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Punk - New Wave to No Wave

Punk – New Wave to No Wave

There are no new waves, there is only the ocean.

— Jean-Luc Godard

The Beard – EP 4 – Punk II by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Rock n’ roll has changed the world and its culture forever. From its inception, rock n’ roll influenced musicians across the world, each adding his or her own twist to it, giving birth to sub-genres, or the musical children of rock n’ roll. Included in this litter of more or less mangy puppies is punk rock. Punk rock itself would also prove to be very powerful, rising from runt of the litter to become an Alpha male, mostly by pushing the boundaries or theoretical envelope of society’s cultural norms. The protagonists of the punk rock movement grabbed our attention by ripping their jeans, dying their hair pink, putting on make-up and piercing their cheek with a safety pins.

Punk - New Wave to No Wave

Suicide Live

These characters of the punk rock movement hypnotized us, not allowing us to look away from the strange new carnivalesque atmosphere they had created. We were thrown into a state of self-awareness, by looking at their liberated art form and sense of self, forcing us to look more closely at the world around us. Often very political and self-aware, punk rock became the voice of the youth in a disgruntled generation. Similar to its seemingly more geriatric predecessor, punk rock became one of the most highly influential genres of all time, eventually signing lucrative record deals and selling out stadiums, thereby rendering themselves as moot to the movement’s spawn- the bondage sporting children it had once nurtured. What needs to be understood is that there was an underground to the punk movement as well. While the Sex Pistols spawned a million bands with their raw, live energy, a more subtle group of musicians and artists were more or less quietly playing throughout the US & the UK. And though they weren’t (and often still aren’t) as well known, they often produced a greater effect on bands, film, and art that later went on to greater renown. Sub-genres of the punk rock movement include: No Wave, Hardcore, Horror Punk, Neo-Rockabilly and later Ska-Punk, Heavy Metal and Electronic music. Here comes the ocean.

Punk – New Wave to No Wave

Suicide is the American electronic proto-punk musical duo of Alan Vega and Martin Rev. They are the progenitors of Air, Daft Punk, Boards of Canada, Phantogram, The Postal Service and all other synthesizer/vocal musical duos you love today. Never widely popular among the general public, they take after Velvet Underground, as they are still highly influential. Supposedly the first to use the phrase “punk music” to advertise a concert, a phrase adopted from Lester Bangs, Suicide were among the first to adopt simple keyboard riffs, accompanied by primitive drum machines, creating a minimal metronomic electronic soundscape for Vega to mumble his edgy lyrics over. Emerging along glam punk in New York, they soon had a reputation for their esoteric and interactive live shows, often playing with the New York Dolls. After 1973, Suicide played at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB, sharing the bill with emerging punk bands, to the crowd’s hateful delight. Their first album, Suicide (1977), is a classic.

Fleshtones - Blast Off!On the other side of the spectrum The Cramps was husband-wife Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, guitarist Bryan Gregory and drummer Pam Ballam. Despite their transient way of life, they flip-flopped back and forth across the US and were heavily involved in the early CBGB punk movement, with influences in garage punk, psychobilly, punk blues, gothabilly, rockabilly and horror punk. With their music was mostly rockabilly, The Cramps often stylistically, if not conceptually, mimic Suicide with minimal and repetitive drums, while employing dual guitars without a bass to varying tempos.

In a way, The Fleshtones literally founded garage rock, by finding some abandoned instruments in the basement of the house they were renting. The Fleshtones were Keith Streng, Marek Pakulski, Peter Zaremba and Lenny Calderon and debuted at CBGB in 1976, playing often at Max’s Kansas City, Club 57 on St. Mark’s Place, Irving Plaza, Danceteria in Manhattan, and the original 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. The Fleshtones shared a rehearsal space with The Cramps in the Bowery in 1977. The following year, The Fleshtones signed with Red Star Records, and released their first album Blast Off!, to huge cult and underground following, but which never gained critical success.

Social Distortion was one of the first west coast punk bands, ushering in the inception of the DIY ethos, from a west co9ast perspective, making artist run record labels more and more of a reality. While on tour in 1982, the band recorded their debut album Mommy’s Little Monster, and released it on their own label 13th Floor Records. They also epitomized the typical problems associated with being catapulted into the public eye, with lead singer Mike Ness battling addiction for years.

