Dílseacht is a Gaelic word meaning pride or loyalty. Tommy Kane has this lexeme inked on his wrist, and there is nothing I can think of that is more fitting for him (except perhaps the Blind Justice tattoo he has on his thigh, but that one is fitting for other reasons.) A young man of Irish decent as one can tell by his freckles, fair skin and ebony hair, he is unfalteringly loyal to and in everything he does.
Tommy is a rising junior studying English at Skidmore College. His major and athletics have defined his time at the small liberal arts college nestled in Saratoga Springs, NY, and he’s loved his college experience thus far. Though he grew up and played in a lacrosse-crazed New Jersey suburb, he wasn’t recruited to play collegiately so he took his immense love for the sport to walk on to the Division III team at Skidmore and has been playing since stepping foot on campus as a freshman.
“I’ll endorse playing a college sport to anyone who asks, it’s so sick. You get to campus your first day and you automatically have all these friends, and you’ll always at least be friendly with everyone on the team. Also, it truly does help with school work; keeping you on track struggling through the workload and athletic schedule with all of your best friends.”
The stereotypical image of a lax dudebro might include an array of pastel garments from Vineyard Vines, a trust fund and a Spotify library full of EDM and rap, but Tommy strays from the path. With an affinity for the genre of hardcore, his passions seem to be worlds apart but they meet seamlessly in Tommy. If you dug through his t-shirt drawer and his Spotify library, you’d likely find bands such as Heavy Chains, Losin’ It, Get Real, Regulate, Blind Justice and many more.
Back in senior year of high school, Tommy got his first taste of hardcore at The Stone Pony where we had gone to see pop-punk giants The Story So Far. Rotting Out, a now-defunct band from LA, was support on their fall 2013 US tour and Tommy was immediately drawn to the gritty, aggressive sound that was hardcore music.
“The first hardcore band I listened to was Rotting Out. It was mad cool to me because it was so radically different from the pop punk I had been listening to, but I could still dig it. So angry and raw – that dude Walter, their lead singer, had the nastiest voice.”
Just this month Tommy trekked to music festival “This Is Hardcore” in Philadelphia to spend a weekend in mosh pits (and likely bleeding and bruising as a result) and mingling with other members of the scene: musicians and fans alike. A genre so niche means that many of the bands are pretty small scale and thus easy to access. It’s a lot easier for fans like Tommy to connect with the favorite artists when the genre is essentially underground.
Tommy fronts a hardcore band by the name of Here To Stay, in which he plays with his little brother Danny (bass) and friends Anthony (drums) and Tom (guitar). The group has released two demos so far and has new music on its way. By the nature of the hardcore community, they’ve been able to form relationships with other bands and musicians, but not without a struggle.
“Hardcore is a funny thing, man. To say it briefly, my friends and I are kinda rejects in the hardcore community around here. The few homies I have, we’ve all gotten amazing experiences from hardcore. I would have liked to make some more friends by now, but it doesn’t keep me up at night. If you go into hardcore looking for anything other than feeling amazing listening to a record or pitting at a show, you’ve come to the wrong genre.”
Music has always been important to Tommy, ranging from pop-punk bands like The Wonder Years to classics like his all-time favorite Bruce Springsteen and Red Hot Chili Peppers whose bassist, Flea, was Tommy’s initial inspiration to play music.
Despite how difficult it can sometimes be to get on the lineup for a show, Tommy finds the magic that makes it worthwhile when he performs.
“It [Here To Stay] is such a low-key thing at this point, so we sort of have to scrounge for shows but there are still times when I play shows that I look up for a second and realize how distinct and temporary this opportunity is. So, that’s something I value from the experience.”
While hardcore and lacrosse both occupy large portions of Tommy’s heart, the rest of it is reserved for his family, his girlfriend Natalie and “the few who tolerate me as a friend: Tom, Josh, Will and Ian.” At the end of the day, he’s a person who loves fiercely and with reckless abandon. Pride and loyalty are the sharpest parts of Tommy Kane’s personality; he exudes both in everything he loves and it shows. He is loyal to his passions, but at the root of it all he’s loyal to himself, and that’s pretty punk rock.
Featured/2nd photo by Michelle Rose Photography