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Toby Morse - H2O, Hazen St, SEOG, NYHC, Youth Crew ...
  -- Friday, February 02, 2007

Toby H2O, Toby Hazen St, Toby1, Toby SEOG ... He goes by many names, but his message is universally themed: true till death, don't forget your roots, drug free youth, young til I die, ... Cliche phrases to some, but for Toby, hardcore is a way of life. Check this interview for a snapshot into Toby's life. Pics borrowed from MySpace and NikeTalk.

HYE? - Yo Toby, how's your edge?

Toby1 - My edge is great! 36 yrs going strong!

HYE? - Let's start with the basics. How did it all begin for you? How were you introduced to punk and hardcore? Similarly, how were you introduced to straight edge?

Toby1 - My older brothers would take me to shows when I was 12 (1982), my mom was always working trying raise 3 boys alone. So my bros would take me out to shows in providence, ri (prolatarit, idle rich, vicious circle, descendents, impact unit, the FUs etc) were some of my 1st shows. I heard of minor threat when they came out, and I had never tried anything as far as drugs, alcohol etc before them anyway, I just sk8ed everyday and read thrasher mag. But when I heard this amazing hxc band and the fact that they didn't party like me, I was like holy shit! I'm not the only person who doesn't want to drink and fit in.

HYE? - It's obvious that Straight Edge is important to you. Can you picture where you would be today if you had never considered a drug free lifestyle?

Toby1 - I have an ocd personality. So my friends always say if I drank I'd be a alcoholic! I'd be fucked up for sure!

HYE? - You started a company in 2006 called Straight Edge OG. For those who don't know, break it down for them, and tell us the current status of the brand. Check this pic someone posted up on the WDYWT thread on NikeTalk.

Toby1 - SXEOG (means sxe original guy or old guys hahah) Basically besides porcell, civ, steve ready, sweet pete and a couple other old youth crew cats, NO one is sxe anymore. We are the OGs from the Youth Crew 80s days! And its just fun mock designs some original too.

HYE? - A lot of older dudes in the scene are bummed on streetwear's emergence in a lot of the current hardcore merch. Most long for simple schism styled shirts. You however have gone the opposite direction and have embraced the street wear scene. Can you describe your feelings on the merging styles and how you came to be hooked up with The Hundreds?

Toby1 - Man, people starting their own clothing companies is like people starting their own record labels and fanzines back in the day, it's the way people are expressing themselves and being DIY (believe it or not) most of these small comp are starting with a couple people that have passion, vision, artistic skills and some good connections. Its dope! I back it 100% anything to go against the 9 to 5 life! That's hardcore to me.

HYE? - What's the current status of Hazen St and how did it come about? How did you get all those hardcore dudes to sign onto such a project, and what was the intent of the band (blow up, chill with Kurt Loeder or was it just playing music)?

Toby1 - Me and chad just were talking about writing some songs together and I asked him to think of some people that he'd love to have play with us (like a wish list) and he did and I did and we made some calls, some demos and everyone was down. Just for fun, nothing more. Everyone started flying out to l.a and wed fly to ny and we started writing and rehearsing etc. Made a demo that got into the hands for GC twins and the rest is history (I guess) making that record with everyone was one of the best times and experiences of my whole music career. I love and I'm very proud of that record and everyone in HS, everyone worked hard on it. We did some crazy tours GC, Warped, SOTY, Japan (NFG & Yellowcard) and P.O.D. Real fun diverse crowds.

Current status is that we played 2 shows in 2006 and they were fun. Hopefully we'll record something new in 2007.

HYE? - As H2O blew up on an international level and Hazen St went big time, do you think you ever lost focus on Little Johnny Straight Edge and 14 year old Sue Hardcore? Did becoming a huge sensation cause a disconnect between you and "the scene?"

Toby1 - When h20 started touring 200 shows a year and never being home, I think we had our own scene whatever town we were in that night. We always repped nyc where we went and when we played at home we our h20 scene. You gotta remember h20 started in nyc, but none of us were born there, like a lot of the nyhc bands actually.

