Silent Majority were at least trying to be post-Fugazi male feminists, with songs like “Polar Bear Club” (from 1997’s ), which included a line hypothesizing about the year 2016: “I just bought a microphone for my kid,” singer Tommy Corrigan daydreams, “’Cause she’s trying out for a band.” But things changed on Long Island.
It strikes me now as no coincidence at all that my favorite Long Island band of the early-2000s, the one I obsessed over hardest, was also the only group I ever saw with a female member: Michelle Nolan, multi-instrumentalist of emotional piano-rockers Straylight Run (which included former members of Taking Back Sunday).
(My normier eighth grade boyfriend broke up with me for, to quote his text-message that I read on my flip-phone, “[caring] about music more than you care about me,” and I have spent the rest of my life proving him right.) For a time, the subtle cruelties were something that I accepted, a mere consequence of the life-changing experience of having adventures.
Third-wave emo—bubblegum emo—needed its female fans, as evidenced by the swaths of girls who screamed this music back, who took photos, who muscled against stages to get as close as possible without being crushed. I am suggesting here that there is a correlation between misogynist art, the young people who make it, and the younger people who consume it.
That is not a radical idea, and it strikes me now as dubious that any longtime Brand New fan would be completely shocked by these allegations.
In the 1990s, bands like Silent Majority and Mind Over Matter architected the melodic hardcore sound that Brand New and Taking Back Sunday would sugarcoat and blow up.
Earlier this year, as Brand New was on the cusp of releasing a new record, I asked my male coworkers to Google the words “Brand New date rape song.” We were considering awarding Brand New’s fifth album the distinction of Best New Music, and I wanted my peers to be clear about this unsettling aspect of the band’s history. It goes, “I got desperate desires and unadmirable plans/My tongue will taste of gin and malicious intent/Bring you back to the bar/Get you out of the cold/My sober straight face gets you out of your clothes.” Lacey later sings such biting lines as “I almost feel sorry for what I’m gonna do” and “If you let me have my way I swear I’ll tear you apart.” Of course, Lacey has denied that these lyrics are autobiographical, claiming that he was describing a nightmare he feared; only a monster would accept these thoughts as his own.
At this point, in August, the disturbing allegations against frontman Jesse Lacey—years spent preying on at least two underage Brand New fans, soliciting them online for nude photos and more—had not been made. Third-wave emo—the 2000s mutation of the sound as sold at Hot Topic, as dialogued on Myspace and Live Journal, and as broadcast on MTV—was a notoriously sexist commodity. The song that appears when you Google “Brand New date rape song” is “Me Vs. Lacey still found them suitable to sing on Brand New’s breakout record, attaching his name to them forever.
Men constantly treated me like I was there primarily to meet them.
In fact I did not care much about boys at this point in my life.