Krishnacore is a subgenre of hardcore punk which draws inspiration from the Hare Krishna tradition. Although some hardcore punk bands had already made references to Krishna Consciousness in the 1980s, the subgenre was established in the early 1990s by the bands Shelter and 108. The name is a portmanteau of "Krishna" and "hardcore".
Academic Colin Helb described krishnacore as "a subculture of a subculture of a subculture." The subgenre has been met with surprise by some observers due to the reputed contradictions between punk rock and Krishna Consciousness.
Punk rock and Hinduism have converged occasionally since the early days of the genre. Singer Poly Styrene of the English band X-Ray Spex joined ISKCON following the breakup of her band in 1980. On the New York hardcore punk scene, the main influence on some musicians to embrace ISKCON was the Washington D.C.'s hardcore band Bad Brains which, despite being Rastas, "grafted fervent spirituality onto an otherwise nihilistic and antitranscendental genre." One of the first members of its scene to adopt Krishna Consciousness was John Joseph of the Cro-Mags. New York bands Antidote and Cause for Alarm were among the first that began to explore Krishna Consciousness in both their creative and personal lives,[note 1] but the most prominent example was the Cro-Mags' debut album The Age of Quarrel (1986), whose title is a translation for the Hindu concept of Kali Yuga that is taught in Hare Krishna philosophy.
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The band Shelter was formed in 1991, and is credited with inventing krishnacore. It was founded by vocalist Ray Cappo (ex-Youth of Today), and quickly picked up guitarist Vic DiCara (ex-Inside Out), and a little later guitarist John Porcelly (also ex-Youth of Today). A defining characteristic of the band was that all its members were Krishna devotees, living together in ISKCON temples.
The genre is also strongly associated with Equal Vision Records, which was formed by Kalki Dasa (author of a pioneer Krishna-hardcore fanzine called The Razor's Edge), which he soon gave to Ray Cappo, who later sold it to Steve Reddy (who remains the label's owner today). There were not many bands in the genre. The other notable early act was 108 (formed by Vic DiCara after breaking from Shelter due to clashing with Ray Cappo's attitude towards "preaching"). Other bands published by Equal Vision - such as Refuse to Fall and Prema - were more short-lived and less completely dedicated to Krishna and/or the ISKCON establishment.
Although the Hare Krishna movement and many straight edgers shared the principles of refraining from drug use, vegetarianism and condemnation of illicit sex, the former also provided a transcendental and philosophical framework wherein lay these commitments. Academic Mike Dines states that krishnacore bands were "conscious of its own history and aesthetic." He highlights "the importance of the devotional doctrine of bhakti-yoga within this relationship; a doctrine that was to inform further the move from straightedge punk to Hare Krishna monk.’
Dines therefore brings together rasa and the idea of Nada-Brahma to highlight the ‘unique fusion of Western popular music and the Eastern-based Indian spirituality (and lifestyle) of the Vaishnavas.’ In turning the punk aesthetic towards the devotional and, in particular, the transcendental vibration of the holy name, Krishnacore became a site of expression for bhakti-yoga. Moreover, Dines states that ‘what provides validity to the connecting of Krishnacore and Indian aesthetics lies in the placement of those band members and associates who were involved in the scene.’ He concludes, ‘Ray Cappo, Robert Fish and Vic Dicara were not mere spectators of the Hare Krishna movement, but were indeed devotees themselves, reading and studying scripture, attending lectures and practicing the lifestyle of the devotee.’
The difference between krishnacore and bands such as Cro-Mags or Cause for Alarm, which previously made some connections between the Hare Krishna movement and the hardcore scene, was that the service to Krishna had become the sole objective of krishnacore.
- Both Antidote and Cause for Alarm released their debut recordings in 1983. In interviews, the frontmen of Antidote (Louie Rivera) and Cause for Alarm (Keith Burkhardt)[unreliable source?] both cite John Joseph of the Cro-Mags as the person who introduced them to Krishna Consciousness. Rivera said, "People lose track of what an influence that guy Johnny Joseph was at the time. He would be walking around trying to spread the word of the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna consciousness."
- Abbey & Helb 2014, p. 142. sfn error: no target: CITEREFAbbeyHelb2014 (help)
- Kuhn, Gabriel (March 2012). ""I'm Not the Flesh" Krishnacore und Straight Edge". Alpine Anarchist (in German). Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
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- Pike 2017, p. 146-147.
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- Ambrosch 2018, p. 146.
- Wynne, Chris (2018). "Antidote/Cause For Alarm NYHC 1983". Ineffecthardcore.com. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
- "Interview dengan Keith of CAUSE FOR ALARM". Betterday zine (in Indonesian). No. 26. November 2011. Archived from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
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- Eric S. Caruncho; Benedicto Cabrera; Crucible Gallery; SM Megamall (1995). Bencab's Rock Sessions. The Crucible Workshop. p. 43.
In 1995, the rock magazine Spin published an article noting the emergence of Krishnacore bands — hardcore bands whose lyrics preached devotion to Krishna. Now it can be told: the Wuds were there first, 10 years ahead of their time
- Behrman, Lorne (June 2000). Spiritualized. CMJ New Music Monthly. CMJ Network, Inc. p. 47. ISSN 1074-6978. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
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- Dines 2014, p. 150.
- Dines 2014, p. 148.
- Dines 2014, p. 152.
- Dines 2014, p. 154.
- Dines, Mike (2014). "The Sacralization of Straightedge Punk: Nada Brahma and the Divine Embodiment of Krishnacore". Musicological Annual: 147–156. doi:10.4312/mz.50.2.147-156.
- Helb, Colin (25 March 2014). "The Time is Right to Set Our Sight on Salvation". In Abbey, Eric; Helb, Colin (eds.). Hardcore, Punk, and Other Junk: Aggressive Sounds in Contemporary Music. Lexington Books. ISBN 0739176064. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
- Pike, Sarah M. (19 September 2017). "Liberation's Crusade Has Begun". For the Wild: Ritual and Commitment in Radical Eco-Activism. University of California Press. pp. 137–161. ISBN 0520967895.