Vanna frontman discusses youth homelessness, Hope For The Day and his philanthropic clothing line

Photo: Kelsey Lockhart.

Positive Metal Attitude runs deep through Davey Muise’s veins.

As a young kid in the 90s, he dove into the grunge explosion, listening to bands like Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Live and Pearl Jam. However, it was through a different avenue that the Vanna frontman immersed himself in the hardcore punk and metal scenes he’s so prominent in today.

“Skateboarding was huge with kids in my town, and kids from other towns close by, and one of the things we would do was listen to music while we skateboarded,” said Muise. “I tended to hang around with older kids, and a lot of those kids were into punk rock, which wasn’t as heavy as some of the bands I was listening to, like Metallica and Pantera, which I find kind of funny. I sort of skipped over listening to punk rock and went straight for the music that punk rock influenced and then went back to it later on in the skate parks.”

It was during those days at the skate park that Muise first learned about Warped Tour, a pillar of the modern punk and hardcore scene and a showcase he has played three times during his current tenure with Vanna.

“Although Warped Tour has changed over the years, in terms of the type of music they showcase, it will always be a punk rock festival, because punk rock will always be more of a mindset than just a genre of music,” said the Melrose native. “I was 13 when I first went to Warped [Tour], and I think the only two bands I knew that were playing were Green Day and the [Mighty Mighty] Bosstones, but my whole world blew up that day.”

Warped Tour was where Muise first decided that he wanted to be on stage and tour like those bands, playing music and showing love and appreciation to the crowd, a tactic he still holds dear to this very day, sharing a message of positivity and hope whenever he’s in the silver spotlight. And while something like that could end up sounding forced, Muise feels that it’s rather “reinforced” instead.

“All of these crazy things are happening around us in the world on a daily basis, [and] these kids choose to come to a show because it’s where they feel safe,” he said, “where they feel loved and where they feel like they can be who they are. I want people to know that there’s no difference between the guys on the stage and the crowd, because we’re all fighting through this world, and we’re here because we love this music, and it’s what our life has called us to do. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, or your age, your sexuality, religion, none of that matters here. It all peels away when you’re at a show.”

Muise said music let’s people leave all their “outside” stuff at home and just enjoy the show: “It’s where we feel like family.”

Muise is motivated by the sense of family to address the issues that affect many of the kids in the punk scene. He’s now involved with Hope For The Day, a non-profit organization that utilizes the arts to motivate and mentor those suffering from feelings of depression and suicide.

“Suicide and depression are sort of weird topics to talk about, because it’s almost taboo,” said Muise. “Hope For The Day was one of the first organizations that I heard say ‘it’s okay that you’re not okay, because we’ve been in that same place.’”

Muise himself has experience working with youth at his mother’s daycare and has also suffered from depression. For those reasons, the organization stuck out to him.

The starting point was when Johnny Boucher, HFTD’s founder, asked Muise to participate in an online segment called “Music saved my life.”

That opening led to Muise travelling to schools all around the country, talking to kids and addressing issues that he feels most organizations have sugarcoated.

In addition to his side gig as a motivational speaker, Muise is also the founder of a clothing line, Shovel Brand. The interesting thing about Shovel Brand clothing is that whenever you purchase any of the products on the site, another one of the products is printed and sent to Preble Street Teen Center, a youth homeless shelter in Portland, Maine.

“Something like 90 percent of the homeless population in New England is between the ages of 16 and 25, and a lot of the time, clothes that people donate to homeless shelters—while it’s great that they do it—are clothes that most teenagers wouldn’t want to wear,” said Muise on what drove him to start Shovel Brand. “I got together with a few partners, and we started this brand so that kids can feel like kids. So they can feel good and look good and hopefully, in turn, do good. There’s a direct correlation between people presenting themselves well and living a good life.”

Muise isn’t looking at Shovel Brand as a lucrative business opportunity. He’s looking at it as an opportunity to help out with something dear to him, as he’s seen a number of friends struggle with homelessness. Muise’s positive metal attitude gushes for the chance to talk about it.

“It’s another thing that people just don’t want to talk about, and I’m not afraid to bring it up to people, so I have made my life’s work to help these kids, who aren’t beggars, who were born into homelessness through no fault of their own, and I think everyone deserves the right to look good and feel good.”

The brand’s name comes from Muise’s interactions with kids at the schools he’s visited, and his keynote address during these engagements titled “Find your shovel.”

“Your shovel is something that you love,” said Muise. “Your shovel is something that has helped dig you out of anything that you’ve dealt with. For me, my shovel was music… But these kids who live in these homeless shelters feel like no one cares about them, that they’re the forgotten ones. I’ve been there, so I wanted to show them that they weren’t forgotten. So it’s called Shovel Brand because no matter what your passion is, there is a way you can help out other people with your passion.”

While Muise strives to equip kids with the shovel they’ve never known they had, he also stresses that using your passion can be and should be an instrument of change, unity and friendship.

“The whole thing of having that shovel is that once you’ve dug yourself out, you have sort of a responsibility to your fellow man, to your school and to your community, your friends and family, to use your shovel, your passion, to help them out of their hole as well,” said Muise.

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