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Q: Biggest punk douchebag ever?
A: Well, I'm not going to just start naming names because I'm not looking for beef right now. Also, I will say, the VAST majority of artists that I've met in punk rock have been totally awesome people.
But, what I will say, is those artists that people think are douchebags sometimes are the complete opposite and those that purport themselves to be paragons of virtue sometimes turn out to be pretty reprehensible creatures.
At this point, I've done over 200 interviews, so I think it's fair to say that I've had my fair share of interactions with punk artists. Now to be fair, an interview, even a three hour one, won't give you the complete picture of a person, but I do feel that there are certain cues that betray a person's true nature. Also, comparing people's words to their actions also gives you insight into his or her true being.
I've found that when interviewing some artists, they they hold themselves out to the public to be a sort of model of behavior. But, I've found a lot of these guys to be straight up phony bologna. I think, now, more then ever, if a person adheres to a certain diction, expresses certain point, and maintains a certain demeanor (usually one of a certain reluctant assuredness) then punk fans will say "so and so is a great human being." But then, when you really see what these people do, and see how they run their business and relations with other people, you learn that it's all a gimmick and that these "great guys" are just as greedy and malicious, and perhaps even more so, then artists who don't act as if they represent any range of thoughts.
More specifically, what particularly annoys me, is that some artists will say that they always tell the truth and always say what they mean, and really use that avenue as a way to passive aggressively rag on their friends. I particularly remember one interview I did where the artist in question, out of the blue, brought up his/her friend's album and started talking about how much it sucked. I think that's lame. Really, isn't the classier approach, in contrast to 100% honesty to the point of boorishness, selective discussion, and instead of saying "Yeah, my friends last live show was terrible," just saying "It wasn't really my thing," or even "I thought it was pretty good?" Isn't it better to give your friend the benefit of the doubt than using "honesty" as a catty way just to be nasty?
In contrast, I've found that guys that aren't known for being nice, are actually the nicest, and most truthful people in punk rock. The reason people don't think that they are "nice" is because they don't necessarily adhere to pre-establish guidelines of thought, diction, and behavior that other segments demand as the only proper way to conduct oneself. I'll take truth with a little bit of an edge over false niceness every day of the week.
Straight up, in my experience, Blag Dahlia (Dwarves), Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Flag), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys), Danzig, Dave Brockie (Gwar), Eugene Robinson (Oxbow, Blackface), Buzz Osborne (Melvins), and many others have all been class acts. They say what they mean, stand up for their personal beliefs, and treat people as they expect to be treated. Give them just a normal amount of respect and it is returned in kind. I've found that this isn't the case with the aforementioned paragons of virtue. And more so, I've found that "the not nice guys" aren't nearly as often on a high horse like the "nice guys" are.
Lastly, I know people are expecting me to say "Ben Weasel." The fact of the matter is that I don't know Ben Weasel and he may be a jerk... or maybe not. I don't know. Ben Weasel represents a larger point- It seems to me, punk has become especially susceptible to gang mentality and if a few people pile on someone, everyone else does too. Isn't that what punk is supposed to be against?
I mean, look at Danzig. People make fun of him for liking comic books, for being weird, for being shot, and for liking horror movies. If you do that, how are you any different than the jock mentality that punk rock is so opposed to? I suggest that when the tide is turning for (or against) someone, people be less quick to jump on the wagon and stand back and think for themselves.
PS Oh, all right, the biggest douchebag in punk is Brittany Strummer. Did you know that during girl scout cookie season, she sets up a table right next to the girl scouts and sells generic equivalents at 50 cents cheaper and then pockets the profits? What a jerk.
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