Punk? Metal? Hardcore?

What makes a punk? Or what is punk. A question that was going through my head at a couple of recent gigs, the hardcore all dayer in Birmingham and the Monkey Boy gig in Derby? Why was I thinking it? Well, seems you ask, I’ll try and explain why.

What is punk? What is it to you. Are you a punk? Am I? Well, I guess that all depends on what kind of definition you wish to apply. Is it a musical style? Is it a look? Some say it’s a lifestyle. But what is it?

It’s a rebellion yeah, a fuck you to authority. Only as long as you fit in with some definition that is. It’s why I was thinking it at the all dayer. I didn’t fit. I enjoy the music, but I’m not 100% hardcore. I’m not punk enough to be a part of that scene. And then amidst all the “heavy”, you had King Prawn. With a song called Not Your Punk. And they just fitted that day so well. Musically they may at times have been odd ones out, but in terms of attitude, they were there. Attitude.

And as I was watching the Monkey Boy gig in Derby a week later, stuff happened. The first band played. Old School punk. Mohawked. 4Skins and Dead Kennedys t-shirts. The next band were advertised as a Death Metal band. They watched the punks, the punks watched them and supported each other. Should that have happened, after all, musically they are so far removed. That wasn’t very punk was it. No elitist snobbery about the music. No “I wouldn’t be seen dead watching that”.

But maybe there was the essence of punk in that simple gesture of watching. It wasn’t music. It wasn’t look. It wasn’t belonging to an elitist sub-culture. It was mutual support in the knowledge that whatever you are doing, as different as it may be, it is still fighting against the conformity of expectation. Let’s face it, punk, hardcore, metal, whatever you want, it’s never going to be accepted. Not in terms of real mass percentage. In terms of a “rebellion against what is expected”, it’s all punk. Some bands will make it and become popular, but ultimately it’s always going to go against the grain of much of societies idealistic expectations of people. And so instead of subdividing and fighting each other, the genres should realise this and accept that punk goes a little deeper.

Is talk of “well it’s too metal to be hardcore” or, “it’s not real punk” really helpful? Old school new school. Does it matter? Only if it is has to stick to a certain rigid structure and formula. And then where’s the punk in that? Is one really going to be more accepted than the other? If society is putting a scene down, do you think that in fighting, arguing, and isolation of another repressed scene is really going to show that “unity against authority”. It should go across scenes. There are barriers put up between society and “outcasts”. Don’t add a barrier between the “outcasts” and society. That just makes the fight harder. I understand people don’t like some of the music of the different “genres”. Hell, most of us dislike something within our chosen genre. But while you’re ultimately fighting for the same principles, then a little support across the genres should be encouraged. Well, I think so. Otherwise you just alienate those that already feel alienated.

Am I punk? No piercings. No weird hair, shite hair maybe, but not weird. No extreme views on thing. No, I’m not punk. I’m not punk in my look or my musical leanings. I listen to punk. But I’m not punk. This zine isn’t punk. It’s not totally obscure. There’s an element of compromise within it. But, I don’t get freebies from labels at the moment. I pay to get into the gigs I review. Maybe I’m more punk then? This is me doing it on my own, without support from the system within which I work. But if that does make me punk, then it’s pretty stupid. Cos if I get offered stuff, I’ll take it.Compromise. But I’m not going to go out begging for it.

One thing you should realise about life, is it’s about compromise. You can have many wonderful ideals, but along the line you compromise. I mean, let’s rebel eh? Vegetarian, nah mate, go further, go vegan. Go further, don’t bother with food at all. But then you die. So you compromise and you eat. Life is compromise. Otherwise life will kick you in the teeth and blow you away. The first time you see someone die or someone close to you dies suddenly, then it will show you how life will always beat you. For all your best will in the world, you’re still going to die. You have to compromise. Social Distortion said it best “it was me against the world, and I swore that I’d win, but the world fought back punished me for my sins.

Why am I saying this? What’s the point? I guess because I think we still get judged too easily. I’m metal because of my appearance. But I listen to a lot of punk. A lot of hardcore. A lot of metal. I understand some people don’t want to be associated with different genres, but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I’m fed up with feeling an outsider listening to musical genres that claim to fend for “the outsider”. But they only apply it seems, if you conform to their rules. That’s not what it’s all about. It goes further than rules. It goes further than musical edges.

So instead of sticking to some outmoded ideal, we should wake up and smell the reality. Punk isn’t as restrictive a definition as we make out. It’s time that people realised that instead of using it as some elitist pedestal. This whole “heavy” music scene is punk when it comes to acceptance from society. Punk as a fight for freedom and an attitude spans more than punk as a music form or a fashion statement. And punk as anything other than freedom and attitude is an outmoded concept.