Punk rock was and is my music. I love everything about it, from the driving sounds to the message it sends. But what, if anything did punk rock accomplish?
From the 70s to early 80s it was pretty much male driven. And sexist. However artists like L7, Bikini Kill, Babes in Toyland and others in the late 80s and early 90s carried the message and broke down the barriers for women in the genre. This era is by far my favorite. When you grow up Catholic, you don’t grow up feminist. So hearing the message of the songs performed by these female bands was a huge wake-up call for me.
I started to notice the change in punk rock culture around the mid-90s. I went to a concert, and everything seemed very manufactured and fake. And that’s when I realized that punk had gone full mainstream. Today you can hear songs from anarchists like The Clash and Ramones in commercials hocking new cars, electronics, etc. Even some Trump supporters try to claim a punk rock attitude, completely missing the point of the message of punk rock (to no one’s surprise).
So what is the legacy of punk rock? Is it a genre that sold out, or did it blend itself so well into popular culture that it changed it for the better, without us knowing?
Neil Nehring joins me to talk about the early days of punk, it’s goals and how it evolved and became more commercialized, especially in the 90’s. Nehring has published a few articles on punk rock, and is a professor at the University of Texas. His article, Flowers in the Dustbin: Culture, Anarchy, and Postwar England and Popular Music, Gender, and Postmodernism: Anger Is an Energy is what made me want to chat with him about this subject. While I focus mainly on the 90s, Nehring gives us a full look at the history of punk, including reminding me about some of the great underground acts of the 80s.
Listen to Episode 6 Here: