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Here's your question and answer of the week from the Punknews Formspring:

Q: Is punk rock still punk? Whatever the punk ethos and attitude was or is, does it still hold true in modern punk rock music, or has the concept of what punk means "grown up"?


A:
This is a complex question for a lot of reasons. One, "punk" the music of the concept isn't (and has never been) monolithic. Individuals often derive their own meaning from the music/ideals of punk rock. What I believe punk represents, might be entirely different than what a G.G. Allin fan might feel it represents.

Beyond that you need to consider where punk started to really figure if it really had some unified set of ideals. Look at the big three punk bands people tend to list; The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, and The Clash. All three were on major labels (something that's still a bit of a stigma, even today). The Sex Pistols and the Ramones were unabashed in their desire to be rock stars (though as I mentioned earlier, their completely counter intuitive approach to their goal was awesome) and Johnny Rotten is a huckster and willing to be a talking head to anyone who listens. Does his lack of concern for the opinions of others regarding his actions make him more punk or does it make him a corporate shill?

[[ Even bands that came later who seem to express very counter culture ideas had their hang ups. Black Flag's "Damaged" was originally slated to be distributed by Unicorn, an MCA property (this, of course, fell through and led to one of the BEST Black Flag stories ever). Jello Biafra for much of the 80s would talk to any media outlet that would have him and Dead Kennedys even did a big publicity stunt of playing the Bay Area Music Awards and playing "Pull My Strings" as a sort of, "Fuck you" to the industry. But is it a bigger statement to show up and play a shocking song or to not play at all?

These are all bands I love and they all made a number of decisions I never had to and that I don't feel qualified to judge one way or the other. I'm just using these instances to sort of highlight how varied the term "Punk" is and how complicated "punk ethos/attitude" can be to define.

Personally, I know a lot of bands who have worked hard to maintain ethics (both business wise and artistic) that are important to them and I guess really being true to what you believe is pretty punk rock.

So, yes?

-Rich

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