I learned how to be jaded and cynical and angry and scrappy and passionate and independent from punk. I learned to have high expectations but to live with disappointment from punk. I learned what community was - as dysfunctional as it sometimes is, but also as comforting and present - from the punks in Denver. The better part of my youth was spent in sweaty, DIY venues.
As today's post shows, some of us intend to spend our golden years there too.
If you wanna know when I was born, then google Black Flag's debut album, "Nervous Breakdown". Yup, it was that long ago that a bunch of rag tag teens in Redondo Beach, CA released four raging songs at breakneck speed that changed the course of hardcore music - and inspired generations of kids to start their own bands, no matter the musical ineptness. This project was fronted by Keith Morris.
This week I was riding around in my brother's car listening to Keith Morris' current band, Off! Keith is 60, ya'll. But, he still somehow manages to churn out hardcore that inspires a middle finger in the air and possibly a good ol' circle pit. This video I chose includes a song so brief that you'll miss it if you blow your nose. Therefore, Vice News decided to tack on some real-life footage of the band members. Keith still lives in a dilapidated apartment with punk stickers covering the fridge. The drummer drunkenly skateboards. And they hate hippies and cops with equal fervor. Their band should just be called Punk!
Keeping with old punkers rocking out for as long as I've breathed air, Bob Mould put out a new album in March. The former frontman and lead songwriter for Husker Du has been putting out consistent material since the early 80's and it's consistently sounded like, well, Bob Mould. It's a good thing to stay the same, in this case.
Although bands like Off! may sound quintessentially punk, the genre was defined by it's Do It Yourself ethics more than any one sound. Bob Mould was as punk as Keith, but his music bridged the brashness of hardcore with the emotional content of what was to become "alternative music". In this video he doesn't hesitate to jump right into fast paced guitar playing, cymbal heavy rudiments and a distinctively grumbly voice. Energy is high, dismay palpable. Bob Mould doesn't seem to fatigue.
Curious what these punkers sounded like while I was learning to walk?
Bob Mould in his Husker Du days, 1986:
Keith Morris in another legendary band he was a part of, the Circle Jerks, 1980:
Punk is as old as me, and most days I feel as tired as it is. But if Keith and Bob are any sort of role model (sarcasm?), then you can keep on rockin' till your fingers can't make chord shapes anymore. Maybe they tell us that punk as a musical medium is still just as relevant. I hope you enjoy your Sunday Listens as much as I did this past week.
What do you think? Is punk still a thing? What kind of music inspired you as a kid? Did you google "punk" + the year of your birth? What did you get?
Let me know in the comments below.