Straight to the edge

xCrucial Attackx

Don’t Drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? The straight edgers from xCrucial Attackx—-clockwise from top left, Bassit “Alexx” Marko, “All Ages Joe” Ferguson, Drummer “Crucial Chris” McLendon and guitarist “Mac Attack” Schopen—-rock out sober.

Don’t Drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? The straight edgers from xCrucial Attackx—-clockwise from top left, Bassit “Alexx” Marko, “All Ages Joe” Ferguson, Drummer “Crucial Chris” McLendon and guitarist “Mac Attack” Schopen—-rock out sober.

Photo By David Robert

XCrucial Attackx is about to embark on an East Coast tour, but will be back for a Reno show July 10. Stop by Sound and Fury Records, 271 Wonder St., (Joe Ferguson and Mac Schopen are co-owners) for info about the show. Also available there July 7 will be two new seven-inch records by the band.

The “x"s in the name aren’t actually pronounced, but they’re there to let everyone know that xCrucial Attackx is a straight-edge band. At some club shows, the doorman will draw an “x” on the hand of underage patrons so that bartenders will know not to sell them alcohol. During the 1980s, this symbol became synonymous with the straight-edge movement, a hardcore punk subset that advocates total sobriety. Straight-edgers draw the black “x"s on their hands—even if they’re well over 21—to show their support of a drug- and alcohol-free life. “By having the “x"s there, you can just see the name and know we’re a straight-edge band—so you won’t have to ask your friends,” says xCrucial Attackx drummer Chris “Crucial Chris” McLendon.

Many of today’s straight-edge bands have a slick, muscular, metallic sound and a humorless attitude that’s quite far removed from the music’s punk-rock roots. Though xCrucial Attackx’s sound has fist-in-the-air gusto, and the lyrics are rife with middle-finger sentiments, the band approach the music with fun, punk enthusiasm.

“When we were first starting out, there weren’t really any local bands that were both straight-edge and punk,” says xCrucial Attackx guitarist Mac “Mac Attack” Schopen. The band’s “high-energy thrashcore” takes direct inspiration from its early ‘80s hardcore forefathers Minor Threat and 7Seconds without the chug-chug metal mosh breakdowns that are central to the sound of many straight-edge bands.

“We promote chug-free youth,” says Schopen.

The band formed in December 2000. The original quartet included McLendon, Schopen, vocalist Joe “All Ages Joe” Ferguson, and Jensen Ward (now of Seattle-based Iron Lung) on bass.

“The very first time that I ever played drums was xCrucial Attackx’s first practice,” says McLendon, who previously had played bass in a number of great Reno bands including Vae Victus and Crushstory. “And in the five years since then, I haven’t really progressed at all. If something’s totally rad the first time, why mess with it?”

After releasing a seven-inch record in 2001, the band went on a hiatus before reconvening in 2004 with new bassist Alex “Alexxx” Marko.

The band only plays all-ages shows.

“Music should be for everybody,” says Ferguson. “Bands that play bar shows choose to leave people out. We want to include everyone.” And this even includes xCrucial Attackx’s non-straight-edge friends. “We love ’em,” says Ferguson. “We welcome everyone.”

The band advocates straight-edge as a choice for personal betterment.

“I want my experiences to be genuine,” says Schopen. “The good times and the bad times. I want to feel things because that’s how I’m feeling—not because I’m drunk. I want to keep a clear head. I never want to be in the position to have to explain my actions because I was drunk.”

The members of xCrucial Attackx espouse other personal and political causes, including veganism and animal liberation. They have ties to activist organizations like the alternative transportation group Critical Mass, the hunger-fighting Food not Bombs and the anti-war Nevada Students for Peace and Solidarity. Song topics range from the pro-bike, anti-DUI “Vigilante Bikers,” to the rather questionably named anti-sexism song “Putting the Clit, Back in the Pit.” Another song, “How We Roll,” is about having good clean fun: bicycling, swimming, and rocking out at all-ages shows.