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What is Punk rock?

Old 01-28-02, 06:26 PM
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What is Punk rock?

Ok, I always see people saying "such and such band isn't PUNK" or they say (recent thread) "if they sing about girls dumping them, it's not punk"... or I've even seen people say that Christian Punk is an oxymoron, because punk all about rebellion.

So, obviously Punk has many sounds and messages. I mean you have everything from the Clash, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Exploited, GBH, Descendents, Ramones, Green Day, Blink 182, Bad Religion, NOFX, etc. all flying the punk banner. But, some of these bands don't bare much of a resemblence in sound or message.

I mean, the Descendents can be very poppy and sing mostly about food and girls. The Clash had a diverse sound that incorporated reggae, pop, etc. into their sound. You had hardcore bands like Exploited and GBH, you have Oi bands like the Business, Dropkick Murphy's you sing anthem-working class punk. You have "Melodic" punk like Bad Religion and NOFX. Pop-punk like Green Day and Blink 182.

But, how can someone say that Green Day isn't punk, but the Ramones are? I mean, in my opinion they both have similar sounds. And Green Day definately paid their punk dues. Same with Blink, when Descendents could be just as poppy. And, Blink paid their dues too.. I saw them in 1995 when they were just called Blink and weren't even the headlining band.

So.. What is punk?
Old 01-28-02, 06:37 PM
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ok well to note: I don't like punk that much and I don't listen to it a lot. I have heard it and I'm gonna try to give an educated explanation/guess.

btw, take note that my "educated guess/explanation" might be TOTALLY wrong so don't quote me!

Here's me explanation: Punk Rock is guitar and drums revolving around lyrics. try taking a punk rock song and taking away the lyrics. I used Blink 182(some may not consider this punk, but whatever), and take away the lyrics and you really just have "noise in rhythm". Also yes punk rock sing about love a lot. But then again so does N'sync. Sorry if this is totally wrong, but HEY I gave it a shot
Old 01-28-02, 06:45 PM
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I'm a moderator on the Ataris board and let me tell you -- this thread comes up at least once or twice a week.

Basically what it all comes down to is this -- many people believe that just because you play the drums fast and play power chords that you're a punk band. Not always true. What you're seeing now with bands like Blink and Sum 41 and even Green Day is a power-pop (pop songs with power chords) with punk influences.

Although there are no real set definitions of punk because it is entirely subjective, I can sum it up by listing bands that I think of when I think of punk: Pennywise (the older the better), Bad Religion (older the better), Good Riddance, Swingin' Utters, NUFAN, Face to Face (older the better), Rancid -- to name a few of the newer "punk" bands.

The most amusing thing is that The Ramones are praised as some of the pioneers of punk when there songs are just as poppy as the stuff that's on MTV nowdays, if not more.
Old 01-28-02, 06:45 PM
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When I think of punk, I think of short songs with only a few chords played very quickly by people who aren't very proficient with their instruments. Don't necessarily mean that as an insult, but as a whole, I'm not a huge punk rock fan.
Old 01-28-02, 07:28 PM
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Some would say that if you can go to the mall and see a 14 year old girl wearing their shirt, they're not punk. Or if they're in regular rotation on MTV/radio, that's not punk. There's lots of bands that are poppy that are considered punk but as soon as they break into the mainstream they're not punk anymore.
Old 01-28-02, 07:39 PM
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there seems to be a point where some punk bands begin to gain acceptance from the mainstream music culture. it's at that point where they cross over from a punk band to rock band in a lot of punks opinions. punk is a lifestyle as well as a form of music. if green day had never been on Mtv, they might have been considered a punk band, but i think as soon as a band starts to do big shows and gets radio and television play, they cease to be 'punk' because punk is all about swilling cheap crappy beer, squatting in a delapidated abandoned house and making loud music that your other punk friends will like. not some suburban chick going to the mall listening to a cd in her dad's lincoln navigator.

i'm not a punk, but i used to have some punk friends and that's just kind of the impression i got from them. certain bands aside, anything that made it to the radio wasn't usually considered punk.



--nosebleed-- i think you're right. it took me awhile to word things the way i wanted to write them and your post got in there before mine.
Old 01-28-02, 07:39 PM
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Punk is what you want it to be. That's why it's punk.
Old 01-28-02, 07:41 PM
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DC, Punk is about paying your dues, and not getting shiht for it. Damn you for comparing Green Day to the Ramones... DAMN YOU!
Old 01-28-02, 07:54 PM
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Many bands were labeled punk, because there was no other label to give them, The Blasters, X, The Gun Club, The Replacements, The Pixies, and Husker Du were all labeled punk and they sounded nothing like the Ramones, Sex Pistols, or the Clash.
Old 01-28-02, 08:16 PM
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According to Kid Rock, he plays Punk.
Old 01-28-02, 09:16 PM
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I've yet to see on this thread what punk is about.

