Punk’s Not Dead

Arista Roesch


       Whoever said punk was dead was in a real culture shock in the 1990s and early 2000s (if cocaine or other drugs didn’t kill them off by then). This period is known in the indie world as our ‘post-punk revival’. In 1997, the married (but now divorced) duo of Meg and Jack White started the ever-popular indie punk band The White Stripes. Their unique sound captured the lovers of music on almost all ends of the spectrum, from pop to punk and a little bit of everything in-between. This new sound had elements of your traditional punk, as heard through The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash, but brought in some new techniques not so often heard in music. Distorted guitar sounds and a steady beat was a staple of their music. But it wasn’t just The White Stripes that started this revival.

       In the 1980s, punk was declared dead by the industry in the US and Britain, except of course CBGB which, as many know, was and still is the home to some of the best punk shows you could ever see. As punk seemed to ‘die-out’ there were many people still not convinced that it was over. Thus, a new wave of artists about a decade later decided they wouldn’t stand for the blasphemy against such a force as punk rock. This new sound was known not only as the post-punk revival, but also as ‘new wave’ and ‘indie punk’. Bands like Bloc Party, The Vines, The Strokes, and The Arctic Monkeys came on the scene, all with various sounds and styles of their own. The PPR wasn’t just about the fame, it was about the message, the independence, and the freedom from being torn down by the industry and reshaped into their mainstream puppets. The lyrics of new wave strayed away from those of the punk rock lifestyle full of parties, drugs, and alcohol and onto something deeper – of personal pain, strength, and social change.

       There were so many different sounds and styles of the revival bands that lumping them into one category wasn’t going to cut it. Sub-genres were developed to better organize the chaos of music that was quickly emerging:

–          Anarcho-punk (Against Me!, Crass)

–          Celtic Punk (Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys)

–          Cowpunk (Jason & the Scorchers, Uncle Topelo)

–          Gypsy Punk (Golem, Kultur Shock)

–          Pop Punk (Greenday, Sum 41)

–          Riot Grrl (Kittie, Bikini Kill)

–          Ska Punk (Less Than Jake, Citizen Fish)

–          Street Punk (Cock Sparrer, Exploited, Sage Francis)

–          [as listed on http://punkmusic.about.com/od/punk101/a/punkhistory2.htm]

As the times change, punk hasn’t died, it just evolved. In 2000 to roughly 2005, the revival was a commercial force and dominated music television like VH1. As times

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0 Thoughts to “Punk’s Not Dead”

  1. AvatarJim Reynolds

    Hi Arista:

    I enjoyed reading this article — it brought back some memories for me of my time in college. I was in just finishing my junior year in college when my roommate picked up an imported album at our local record shop (I know — I’m old) by Elvis Costello and the Attractions — the “My Aim is True” album. This started a punk rock odyssey for me that began with the Sex Pistols, and included the Ramones, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, David Johannssen and New York Dolls, Ian Drury and the Blockheads and a bunch of others that were less enduring. I saw Elvis Costello in concert in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom in the spring of 1979 — the best concert I’ve ever been to, bar none. He and the Attractions played for 3 hours. I think many of the groups you mention might share some of the same lineage as the ones I remember. Thanks for taking me down memory lane!

    Jim R

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