Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Does An Old Punk Do When He's Not In A Band?

Last July a local small art gallery put the call out for someone to give a lecture on Punk Rock. Word filtered through the scene and I stepped up and said "sure, I can do that".
I met with the gallery curators and we hashed out some basic ideas as to what they were looking for and what I could provide.  The meeting ended on a very positive note with everyone excited for the presentation.

And then the enormity of the project hit me and I started to freak out a little bit. How does one explain the entire history of Punk Rock in an hour? I thought of about 374 different tangents to go off on. The theme of the exhibit was "Expletive", so at first I thought about just running down all the obnoxious bands that were just out to shock old ladies (Pork Duks, GG Allin, Meatmen, Chaotic Dischord, etc), but quickly realized I would probably be the only person who knew what I was talking about and that wouldn't have been fun for anyone.  Then I thought I would just do a history of the Minneapolis scene, but again I would have to bring up bands that were so obscure no one would be able to track anything down to actually hear what I was talking about (Skull Fuck, Library Police, Blissful Discharge).
Finally I decided to do what I do best and just wing it.  I had 8 weeks to prepare and what did I do? Go to the bar the night before and come up with a few bullet points I wanted to hit, and then just let my mouth run on auto-pilot.  I mean, this is a subject that I have been asked about for 20 years, and like all the bands I have been in, it was attitude over ability.

I was also asked to have some music playing in the background to help illustrate what I was talking about. Here is playlist I came up with, in rough chronological and geographical order:

Song Title                                     Band
Personality Crisis                         New York Dolls
Faster & Louder                           The Dictators
Blitzkrieg Bop                              The Ramones
Sonic Reducer                              Dead Boys
Kids Just Wanna Dance '79           Fast
Break It Down                               Testors
Ghost Rider                                 Suicide
Just Me (I Wanna Be Me)             Sex Pistols
1977 (Demo)                                The Clash
New Rose                                    The Damned
Hanging Around                            The Stranglers
Ready Steady Go                         Generation X
When The Tanks Roll Over Poland Again     Automatics
Get Your Woofing Dog Off Me        The Jerks
Hotwire My Heart                          CRIME
I'm Stranded                                The Saints
Suspect Device                            Stiff Little Fingers
Let There Be Noise                      Dum Dum Boys
Riding On The 262                       PVC
Cry For Fame                              Dieter Meier
Profit                                           EbbaGrön
Silex Pistols                                 Too Much


  1. Great stuff, attitude over ability is always a winner. All the best Ollie and keep on keeping on.

  2. I just finished up the audio. Great work.

    I was a Nu-Metaller in Minneapolis around 2001- 2007 or so (Black Flood Diesel, Smilin Liar). I used to go by the name 'Brutal' and I was a real asshole. These were my teen years and although we were 15-20 years or so from the original Punk explosion in the Twin Cities, the youth scene had changed dramatically with the new generation taking its cues from bands like Korn and Slipknot. I knew nothing of Punk and in most ways, didnt like it or give a shit about it. Now here I am about 15 years out from my youth and looking at the other side of the coin. Whats the point?

    I spent the past three years in London for work. I finally took the time to do my homework on Punk. I read England's Dreaming (among other countless books on my and everyone else's hero, Johnny Rotten) and did some time in the pit at the 100 Club. They still do the pogo. Long gone are the ironic swastikas and in their place are beer guts, but they're still punk as fuck. If youre looking for a personality look up facebook.com/oldpunkgit, he's about as London Punk as Vivienne Westwood's overpriced underwear. Anyhow...

    Whats the old expression Im trying to think of? "Here Today, Gone Later Today!" This is specifically true for underground music. Like I said, Im about 15 years out from when Id raged against the machine in the Twin Cities and in a blink of an eye its as though Im now an old fuck. When I returned home to the MPLS/St Paul area earlier this year I could sense the change simply by noticing the fashion. We're now into the skinny jeans once again, which I believe only hold half of the rebellion from my hammer pants youth. But who am I to judge...

    The one hour lecture was a HUGE find when I stumbled upon it on youtube. Without the documentation from personalities whom were there at the time, we might as well kiss our fucking cultural gains goodbye. Punk Rock changed the way that all music is created, pop or hardcore, and although this is evident in our manners it is nearly lost on our intellect. There are hundreds of supposed intellectuals whom are experts on the subject of punk rock yet how many of them can say that they've sweat and bled in the nightclubs for the music. It is an absolutely refreshing sixty minutes of audio to hear it from someone who was there at the time, regardless of geographical constraints.

    Although the history of punk can be researched endlessly, the lecture does what seems is almost impossible to do in regards to Punk Rock and that is to define it by smashing the inconsistencies and false-revisionism from business and academic types who've looked to trump up their credibility as being an expert at Punk without having a single Clash t-shirt in their wardrobe.

    Should this new generation ever spoil my good time and forget about the bands that made things happen in Minneapolis around the turn of the millennium, I might just have to do a lecture concerning my youth culture as well.

    Thank you thank you thank you for the no-bullshit-attitude look at Punk's roots and influence as someone who'd walked the walk. And if you dont like my congratulatory statements, FUCK YOOOOOUUUUU!!!!