Vivienne Westwood © Robbie Spencer (Dazed Mag) — Thinkbabymusic Collective

Down For The Count

Before mainstream punk, there was pub rock, and earlier elements of Glam Rock. It all amalgamated. You may need to thank the MC5 and the Stooges, the Kinks, the Who, the Stones etc for starting off this whole thing.

Back in 1976, the Ramones went to England for a couple of gigs during America’s Bicentennial. Although hardly noticed in the US, they changed the UK landscape forever,and the Brits scored! Back home, the stations where the Ramones songs came in clear as a (Liberty) bell, were the college radio stations. US kids could hear their favorite bands, like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols,Television, Stiff Little Fingers, and the Clash.

But, the 1973 New York Dolls gig on the Old Grey Whistle Test TV Show also had a great impact on the pre-Ramones era bands. Many UK bands, including the Clash & the Pistols, said punk bands adopted the Ramones’ fast, easy playing, and the Doll’s bad boy attitude and look. It was everything that late 70’s80’s Pop and Rock wasn’t. It was raw. It was gritty. It was honest, and it spoke of the struggles and frustrations of young, working class kids stuck going nowhere, on both sides of the pond. Where popular music talked of parties, dancing, and general mainstream bullshit, Punk fought against subservience to authority, and a rejection of the Barbie Doll consumerist culture that was being shoved down everyone’s collective throat. History does repeat itself.

Some punks made their own clothes, dyed their hair wild colors. They started their own magazines and record labels. They made art. They created films, and they rejected the notion that one has to follow the ever changing whims of those in power. That was then. In America, the malls and Downtown Manhattan, streets were clogged with shops and stalls, selling expensive to knockoff clothes. Very few people made their own clothes.

Most of the US poor kids went to discount and thrift stores. When kids had holey clothes, they were from the result of wear and tear. They never knew that they would become fashionable i.e. expensive.

It’s all about the same shit it was back then, except now it’s fashionable again. Punk and it’s ethos were co-opted by a P.C. generation who purchased their rebellion at the mall, at some Hot Topic store, which is owned by Disney. Most people don’t even know true punk or its music. They believe some EMO band on TV claiming to be punk. It’s sad. They don’t even know what their fighting for. Most of them aren’t even fighting anything. And the times, well, they haven’t changed all that much. The irony is, most of the old guard are wearing high end clothes and living high off the hog. Even the vegetarians. Last year, the British punk rock revolution turned 41. It was a staged ‘celebration’ by the same twats that tried to crush it and its music back in the day. Now, it’s a fairground with memorabilia stands selling bad Chinese copies of the real thing.

Today, you see punk fashion in everyday life. Even with naive girls from every race, who don’t even know true punk from the start, or ever listened to a real punk album. It was meant to be anti-establishment, against the whole political and mass entertainment industry.

The Pistols were an example of how you could make a band to a formula. But, back then, it was a formula that got the politicians’ knickers in a severe twist! Looking back, one could say it was all a scam, a swindle. If you don’t get it now, you never will. John Lydon may be laughing at everyone who fell for the whole thing. A formula band like One Direction.

And we don’t care.

We need something like punk to happen again. But there’s no anger, no backlash towards the commercial machine, and this has many very concerned . Because most of the ‘anti-establishment’ cultural, political groups on TV, are $oros paid crisis actors, and the useful idiots that join in. Punk and it’s ethos were co-opted by a generation who purchased their rebellion at the mall.

Last year, Joe Corrè, the son of Malcolm and Vivian, said he was burning all the original records, art, clothes and stuff in protest of the commercialization of punk. The wealthy girly-man neither addresses nor acknowledges that his mom and dad, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, were responsible for commercializing punk in the first place. McLaren saw punk, and particularly The Sex Pistols, as a cash cow.

Vivienne Westwood (photo) had said that it was a marketing opportunity. Many agree that Corrè ought to torch his mother on his dad’s grave, if he wants to really get his point across. If his point is denouncing the exploitation of punk by some sectors of society through symbolic action like burning apparel, destroying the real deal does exactly the contrary, as those items were probably from the times when punk was not “subsumed into mainstream culture”.

Did you know Oi means hello in Portuguese? When you’re punk, you’re punk forever in the head. With or without the uniform. Punk never leaves you, even if you work a 9 to 5 job. It just sticks with you.

Punk is not dead in the U.S! Punk is not dead in Algeria. Punk’s not dead in Switzerland. Greece is punk. Greetings to the ubiquitous punk fans all around the world. If anything, it’s mostly underground, as it originally began 42 years ago in 1975. People back then, rebelled against DISCO, the Bee Gees, closet case Travolta, and they were against war. Not so today. Now, people still rebel against music, that’s the beauty of punk. It’s an endless loop that rises and simmers, like a pot of soup. It took years to get it into people’s head that you have to fight the rigged system. If you don’t agree, fight the system, through freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Use it, or lose it. There are tons of hot punk bands today.

Still doing it DIY, rebel with a cause.

Published: In Print Issue Nº 06—2018
Words: Major Tom Alexopoulos, Thinkbabymusic Collective
Photography © Robbie Spencer, Dazed