If you’re ever in Dayton, Ohio, and see 26-year-old Parker Buhrman driving to work, there’s a good chance he’ll be screaming his guts out. “It’s a 45-minute, one-way commute, which makes it the perfect time for screaming,” he contends. “Sure, other people on the road probably see me alone in my car screaming as hard as I can and think I’m crazy, but oh well.”
It’s not road rage that gets Buhrman to spend roughly 90 minutes a day screaming in his car. Rather, he’s practicing. “A few years ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to better emulate the raw emotional release in the music I love,” he tells me. “When I went to find out how to do that, I happened upon a subreddit full of other people doing the same.”
That subreddit was r/Screaming, which boasts nearly 20,000 subscribers and describes itself as a place for “discussing heavy metal screaming, extreme vocals and death growling techniques. You are encouraged to show off your skills here!”
To be sure, while much of the community is made up of musicians and aspiring musicians, musical interest isn’t a prerequisite for joining or posting in the subreddit. “Whether for catharsis or musical talent, so much of learning to scream comes from understanding how to express emotion through noise, all while trying to do so in a healthy way,” Buhrman explains.
Once you know how to properly scream without hurting your throat or popping a blood vessel in your eye, you can learn to explore the subtleties in screaming technique and tone. “The trick with screaming is learning to not let all of it be emotionally driven, no matter how instinctual it feels, because doing so is basically slamming vocal chords together to make the noise,” Buhrman says. “With musical screaming techniques, you learn how to not put your vocal chords at risk while still feeling cathartic — I’ve had quite a few rough days at work in the past few weeks, and screaming to my favorite music was something that I looked forward to and helped me get through it.”
He owes his sore throat and post-work emotional release all to Reddit’s screaming community. While the subreddit’s endless scroll of screaming kind of looks like how the rest of the internet feels, r/Screaming is actually an oasis of positivity and support. Click on one of the thousands of videos of some dude screaming in his car or bathroom, and you’ll find other scream kings offering advice and encouragement.
Brian, a 34-year-old member of the subreddit, describes r/Screaming as “a community of black sheep, which I love.” “We all love something that most people just don’t get,” he tells me. “It’s awesome seeing how much people in the subreddit praise strangers making weird noises in our cars and closets.”
Case in point: Jordan, a 16-year-old who’s learning to scream in tandem with learning to play guitar. “My main goal is to become a respectable vocalist and guitarist in a band, and create art that will be appreciated,” he explains. After “repeatedly hurting myself trying to scream,” the young musician discovered r/Screaming and sought out some advice. “The feedback was very motivating; some members even personally reached out to give me tips,” he says. “It’s only been two months since I joined the subreddit, and I’ve already improved my technique and overall approach to the vocal style.”
Buhrman isn’t in pursuit of a music career, but that didn’t stop other screamers from giving him encouragement anyway. “I’ve never felt confident enough to sing in front of anyone else, so for the longest time I just practiced what I read on the subreddit on my own,” Buhrman tells me. “But one day, I just decided to go for it and post a video asking for critique and introducing myself. I was immediately met with more positive feedback than I could’ve ever imagined getting.”
It wasn’t just the tone of the response that surprised him, but the discovery that one of the most encouraging comments “came directly from the lead vocalist of a metal band that I listen to,” Buhrman says. “Turns out, they just happened to be a member of the sub. That was all the validation I needed to really commit to improving my scream.”
“Singing along to your favorite music is fun for most people,” he concludes. “But being able to do it well makes you feel like a rock star in your own little world — and I think everyone can benefit from a little of that.”