Punk or punk rock is a music genre that became popular in the mid-‘70s in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Punk got its roots from garage rock and proto-punk music. This genre typically produced fast-paced songs that had hard-edged singing styles and melodies and they often featured stripped-down instrumentation and political lyrics. Punk music is all about the do it yourself or DIY ethic which means bands can self-produce and distribute their records through independent record labels and informal channels. In this article, we are going to know more about Punk music and how it changed the world.
Foundations of Punk Rock
The term “Punk Rock” was first used to describe garage bands and subsequent acts during the ‘60s and early ‘70s. By mid-‘70s, the movement called “punk rock” emerged and different artists such as The Ramones, Television, Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, The Clash, and the Damned were all recognized as the forming vanguard of the genre. Punk slowly became a highly controversial cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom during 1977 and it created a “punk subculture” that expressed the youth’s rebellion through their different styles of clothing such as offensive T-shirts, S&M clothes, studded pieces of jewelry, and leather jackets. And it also formed a group of anti-authoritarian ideologies.
When the influence of punk subculture and its music became more inescapable, the punk culture spread worldwide. it spread fast because, during that time, there was athe wide range of local scenes that often played punk music and rejected the affiliation with the mainstream music. When the 1980s came, faster and more aggressive subgenres of punk music started to emerge such as anarcho-pop, hardcore punk, and street punk which all quickly became the main modes of punk rock. Musicians who identified themselves as punk also pursued other musical directions which led to the birth of spinoffs such as new wave, post-punk, alternative rock, indie pop, and noise rock. And during the early ‘90s, punk itself re-emerged on the music scene and gained success in the mainstream audience with the success of pop punk and pop rock bands such as Blink-182, Green Day, The Offspring, and Rancid.
Most Iconic Punk Bands
Good punk bands are not that hard to find, in fact up to this day, there are a lot of quality punk music out there that is being produced. But we have to thank the punk groups on this list because they have been the front liners and influencers of the punk bands we know and live today.
This American punk rock band was formed in the neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens in New York City in 1974. The Ramones are often dubbed as the first band to define the punk rock sound. Unfortunately for these guys, they only attained limited commercial success during that time. But nevertheless, they are still one of the major influence on the punk movement during the ‘70s in both United Kingdom and the United States.
Formed in 1976, The Clash were an English punk rock band that was a part of the first wave of British punk. The Clash was a pretty versatile band because they like to incorporate other genres of music such as funk, dub, reggae, and rockabilly with punk. This band received instant success in the United Kingdom when they released their self-titled debut album in 1977. The Clash was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and they grabbed the 28th spot on the Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Formed in London in 1975, the Sex Pistols were an English punk rock band that only lasted two-and-a-half years in the music scene. They only got to release four singles and one studio album called Never Mind the Bollocks. But despite the short period of time that they stayed in the music scene, the Sex Pistol was able to establish themselves well enough to be called as one of the most influential band in the history of popular music and one of the bands who initiated the punk movements in the United Kingdom. Their music was very iconic that it was able to influence and inspired several later punk and alternative rock bands and artists.
Also known as Iggy and the Stooges, this band was an American protopunk band that was formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1967 and they disbanded in 1974 but they later reformed in 2003. Even if the Stooges did not gain that much success in their original incarnation and they often performed to uninterested and intimidating audiences, they still managed to be an important part in the rise of the punk rock scene as well as serve as an influence to heavy metal and rock music. In 2010, The Stooges were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and they made it to the 78th spot on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All time in 2004.
Formed in 1986, Green Day was an American rock band that only has three members namely Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt. This band was originally a part of the punk scene at the DIY 924 Gilman Street Club in California. From thestart of their career until today, Green Day was able to sell more than 85 million records worldwide and they became one of the influencers not only in punk artists but also to other bands and acts outside the punk genre. In 2015, Green Day was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Subgenres of Punk
It is important to know all the forms punk comes in to be able to fully understand the nature of punk music because, through the decades, there are several types of punk music that emerged which featured different influences and sounds.
This subgenre is not entirely about anarchy but it is heavily driven by politics. Songs would often have a message about political issues such as anti-government stances and animal rights.
This punk subgenreoften accompanies the songs with traditional Irish instruments. This is also a musical movement that was created by a band of punk musicians in London called the Pogues as they were reclaiming their Irish heritage during the 1980s. Bands in this subgenre often play their original compositions as well as a blend of traditional Irish folk and political songs.
This subgenre is a weird mix of country music and punk rock. Cowpunk emerged from the psychobilly movement and they often pay tribute to honky-tonk and old country bands.
Emo or emotional hardcore emerged from the DC hardcore scene during the 1980s when hardcore bands wanted a break from the violent constraints and formula of straight hard-core. Songs in this subgenre often include emotional and introspective lyrics that has a less-structured and more melodic sound.
Pop punk is a subgenre that is more melodic than hardcore punk. Some of the bands that belongto this category are Screeching Weasel, Green Day, NOFX, and Offspring.
Interesting Facts About Punk
- The Velvet Underground was the band whom punk rock owes most of its aesthetics. The band was led by the late Lou Reed and it was managed by none other than the legendary Andy Warhol which goes to show that The Velvet Underground clearly had no choice but to be glamorously unglamorous.
- The inferior English economy during the ‘70s is what led to the creation of punk rock. Apparently, jobless youths during that time transformed their unlimited supply of free time and anger at the system into the rebellious scene that we now associate with English punk.
- If you are wondering how did those punk rock guys and gals achieve those spiky hairs, well they used lots of talcum powder and a handful of Vaseline.
- After Sex Pistol member Steve Jones said the F-word on the Today show, some record stores refused to stock any more of their album. Newspapers and magazines also criticized their poor public manners.
- The Sex Pistols’ song God Save the Queen was a musical middle finger to the monarchal obligation and the song was absolutely banned in some radio stations because of its disrespectful message. But despite that fact, it did not stop the song from reaching the top spot in the U.K charts.