MySpace, Bangs, and Being Deep: ‘Everybody Hurts’ Emo Survival Guide Turns 10

Maybe it wasn’t just a phase after all? Emo, typically associated with angsty teens and a muted fashion sense, was just hitting its cultural stride ten years ago. Developed partially through the Internet as a niche subculture in the late 90s/early 2000s that blossomed throughout the years, 2007 was around the time of its peak widespread appeal. Bands like My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco, and to a lesser extent The All-American Rejects and Fall Out Boy were gracing airwaves and MySpace pages everywhere. But so many people didn’t quite understand the culture, or what it meant. Where could they turn?

Enter Everybody Hurts. Billing itself as ‘An Essential Guide to Emo Culture’, it wanted to answer all the questions the mainstream had for real emos. What does it mean? What do you wear? Why is your hair so straight? The EMOtional rock scene suddenly had itself a travel guide, if a smart ass tongue-in-cheek one written by insiders. Authors Leslie Simon and Trevor Kelley were both Alternative Press writers when they took on the project, and the book eventually took on a life of its own.

Featuring tips, explanations, instructions and more, the authors led readers through everything emo. They even managed to touch upon emo ideology and its influences on movies, arts, literature and more (was Holden Caulfield the first emo?) And, 10 years later, the book’s become a snapshot of what counterculture was like then – while still providing smug commentary that can be laughed at today. For example, on fashion advice for emos:

DO layer. Nothing says emo like a cardigan over a hoodie over a tank top over a T-shirt. Just like the layers of an onion, the more clothing you can peel off, the deeper you are. DON’T put on a band’s T-shirt immediately after you buy it at the merch table. The maneuver screams emo amateur. Instead, if you’re a girl, shove the shirt in your tote bag, and if you’re a guy, stuff it into the back of your pants so it hangs like a tail. Acting like you don’t care is essential.”

Paperback and digital versions of the emo encyclopedia are still available on Amazon for about $10, so being curious won’t cost you much. And if you need any more convincing, the book even spawned a short tour featuring Warped Tour veterans Dashboard Confessional.

For a detailed account of how the book came together, including an interview with author Leslie Simon, be sure to check out the Alternative Press’ recent article on Everybody Hurts’ history.


Mathew Kahansky

Once upon a time, Mat studied journalism. That's how he became Alan's one-time intern and current-time contributor, and the rest is ongoing history - get it? Mat also studied biology and music, so he has a strangely specific knowledge set that doesn't really apply anywhere other than useless fun facts. He currently works for a music tech start-up in Halifax, and is a big fan of the em dash.

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