But we always went to shows when we were home supported younger band and still to this day, I have every piece of fan mail I have ever gotten and I have responded to every person. We were and still are about the kids (not fans) and that to me was more important than the scene (which came and went every summer)

1988: No For An Answer; Toby, Nicole Sxe, Chris Daly, ...

HYE? - Here's a deep one. On the first H2O lp, there is a skit about how hardcore is more than music, "it's a way of life." I'll agree to a certain extent. Punk is definitely a lifestyle, but in my opinion, hardcore has always been "an experience." Go to a show, listen to a record in your bedroom, hang out with friends and discuss hardcore ... Hardcore to me is experience first, music second. The music takes a back seat to the feeling of stage diving or just screaming along at the top of your lungs while you bedroom mosh. Would you say you agree with that?

Toby1 - I agree, but being in a band for 11 yrs is different then going to the shows and getting that experience until the next show. We lived & breathed it every night in japan, europe, south america, usa, canada etc playing 20 shows in a row and having h20 become our life, missing peoples weddings, funerals and peoples relationships ending cos of a tour, its was our lives and still is now. We never went to college. I started going on the road with bands in 89, GB, SOIA, Killing Time.

Fuck yeah, the smell of a sunday matinee, diving, singing, creepy crawling made us feel more alive and when I saw GB last summer, I felt like I was 17 yrs old. You can't get that feeling from anything else. For me that's the closest I've prob come to feeling high! I always say hxc ruined my life joking with my boys, but in reality I met my wife at a hxc show, I traveled the world, people have h20 tats worldwide, a kids parent put my lyrics on there sons grave stone (that's fucking nuts) I get the most sad and inspiring emails and messages everyday from kids. Since h20 started there hasn't been one day that hxc hasn't been a part of me and my life.

HYE? - Time to back off the serious tip. Here's a few of "which would you rather" questions. If you feel strongly about your answer, go ahead and elaborate.

Which would you rather?

a) Get a Boston red sox tattoo on your neck that will ensure the Yankees win the next 10 years of World Series?
b) Get no tattoo and ensure the yankees lose the next 10 years, while the Sox win them all?

Toby1 - B. Hoya would kill me!

a) Mosh with Michael Rappaport at a Slipknot (not Rev) show?
b) Hook up my unemployed actor friends with Michael Rappaport's contact info with the phrase, "Tell him Toby sent you?"

Toby1 - A. We'd wear masks for sure

a) Play to a packed venue in Spain?
b) Play to a half packed venue in NYC?

Toby1 - A. I love spain (not as much as NY of course)

a) Have a SEOG shirt spotted in a very infrequently played Heroes (NBC) commercial?
b) Have a SEOG shirt spotted on Nicole Ritchie as covered by every blog and trashy newsstand journal?

Toby1 - B. Except we don't make infant size in our t shirts

HYE? - 2006 seemed like the year of year for reunions. What is your take on old bands reuniting? What were you feeling when the Gorilla Biscuits took the stage at CBs?

Toby1 - GB never toured on Start Today, so it was about time even if it was 20 years later (you know I sang back ups on the whole record). I lived in the GB house in jackson heights, queens in 88 (best times). I got goose bumps when the horns started! Felt like I was 17 again. They were incredible man, best reunion ever!

HYE? - There is a very short list of people who have been "straight edge" for 20+ years. How come so few people actually hit that milestone? I'm sure you are the opposite of "Hardline" but what's your take on edge breaking?

Toby1 - I always have said the ones that preached and pointed their fingers and judged others and were so militant fell the hardest! They usually go from the most sxe to the most heroin addicts! Pretty sad. I'm drug free for me! Never gave a fuck what people thought. I grew up with people who drank, smoked weed & did coke and I still do. To each his own!

HYE? - Any final thoughts or parting shots?

Toby1 - Check out

HYE? - [Editor's note: This last comment wasn't part of the interview, but it's amusing so I'll include it.] ps. Thanks for kicking me off of the loft spot at CBs during the last GB reunion show. hahah. That would have been a prime spot to see HR do his thing. And of course, GB.

Toby1 - Sorry man, civ only wanted friends and fam on the stage. Hope you got a good spot off stage.

Or you were diving all night!

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