punk_rock_all_starWebster’s defines punk:

1punk            Listen to the pronunciation of 1punk

Pronunciation: \ˈpəŋk\
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1596
1archaic : prostitute
2 [probably partly from 3punk] : nonsensefoolishness
3 a: a young inexperienced person : beginnernoviceespecially : a young man b: a usually petty gangster, hoodlum, or ruffian cslang : a young man used as a homosexual partner especially in a prison
4 a: punk rock b: a punk rock musician c: one who affects punk styles

This is a topic that I am constantly debating in my head. After much deliberation, I have finally come to a conclusion: “give up trying to figure it out”.

“Punk” has been defined by media (TV and radio), record companies, and the general public for years, but, in my opinion, punk is not something that should be defined. To try and define punk, is to go against what punk stood for in the first place. This is what punk has meant to me: doing what you want, when you want, and not worrying about what other people think about it. Not a type of music, or style of clothing. Just a state of mind. If you ask 10 people what punk means to them, you may get 10 different answers. That is why I say we cannot define punk. What punk means to one person, is not the same as what it means to the next, so to give punk one definition is ridiculous.

Punk is known to most as a style of music. This was fine when the bands were calling themselves punk, and their fans we people who really related to what the bands were trying to say in their lyrics. This seemed to change, when the major record labels got a hold of the punk “genre”. Suddenly the message wasn’t so important anymore, and it was all about how many cd and ticket sales were coming in. How much money a band could bring into the label. Only signing bands that were “commercially viable”. Bullshit.

I played in a “punk” band called “tim.”, for 8 years. In the beginning it was the most incredible and important thing in my life, but we eventually fell victim to the commercialization of our style of music. We felt like we always had to be better or more active than other bands in our scene, to try and make a living out of our music. It eventually tore us apart. I don’t think we knew it then, but looking back it is obvious; we just forgot what punk was, and why we started playing in a band in the first place: to play whatever the fuck we want, and have a fucking good time doing it.

Nowadays, I find myself trolling for indie punk bands on the internet, hoping to find something I can relate to. There are few labels left, where if can find what is punk, to me. Smallman Records, Vagrant Records, and Fat Wreck Chords are few labels that still seem to have that DIY attitude, and support bands that just want to play music and get their message out there.

All that being said, I should mention that I do plan on attending the Vans Warped Tour this year. The Warped Tour has got to be one the most NOT-punk events around, while at the same time keeping some of that punk attitude I was trying to articulate earlier. Kevin Lyman (creator and organizer of the Warped Tour) has been able to use the media and commercialism of today, to get some great unknown punk bands in front of more people, to play their music and spread their message. This is definitely a “catch 22”, as this tour could never survive without all the crazy big-name corporate sponsors. Corporation is something that punk bands have been writing about for years, warning us of the corruption in management of these corporations, and the brainwashing of the consumer. Somehow, punk and corporation seem to co-exist in this huge touring summer festival.

Well, that is my opinion on “What is punk?”. I’m sure there are many more opinions out there, but just look inside yourself and figure out what punk means to you. I read a quote somewhere that went something like: “There are two kinds of people in this world: leaders and followers.”. There is actually a third type: a punk. A punk is not about to follow anybody, and if a punk turned around and saw you following him, you would get a mighty “Fuck Off!”