Nowadays, punk rock is sometimes perceived as a genre that has long outlived its best years. For almost 40 years of its existence this scene has come a long way, having made a cultural revolution and having managed to grow to dozens of independent currents. Is it possible to say that at the moment punk rock is dead (as many musicians have recently claimed) – it is difficult to answer. However, you can accurately answer the question what made this genre special and so popular.
After the “golden age” of rock came to an end in the late 60s, a new generation appeared, for which the stars of this time seemed not so bright. Groups such as Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones have matured and have begun to distance themselves from modern youth. The new listener needed music that would express his state and feelings. Then the whole world began to change and it became clear that another split between the generations was inevitable.
The First Wave
Punk rock came out of garage rock, which was a mixture of different directions. However, this was the first “own” music of the youth – the groups expressed themselves, their views and their position, not paying attention to the masses.
Gradually, the garage rock began to separate: some bands disintegrated, some went into other musical currents. However, the desire to play a simple, unlimited music remains. That uncompromising, which was filled with garage rock, was saturated with aggression. Then there were groups that became the “sources” of punk rock, for example, MC5. They wanted to make a cultural revolution by singing about war, violence and drugs. It was a tough, antisocial challenge, aimed at being heard. Such an experiment with music has not received recognition either in society or on the part of critics. The people around said that everything they did was more than disgusting.
“One of our songs was called “To hell with bans”. We cooked up the main melody intro, where Rob Tyner yelled: “To hell with bans, fuck you!”. We knew that we were breaking taboos. What will they say to us: “God, they’re mother!” But what the fuck? It’s rock’n’roll, and it’s all a joke. But when our album came out, the censors heard it and “your mother” was removed. This completely hammered the whole MC5 company”, – Wayne Kramer, MC5 guitarist.
Then such groups were not properly evaluated. But they sparked a spark in the culture of a new musical direction.
The second wave
This spark was picked up by Iggy Pop and his band The Stooges in the late 60’s – early 70’s. Their wild antics set the tone for all the further punk rock: “I do and say that I want, and I do not care about your opinion.” Then on a scene there were new idols of youth: Talking Heads, New York Dolls, Ramones. These groups were not interested in sales (at least initially). The Ramones were the only group on which the English punks were equal – they quickly won the audience, and in many ways thanks to the shocking appearance.
The reaction was much more negative to the New York Dolls: “Malcolm (Malcolm McLaren, group manager) thought he would be the most shocking in America? In America, they are most afraid of communism, so let’s put on red and put on a red party. For the shocking effect, he installed a large flag with a sickle and a hammer behind the stage. Dolls did not sing about communism, it was done to irritate people. So it turned out, “- John Holmstrom, creator of PUNK Magazin.
But the real “punk rock revolution” burst in 1975. It was a performance by the Sex Pistols at St. Martin’s College of Art. In the intelligent and stiff England, which had an excellent musical history, the concert of such a crazy band became a shock. Nobody has seen anything like it – Sex Pistols looked like a personification of infamy and rage. Members of the group spit from the stage, could throw things, swear, shout out something to the audience. Their music was a few chords that sounded primitive, distorted and aggressive. But that’s exactly what interested young people, because they found everyday things in their songs, and the idea of a generation without a future, rejecting even the most unshakable values, looked brilliant. The situation was heated after the release of the most famous single Sex Pistols “God Save the Queen”. Then the group was denied a tour of England.
“You went to the music store and asked to listen to the Sex Pistols. But the seller did not answer you. They were just afraid to talk about this band, “- British rock musician John Robb.
All this caused an inexorable interest, which increased after the show “Today” with the leading Bill Grand. It was another demolition of conventional taboos: frontman Johnny Rotten began to swear with a mat directly from the TV screen. After this ether on the Sex Pistols, a wave of hatred surged through that some viewers began to beat the TVs and throw them out of the window.
During this period, punk rock itself began to look menacing. He expressed anarchy and nihilism in everything: pogroms were organized, boorish attitude towards people, extravagant appearance dominated. Young people opposed power, culture, the older generation and all established values. It was a response to the violence that took place in the world by violence – the very situation that prevailed in world politics at that time caused the emergence of a genre like punk rock. For eight years there was a war in Vietnam, in England people had to stand in line to receive benefits, in America the level of poverty increased. Punk was talking about people’s worries. In addition, the performers themselves were descendants of the lower strata. They were close to the youth, like no other.
Along with Sex Pistols appeared and Clash. In fact, they played in the style of Sex Pistols, but they did not scream about the problems of society. They understood that everything was bad, but at the same time they asked: “What can we do about it?”. In addition, the Clash was more neutral to the government.