoker’s arm or something. Man, this interview’s going to be all over the place. You can cut it up all you want, just try not to make me sound like a dick.

What part of being vegan/vegetarian does straight edge effect?
On some part, some people say that being vegan has a better impact to the world then straight edge, which in a sense is true, but that’s not always the case. It’s more about personal choice and what you feel is necessary for your body. If you’re already straight edge, being vegan seems to be one step closer.

What is straight edge, by the way? Explain it for the kids.
Sure. Straight edge is no drinking, no drugs and no smoking. In the mid 80’s there was some confusion over smoking, but that doesn’t fly today.

What about the poison, fume-filled ink kids use to put X’s on their hands? C’mon now, that’s not very straight edge.
(laughs) well, what about prescribed medicine?

What about it?

And chocolate has been studied enough to where they compare it to a mild dose of cocaine (the reaction, yearning and addiction – that’s 100% true, look it up, kid)?
Exactly. That’s why I’ve fought all the attempts to change the rules. (Me thinks Dave has a candy problem) I think the only other thing people have to put into straight edge is anti-racism stance. If someone is a racist or skinhead, and tried to say they were straight edge, they can’t.

I heard Earth Crisis were kind of sexists, i.e. that they call women bitches (actually, I heard that from my Locust interview from last month) and things of that nature.
Really? I know women that they know, and I would go on record of saying that is not true. I’ve never been a friend to Earth Crisis, but I’ll dispel that rumor. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone took them out of context and made them sound that way. People like to do that.

Final thoughts?
Um, that’s it? (laughs) sorry about turning it into a straight edge interview.

No apologies at all. I’m personally not straight edge (Mary Jane, you my only friend) am always curious about it and think that anything that brings kids together and helps the ‘scene’ is cool with me. Except racist fucks, of course.
Yeah! is my site. And the movie will be on DVD next year. We’re kinda working on a sequel, too. Well, we’ve got an outline for it, like what happens to these people 4-5 years down the line.

Can you have Rollo beat up some emo kids?
(laughs) I’m not sure if Rollo wants to be the guy who beats people up.