When did you first get the idea for this book?
It’s hard to say exactly, but in retrospect I think I’ve wanted to do something on this subject matter ever since I first started getting involved in subcultures when I was 12 or 13. There really were no underground scenes in my hometown on the South Shore of Boston and not too many kids from there were into punk or skate or whatever else, so if you were, you really stuck out. And you weren’t just judged by other kids because you weren’t wearing Abercrombie; you were judged by other kids’ parents, teachers, local cops, everyone. It wasn’t necessarily because people thought you were bad, but they wondered about you. In the end, though, I think that just made me more dedicated to being involved in those scenes, because I loved proving people’s presumptions wrong. Yes, I looked different and went to punk shows in other towns on the weekend instead of going to football games and house parties, but I was an honor student, I was the editor of the school literary magazine, I wasn’t messed up on drugs, and I loved my family.
For a long time I think my parents had a hard time with me “being different.” Not because they thought I was a bad seed, but because they wanted me to have the best life possible, whether that be in terms of good friends, good career opportunities, or whatever else. They didn’t want other people to judge me, and in turn, I’m sure they also didn’t want to be judged. As a parent, I’m sure you don’t want other people in town thinking that because your kid is different you somehow failed in your parenting. Once I realized that, I became even more resolute in my desire to, on the one hand, positively promote and contribute to subcultures, but on the other hand, to make my parents proud.
It took a long time for me to come up with the concept for this book, because it took a long time to figure out what exactly I wanted to convey. In the end, though, I’m very happy with it. Not only were the contributors excited to participate in it, but also my parents were very excited about the final product, which was huge for me.
If there is one thing that you want people to take from this book, what is it?
The world would be a far better place if we would take the time to try to identify with others on some level before judging or dismissing them. Also, there are a lot of people out there who think that choosing to live life against the grain is the easy, cop-out way that involves zero responsibility and a lax work ethic. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What demographic do you want to read this book, the people who know the scene, or the people who don’t understand the scene?
Both. I wanted this book to be something that the contributors, or in other words the individuals involved in subcultures, could be really excited about. This was a chance for them to celebrate their families and talk about a part of their lives that they don’t usually get asked about. This was also put together with the people not familiar with the contributors or their subcultures in mind, so that they might identify with them in some way or see them in a different light. Family is what pretty much all of us have in common, so my aim with the book was to put all participants on the same level, whether they be my friends, my family, or the legends who I admired when I was growing up.
What question do you wish an interviewer would ask and why?
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night panicking that maybe you should have taken that stable, corporate job seven years ago when you graduated from university? More often than I’d like to admit, but life’s too short to not try your hardest to follow your heart, and I’m happy knowing that I won’t wake up when I’m 60, unfulfilled, wishing that I had given it a shot.
Read a review of Gray's book here.