The Misfits Live 1982

Misfits live in ’82 – photo by Allison ‘Mouse’ Braun

The Misfits, specifically Glen Danzig, started Horror Punk, taking punk rock and mixing them with horror film themes and imagery. Perfect for a band from New Jersey. Playing their first two performances at CBGB, they took advantage of the punk crowd’s thirst for more. They released several EPs and singles and, the albums Walk Among Us (1982) and Earth A.D./Wolfs Blood (1983), both classics of the early-1980s hardcore punk movement. Like all great punk acts, The Misfits couldn’t keep from destroying themselves. Disbanding in 1983, Danzig went on to form Samhain and then Danzig, becoming as influential in suing his former bandmates as he was to future punk, heavy metal, and alternative artists.

Last week when we played The Misfits “Hybrid Moments” from Static Age, I asked the question: Are the Misfits really Punk Rock? Because the term “punk” has come to mean such a specific musical style that took place in a very specific time and place (New York & London), can the Misfits, fit in, so to speak?

What about Brian Eno and David Bowie‘s mid-70s work with Iggy Pop on The Idiot and Lust For Life? The All-African-American Bad Brains? The all-female Slits? Is the Modern Lovers (Jonathan Richman)? What about art-rockers Patti Smith, Pere Ubu, The Raincoats, Gang of Four? What about Garage, Glam & Hardcore Punk? Riot Grrrl & Skate? East coast vs. West Coast? Washington D.C.?

Post-Punk at first signified the British movement associated with sounds, lyrics and aesthetics that differed significantly from their first generation punk contemporaries. More complex and darker with more intricately-written songs Gang of Four, Joy Division, The Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs with Australian counterpart The Go-Betweens symbolize the post-punk ethic. Its connection is stronger with Art Punk but post-punk bands like Television, Talking Heads, Devo, The Cars produced the New Wave, mixing it up with Krautrock synthpop influences and the association with Design & Style (The Knack’s skinny ties, Devo’s bucket hats) while producing it for the MTV generation. The lines soon blurred between not just musical genre, but nationality as well. The most successful, for good or ill, post-punk band of all-time is U2 who may have began as a continuation of the idea of punk as protest music, but paired it with poppy guitar riffs and flashy marketing to become iTunes darling.

What was everyone else doing?

Mars At MaxsIf Punk came on the music scene like a pitbull in a dog fight, the emergence of New Wave was like a French poodle piddling on Punk’s anti-commercial stance. The masters of New Wave and avant-garde, Talking Heads, who formed in 1975 in New York, are definitely the biggest name on the list. Combining elements of punk, pop, funk, and Americana with David Byrne’s somnambulistic lyrics, the band’s songs straddled the line of being overly avant-garde and jukebox staples.

In New York the No Wave movement stood defiantly in direct opposition to New Wave commercialism. Captured by electronic music pioneer Brian Eno in a 4-band compilation entitled No New York is considered the quintessential testament to the history of no wave: Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, DNA, Mars, James Chance and the Contortions. No Wave focused more on performance art than actual coherent musical structure. College radio and alternative music have their roots here. As well as various visual artists and film directors, like Jim Jarmusch. Other prominent US post-punk No Wave artists included: The Replacements, Lounge Lizards, and the essential Sonic Youth.

In Los Angeles Hardcore Punk was born with Black Flag and soon followed with San Francisco’s Dead Kennedys. The Southern California region also saw the rise of X, Minutemen, Bad Religion, and Suicidal Tendencies. In Washington D.C. Bad Brains inspired Ian MacKaye to start the Teen Idles and Minor Threat and eventually Fugazi. The midwest gave rise to the influential Husker Du, The Replacements, Meat Puppets, and Butthole Surfers.

The shift begins. From Proto to Punk to Post. From Art to New Wave to Hardcore. From College to Emo to Thrash. From Ska to Grunge to Indie. The 80s were a time of musical upheaval, when guitar bands like REM and U2 got big and pop stars Madonna and Michael Jackson ruled. So what happened to the punk movement? The small garage band, yet to be realized as a niche economic market by the record companies, languished largely unsigned on the outskirts of the music industry, keeping the peoples’ music alive by concentrating it on college campuses and coastal music dives.

Playlist:
The Misifts “Static Age” Static Age, 1977
Social Distortion “Mommy’s Little Monster” Mommy’s Little Monster, 1983
This is The Cramps “I was a Teenage Werewolf” Off the Bone, 1983
This is The Fleshtones “I’ve Gotta Change my Life” Roman Gods, 1981
This is Suicide “Ghost Rider” Suicide, 1977
This is the Gang of Four “Guns Before Butter” Entertainment, 1979
This is Brian Eno’s “The True Wheel” on Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, 1974
Here’s Iggy Pop with “The Passenger” Lust For Life, 1977
The Talking Heads “Psycho Killer” Talking Heads: 77, 1977
DEVO “Freedom of Choice” Freedom of Choice, 1980
The Talking Heads “Life During Wartime” Talking Heads: 77 1977
This is Joy Division “Transmission” Transmission, 1979

Suggested Tracks:

Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers with “One Track Mind”
Television with “See No Evil”
The Minutemen “Double Nickels on the Dime”
The Misfits “Die, Die My Darling”
The Cure “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”, followed by Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Psychedelic Furs
The Jam “Wasteland”
Anything by:

Echo & the Bunnymen
The Psychedelic Furs
The Go-Betweens

Punk Pt I - Protopunk

Punk – Protopunk

You have to go out there and do it for yourself, because no one’s going to give it to you.

