Ten-year Old Kids
You know what’s cool about a 10-year-old kid sporting a
Not a damn thing.
At the risk of coming off like a 30-something Andy Rooney,
I’m going to start off this blog with a rant and a final plea to save punk rock.
The argument I’m putting forward is certainly not new, but worth being made at
least one last time.
I was at an outdoor festival in Atlanta this weekend and
lost count of how many pre-teens I saw walking around with Mohawks and Ramones
shirts. When did punk become just another accessory for the Sponge Bob set?
Mohawks and anarchy symbols used to scare the crap out of parents, now they’re
just another cute look for little Dylan and Kara, by couples desperate to be
thought of as the cool parents (and don’t think I haven’t been there. I have
two little girls and my wife was the only voice of reason that kept me from
buying Sex Pistols onsies off of Ebay). And putting a Clash sticker on the back
of your minivan doesn’t make it any more cool to be seen in (again, I speak
Trust me; it’s
safe for old punks to age gracefully. Not all of us can tour the world in
shitty vans and make great music. Leave that to your heroes. Keep rocking the
boat in your chinos and changing the system from the inside, but don’t try and
turn your kids into a punk rock mannequin to prove how cool you still are.
Which brings me to my second rant… as a freelancer punk
writer, I am about to throw my hands up in defeat. Born in the early 70’s and
coming of age in quite possibly the worst time in the history for music (hair
metal anyone?), I withstood the auditory assault of bands like Danger Danger
and Pretty Boy Floyd for years before finding salvation in the music of Bad
Religion, The Buzzcocks and The Clash. For the past two decades or so I’ve kept
up with the evolving music scene, watching punk move from basement shows and
VFW halls to arenas (not necessarily a bad thing). What once was a mail order
business is now neatly packaged and priced inside your local Hot Topics (again,
not the end of the world. Punk rockers deserve to make money too). You used to
discover new punk bands thanks to poorly dubbed tapes passed on from a friend;
Now you can hear “punk rock” on The Hills (ok, nothing good can come of that). The most jarring change, however, is
what is currently being peddled as punk rock. I am certainly open to all genres
of music (I, for one, am lobbying for Willie Nelson be added to Mount Rushmore),
but I have a problem with the bait and switch tactics being perpetrated by
publicists and record labels lately.
If you make pop music, be proud of it and call yourself a
pop band. Punk rock was a reaction to crappy, bloated corporate rock of the
70’s (Styx, Journey, etc.). It railed against oppressive authority figures,
racism, sexism and homophobia. It was not 12 mediocre songs about high school
crushes on your self-titled debut, with liberal use of Auto-tune , currently
being peddled under the guise of “pop-punk”. It was about rebelling against the
status quo, wearing homemade clothes with hand-painted messages of defiance,
not wearing those tacky neon-logoed t-shirts and hoodies you picked up at the
mall and pair with matching Ray Bans.
That’s not to say there is not legitimate punk rock being
made right now. Anti-Flag is still fighting the good fight (with a new record
out soon) and the Teenage Bottlerockets might actually be The Ramones reincarnated.
Here’s the deal, if you play punk music, play it loud and
play it proud. If you play pop music, call it what it is, make a ton of money
and be happy.
I’ve admittedly strayed a bit from my general thesis, but
here’s a recap: Aging hipsters, you’re getting older, so deal with it. Don’t
try and turn your kid into Lil’ Johnny Rotten just because you’re getting
fatter and losing your hair. Blare NOFX as loud as you want in the minivan,
just keep the windows rolled up at the stop lights. And kids, don’t try and
pass yourself off as the next Joe Strummer when your punk rock influences go
back no further than Blink 182’s third CD. You’re in a pop band, no matter what the guy in the fancy
suit tries to tell you. Rock on pop star!
Music worth listening to this week:
Left Alone‘s self-titled
record (http://www.myspace.com/leftalonepunx) and Ninja Gun’s “Restless Rubes”