Sunday, 29 April 2007

Punk Is Dead, Long Live Punk - Rambalations 2

"My little white ass is tickled pink when I listen to the music that makes me think" Red Hot Chili Peppers

Watched a doco on SBS tonight titled Punk:Attitude which explores the history of punk music and the attitudes which drive it. Some of this is captured in the interview below with film-maker Don Letts.

Punk was brought to the fore in the 70's at a major time of unrest, when things had gotten so bad that the people started to stand up and literally say "FUCK YOU". It was a style of music that was in your face and shoved its message down your throat. It rebelled against the establishment and encouraged its audience to take action. It was more than just music and an image - punk was an attitude.

A lot of this attitude carried over into more mainstream music in the 80's with bands like Midnight Oil, Dead Kennedys, U2, Black Flag and Public Enemy. In the 90's Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy continued the attitude. But what about today? In a market of sanitised commerciality it is hard to find any bands or artists who hold true to the punk attitude. Certainly, there are 'punk-rock' bands such as Blink 182 around, but their sound and attitude is more mum-and-dad radio-friendly than the "FUCK YOU" attitude of the earlier punk bands. Green Day are still holding on to some of their punk roots but have let it slide since their earlier releases of Dookie and Insomniac. Even U2 has moved away from raising social awareness through their lyrics.

Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil made the following comment in his acceptance speech when the Oils were inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame last year:
"Maybe complaint rock is still being written, but is ignored by an industry hypnotised by get-famous-fast TV shows. Bless you, John Butler, but you shouldn't have to do it all by yourself."
The challenge was thrown out to the industry, but no-one seems to have taken it up. It appears the music industry has become too obsessed with cheap and un-nasty artists who are going to turn a profit in the least amount of time. It is afraid to sign or promote artists who may have a political or social message in case it upsets the stock-holders. This is unfortunate for any talented, unsigned artists out there as the major record companies are in bed with the radio stations, the media and the retail outlets, so independent releases rarely make it to the mass consumer ears or market.

The internet does give these unsigned artists the chance to self promote, and we have seen successful acts, such as Jet, emerge this way, but only a very few. And again, Jet's music and attitude is far from punk. Today's generation are being feed corporation pleasing lyrics, sometimes blatantly incorporating product placement. A new voice is needed - one that isn't afraid to speak its mind, to challenge business, government and society, to motivate its audience, and to say "FUCK YOU".
"All you need is one guy or girl to stand up and say "fuck this", and everyone goes: "Voice of a generation"."
Henry Rollins

Songs played while writing this entry:
"My Lovely Man" Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Love For" Glenn Underground
"Why Go" Pearl Jam
"Cranium Accelerator" Sven II
"Defiant" Christopher Lawrence

"Welcome To The Jungle" Guns N Roses
"Khe Sanh" Cold Chisel
"Breaking The Girl" Red Hot Chili Peppers

"Coded Language" DJ Krust feat Saul Williams
"Anything Goes" Guns N Roses
"Time Out In Toronto" SS
"Back Porch" Presidents Of The United States Of America
"Come and Die" Therapy? & Fatal


tamiki said...


Thanks for linking my site. I added linked to your site in kind.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Bravo, brother. I couldn't have put it better myself.

Ironically, I wrote something today peripherally related to this -- how producers are actually referring back to the early mod/puck music greats for new movies because, in my mind, there's little worthwhile in todays musical landscape.

A Bowl Of Stupid said...

Oh, BTW, not to self-promote too much, but given how you write up the songs you were listening to while writing your posts, I thought you may like to know about a widget from "" that integrates with your media player (iTunes, WinAmp, etc.) to auto-list on your site the latest songs you've listened to.

Check out my site for an example. Trust me, you'll love it.

Sea Eagle said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I miss the protest music of the 70's and 80's so much. I heard Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi the other night on the radio, and I thought "what has happened to the youth of today"? Why aren't they screaming at the top of their voices that things are wrong and they won't put up with it? Have we raised a generation of docile servants who will believe anything that the government throws at them?

I think I was fortunate to have lived my formative years during the 70's and 80's. I know what it's like to say that something's wrong and to even take part in a protest march in a bid to put things right.

Kids not acting against the establishment - it's just not natural! In fact it's bloody dangerous!

flametree said...

Damn, 4 comments on one post - a new Bullshit record.

Tamiki - no probs bud, I enjoy your wit and sarcasim so am more than happy to direct readers your way.

Stupid - thanks for the tip mate, as you can see I've taken it up. Good luck with the move and drop me a line if you plan on calling into Sydney while you're on this side of the globe.

Sea Eagle - Don't get me started mate or I could be here all night!! Ironically I went to the MTv Awards last Sunday... no wonder today's generation aren't more motivated to voice their opinions when they're being influenced by that bunch of useless egos in designer clothing.


cooper said...

Nice thanks.

erik hogstrom said...

I think we're due for another explosion of "complaint rock," as was referenced in this post. Even back in rock's early days, complaints fueled some of the most earth-shaking songs. "Summertime Blues" comes to mind.

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