As the Cotton Eye Joe minute music finishes playing, all of the eyes in Madame Losey’s room immediately shift to watch the head of fluffy yellow hair strolling into the room. In his hands lies a plate flawlessly wrapped in tin foil that catches the light in the room, practically reflecting the overly-excited faces of the students. By the warm gleam in his eyes which radiate from under his wiry glasses, all of the the students in the room are well aware of what lies under the tinfoil.
“I baked brownies for you all, I hope they turned out OK.”
Ah yes. Senior John Gorman baked his famous, chocolate fudge brownies again — his class’ favorite. This is the epitome of John Gorman. He is that positive, football-playing kid who delivers random brownie surprises to brighten his peers’ days. He’s the kid whose smile is stuck on his face even when he’s been up writing from 6 a.m. and doesn’t finish wrestling practice at 7 p.m. But when given the chance to put in headphones, John Gorman is also the kid listening to deathcore music, most likely fantasizing about his next dark short story he will begin when he gets home.
“I find it easier to relate to the darker aspects [of music],” Gorman explained. “When I’m frustrated, I can listen to deathcore, and it reminds me that I’m not the only one who has faced hardships.”
From the random brownie deliveries to the bubbly way he interacts with his peers, John Gorman doesn’t come off as your typical “deathcore listener.” However, Gorman has a Spotify playlist preloaded with mashups of deathcore songs specifically for times when he is writing his next short story, “It’s Always Darkest.”
“This short story took me to a darker place that I didn’t know I could draw from. I’ve had a couple friends who faced depression, and through them I’ve come to learn that depression is not a rational thing,” Gorman said. “I wrote these stories for them, and for the people who may not know depression.”
Gorman is the kid who would rather write about depression and racism than rainbows and unicorns. But that’s what makes him even more of a people person. He uses his dark stories to relate to other people about real stories.
When Gorman finally finishes the rest of his homework, he pulls up the next chapter on the rewrite list for his novel, “The Foresters,” and finds that today he will be re-working the 3,000-word battle scene chapter. Gorman’s initial reaction is to scroll through his Spotify albums and hit play on one of his favorite death metal bands, Amon Amarth. The viking myths told in this deathcore music are going to be the catalyst for this battle scene. Listening to the way the stories are told through the growls of the lead singer and the unruly beat of the drummer, Gorman is able to channel a darker, more intense mindset to portray the violence of this scene just the way he wants to.
“Sometimes I feel like we ignore the dark issues that are present, like death,” Gorman said. “So writing about them is a way for me to bring that darkness into light, so people can see what it actually is, or what I think it is.”
When Gorman wasn’t re-drafting his novel this summer, he was playing bass in a deathcore band. It was cathartic, he said. Any anger or stress he has pent up, he is able to release all of it through his playing.
“[Playing deathcore music] is like trying to tame a hurricane,” Gorman explained. “There aren’t many musical constraints within deathcore, so I’m able to hear and play the message in the music how I want to, and then take something away from it.”
Gorman has always been into punk rock since his mom, Amanda Gorman, was constantly playing “American Idiot” by Green Day around the house when he was younger. However, his growing interest in the genre of music led him to become the only member of his family to explore heavier versions of metal.
“Some of the [deathcore] songs I heard digitally, I had a physical reaction to,” Amanda Gorman said. “But as soon as I saw John’s friend Cam growl on stage this summer, it was satisfying and I could appreciate it.”
In Gorman’s eyes, writing and music both lie in the field of storytelling. While listening to deathcore, he can draw a darker energy into his writing so that he can relate to emotional problems people face, such as depression.
Listening to deathcore and writing darker short stories doesn’t drag Gorman’s positive personality down though. Deathcore is “positive, angry music” as Gorman puts it. He can always walk away from listening to deathcore feeling uplifted because it reminds him that he isn’t the only person facing a challenge. John Gorman may be sitting in class, imagining what other dismal topics he can cover, but he’s still the same kid who will randomly pop into French class with an encouraging smile and plateful of brownies he spent the whole last night making.