Why You Should Listen To Punk Music

Why You Should Listen To Punk Music

           What is punk music and why should I listen to it? In order to answer that question, you have to look at all the subgenres of punk music. Punk rock, pop punk, “emo” punk, and ska punk (an upbeat mix of rock, reggae rhythm, and brass instruments) are some of the subgenres that encompass punk.

           Punk started out as a way to break away from the change in rock and roll during the Seventies. Much of Seventies rock and roll music consisted of long songs and even longer guitar solos. John Holmstrom, founder of Punk magazine, had said that “…punk rock had to come along because the rock scene had become so tame that bands like Billy Joel and Simon and Garfunkel were being called rock and roll…” Originally, rock and roll was meant to be free spirited and wild. Although we think early rock and roll music is relatively mild, Elvis’ gyrating hips and Chuck Berry’s “duck walk” were thought of as rowdy, inappropriate, and rebellious.

           A majority of punk music consists of some of these common components: fast-paced electric guitar and swift drum licks, loud and sometimes mumbled vocals, and lyrics featuring political commentary.

           Most people think of hardcore punk when they hear the word punk. This type of punk returned to the days of The Ramones and The Clash, but made it louder, often shouting and chanting lyrics and over-distorting their guitars. Hardcore punk was often about anarchy and “sticking it to the man”. A couple well-known hardcore punk bands include Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys. Skate punk bands like NOFX, Sum-41, and Blink-182 sprouted from the hardcore punk movement.

           Older punk acts like Social Distortion and The Clash wrote songs about social issues and the dysfunction of the government. Today,  punk bands are still evolving and keeping true to their roots. Bands like Anti Flag and Rise Against keep up-to-date political commentary as part of their music.

           There are a number of song by Social Distortion that discuss the social climate of the late Seventies and early Eighties. The song “Prison Bound” references problems with the United States prison system when singer Mike Ness says “Well, they take away my freedom of expression or action” and “Did they really think that this time it would work? You knew all along it wouldn’t.” The song “Drug Train” discusses the negative effects of drug use. For example, Ness says “The train’s first stop is pleasure. The second stop is fun. But in a jail cell baby or a hospital bed, you’ll need hope ‘cuz you ain’t got none” as well as the line “For the last stop baby is a violent crash, and hard times they never cease.”

           Anti Flag is a prime example of keeping politics in newer punk music lyrics.“This Is The End (For You My Friend)” discusses the effects of social media. The lines “Seems every station on the TV / is selling something no one can be” and “A blitzkrieg of images to break your will” are referring to social media giving society what is an unrealistic idea of body image. Another song by Anti Flag, “911 For Peace”, discusses war and the need for humans to work harder to keep the peace instead of resorting to war. Frontman Justin Sane states in the song “We are all human. It’s time to prove it.” and “When you see someone down, now’s the time to pick them up. Set our differences aside and never look back.”

           So, why listen to punk music? It has a rich history and much of punk music is more than loud noise coming from somebody’s garage or a small club on the outskirts of a huge metropolitan city. Punk artists continue to keep listeners informed and speak out against problems in society and the government. There is history of bringing political awareness to people in a format that is innately emotional and loud enough to have its voice heard.