The Emo genre and subculture has become something that is very hard to define. Because of this it is difficult to trace its ancestry. Most people who claim to be “in the know” cite the D.C. hardcore/punk scene and more specifically the band Rites Of Spring (below) as the founders of emo.
However, history has shown that it is rash to attribute the formation of a musical genre to one band. By looking at the musical scenes of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s we can better determine the roots and influences that started and continue to affect the emo genre and subculture.
Before one can understand where “emo” comes from one must first understand what it is today. “I prefer to think of it [emo] as punk rock that’s more melodic and introspective/depressing than hardcore, but still tapping into that primal energy and anger”. This style of music has spawned a subculture of and scene that has been continually growing since the early nineties.
It is pretty easy to stereotype an “emo” kid, which is ironic because no one seems to be able to define “emo” music.
The best way to describe “emo” music is by soft arpeggiated guitars overtop soft airy vocals that build up and release into an orchestra of heavy distorted guitars and then brought back down to the original quiet part.
Emo lyrics are generally very poetic and range from topics of lost love to religious beliefs or other emotional subjects.
Yet “emo” covers a wide variety of bands these days, from the soft melodic pines of American Football to the hard driving sounds of At the Drive In. How can a genre so large be traced to anything?
The problem is that what one person defines as “emo” is not to the next, it all depends on your point of view.
The prevailing perception of emo usually comes from the band Sunny Day Real Estate (above). Started in Seattle in 1992, Sunny Day Real Estate combined their roots in hardcore with melodic vocals and a “pop” feel. Their 1994 release of “Diary” changed the emo scene forever. “Sunny Day came out of nowhere and changed a lot of peoples lives.
By Thom Lloyd view more