As you can probably guess based on pretty much, well, everything about them, the guys of [artist id="2048924"]Semi Precious Weapons[/artist] weren’t exactly your average high school kids. Because of that, they were bullied just like every other teen who dares to stray from the social norm, and it’s why, in light of the suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi — and a host of other gay teen deaths in recent months — they decided to tell their stories to MTV News.
SPW hope that, much like the message of the “It Gets Better” campaign, they can convince their fellow outcasts that, yes, life does improve once high school is over. Very much so, in fact.
“In every school, there’s always the kid who gets it the worst, and I was, for sure, that kid,” frontman Justin Tranter said. “Every time you had to get in a line that was boys and girls, it was like my worst nightmare. A lot of kids I know got made fun of for being gay; that was not my issue, I was just called a girl endlessly. I definitely was that kid. And when I went to high school, my first semester in public high school, it actually got very, very violent, to the point where I had to switch schools,” he continued. “But luckily, I’m really blessed because my family was so cool that I never really felt bad about it … [and] I used it as motivation to do something cooler. So instead of just switching schools, I convinced my parents to let me go to the arts high school in the city, and I had to audition and get in, and it was a very nerve-racking experience, because not only did I want to go to an arts school, but I needed to leave the school.”
But while Tranter was picked on for his gender issues, SPW bassist Cole Whittle’s experience was a bit different. He was both bully and the bullied, which gives him a rather unique perspective on things.
“I went through a period where I realized what a little a–hole I was, and went around my middle school and actually apologized to a bunch of kids. And then, in high school, I wouldn’t say I was bullied, but being a musician wasn’t cool,” he explained. “I went from being a jock and a wrestler to being a musician over a summer. I showed up dressed like Kurt Cobain, and my friends were like, ‘What the?’ So, it has nothing to do with orientation, it just has to do with ‘you don’t look exactly like me,’ and I think that’s terrible.
“And also, bullying is worse now than it’s ever been in human history, because now you can be a cowardly bully. … Making fun of a kid 20 years ago in front of his face was bullying, but now you can sit at home and be an anonymous bully and reach three times the audience with your stupid computer,” he continued. “Back in the day, the worst thing you could do was have four people on speakerphone and call some kid a loser, and it’s like, ‘Aw, that sucks.’ But now it’s getting to the point where it literally can cripple you. So if anybody has a bully they want to send to me, I’ll choke him out, immediately.”
And obviously, both men are living proof that life does get better once high school ends. They tour the world with Lady Gaga , party hard (and often) and command a loyal legion of fans. In fact, they consider themselves, as Tranter puts it, “the coolest guys on the planet.” So much so that they wrote a song about their experiences — one that has become an anthem for their fellow outcasts.
“We have a song called ‘Statues of Ourselves,’ and now, when we’re playing these headline shows, we look out, and whether it’s girls who are overweight, or whether it’s teens with gender issues, or whether it’s the jock dude at our show who feels slightly out of place in our world, when that song starts, you can see [it] in people’s faces,” Tranter said. “This song it kind of, for me at least, it’s my personal anthem and my friends’ anthem, that it doesn’t matter that people think we’re losers, we think we’re cool enough that we’re going to build statues of ourselves.”
And if all of that isn’t enough, Whittle has one last piece of advice for anyone who’s being bullied or feels like they just can’t go on.
“Just know that the guys picking on you or saying sh–, one day, they’ll be sitting in a Cheesecake Factory somewhere staring at their wife,” he laughed. “And you’ll be doing what we get to do every night. Trust me.”
Join MTV, Brittany Snow and the Jed Foundation (with support from DoSomething.org, the Trevor Project, Reach Out, Active Minds and the Ad Council) in spreading the word that Love Is Louder. Upload your videos of support to Your.MTV.com and tweet your message with the hashtag #LoveIsLouder.