by Kyle Johnson
I have an incredibly vivid memory of the first time I heard Bad Brains. It was the first punk rock I had ever heard. I was fourteen years old, and I’m twenty-one now, but I can still conjure the feeling of that moment. The music tore through me. I felt the sound more than I heard it. It was summer, and I was staying in on a beautiful day to listen to music that a youtube algorithm was recommending me – but I’m so grateful I did. It made something click in my brain, like a light in a dingy basement being flicked on for the first time. I felt completely at home in the break-neck speed and sheer volume of the music. If you know that record, the first Bad Brains record, it is insane sounding even by today’s standards. I left the first playthrough of hundreds a completely changed kid. The world looked and felt different. I was in on some kind of secret.
I would later learn, of course, that I was far from being the only person that had this exact revelation. Very far. But it felt so special to me. I’ve played in bands and written at least a couple hundred songs since that day. I started a band with my best friends (Bad Nostalgia, check us out) that’s still kicking to this day, and we’ve played countless shows. We made an album by ourselves. I have grown as a person and lived through trial and tribulation as we all have. But that first experience hearing punk rock music was my watershed moment.
It encapsulated everything I love about music, art, and life. It’s all lead to me starting Pet Traits. I wanted to capture that feeling of excitement and wonder and use it as a creative power-tool. I threw out a lot of what I knew about music: the conventions, the chase of perfection, the safe bet, for total creative liberation. This is how I did it.