NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A signature drum set from Travis Barker of the multi-platinum rock band, Blink-182 made its way to the students at Gramercy Arts High School on the Manhattan’s east side Wednesday. The man delivering it was punk singer Toby Morse.
Morse, who has been part of the New York punk band H2O for the past 15 years, now focuses on motivational speaking, promoting a drug and alcohol free lifestyle. Through his organization ”One Life One Chance”, Morse has visited numerous schools on both coasts and plans to reach many more with the help of Barker and his clothing label, Famous Stars and Straps.
“Travis was always supporting what I was doing and he wanted to get involved. (Barker) and Famous Stars and Straps were the first to step up and get me to the schools”
Speaking to a group of 400, Morse shared his own story; from losing his father at age 3, becoming a roadie after high school, than leading his own band all over the world. Morse told the students he always remained Straight Edge, meaning he never touched drugs or alcohol, staying away from the typical rock and roll lifestyle.
WCBS 880 Producer Jonathan Clark speaks with Toby Morse from “One Life One Chance” organizationHow does Morse claim it was possible? Music and what he calls “PMA” – a positive mental attitude.
“I was able to do it through music and skateboarding. Bands like Minor Threat and 7 seconds and Bad Brains, so many of their lyrics hit me. I was at a place in my life where my brothers were partying, I was the youngest and it spoke to me”
And now Morse is hoping to do the same for students with his hour long presentation which features music, photographs and his PMA message. Morse has a major advantage in opening the door and getting through to the students, his appearance; Morse can’t even give an exact number of how many tattoos cover his body.
“For kids, or me as a kid you saw a guy come into speak to a school and his wearing a suit talking about be a recovering addict, he’s just another boring adult.”
The students at Gramercy never appeared bored; they would let out screams and a loud buzz when Morse showed pictures of himself hanging with music acts such as Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and Haley Williams of Paramore.
There were also the photos of those who weren’t fortunate enough to fight drug abuse, Elvis, Kurt Cobain and Heath Ledger to name a few. Included in that same photo reel was the artist DJ AM who died of a drug overdose less than a year after surviving a plane crash. On the plane with DJ AM was Barker.
Tim Milhouse, is a marketing manager with Famous Stars and Straps.
“I can’t say (AM’s overdose) is the reason for Barker’s involvement, but it’s definitely a driving force because we all feel that we wish we had someone like Toby when were kids. You know we didn’t have anyone to look up to. It’s important kids have someone they can respect, someone who’s not bogus.”
Barker took the stage via video after the presentation, when his donation of a sparkling silver drum set was wheeled out to a massive round of applause.
Morse hung around long after he wrapped up to sign autographs, take pictures and answer students questions.
Backed by Famous Stars and Straps, ‘One Life One Chance’ is hoping to visit as many schools as possible.
“There are a lot of schools that need our help, so Famous is helping Toby (Morse) get on board to these places”
As for Morse who wrote the song 5 Year Plan in 1995, he now says it’s a 15 year plan with ‘One Life One Chance’ as the focal point.
“It’s not an intervention, it’s prevention”.