Recently I posted a link to a blog on my Facebook and Twitter claiming that Punk isn’t Dead. Now the argument for or against the death of punk has been an ongoing one for a considerable amount of time, perhaps first enshrined in 1979 by Crass with their track Punk is Dead. This of course lead to backlash, most notably from the likes of The Exploited who vehemently believe that punk was not dead, and is not even today. However, let’s look at what exactly Crass was singing about.
Yes that’s right, punk is dead,
It’s just another cheap product for the consumers head.
Bubblegum rock on plastic transistors,
Schoolboy sedition backed by big time promoters.
CBS promote the Clash,
But it ain’t for revolution, it’s just for cash.
Punk became a fashion just like hippy used to be
And it ain’t got a thing to do with you or me.
At first glance, Crass seems right. One only has to count the meteoric rise of pop punk and “Hot Topic” bands to see that not just punk, but heavy music in general has been cleverly packaged to appeal to the teenage and consumer market. This may be so, but there are a plethora of bands who still maintain the DIY looks and attitude of traditional punk. Arguably it is these bands that keep punk alive. And I’m not talking about bands such as Rancid or anything signed to Fat Wreckcords, rather I’m talking independent, lo fi, homebrewed punks, the kind you see play in an attic at a house party.
True punk then, is in hiding, buried under a mountain of successful more “accessible” acts who borrow from the genre without committing to it wholly. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the punk sound continues to live on, potentially exposing a new generation to the greatness of the past and the underground fury of the present.
Mainstream acts such as Fucked Up and Death From Above are prime examples of populist punk acts. As pointed out by the blog I posted, you can add whatever modifier to the genre you like but it features those the hallmarks of punk, loud fast guitars, energy and emotion. Of course Crass would have something to say about these bands being signed to big labels and “selling out” but then again Crass, as a band that said it was going to dissolve in 1984 has since been spotted (in some shape or another) playing their songs since, completely contradicting their beliefs.
While real punk bands continue to slum it in the gutters and alleys of the streets, the press and the public go on ranting and raving that punk is dead. But this isn’t the case. Real punk still exists and there are still bands out there making real punk. It is up to fans of the genre to stop complaining that punk is dead and nut up and go and find those artists.
Like anything then, punk is what you make of it. So if you wanna be crappy and whine that punk is dead, so be it, but chances are you just aren’t looking hard enough for the real stuff.
Then again…When someone like Chris Brown is wearing this, you can’t help but wonder.