The year is 2001.
It’s the summer between eighth grade and freshman year. My hair is spiked, my shoes are Etnies, and you can bet I’m wearing a ball chain choker. The Ataris, Blink 182, and Five Iron Frenzy are stuck in my Discman. I spend most days at my friend Boo’s house “practicing” with our pop punk band Superhero. Our older friend Kelly, on whom we all had crushes, drives us around in her Toyota Tercel, popping in whatever CDs we all love.
One day, she pops in Tooth and Nail’s Song From the Penalty Box, Vol. 4 (a classic, to be sure). Nestled between pretty standard punk tracks was “To the Tune of 5,000 Screaming Children” by The Juliana Theory. It was as revolutionary as the riot described in the lyrics. We would listen to it over and over again.
December 18, 2001. It’s my fifteenth birthday. The first semester of high school has completely undone all of the carefree days of the summer. I was stuck between pretty heavy feelings for a couple girls, one of whom couldn’t stand me, the other lived a state away. Also there was the whole 9/11thing that seriously messed with my teenaged view of the world. Suddenly, Blink 182 wasn’t talking to me as much.
My family is on vacation in Florida. My parents take me to a record store to find a present. As I search through the CDs (nobody cared about vinyl in 2001, remember), I look through all the old familiar names uninspired.
Then, I see it. The Juliana Theory.
I look on the back–5,000 Screaming Children is on there (as well as “If I Told You This Was Killing Me, Would You Stop,” which was on another great comp)
I buy Emotion is Dead (along with Understand This is a Dream and The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most by Dashboard Confessional). Over the next few days, I cycle through the three pretty quickly, but Emotion is Dead grabs me the hardest. Its blend of emotive rock and roll, hardcore screams, and dancehall-ready electronics up-end my musical pallet.
I stopped gelling my hair on that trip. For the next three years of high school, I would wear it long. I traded my Etnies for Converse All Stars. My cargo shorts (worn below the knee with knee-high socks underneath) were replaced by slim fitting jeans. I developed an affinity for sweaters.
Over the next few years, my tastes would expand to bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, Further Seems Forever, Taking Back Sunday, Thursday…
No exaggeration at all: I once found a magazine spread outlining the “emo” look, and it was literally what I was wearing. I was the walking, talking version of the Prehistoric Emo Kid on YourSceneSucks.com.
And that is literally thanks to this album.
(but it sucks that they added a fade to Emotion is Dead pt. 2 before the funk bass comes in for the vinyl version)