–Joe Strummer

The Beard – Ep. 3 – Punk Pt. I by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

To whom it may concern,

Hello. During the closing moments of last week’s Beard show on Elvis Presley, it may have sounded as if I were endorsing the lifestyle choices of certain pop stars who focus their attention on their younger fans, which while possibly overlooked in the time and place of that era, remains morally outrageous, and potentially illegal today. In the heat of the moment, clouded from reason by my undying ardor for the mutton-chopped, hip-shaking hunk of burning Elvis of my dreams, I may have inadvertently projected my own childhood obsession and in doing so, ok’d the King’s—and by default all pop culture icons who think they can get away with it—transgression. In doing so I insulted the posterior region of my co-host’s dear mother, the karma of which I will never be able to outrun. I apologize for this. And although I do not apologize for Elvis, who despite tales of his innocent courtship (stuffed animals and pajama parties), was still in the wrong, I’m still all shook up.

Woody Guthrie - This Machine Kills Fascists

Woody Guthrie – This Machine Kills Fascists

Woody Guthrie wrote this “This Land Is Your Land” in 1940, and it was originally called “God Blessed America For Me.” The song is a great tribute to the working class, and an editorial on the distribution of wealth and power in the America. It’s the epitome of the protest song, claiming this land belongs to us, and no one can take that away.

1) Play Woody Guthrie- This Land Is Your Land

What is Punk?

Is it a spiked mohawk? A guitar riff? A persona?

At its heart punk is protest. Looked at in this way, it is almost a natural evolution in the grand tradition of protest music: blues, jazz, reggae and rock and roll. Almost. Today our show will be focusing on the punk bands that served as a catalyst for the movement as a whole spreading all across the globe following its inception.

So…What makes “punk”, punk? How did multiple bands from all different genres come to fame in totally different places throughout the 1970s. The punk movement can be divided into several different sub-genres, so what is it that exactly defines punk?

Punk – Protopunk

Take, The Talking Heads, who are seen as more New Wave than typically “punk” yet were playing CBGB and touring with other punk bands at the time– are they any less valuable simply because they did not follow the typical protocol of the punk archetype? What determines a particular band’s value to the punk movement?

2) Play The Kinks – You Really Got Me
3) Play MC5 – Kick Out The Jams

Bands like the Kinks & MC5 may not be what you might call your typical punk bands, or punk whatsoever, but it’s undeniable that when “You Really Got Me” first played on the air, it spawned thousands of bands. Like Wayne Kramer of Detroit’s MC5, kickin arse n taking names surnames, to be proper. These bands began what was later termed Protopunk.

Iggy Pop & The Stooges - Raw Power

Iggy Pop & The Stooges – Raw Power

When Johnny Rotten says that “We don’t give a fuck what you think of us…” he is being somewhat disingenuous, because he does care. Why else would you change your name from Lydon to Rotten? John Mellor to Joe Strummer. James Newell Osterberg, Jr to Iggy Pop. Jello Biafra. All of the Ramones. There does exist some extremes of artifice and persona. Iggy may exemplify this best of all.

4) Play Iggy Pop & The Stooges – Gimme Danger
5) Play The Velvet Underground- Rock and Roll (INTRO) (Lou Reed)

So how does the Velvet Underground fit into the protopunk scene? Much like the Pixies, they are credited with having influenced every band that came after them, while not selling many records. They certainly had the stagecraft down, playing shows all over NYC and partying at Studio 54 with Andy Warhol and his drug-addled Pop Art entourage. Their image, if not so much their music, is very big punk middle finger to the established mores of the time.

Around the same time, The New York Dolls, one of my personal favorites, was an American protopunk band whose claim to fame was short lived, only surviving from 1971-1975. The New York Dolls not only liberated the musical movement for bands following them, but also had dashing good looks, skintight pants and amazing fashion sense.

