Joseph Stanley is a Princeton-based musician who specializes in the musical genre known as hardcore. Born and raised in Trenton, NJ, he moved with his family to Princeton in 1994. Growing up he listened to genres known as punk and hardcore or what he likes to say, “Everything on the rebellious and angry side.” He was given a guitar for Christmas and began taking formal lessons when he was twelve. Although making progress, he did not like attending the lessons due to an eagerness to go beyond the fundamentals and learn more modern techniques such as shredding. From an early age, he knew he wanted to play guitar like the bands he listened to and began teaching himself. Bands such as Slayer, (early) Metallica, and punk bands such as The Misfits and Black Flag inspired him. He became interested in bands that were more about a message than the music itself. Joseph was captivated by bands such as Hatebreed and Earth Crisis and their ability to give a meaningful message to their audiences.
Several years later he decided to join the army in 2001—a month after 9/11. He was at a point in his life where he was not eligible for many jobs and decided it was something he needed to do and served for five years. When he returned, he was a different person who had inner demons that left him feeling lost and uncertain of where to take his future. During this dark period of his life, he met a group of friends who were facing similar issues and were also very fond of the hardcore music genre. Their deep connection drove them to form the band “Sicker Than Most.” The band was therapeutic because it helped them all grow out of the issues they were having.
The band has changed since then with only a few original members. Joseph plays the guitar and also sings as the lead vocalist. He is very accustomed to switching roles in bands as he has done that all throughout his musical life in bands. As a young teenager he played guitar and sang as the vocalist in a band known as Clubberlang. The name Sicker Than Most came from the dark pains that both Joseph and his friends were feeling when he returned from the army. Each of them truly felt sicker than most people—which created their title. They like to focus on delivering hopeful messages to their audiences. In the interview Joseph says, “With every struggle you find some inner strength that you didn’t know you had. I try to relay that.”
The hardcore music genre is a heavier, more aggressive form of punk rock but with each generation the set form changes and dilutes. Different generations have different versions but all focus on an aggressive yet inspiring message. Joseph likes hardcore bands such as Anthrax and Slayer but does not agree with their message. He likes Hatebreed because the music focuses on perseverance and rising above the struggle. Earth Crisis, another favorite band, focuses on the straight edge aspect, promoting taking care of oneself and living a healthy life.
When asked about his personal feelings on the hardcore music genre Joseph replied, “It has become a way of life; it has pretty much given me everything I have. Everything I have has a direct correlation to hardcore music.” Joseph has even formed his own business titled Nameless prints which specializes in screen-printing and promoting the hardcore music scene. His business formed when he was looking to get t-shirts made for Sicker Than Most but found it too expensive. He decided to teach himself how to make shirts and after a few years created his own business and recently opened a store in Bristol, PA. He prints many t-shirts for hardcore bands and other businesses.
In his final reflections Joseph stated, “Some people probably think it’s a waste time or they look at it as a form of rebellion, but you jump ahead twenty years and you realize you built your life on it…if only people realized that when they are saying this to their kids, “You’re listening to this angry, heavy music, what are you going to do with your life? …Well, this is what I did with my life.” Through struggle, inspiration, and perseverance, Joseph has truly formed a world of happiness for himself—with its roots grounded in hardcore music.