By: John Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman
Like it or not, the history of the OC metal scene owes a lot to the phrase “guyliner,” specifically a subgenre dubbed Metalcore that reared its head in the early 2000s. Brought forth by musicians who mixed Iron Maiden guitar chops with brutal break downs and glam rock and throat-shredding vocals, Orange County bred several bands that took the genre to mainstream heights. In a recently released book called Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal by Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman, OC gets some special attention in it's chapter on Metalcore, including an interview with now defunct band Eighteen Visions who broke up in 2007. This year, the former members were sad to report that Mick Morris, the former bassist of the band, passed away in June. But before they called it quits, 18V played a definitive role in shaping and styling a subgenre of Metalcore that would come to be known as “Fashioncore,” a once popular style to which Hot Topic still owes a huge debt of gratitude. Hear from the band about how Fashioncore first came about.
From Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal:
Even with its revolving-door lineup, Eighteen Visions played a major role in changing the look of California metalcore. During their peak years in the early 2000s they dressed sharply, wore makeup, and styled their hair like glam musicians. The band was
musically innovative as well, changing styles over the course of their career from bruising hardcore metal to melodic alternative rock, predating similar moves by Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold.
BRANDAN SCHIEPPATI: Since Javier was in hair school, his whole thing was wanting to cut everybody's hair. So we all had freaky haircuts. We modeled ourselves a little bit after Unbroken, who were very sharply dressed because they were
the heaviest band around and they didn't look it, which we thought was fuckin' cool.
RYAN DOWNEY: If anyone is responsible for what became fashioncore, it's Javier. He went to cosmetology school; he was a hair stylist. James Hart was also a hair stylist at a salon in Orange County. Brandan Schieppati was going to cosmetology school, which he eventually dropped out of. But Javier really led the charge with crazy hairstyles and pink and blond and blue chunks in their hair. A lot of the guys were fit and really into working out, and they had this sexual energy onstage, which was very much taboo in the hardcore scene.
JAMES HART: When we were doing Yesterday Is Time Killed in 1999, we were working at the mall in some boutiques, where we were introduced to different clothing. We started getting into that stuff and we took on this attitude that we're not just getting up there playing our songs to a crowd. We gotta put on a show and look different and stand out from the people we're playing to. And if it meant putting on a dress shirt and a tie, that's what we did. So, by the time we put out Until the Ink Runs Out in 2000 we started dressing a little slicker and combing our hair and putting on more of a show.
MICK MORRIS: I hadn't seen those dudes in a year, and then my band xCLEARx toured with them. The first show of that tour was in Chicago and they looked completely different. When they went on I was like, “This might be the fuckin' coolest thing I've ever seen.” After touring with them for a couple weeks, I said, “Hey, if you guys ever need a guitar or bass player I'll move to California.” I was kind of joking, but I kind of meant it.
JAMES HART: Things weren't panning out with Javier. He was showing up really late to practice or leaving really early, or both. His lack of interest or lack of commitment to the band was holding us back. We had written an entire record and were ready to record it, and he was like, “I don't like that part, I don't like that song.” We were like, “Dude, that's too bad. You weren't here at all for the writing process.” He played on part of Until the Ink Runs Out. Then on some of it, Keith [Barney] had to play bass because Javier didn't know the songs well enough because he wasn't showing to practice or couldn't play them.
See Also: *The 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time: The Complete List
MICK MORRIS: The summer of 2000, xCLEARx broke up and me and some friends flew up to Hellfest in Syracuse, which was a giant hardcore festival. Brandan took me aside and said, “Hey dude, wanna join the band? We're kicking out our bass player.” I thought about it for a day and then accepted. A few weeks later I learned all the songs in my bedroom, packed up my car, broke up with my girlfriend, quit my job, left my roommate, and drove to California.
BRANDAN SCHIEPPATI: At one point, Eighteen Visions had so many collectively strong personalities–even myself. It got to the point where I was a tenured person in the band responsible for a lot of the material. I carried a lot of the weight. I decided I wanted to make decisions and take the band heavier. I really wanted my opinion to be heard, and by that time, nobody wanted to hear it. They had the whole Guns N' Roses and Stone Temple Pilots crush going, and I was listening to At the Gates and Dissection.
Schieppati wasn't the only one unhappy with the band's new look and sound. After the image makeover, they were targeted by local rednecks and even some former fans. But they had the courage and attitude–and fighting skills–to stick to their guns. And
eventually their image paid off–especially for female fans.
RYAN DOWNEY: A lot of other guys were still wearing backwards baseball caps and basketball jerseys and camo shorts. Just looking like James and Brandan did was a bold move, and invited trouble.
MICK MORRIS: We never started crap, but we would get a lot of grief within the hardcore scene from kids who went, “Who are these faggots?” And we'd get the occasional asshole that would punch us or spit at us. If it wasn't from people in the crowd, it was outside. We would go to Del Taco and get in fights with big bro dudes who would give us a hard time for having styled hair, wearing eyeliner, or having tattoos. I've heard many, many times that we ruined the hardcore scene, and it's funny because a lot of bands today have the look that we introduced.