Thea is one of 10 siblings, two of them adopted; her mother is a high school maths teacher and her father, now retired, worked in special education. The family’s Mormon faith made music the subject of intense scrutiny, with even the most tamely suggestive lyric resulting in the radio being hastily switched off. Keen to police what else was being listened to, her parents didn’t allow headphones in the house. “I wasn’t able to listen to metal or punk or anything like that. It was considered weird.”
Curiosity is difficult to curb, though, and Thea’s was particularly piqued seeing someone with a tattoo of Black Flag’s iconic logo. It wasn’t just that those four misaligned bars were striking, she was intrigued by the idea that someone felt strongly enough about the image and what it represented to commit it to their flesh. Taking to the internet to “dig deeper”, she devoured YouTube videos and pored over Reddit threads alike, discovering a wealth of punk and hardcore bands, new and old, who articulated the same sense of dissatisfaction she felt.
“The basis of a lot of punk and hardcore is a drive for social reform and drawing attention to the issues of the time,” she says of this welcome gateway to a new world. “I loved the passion and expression. I was this little kid who was angry, listening to these bands who were angry, too. Plus, it was this taboo secret I was keeping that no-one knew about.”
Thea’s drug use was more difficult to hide, however, given she started using at age 11. “When people hear that they wonder how that could possibly come up in an 11-year-old’s mind. I wasn’t doing it for attention or any of that stuff. I just needed an escape. I tried [drugs] and thought that’s what I’d been looking my whole life. It basically stole all of my teenage years. I’m in recovery now and have to look at myself every day or I could go back [to using] in an instant.”