Students welcome band with a positive message
It was no ordinary Wednesday when the musical group "Flintface" brought music and meaning to high school students at Northwestern.
Right from the start, all eyes were fixed on the auditorium stage littered with hundreds of paper messages strewn across the floor.
The crowd's enthusiasm grew with each subsequent song Flintface delivered, and the message wasn't lost on them.
"Some people have to fight just to get up in the morning."
Several factors influenced SADD to move forward and book Flintface.
"October is National Suicide Prevention Month and National Bullying Prevention Month," explained Angela Traub, guidance counselor and SADD adviser. "Red Ribbon week concluded the month.
"All these things convinced SADD this [would just be] a powerful culmination."
SADD Vice President Emma Conrey said Flintface expressed itself with passion.
"You could tell they really loved what they were doing," she said. "A lot of times people can say things to get you down, but you could block them out."
The message for her was "Be yourself. Don't worry about what other people say about you."
"I was physically and emotionally abused," admitted front man Joe Scorsone to the audience, "But we all have a story."
This was echoed in a line of one of the band's first songs, "Until you fall apart, you can never truly mend."
Scorsone said he's more apt to reveal personal things when in schools.
"There's power in breaking the ice," he said.
Flintface is a working band and in addition to Scorsone the group includes Darrell Jones (lead guitar and backing vocals), Billy Sims (bass), Chris DeMas (drums), Anthony Scorsone (rhythm guitar) and Beth Scorsone, vocalist.
"We've done high schools for the last couple of months so we're on tour playing high schools during the day and playing venues at night," Jones said. The students' reactions to the band was pretty positive.
"It's OK to just be yourself," said senior Sam Shablin. "Don't try to fit in and [compromise] your personality."
Monica Hosler couldn't agree more. She said their message could help kids "get through the hard times." She described Flintface's message as a "breakthrough sort of thing.
"Sure, there are things you need to do, but you should break out of your mold and have a bigger view of the world."
Senior Don Luke Winzer appreciated the performance.
"I was glad it was as good as it was," he said. "I think we need to hear things like this. People spend a lot of time in their heads.
"Just because something bad happens to you, you can get it behind you. There's always a silver lining."
Traub was equally pleased.
"It was everything and more," she said. "Joe has a positive message, but it doesn't come across as preachy. Music is a way to grab teenagers' attention and we can all relate to it.
"Joe showed me a bunch of students who were sending him Facebook and Twitter messages while they were in the audience listening to the music."
Traub arranged for Flintface to come to the high school after learning about the group from one of her Parkland colleagues.
"Parkland's adviser had gotten an email and wanted to get in touch with as many schools as possible," she explained "It was free and administration was all for it, so we started the booking process.
"I had a nice conversation with Joe and I liked where he was coming from.
"He wasn't really selling himself and was very approachable. He's going to Catty later this month."
"I'm not trying to be slick," said Scorsone. "People are intelligent enough to get the point. The main reason I don't get too literal is I want them to interpret the songs from their perspectives.
"I used to be a lot more vocal, but now I'm tying to make the future less about me and more about us."
Before the performance, Traub asked teachers to encourage students in their flex classes "to jot down an encouraging quote, phrase, song lyric, or personal story that had gotten them through tough times."
SADD Club members collected, screened and "littered" them on the stage. Ultimately, they would travel nationwide with Flintface and be posted on his social media.
"I have plans for them so something needs to happen," explained Scorsone. "I catch kids throwing a message on the stage, when they don't think anyone is watching. I started to get people to write [but] they can also take one."
"It was really cool. He's collected all of them from the shows he's had," said SADD Secretary Ellen Smith, who is glad "SADD is reaching out to bands."
She said the group offered "hope things can turn around in your life. [Flintface] is something different."
Scorsone is clearly invested in the music and the message but it wasn't always that way.
"I was a plumber before," he said with a smile. "I can solder a pipe to prove it."
"My heart is with the working class," he continued, proudly admitting he redid his house. "We recorded all the harmonies in the barn," he said.
The name of the group was inspired by a Biblical verse from Isaiah.
But Scorsone doesn't describe Flintface as a Christian group.
"I'm an artist who happens to be Christian," he said. "The entire world is not going to believe what I believe, but the greatest commandment is to love."