Punk Rawk! What is it?

Right now a bored teenager is listening to a Punk Rock album not really caring that the founding fathers (and mothers) of Punk are probably polishing their Rock n Roll Hall of Fame awards and then placing them carefully on the shelf of the bungalow in a retirement village. Youth, music, and rebellion have always been what Rock \'n\' roll was based on. Taking those basics and making the music ten times faster, and the youth ten times more rebellious, and one gets Punk. What do most people think of when they hear the words Punk Rock? Some people may think of delinquents sporting dyed hair, leather jackets, and chains. Although this may be true among some Punk Rock enthusiasts, there is much more to Punk music and culture.

There is an ongoing debate on who started Punk, what makes one Punk, what is Punk, why did Punk come, etc? Punk Rock is believed to have originated in Great Britain and other parts of Europe. Although there are no exact dates on Punk’s creation, it is believed to have started in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. Punk Rock is a relatively new music trend but it has already created some well-known bands such as “The Sex Pistols”, “NoFx” and “Green Day”. Punk music was originally created by bands to help them express their feelings about the corrupted governments and other social problems in Europe. This music is characterized by its high paced beat and sometimes offensive lyrics. To be Punk Rock it has to be adrenaline packed and in your face. The music used is usually very simple with extremely fast drumbeats and five chord guitar rifts. Of course there are many talented artists that have contributed more elaborate tunes, but for the most part they are kept simple.

The Punk Rock scene today has progressed into various different styles. The styles have become some complex and they have interfaced with each so much, it’s hard for the avid Punk Rocker to differentiate between them. The styles vary from Straight-Edge to Emo. I will point out the particular styles that I listen to and prefer.


Having a strange history, Straight-Edge Punk was born in the early 80’s in a town we all know quite well, Washington DC. The band known as Minor Threat (the name clearly describes the threat that Punk Rockers imposed) wrote songs called “Straight-Edge” and “Out of Step”. These songs changed the Punk Rock scene because it outlined their personal feelings on the trendy hedonism of the period. They kept it simple, no drugs, no smoking, no drinking and most of all, no casual sex. Bands soon started to join the movement and creating songs that were geared to address such issues as animal rights, pacifism and civil rights. Many bands were extremely serious about keeping that Straight-Edge image and if you violated any beliefs as a band member, you were no longer a part of the group. Jason Thrisk of Pennywise committed suicide in 1996 because he had been struggling with the disease of alcoholism. Some say it was a mutual agreement between the bands members that he leave and get help to conquer his addiction and some say he was kicked out of the band because of it. Furthermore, Pennywise was devastated by his suicide but as a determined group they put it past them and continued to produce albums.

Straight-Edged Punk today is very popular among the skateboarders and surfers. As these kids think this is a new style that just evolved, bands like Bad Religion, Minor Threat and Youth of Today should be thanked for keeping simplistic angry structures of Hardcore Punk and toning it down with melodic vocals to create an anthem to their art.

Third Wave of Ska

The Third Wave genre is derived from the traditional style of Ska out of Jamaica born in 1962. The first wave of Ska was not at all a Punk Rock style; it was more of a style that created to get away from the American style of music that was so much copied. Very similar to Reggae, Ska was easier to play and emphasized on the afterbeat instead of the downbeat. bands like The Specials wanted that rude boy feel by creating something