Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Punk Enough For Ya?

I am featured in a special in The Guardian online on what Punk really means for those who were there. The sterile and still Metropolitan Museum of Art retrospective on Punk seems stupid when one considers what Punk was really about; basically freedom, self-expression, non-conformity and anti-boredom. In the UK and the USA these tenants of Punk lasted about 6 months once it had moved beyond the squats, crowded venues and warehouses where things were considered 'dangerous' into the streets and TV screens of the nations.

By the mid-1980s I was a huge fan of Talking Heads, The Cure, The Smiths, The Clash, as well as local Australian bands like The  Saints, The Stems, The Hoodoo Gurus, The Screaming Tribesmen, The Wreckery, The Birthday Party, and even Midnight Oil (which was more hardcore at the start).

Living in Queensland, Australia was another reason to be punk. The atmosphere in the state by 1990 was one of cultural siege if you were interested in any form of expression that breached the walls built by 25 years of single party government that was Conservative in the fascist sense of the word. For more on how it was living in Brisbane and being punk in the late 1980s and early 90s the chapter Rock Against Work in Andrew Stafford's Pig City: From The Saints to Savage Garden (2004) contains many references to venues, bands and even gigs I remember. 

Punk hit Brisbane like no other city in Australia. The tentacles that grew out of New York and London from the musical explosion of 1976 affected the receptive waiting enclaves in each major city around the globe in varying ways. As the music and images of the Ramones, Patti Smith, early Pere Ubu, Television and the Sex Pistols were heard and seen, bands formed, systems started and the word spread. Brisbane was different, for two main reasons: we had Bjelke-Petersen and The Saints. Bjelke-Petersen represented the kind of crypto-fascist, bird-brained conservatism that every punk lead singer in the world could only dream of railing against. His use of a blatantly corrupt police force, and its heavy-handed response to punk, gave the scene a political edge largely absent in the other states. And The Saints were the musical revolutionaries in the city's evil heart - Tales from Pig City

By the early 1990s I was Punk! I had fled Queensland (or Queersland and my friend Monty and his band would have had it). In 1992 I moved to Sydney and spent many nights seeing this band:

Nunbait were a punk band.

Nunbait first formed in Sydney in 1989. The band’s first release was 500-copy run of a self-pressed single, “Track Trauma” (1990). After winning a battle of the bands at Sydney’s Lansdowne Hotel, Nunbait secured a contract with Australian underground label Waterfront Records, which resulted in a mini-album, “The Hub” (named after a Newtown porn theatre), in 1990. Nunbait opened for Butthole Surfers (Burland Hall Newtown, 1991), Mudhoney (Phoenician Club Sydney, 1990), Einstürzende Neubauten and The Beasts of Bourbon (Phoenician Club Sydney 1991), Nirvana (Selinas, Sydney, February 1992), Helmet (1991), Fugazi (1991) as well as performing tours/shows with Superchunk and Australian underground acts including Tumbleweed, Cosmic Psychos, and the Celibate Rifles.

Punk is about freedom and autonomy. Not fashion. 

Rebels: A Journey Underground #4- A Riot of my Own

With the worlds "I am an anarchist" Londoner Johnny Rotten began a full-blown counterculture of protest and self-expression; a cry against crushing youth unemployment and a voice for the disenfranchised. This film examines a new kind of music, a new social critique and a new form of free speech. Featured are the bands, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and the Damned who turned the rebellious tension of rock and roll back on itself -- and blew it up.

Finally my punk days were ruled by one band. The Butthole Surfers.

USSA - Rocky - Cherub - Two Parter - Julio Iglesias - Graveyard - Johnny Smoke - Psychedelic Jam - Gary Floyd - Sweat Loaf - Pittsburgh to Lebanon - Weird instrumental - Fast Song - Total freakout/Gibby plays with fire

There is nothing that comes close to them.

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