If you’re anything like me, then punk rock pretty much sums up your purpose in life: it’s defiant, cathartic, direct, powerful, and brash. (Or at least I like to think so.) I jog to punk rock, I eat cereal to punk rock, I shag to punk rock. It’s the pot of music: it just makes everything better somehow. Of course, every time I talk to someone else who “gets it,” the topic of posers comes up — those who don’t get it. I’m actually fairly tolerant on the subject versus some other punks, but I have noticed a few things that could save you some animosity from veterans if you’re a neophyte to the scene.
5 The Misfits are Not a Hardcore Band
Hardcore doesn’t mean old. But if it did, Danzig would be on the top of the list. I’m not even really sure why people consider Misfits punk, since they’ve always sounded way more like metal to me. Between the arpeggiated power chords, mid-tempo drumming, and Danzig’s Jim Morrison impression, there isn’t too much punk left in the mix. If anything, it sounds like KISS, but with a more shameless approach to pandering pop hooks. Still, I understand why people would like them anyway (basically, the description I just gave). But don’t bring them up in the same breath as Minor Threat or Black Flag. They are worlds apart.
4 Moshing is NOT the Same as Fighting
Hey, there are plenty of places to go and fight in a controlled environment, if that’s your thing: a boxing ring, an MMA studio, a US Post Office. But moshing isn’t about hurting other people; quite the contrary. The first time I moshed was actually at an indoor show on a tile floor. I slipped and fell on my face pretty hard. Instead of deriding me or stomping on my disoriented ass, my fellow moshers picked me up by the arms and tossed me back into the circle. It was one of the best and most touching moments of my young life. Before you go crying on me, I just want to reiterate that moshing is a communal thing. Shove, don’t swing; run, don’t stomp.
3 Neither is a Snotty Attitude
The two biggest counter-cultural movements of the past century were hippies and punks. I can’t tell you how many more times I’ve been brow beaten by a hippie, which I credit to punks’ general ability to allow others to be whomever they would like. Lately, though, I’ve noticed that young punks are just jerks. I have to count some of this to their sophomoric ignorance, especially in teenagers new to the movement. But it’s also that a lot of these kids are taking inspiration from a nihilistic philosophy. (Of course, citing Sid Vicious as an influence much more often than Nietzsche.) If you want to live fast and die young, by all means, go ahead; just don’t spit on me as I walk by.
2 Mohawks are Not a Necessity
Punk rock used to be entirely about shock value and audacity in terms of thought content, but somehow in the 80s it turned into a fashion movement. Yes, taking a cues from the Sex Pistols (who dressed up with shocking hair colors and safety pins), 80s punks in American and Britain dawned excessive hairstyles to show allegiance with punk rock ideals. Unfortunately, that allegiance grew into conformity, and punk’s ethos was supplanted by its fashion sense. Just because I wear glasses, it doesn’t mean I’m not a punk — it just means my eyes don’t work right. Remember how much you like your own individuality before you try to condemn someone else’s.
1 Do your Homework
If you’ve got a greatest hits of the Ramones, you’re not a punk all of the sudden. The same goes with Ramones t-shirts, lunchboxes, etc. Even if you are supporting and celebrating one of the most pivotal bands in the history rock ‘n’ roll, you don’t really know enough about the movements that came before or after that make the Ramones such a touch stone. And I’m not just talking about the Sex Pistols. Know and love the following bands (and thank me later): New York Dolls, Minutemen, The Damned, Fugazi, The MC5, and Gang of Four. We all like the Ramones, but now you’ll be able to follow the rest of the conversation.
In my opinion, punk rock is for everyone. I know some people (myself included) who would have suffered some very dismal adolescent years without the understanding and therapeutic outlets offered by punk rock. For all of us, then, respect the scene and all it has to offer. Unfortunately, punks are notoriously bad at listening to their elders (myself included). So, I hope they learn for themselves, one way or the other. So long as the music stays alive, I’m willing to put up with a few jerks to have a good time.