Born in New York in late 80s, Youth Crew is a sub-genre of hardcore, consisting of bands focusing on positive messages—borderline moralistic—a sort of punk nihilism that obliges its followers to look healthy, as if they hit the gym everyday and drink yoghurt all the time. Youth Of Today is probably the band most associated with the Youth Crew movement.
Sheila On 7 is one of the biggest pop-rock names in Indonesia's. Since their debut in 1996, the quartet—Duta, Eros, Adam and Brian—have released 10 studio albums, three of which have sold over a million copies.
So what does Sheila On 7, a pop-rock band from Yogyakarta, have to do with Youth Crew? All signs point to them being a secret Youth Crew band in disguise.
This statement might anger two fanbases at the same time. On one side, Sheila Gank—a term to describe Sheila On 7 fans—probably want to kill me for putting Sheila on 7 in the same category as loud, foot-stomping, camo-wearing American punk band Youth of Today.
I might also offend Youth Crew kids across Indonesia. They might think, "Sheila on 7 has never written a hardcore song!" (wrong); "They never released a windbreaker with the words 'Sheila On 7 Until We Win'." (true); or "They have never performed in camo shorts," (can't confirm). But the main concern is that their music is way too pop to qualify as Youth Crew.
Here are reasons why Sheila on 7 is a Youth Crew band to the core:
1. Sheila On 7 Constantly Write Songs About Friendship
A reggae band is not legitimate until they write a song about going to the beach. A thrash metal band is not considered cool until they sing about nuclear war. A Youth Crew band, of course, needs to yell about friendship and brotherhood before they get approval from Ray Cappo.
Youth Of Today is expectedly, in no shortage of friendship-themed songs. The blueprint song for this, is of course "Youth Crew" from their EP Can't Close My Eyes. Since that track, many have followed a similar formula (See: "Break Down The Walls"," A Time We'll Remember", and "One Family").
In order to keep thier Youth Crew ambitions secret, Sheila on 7 wrote songs about friendship even though they were masked as love songs: "Kita", "Sahabat Sejati" and "Kisah Kasih Untuk Masa Depan".
Perhaps three songs aren't representative of Sheila on 7's 21 year history. However, we all know it's about quality, not quantity. Sheila on 7's dedication to Youth Crew can be seen in how they basically sings the same lyrics, just in Indonesian. Need proof? On "A Time We'll Remember," Ray Cappo sings, "This is a time, this is a time we'll remember/ this is a time with lots of hope." On "Kisah Kasih Untuk Masa Depan," SO7's vocalist, Duta sings, "Bersenang-senanglah/Karena hari ini yang 'kan kita rindukan di hari nanti."
Okay, so the lyrics might not be exactly the same, but come on, Sheila on 7 wouldn't dumb enough just to plagiarize their heroes.
2. Sheila On 7 is All About Positivity
The first requirement of a Youth Crew band is adopting a positive attitude, staying positive when none of your friends think wearing Vans, New Balance or Saucony is cool anymore. Youth of Today's guitarist, Richie Birkenhead, defined straight edge as caring and having a positive outlook on life.
So if positivity is all it takes, Sheila on 7 most definitely meets the requirement. If anything, Ray Cappo should be jealous of Duta and friends. While Youth Of Today is hustling and bustling to spread positive outlook on life, Sheila On 7 actually finds it difficult not to seem positive about life all the time.
Even in their darkest moments, Sheila on 7 still manages to be positive. In "Dan", SO7 sings about coldly breaking up with someone. It's a typical break-up song, but the way he sings it is so straight edge. Duta doesn't sing "You're too good for me". Instead, he tells his lover: "Dan bila esok datang kembali/ Seperti sedia kala/ Dimana kau bisa bercanda" or "When tomorrow comes just like it used to/ You can joke about it". Isn't that something? To Duta, you can start joking around and laugh just one day after a breakup. Perhaps it was the Youth Crew spirit in Duta that forces him to see a new day as a start of something new—regardless how bad the break up was.
This positivity also pays the bills. Thanks to this single, SO7's debut album sold out. Sheila on 7 managed to achieve something most Youth Crew kids can't through music: to have a positive outlook and positive balance in your bank account.
3. A Member of Sheila On 7 'Went Religious"
Case A: Youth of Today's vocalist, Ray Cappo, got into Hare Khrisna movement, became a yoga master, changed his name to Raghunath and joined Equal Vision Records to release Khrisnacore bands while still making his own music.
Case B: Sheila on 7's guitarist, Saktia Ari Seno studied Islam and decided to hijrah or go religious, leaving the band behind. He changed his name to Salman Al Jugjawy, started Al-Jugjawy Records to release religious music and occasionally rejoin SO7.
Conclusion: Sheila on 7 is a true youth crew band and Cappo and Salman should start a new genre: hijrah-core.
4. They're big sports fans
Most Youth Crew kids love sports or at least, sporty clothes. Ray Cappo used to perform in Nikes and track pants. A 90s Youth Crew band, Ten Yard Fight, was obsessed with American Football. In Indonesia, it's not weird to see the jersey of Jakarta football team Persija being worn at Straight Answer shows.
Members of Sheila on 7—even though they never looked much like sportsmen—wrote a song about football titled "Pemenang" or "Winners". This is something that even local Youth Crew legends such as Straight Answer and Thinking Straight never accomplished.
5. "Sahabat Sejati" or "Best Friends" by Sheila on 7 is The Best Youth Crew Song of All Time
Of course at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how positive they are, Sheila On 7 can't be a Youth Crew band unless they've written a hardcore song.
Unbeknown to many, Sheila on 7 made a song that fulfils the genre's requirements when they wrote "Sahabat Sejati." On the surface, the song seems like a typical friendship and youth arrogance song (which is Youth Crew as fuck) accompanied by pop music. At best, music nerds would call it a power-pop.
However, upon further listening, the track is basically a hardcore song. Lone crunchy guitar intro that often triggers a moshpit? Check. Sing a long chorus? Check. However, the crucial Youth Crew moments happen at minute 2:34-2:45:
Within those ten seconds, SO7 managed to cram all basic compositions of a hardcore song: short guitar solo, breakdowns, friendship mosh-call, and an efficient one-word gang vocal.
Still not hardcore enough? Then just play the song in double speed. It'll probably sound like a Youth Of Today song.