Cro-Mags’ John Joseph on New Book, PMA, Instagram and “Ask-holes”

by Sammi Chichester

John Joseph; photo by Ray Lego

As one of hardcore’s true OGs, John Joseph has go-to authority on the subject of PMA, a.k.a. “Positive Mental Attitude.” The pioneering vocalist of the Cro-Mags and most recently Bloodclot credits PMA with helping him overcome homelessness, addiction, incarceration and more. He’s just released his third book, The PMA Effect, which explains not only the mindset’s benefits to living a healthy, productive life, but also how to achieve the outlook and, in the process, become “the badass you were born to be.”

While hardcore has passed down its core belief system through the generations, and newer bands are preaching the philosophy and printing those three letters on their T-shirts and windbreakers, not everyone in the scene is as stoked on it as Joseph. In fact, some people are just plain negative. So, if you have PMA, what do you do when you interact with people like that? We asked the frontman for some clarity.

“The thing is, people project onto everybody else,” explains Joseph. “They carry themselves in that way because they actually have a hellish consciousness, and nothing good is going to come out of that.”

Joseph notes that he sees it plenty on social media. “It’s a whole different thing now, you get these keyboard commandos and they just go online and talk all kinds of nonsense,” he says. “Yesterday, somebody posted some real negative comment that I wrote,” he adds, referencing a recent interaction he had on Instagram. “And I was like, ‘Why would you say something like that? You’re obviously revealing your consciousness. If you’ve got shit like that to say, man, go say that shit somewhere else. Don’t post it on my page.’”

While the vocalist doesn’t have time for any BS, he also notes there is a difference between being negative about life and being in a bad situation. “If somebody’s going through some stuff and being negative, I reach out,” he explains. “Just from my own personal experience and then the knowledge that I’ve gained — it’s not like I’m some genius that came up with it — ‘Hey, this is what worked for me, why don’t you check this out?’

“And if they ask, and then they don’t act on it, that’s what I refer to in the book as ‘Ask-holes.’ It’s like, they ask you for help, but then they do the exact opposite thing or nothing at all. Then they keep coming with the same issues and then I’m like, ‘Yo, did you do what I suggested?’ ‘Oh no, I didn’t.’ ‘Well, then why are you coming to me with a whole new set of problems?’

“So if you actually analyze the situation, it’s not just you. They have that same mentality towards everybody — a very negative attitude.”

Joseph says that he personally can avoid negativity as long as he stays productive, because, after all, “the idle mind is a devil’s workshop.” The 57-year-old is currently training for yet another Ironman triathlon and already working on two more books — a cookbook and one on overcoming addiction. His latest, The PMA Effect, is available now on Amazon.