Swilling crappy beer? LOL - a lot of punks do not even take drugs
of any sort. It's a form of rebellion and thats it.
Old 01-28-02, 10:28 PM
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Originally posted by Gdrlv
When I think of punk, I think of short songs with only a few chords played very quickly by people who aren't very proficient with their instruments. Don't necessarily mean that as an insult, but as a whole, I'm not a huge punk rock fan.
By your definition, the Monkees were punk

Punk is a raw sound from a band that knows about two and a half chords and plays them badly. This is why the Ramones are considered Punk It's all about the tude and the rage and rebellion against the Institution, the mohawks and shaven heads, the plaid pants, the doc martins, and the Circle A. Gots to be into Anarchy, BayBee.
Old 01-28-02, 11:09 PM
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Originally posted by Flashback
I've yet to see on this thread what punk is about.

Swilling crappy beer? LOL - a lot of punks do not even take drugs
of any sort. It's a form of rebellion and thats it.
no need to LOL. i was making a bit of a generalization about the punk scene. i know there are a lot of straight edge punks out there, but they are in the minority. (at least in PA and CA). that comment was made to sum up the mentaltiy of what i see in the punk movements, past and present. not every punk is squatting in a dilapidated house, but you won't see very many punks shopping at IKEA either. there's a LOT of partying and it's not sipping martinis at skybar. it's very raw and uncommercialized. i'm just talking about the scene i experienced with the punks i hung out with.

of course punk is about rebellion against mainstream culture, that goes without saying. this thread is about what makes music punk rock, though. i think it's a bit more complicated than just saying punk is rebellion. just because a song is about rebellion doesn't mean it's punk.
Old 01-28-02, 11:32 PM
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Originally posted by Sierra Disc
Punk is what you want it to be. That's why it's punk.
Old 01-29-02, 09:50 AM
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but you won't see very many punks shopping at IKEA either
I bet there are a lot of old school punks shopping there now. :.

From my experience, there was A LOT more drug abuse at
rock and dance clubs than at punk clubs (NY to Boston).

. i think it's a bit more complicated than just saying punk is rebellion. just because a song is about rebellion doesn't mean it's punk.
Sure it's a bit more complicated, and you are correct in your
statement . I was just giving a one-word answer.
But there really isn't that much more to it. I like to think of it
as a rebellion and attitude of people where a music scene grew out of.
And I agree with the thought that once you had 'any'
success you were considered a sell-out, which is unfortunate.
Old 01-29-02, 10:20 AM
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For the record, there were a lot of punk bands in the late 70's and early 80's who were poppy... Bands like the Buzzcocks and Vibrators and the Rezillos. But, they were still called "punk". Yet, for some reason when punk music incorporates a poppy sound now, its no longer called punk.

And for the record, there are many talented punk muscians. Check out the basist from Rancid for one. And check out bands like the Swingin' Utters who incorporate a country/folk sound with punk. In my opinion, they are very talented.
Old 01-29-02, 12:27 PM
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Once you "sell-out" and the dollar is more important than the art, you cease to be punk. Green Day is not punk. The Ramones are. The Ramones stuck with what they always did (great, fast, melodic punk). The Ramones were never afraid to play for their fans, no matter how many of them there were (eg. small venue). God bless the Ramones.

Back in the day (70's) it was a lot easier to know who were the punks. Now the lines are blurred in all areas of music, so I just prefer to categorize as good music, and shitty music. Most of what you hear on the radio will fall into the later category.
Old 01-29-02, 12:45 PM
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So.. how did Green Day sell out, but Ramones didn't? Green Day's 1st mainstream album wasn't any different from what they were doing on their previous ones. Only "Warning" really took off in a new direction.

Reminds me of the Lagwagon song "Know it All" or Five Iron Frenzy's song "Handbook for a Sellout".

Know it All
Look at the world in disbelief
You used to follow - now you lead
College has enlightened you
And you are proud to be different
And like different bands - different types
You ain't nobody's fool
It's like certain bands remind you of someone you hated
'Cause they didn't wear the right clothing
And there's only one true fashion
Alot of the bands on the college charts are great bands
until they get signed. Then you hate them
It's such ******** - you used to love them you hypocrite
I remember you and I listening to bands that we liked
Only the songs mattered to you
But now you're a D.J. and preaching that hype
"Corporate Rock Sucks"
"You know, college radio enlightens you"
It's supposed to serve as a means to expose new bands
without prejudice, but it makes no sense
Safe harbor for the underground
'Til the alternative becomes the popular sound
The bands are good 'til they make enough cash
to eat food and get a pad
Then they're sold out and their music is clich,
Because talent's exclusive to bands without pay
Know it all - Did you really listen to that song?
Could you ever write what you call wrong?