6)Play The New York Dolls- Personality Crisis
7)Play The New York Dolls- Trash

For many pioneers of the punk movement it was a way of life. Growing up listening to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan led many to the well of music, but having missed Woodstock, what was left? Angst, fueled by poverty, privation, and misunderstanding, and coupled with second-hand guitars gave many the only chance out of the ghetto of the 70s. The Clash, a band we will be devoting an entire episode to in the future, went on to become one of the biggest bands, not only of the punk movement, but of all time. They spanned the entire century with nods to Americana, reggae, rockabilly, soul, and straight forward rock, all the while sneering, and making you dance.

8) The Clash – White Riot
9) The Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais

The infamous New York City punk clubs CBGB and Max’s played a paramount role in the punk movement. A lot of these bands really rose from the underground simultaneously, taking the world and its youth by storm. In correlation with the New York Dolls is The Ramones, which is for myself the be all end all of punk rock entirely…and my unexplainable crush on Joey Ramone only had a small bit to do with it. My long lived love affair with the ugliest lead singer ever definitely helped spawn my slight obsession with tall skinny white guys that tend to look slightly malnourished…oh and playing a musical instrument, even poorly, was key.

Here’s The Ramones- “Teenage Lobotomy” off of Rocket to Russia 1977. I chose it because I really identified with the song during my adolescence and stayed up at nights waiting for someone to perform the surgical procedure on me…or for my mother ship to come and take me home.

10) Play The Ramones- Teenage Lobotomy
11) Play The Misfits- Hybrid Moments

The Ramones had a quick, hard hitting style with a 4-chord rhythm, essentially only changing the words to each song making from a long last career from 1974-1996. However, I feel as though with the shuffling of members and the changing of the times, The Ramones kind of fell off the map and strayed away from their true punk roots around 1984 with the release of their album Too Tough to Die… its my opinion that perhaps, they should have let a good thing die rather than running it dry.

Can I ask you a question. Are the Misfits really Punk Rock?

Why do you ask sir?

Dead Kennedys - Fresh fruit for Rotting Vegetables

Dead Kennedys – Fresh fruit for Rotting Vegetables

What about Brian Eno, Roxy Music, Modern Lovers (Jonathan Richman), Television (Richard Hell), DEVO, Patti Smith, Talking Heads (David Byrne), The Heartbreakers (Richard Hell), Pere Ubu, Throbbing Gristle, Gang of Four. What about Garage, Glam & Hardcore Punk? Nazi, Noise, Riot Grrrl & Skate? East coast vs. West Coast? Washington D.C.? Chicago? Toronto? We will focus on the different scenes next week in the second part of our Punk trilogy.

12) Play The Dead Kennedys- California Uber Alles
13) Play The Dead Kennedys- Holiday in Cambodia

What can you say about The Dead Kennedys? Well for one, they are aweeesoome (high pitched)! Also, despite the fact that the hail from San Francisco, rising with the west coast movement, they spawned a punk subgroup known as American-Hardcore…also, they were the first American punk band to have a HUGE impact in the United Kingdom.

Active from 1978-1986, The Dead Kennedys often had to play under pseudonyms because their provocative name tended to stir up quit a bit of controversy. San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen wrote in November 1978, “Just when you think tastelessness has reached its nadir, along comes a punk rock group called The Dead Kennedys.” Caen was referring the controversy surrounding the band’s infamous name, often misconstrued as a jab at the Kennedy Family. However, despite popular belief, the name was not meant to insult the Kennedy family, but according to lead singer Jello Biafra, “to bring attention to the end of the American Dream”.

“California Uber Alles” was a single on their first album, Fresh fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980).

14) Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the UK”

Holiday in Cambodia” was the second single by the DK. The record was released in May 1980 on Alternative Tentacles with “Police Truck” as the b-side. The title track was re-recorded for the band’s first album, fresh fruit..,. The cover picture of the single is taken from a massacre in Thailand, and depicts a member of the rightist crowd beating the corpse of a student protester with a metal chair. The song attacks both Eastern totalitarianism and Western materialistic complacency. The song’s lyrics offer a satirical view of young, self-righteous Americans and contrast such a lifestyle with a brutal depiction of the infamous Pol Pot.

15) Play Woody Guthrie- Goin’ Down The Road

Labeled by their elders of another generation of lazy hippie ne’er-do-‘wells pissed them off. Written off as impotent adolescents, they were increasingly incensed by the continued imperialist agenda of their homelands abroad—Vietnam, Guatemala, Chile. Spurred on by the new style of no-holds-barred media coverage, kids in the U.S. and the U.K. rebelled openly. Their anger palpable, many went for the only form of expression allowed them: music. But rather than the saccharine stereogum replayed ad nauseam on the radio and tv, they opted for the rawness of unfiltered guitar, machine-gun drums and patchy basslines.

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