Writing a section in a new zine was not part of my to do list this year, but I guess when Pete asked me to do this, it kinda made me wonder why me and what could I have to add. Well anyway, these kind of questions play tunes in your head and it takes a while before you start answering them. You kinda have to piece the whole thing together and then work it all back, which brought me to this article, or confession if you like.
For those who don’t know me, let me introduce myself. My name is Ashley De Beer, I do vocals for South African band Truth & Its Burden, a progressive hardcore band that use their stage presence to deliver a message of hope and change. When I think about this in itself, I guess the answer seems rather straight forward: Pete wanted a perspective from a guy who sings in a band that spreads a positive message. I’m gonna take a rather different approach to this whole idea, because essentially if you have ever read up about Truth & Its Burden or seen one of our shows, you would know exactly what we’re about. You would surely recognise that we talk about positive topics between songs and so on. Because every life changing experience is very personal, hardcore being one of them, I felt it necessary to touch base on a recent turnaround point in my life…
A lot has been happening over the last year, enough to break any person or at least bring them to their knees. For me, last year defined the word ‘strength’. I truly had been faced with every difficult choice/experience that I could handle. To put this all into perspective, allow me to list the really memorable shortfalls for 2009. I went through a six-year break up to start the year off, I had a car accident that financially dented my pocket… properly, I challenged death a couple times with drunk driving. I used alcohol to mask the problems and loss of love. I had huge issues at work, another result of late nights partying it up. I met many people who acted as friends, played the role of trustworthy, stabbed me in the back etc etc. I had been pushed aside by many girls who I was interested in, further driving me to wonder deeper into drinking, making matters way worse. Band tours failed countless times with huge financial losses, this was a result of needing an escape from everything, re-channeling your focus to something more positive, yet failing still because the reasons behind your actions are not in the right place.
In amongst all the failing and defeat I felt the world was dishing out, I was faced with running a brand new small time indie record label, which also houses a distro. I started playing baseball. I do graphic design and took a few projects on. I book tours and shows and mid last year managed to book the Have Heart and Shipwreck AD tour. Filmed a DVD of a festival I put together, which should come out mid-2010. Truth & Its Burden toured 3-4 times around South Africa, we recorded our debut album and my record label Hope Haven records later released TAIB’s album. I managed to get distribution in Asia, USA, South Africa and then Europe for the release. I started booking our European tour for March 2010. I came to my senses and beat alcohol abuse and quit the drink altogether a week before the Have Heart tour. I lost 20kgs and started beating bad eating habits too. The year ended off in a mid zone with me meeting an amazing person and then two weeks later being forced to resign from my job on unfavourable terms. Thus, the year ended off with a stressful smile, if you can imagine what that feels or looks like.
This was 2009, a year that I spent praying to God each day for a sign of improvement, only to get knocked down each day. Most people would turn away and quit out right. I guess its a little more difficult to quit when your trust is so deeply embedded in God that all you know how to do is get back up again. I will openly admit that at times I wondered where all this was going and when it would truly just end. I cried, I reached full blown low points where I asked myself why I even wrote positive lyrics. It was not in my nature to question myself or my part in society, because ultimately I knew who I was, my plan in life and I always worked hard on achieving goals and dreams.
Through all the turmoil of 2009, a turning point came in the form of a hardcore band named Have Heart. I was familiar with their music having both their albums as well as their EP, but all through had never really taken the time to read their lyrics. With the tour that I had booked reaching a week before their arrival; I decided to read through what would be the most gripping lyrical adventure I had ever been on. From start to finish I was smashed to my feet and told to get back up again a better person. It was a moment of true reflection and self understanding. I had felt trapped inside my new found addiction for alcohol with no certain way out, and for the first time I’d been presented with the right words at the right time. The lyrics that had the most immediate impact on me had to have been ‘Life is hard enough’ taken from their debut full length The things we carry. Boasting such lyrics as “I’ve learned the strength to fucking push it aside”, Pat Flynn pushing his straight edge message deeper than any SXE band had ever done before. I had heard the voice of Karl from Earth Crisis, Ian from Minor Threat and many more, but none had matched the urgency with which Have Heart had done.
Music should represent the idea that change exists, music should prove that new ideals can work if we put them to the test. The music we all love, appreciate and live for shelters some of the most insightful people of our generation. It is their thought provoking lyrics that will never cease to challenge our lifestyles.
I have truly learnt that change exists within us all, it took time to have this revealed to me, but I am especially glad that it came in the form of hardcore and music. The friends, the culture, the message, the memories that I carry with me each day have helped me through testing times and kept me well grounded. Being an active part of the hardcore scene is especially important to me because it affords me the opportunity to reach out and introduce new kids to this positive change that I too have experienced within a sound. In the words of Strike Anywhere…