Handbook for a Sellout
You found a way to draw a line, between the world and you.
Faking your identity it's true.
Did you think the word "alternative,"
Was only meant for the likes of you?
Do you think that they're too cool now?
Being popular is lame.
You're the one who made them popular,
All their songs are still the same.
You found them first, it made you stand apart, you know?
But then everyone jumped on the same bandwagon,
Making you an average Joe.
A lemming for the mediocre,
You were just a plain old joker, status quo.
Blame it on the band now, if you prick them do they bleed?
What's the point in playing what they want,
If you won't let them succeed?
Do you remember where we all came from?
Do you remember what it's all about?
When you made a point to be objective,
Before you started writing, Handbook for the Sellout?
You sunk your worth in being different,
Just to be like your own kind.
You traded in objectiveness,
For the underground you follow blind.
Do you remember where we all came from?
Do you remember what it's all about?
When you made a point to be objective,
Before you started writing, Handbook for the Sellout?
Old 01-29-02, 01:33 PM
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I could be wrong, but I think it has to do with Manic Panic hair dye, safety pins and "the farewell drugs."

"Sid . . . SIIIIIIIDDDDD . . . but you promised . . . . WHAT ABOUT THE FAREWELL DRUGGGGGSSSSSS!!!!????!!!"
Old 01-29-02, 04:18 PM
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Originally posted by Flashback


I bet there are a lot of old school punks shopping there now. :.
no doubt. i got to see jello biafra 2 years ago when he was doing some spoken word shows. there were tons of punks in the audience who were really getting pissed because they were all mohawked out and he was up on stage wearing very conservative attire, reading from his book and not really answering any questions. people were yelling at him, telling him he sold out and that he sucked. he looked really nervous, but just kept to his script and tried to get out of there as quickly as he could.

i heard he got his ass kicked outside of a club in san francisco a few years back after "holiday in cambodia" showed up in those levi jeans ads. punks take it hard when you mess with their icons and their ideals, even if you're one of the ones who had a hand in starting it all.
Old 01-30-02, 03:27 AM
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Originally posted by monkeyboy


no doubt. i got to see jello biafra 2 years ago when he was doing some spoken word shows. there were tons of punks in the audience who were really getting pissed because they were all mohawked out and he was up on stage wearing very conservative attire, reading from his book and not really answering any questions. people were yelling at him, telling him he sold out and that he sucked. he looked really nervous, but just kept to his script and tried to get out of there as quickly as he could.

i heard he got his ass kicked outside of a club in san francisco a few years back after "holiday in cambodia" showed up in those levi jeans ads. punks take it hard when you mess with their icons and their ideals, even if you're one of the ones who had a hand in starting it all.
Last I heard he got his legs broken outside a club, but it wasn't because of HIC in jeans ad. I saw him less than a year ago and he said that they wanted to use that song but ended up going with something else.
Old 01-30-02, 04:57 PM
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Your punk if you say yer punk. My wife was in a punk band that had some popularity in certain areas (headlined Gliman, was in the Dec. THrasher,...) and she doesnt look punk and tends to be conservative (as apossed to liberal).

are the Swinging Utters that same as Johny Peabuck and the swinging utters from santa cruz? they were some crappy ska-y band back in the day.

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Old 01-30-02, 05:08 PM
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Originally posted by DaveNinja


are the Swinging Utters that same as Johny Peabuck and the swinging utters from santa cruz? they were some crappy ska-y band back in the day.

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you know what, I think they may be the same. I heard that they were originally from Santa Cruz & their singer's name is Johnny. However, they're not a ska band anymore and they're actually really good. As I said before.. their older stuff is very 77 style punk (Class/Stiff Little Fingers)... Their new stuff incorporates some folk and country sounds. I like them a lot.

Last edited by DodgingCars; 01-30-02 at 05:25 PM.
Old 03-08-02, 04:36 PM
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I've decided I'm going to try my hardest to quit labeling things so much ... especially when the labels are usually subjective.
Old 03-08-02, 05:19 PM
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Re: Re: Re: Re: what are your favorite punk bands?

Originally posted by DodgingCars


And the Descendents were doing stuff that earlier bands had already done too.. There were tons of people doing "pop-punk" in the 70's when the Descendents first got started.

I love the Descendents.. they're one of my favorite bands... but I don't see how they are "more punk" thank Blink 182 or Sum 41 or any other modern "pop-punk" band
I guess it depends on how you define "punk". Speaking strictly of music type, then yes they are both punk (one good, one not so good).

But if you take in everything that can come together to mean "punK" then no, Blink is not punk.

Just ask yourself this question:

Which time period was it tougher to market a punk band? the late 70s or the late 90s?

What I mean by this is that being a punk band in the 70s was a lot more "against the grain" and "anti-establishment", or rather, punk, than it is now.

How mind-blowing would it have been if MTV played a Black Flag video in '82?

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