Edna Gunderson (has there ever been a less rock ‘n’ roll name) of USA Today has a nice overview of punk as it approaches the 30-year mark – trust no genre over 30?
- The monolithic din that rose up against disco and prog-rock in the ’70s has splintered into sonic shards as varied as a tattooist’s ink palette. (Related item: The punk spectrum)
The noise pedigree of the Sex Pistols and The Ramones devolved over generations to produce a kennel of scrappy mongrels, with breeds ranging from ska-punk and skate-punk to cowpunk and garage punk, from post-punk and proto-punk to British punk and New York punk, from oi! and emo to queercore and hardcore. Throw in straight-edgers and riot grrrls, and punk has more musical heirs than Robert Johnson.
Three chords and aggression remain punk’s dominant genes. Heading the current class are such pop-punk groups as The Offspring, Green Day and Blink-182, the peppy pranksters an ailing industry hopes will jump-start holiday record sales with a self-titled album due Nov. 18.
The genre is broad enough to embrace a variety of mid-level successes, including the funk-metal punkers in Pennywise (together 15 years), the skate-punk outfit MXPX (10 years) and Dropkick Murphys (seven years), a Boston band that spikes its Celtic punk with bagpipes, tin whistles and dulcimers.
….Despite its belligerent stance and rancorous vocabulary, the punk cosmos is nearly free of the rivalries that plague rock, pop and rap. The support between musicians in the punk community is magnified tenfold within a band.
“It’s a game of survival, four of us against the world,” [Lars] Frederiksen [of Rancid] says. “We’re friends first. We’re loyal. We split everything four ways no matter who writes the songs. We’re communist in that sense. We don’t care if you like us or not. We don’t take popularity polls. We make music for the four of us.”
Those bonds alleviated personal strains during the making of Indestructible. Frederiksen’s brother died suddenly. He and Armstrong saw their marriages shatter. When Frederiksen was sidelined for six months after back surgery, the band took a break rather than seek a substitute.
“My band is the only thing I’ve got,” he says. “Punk is my life. It’s my skin color, my creed, my generation, my passion, my religion.”
The term “punk” is now so broad as to be almost meaningless, but it is the “almost” that somehow holds this wildly disparate group together.
Today I am going to randomly toss out some reviews of some of my favorite punk music – once a punk always a punk in your soul.