Krishnacore… oh man where do I start? The beginning I guess – the most any HXC kid knew about Hare Krishnas in the late ’80s is that they hung around airports and tried to sell you books. Then in ’89 the Cro-Mags “Best Wishes” came out with this artwork
It seemed to come completely out of left field, but if you dig a little it’s not surprising that HXC and HKs would mix – the entire HK movement got it’s start in the Bowery in the late ’60s.. and the Bowery (home of CBGBs) was crowded with HXC kids in the ’80s.
While the Cro-Mags were sympathetic to the HK philosophy, Krishnacore didn’t get started until the genius of Ray Cappo blended Hare Krishna into straight edge – and man did kids go nuts – fanzines wasted sooo much ink discussing the pros and cons of being a Hare Krishna. I’m sure someone way smarter than me could explain how social/economic climates tie into pop cultures various trends (and I’d probably be pretty interested!), but let’s just say that the ’80s Reagan politics seemed to translate into a lot of rich middle class types kids ‘looking for something more in life’ (AKA out there spirituality).
Here’s some pro info: people will believe in any crazy thing as long as it backs up how they want to live their life… and HKs mostly conformed to the lulzy SXE rules – you just had to buy into ideas like the Sun is closer to the Earth than the Moon, blue multi-armed/headed gods, etc. Good enough! But there’s enough info out there in the interwebs criticizing the HKs – and they really are just as lulzy as any other group – let’s just look at Krishnacore bands.
I often laugh thinking about the horrified 90s parents that had their hxc kid come home one day with a shaved head, neck beads and trying to sell them HK books! The really funny thing is that at their core, HKs are probably more conservative in their views than the parents… These dudes were like a Moral Majority wet dream – no drugs, no mixing men and women, no abortion, etc.
Shelter was the band Cappo started after converting to HK – and released the first album on Revelation (which put it in the hands of every youth crew kid out there). I personally wasn’t really into this stuff (I never even really liked YOT), but on listening again I don’t think it’s too terrible. I think “Attaining the Supreme” is probably the strongest album.
But no matter how you cut it, Cappo can’t sing – he’s at his best in shitty production. In fact, I put on “Attaining the Supreme” the other day, and 15 seconds into the first song I thought “I bet Don Fury produced this…” and sure enough he did. Once Cappo got outside of that terrible production I think the band suffered… They also moved into a pretty lulzy pop-punk direction (more on that later).
Oh dear Go… er Krishna
The strange thing about the first three Shelter albums is that Cappo included HK lectures and chanting on them – and this stuff was real wild sounding in the early ’90s… But I will say this – on the first 4 Shelter albums Cappo sounds immediate – he’s into what he’s singing about & it comes across.
Cappo founded Equal Vision Records to focus on putting out ‘Krishna inspired’ bands – and first up was the band of ex-Inside Out guitarist Vic DiCara – 108. Disclaimer: I’m friends with these dudes, and they are genuinely nice guys – I’ll never say a bad word about them. Unlike all other Krishnacore bands, they are still putting out good new music.
After these two there was a stream of srs third rate bands… YouTube them for homework – Prema/Refuse To Fall/Baby Gopal/Worlds Collide/Cause for Alarm.
Unlike most ‘-core’ labels, Krishnacore was more a lifestyle than a music – it was suburban kids that up and completely embraced the HK lifestyle. Kids would drop everything and move into the local temple – put on robes and start talking like old yoga swamis. Looking back I can understand the appeal – what middle class early 20 something wouldn’t want to suddenly be ‘taken serious’ and blab on about spiritual matters?
The funny thing is, despite Cappo coming from HXC, and 108 really being a HXC band, lots of these kids were more of the IKEAcore types – they were more into the emo/womancore kinda music (Sunny Day Real Estate anyone?) and just experimenting with HXC. You can hear this in the later Shelter albums (which I brought myself to listen to for this post!) – they turned to third-rate pop-punk to appeal to these kids… Lots of these kids used HK to check out of life for their 20s – kinda like attending grad school – and hung out/traveled to India/moved around the country on their parent’s dime – kinda just like grad school! 90% of ‘em are probably completely out by now & waiting for another Page France album. And prob still wearing their neckbeads…
Comments or questions – hit me up on my tumblr! Super srs!!
When the fuck is tr00 krishnacore gonna hit? Y NO tumblersluts rep Krishna? Did Krishna robes inspire the Snuggly?