Punk rock typically means a fast, hard-edged style of music, often with lyrics detailing anti-establishment sentiments. A good example of this would be the song ‘God Save the Queen’ by the Sex Pistols.Various sub-genres of rock use Punk to describe themselves. In fact, the dating of the first use is still dubious.
The fame of the Punk Rock era is particularly apparent with the television embodiment in The Young Ones in 1982.The character Vyvyan Basterd is a ‘typical’ punk rocker, with four star studs seemingly embedded in his skull, and in one episode it is shown, he was ‘666’ on the back of his head, covered by his hair. He is also shown to be, mannerless, loud, have very destructive tendencies, including blowing things up, and a dislike for ‘niceness’ most people in general.
A list of somewhat influential Punk Rock Bands would be: The Ramones The Smiths The Clash The Sex Pistols Siouxsie & The Banshees The Undertones Dead Kennedys The Velvet Underground The Stooges Buzzcocks
The main characteristics that make up a common punk rock song consist of; A fast-paced, aggressive sound . Lyrics displaying anti-establishment or rebellious ideas, something also prominent in the members themselves. The rejection of conformity and independence, ie releasing records without signing to a record label, and the strong desire to make a new sound. Often, band members had little skill as musicians, but felt the need to express themselves. It was widely considered a movement as much as it was a musical style.
The instrument line-up is quite common for most styles or rock; usually consisting of two guitars, a bass, drums and vocals. The songs themselves rarely span more than 2-3 minutes. There are not often guitar solos, but short, loud guitar breaks. Songs are often shouted rather than sung, however there are acceptions such as Joe Strummer of The Clash, who was known for his singing style. Often the vocalists shared a similar look, either performing shirtless, or with cut-off jackets.
The Clash Formed in 1976, The Clash were subscribed many different genres aside from Punk, their music incorporated elements of reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, dance, and rockabilly. They combined their somewhat political and rebellious lyrics with a- typically musical sound. Their most famous album is London Calling, released in 1979.
The Ramones They formed in 1974, and where often though to be the first punk-rock group. They toured for 22 years, and became a large influence on many bands. The logo has been adopted widely in the media.
The Sex Pistols Formed in 1975, the are world renowned for being the pioneers of the British punk-rock scene. Their songs are notoriously anti-establishment, often denouncing ‘The Man’ The band refused to attend a ceremony inducting them into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame They broke up in 1978 when Johnny Rotten left. Bassist Sid Vicious overdosed a year later.
This is an excerpt from part of a documentary on the history of Punk Rock. It depicts a famous interview the Sex Pistols did with Bill Grundy in 1976 where they famously swore live on television before the watershed. At the time this created a great deal of outrage.
Siouxsie and the Banshees Formed in 1976, they were a British rock band initially associated with the English punk rock scene. The band evolved to create "a form of post-punk discord full of daring rhythmic and sonic experimentation“ They became inspirational in the creation and development of the gothic rock genre. Their music also combined elements of pop and avant-garde. The Banshees disbanded in 1996, with Siouxsie and drummer Budgie continuing to record music as The Creatures, a second band they had formed in the early 1980s. In 2004, Siouxsie began a solo career.
Buzzcocks Formed in England in Bolton in 1976, they are an English punk-rock band. They are regarded as an important influence on the Manchester music scene, the independent record label movement, punk rock, power pop, pop punk and indie rock. The name "Buzzcocks" was chosen by Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley after reading the headline "its the buzz, cocks!" in a review of the TV series Rock Follies in Time Out magazine. The "buzz" is the excitement of playing on stage; "cock" is Manchester slang meaning "mate". They thought it captured the excitement of the Sex Pistols and nascent punk scene.
The label of ‘Punk Rock’ has become very popular, however very little of the original style is kept. It has helped to spur the creation of the classification ‘alternative rock’ which shares some of its ideals. ‘Emo’ is another sub-genre which has been derived from the left over sound . ‘Indie’ bands tend to follow the same style, ie becoming independent from record labels, and finding their own styles. They have become almost a soft-core incarnation of the original Punk ideals.
The lines to what is punk rock have become somewhat blurred, and many derivatives of the genre have been formed. As I have mentioned, ‘Indie’ bands follow some of the original ideals. ‘Emo’ and the derivative ‘Scremo’ often follow some of the more anti- establishment ideals, and more predominantly the style of music. Some bands are classed as derivatives of punk, but lean away from that particular genre. An example of this would be Blink-182 who, admittedly, were often classed as more of a pop-punk band rather than fully punk rock. However, their signature style is that they don’t often take themselves seriously, undermining their genre-grouping.
Examples of some modern-day Punk Rock bands would be; Green Day Sum 41 The Offspring Anti-Flag NOFX AFI Many of these bands formed around the late 1980s and early 1990s.
John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, singer, Sex Pistols, got his signature look from the fact he contracted spinal meningitis when he was seven years old, the treatment of which meant drawing fluid from his spine. It left him with a permanent spinal curvature and what he would later describe as the ‘Lydon Stare’ Michael Ryan Pritchard III bassist, Greenday changed his name to ‘Mike Dirnt’ because he liked the sound his deadened bass strings made when he played them.