“The key to being positive and happy is doing what you love. I’m very lucky to still be able to do that. I don’t have a ‘Plan B’. I never really had one. I just live my life.”
Tattoos. High intensity sound. Stage diving. For the unfamiliar, it’s chaos. Scary. Violent, even. But to today’s guest, being hardcore straight edge is magical — a grassroots community dedicated to art, not anarchy. Celebrating life. And making the world a better place.
Best known around the world as the charismatic, energetic and always smiling front man for hardcore punk band H2O, Toby Morse was raised by a single mom in Massachusetts before moving to New York City in 1988 with a dream of becoming a musician. Immersing himself in the burgeoning punk rock scene of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he worked odd jobs. He was a roadie. And in 1994, inspired by Bad Brains, he formed a band that would ultimately become synonymous with the Straight Edge and Positive Mental Attitude (‘PMA”) movements.
Their self-titled debut album came out in 1996. Over the years, H2O has played alongside acts like No Doubt and Misfits. In 1998 and 1999 they joined the Warped Tour. Still together, the band continues to pack venues the world over, including a recent European tour that featured Toby’s teenage son Max on drums.
A dedicated vegan who has never himself touched drugs or alcohol, Toby is also a family man, self-professed “Emo Dad” and the founder of One Life One Chance — a non-profit dedicated to inspiring elementary, middle and high school students to make healthy choices and live a drug-free life. Through public speaking engagements, Toby informs kids how possible it is to maintain PMA, break stereotypes, be a leader, and maintain self-respect.
Toby first came on my radar a couple years ago by way of podcast favorite, Cro-Mags frontman and fellow hardcore PMA warrior John Joseph. A friend of JJ’s is a friend of mine, so I got hip to Toby’s Instagram and quickly fell in love with his consistent flow of uplifting posts. His family-centric high vibe. The gentle, beautiful and uncompromising way he celebrates individuality, honoring the misfits and uplifting the weirdos. And his unwavering commitment to serving kids with his enthusiastic message of hope and positivity.
I needed to know more.
So here we are.
Of course, this is a conversation about Toby’s life. Being raised by older brothers who taught him to skate, introduced him to the music that would define his life and scared him straight. It’s about what he learned about life from Bad Brains, Cro-Mags and Napoleon Hill. It’s about veganism. Parenting. Art. And, of course, PMA.
But most of all, this is a conversation about honoring non-conformity — exalting what makes you uniquely you. It’s about the importance of community and family. And it’s about the courage to blaze your own path.
One thing is for sure — I’ve found a new friend in Toby. I’m inspired by his wisdom and example. And I’m honored to share his extraordinary life with you today.
Peace + Plants,
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Note: One of the best ways to support the podcast is to support the sponsors. For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity url’s and discount codes, visit my Resources page and click “Sponsors”.
- Connect With Toby: Instagram | Twitter | H2O | Hazen Street
- One Life One Chance: Website | Twitter | Facebook
- OLOC Podcast: Website | Instagram | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify
- H2O (band): Merchandise | Facebook
- Hazen Street (band): Facebook | YouTube
- CBS New York: ‘One Life One Chance’ – Band Inspires Manhattan Teens
- Newbury Port News: Positive Mental Attitude
- The Hard Times: Toby Morse Celebrates 30th 15th Birthday
- The Aquarian: An Interview with H2O: Still Making A Splash
- The Aquarian: An Interview With H2O: My Friends Look Out For Me Like Family…
- fuse TV: (video) ‘Life in 1 Day’: Watch H2O’s Toby Morse Give Us a Personal Tour of L.A.
- YouTube: Hanging Out With H20’s Toby Morse | fuse
- YouTube: H2O – Live on Conan 05/27/01 | Eyesore Video Channel
- YouTube: 25 Years of H2O :: A Conversation Between Toby Morse and His Son Max | THE HUNDREDS
Notable People Discussed:
- John Joseph: punk rock signer for Bloodclot / Cro-Mags and multi-episode podcast guest
- Travis Barker: drummer for the rock band Blink-182, musician, producer, author and podcast guest
- Moby: DJ, record producer, singer, songwriter, musician, photographer, animal rights activist and podcast guest
- Bad Brains: Hardcore punk band formed in Washington, D.C., in 1977. Widely regarded as among the pioneers of the hardcore punk rock scene
- Napoleon Hill: was an American self-help author best known for his book Think and Grow Rich* which is among the 10 best selling self-help books of all time
- Kevin Seconds: musician, songwriter, lead singer for 7 Seconds
Tal Ronnen: founder and chef of Crossroads Kitchen and author of the New York Times Bestseller The Conscious Cook: Delicious Meatless Recipes That Will Change the Way You Eat*
- Josh Brolin: actor; has appeared in films such as No Country for Old Men, American Gangster, Deadpool 2, and Avengers: Endgame & played drums in hardcore punk band Rich Kids on LSD
- Bam Margera: professional skateboarder, stunt performer, and Jackass television personality.
- KRS-ONE: rapper and occasional producer from The Bronx who rose to prominence with Boogie Down Productions
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #388: John Joseph On The PMA Effect: Transcending Labels & Transforming Lives
- RRP #294: John Joseph Returns: The Evolution Of A Cro-Magnon, Overcoming Insurmountable Obstacles & The Transformative Power Of PMA
- RRP #269: Travis Barker On Premonition Intuition & The Importance Of Following Your Heart
- RRP 171: Mishka Shubaly on Forgiveness, Authenticity & Life As A Sober Artist
- RRP #453: Jeff Gordinier Is Hungry: Perfect Plates, Punk Rock & Prolific Prose
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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