Why I'll Never Stop Playing Punk Rock
By: Jimmy Eberle
Nofx's Fat Mike hits the links.
Punk rock is a money toilet. The record/mp3 collecting involved is the most addictive drug that I've ever encountered, and most of my alcoholic/drug addict/straight edge friends would probably agree. But are we all just living in a dumber cliché than the one we're supposedly and lazily rebelling against?
It doesn't feel like it. I still get the same rush listening to the Dead Kennedys' Plastic Surgery Disasters LP that I did when I was twelve after my first girlfriend turned me into a non-poser. I've lost count of how many local bands I've played in the past thirteen years (with only one piece of vinyl to show for it so far) and I still love it. Punk/Hardcore/non-shitty Metal/rock & roll/blah blah blah seem to be the main e-brake for any of us becoming real adults though. I don't care about making money for writing these stupid, angry, 45-second long riffs. But I wouldn't hate it. Anyway, no one's buying, so it's a moot point.
I just watched the One Nine Nine Four documentary (above) about the year punk broke (1994, if you're keeping score). It shows interviews with Fat Mike, Brett Gurewitz, Tom Delonge, Fletcher Dragge and a bunch of other band dudes that were staples of my teenage record collection, all reminiscing about the various unexpected times in their lives when being in a punk band suddenly became a feasible career. Some seem to have a modern re-hashing of Steven Blush's take in American hardcore that hardcore punk is dead, most don't. I hate Steven Blush. He's a great documentarian of that time period, but I would rip his skin off and bury him in a coffin full of time-released landmines if I ever met him. Granted, I wasn't born until 1987 and only have the songs, history books and YouTube clips to judge from. But ALL of the shit since then just doesn't count? Screw you, Steven Blush.
Back to the point, the documentary was good at pointing out facts and events that happened. But between this and the article about the top ten punk rock millionaires that came out on dying scene's blog a few weeks ago, I don't know what think anymore. I like writing these songs because I have an anger problem. I like watching my friends who with the displaced anger and form intense, loyal and moronic bonds immediately.
I like touring because it's the cheapest way to go on vacation. Plus, you're actually contributing, instead of just mouth-breathing up air in Brooklyn or Wisconsin while you check Yelp for pizza slice recommendations. The fact that the bands I look up to have road crews and can tour with their entire families now blows my mind. It doesn't matter if a tire pops or gear is stolen, they just have more waiting while their iPads recharge in the bus' lounge area. My ideological forefathers have become complacent and comfortable while they all go bowling and play golf together. Good for them, I guess. It's ridiculous what people make their millions on these days.
But it doesn't seem very counter-culture anymore. Listening to them gab about old skate videos and the opening of Gilman tire me the same way that listening to my uncles start jawing about their 401ks or how much they liked Paul Blart: Mall Cop does. Jaded boredom. Maybe it's due to the fact the there's at least one store in every mall to buy all your cookie-cutter skateboard needs, which would be a valid point if any punks still rode (seems to be more of a backpack hip-hop thing now, if popular culture is to be believed). Maybe it's due to the fact that they are all getting into their 40s/50s and they don't need to sleep on a cement floor of a warehouse in Memphis when it's balls-shrinkingly cold outside, with no blankets. The grey area between playing a DIY basement show and Blink-182 selling out Madison Square Garden is the widest gap in this "career path" imaginable.