Punks Not dead. But it does own a bus pass

In the 70’s, Punk music rose up all across the UK in a time of recession and hostility. From within the bowels of the nation people burst out from all over Briton with two fingers pointed up at society. An anti-establishment uprising, standing against racism, war and greed. Punk was a music fronted statement by the discontented society.

An important movement in many ways but most important of all was what it meant for music. Punk showed that music was raw, it could send a message to millions and that music didn’t have to be pretty. The effects of the punk era can been seen throughout music generations that followed, from the two-tone that was passed the batten to the grunge of the late 80’s and the solid rock sounds of some bands in the new millennium. However most original Punk’s and fans of the original artists will tell you there hasn’t been a “Punk” band ever since the early 80’s when the times began to change; when what Punk stood for, didn’t need the voice that the music so successfully gave it. DK

So, is Punk dead now that the times have changed and true punk cannot be made? Well in my opinion no.

On the 31st of July this year I was lucky enough to be in New York when American Punk legends the Dead Kennedys kicked off their 2012 world tour. As well as being very excited I was also quite sceptical, not only because famous front man Jello Biafra was off with his new band but also because the Dead Kennedys had been in their prime in the late 70’s, had they still got what it takes to create that energetic  Punk atmosphere? Yes, the atmosphere was a fierce, high energy beast puppeted by some amazing music playing. The sound stayed true to its original, skilfully intense roots and the lyrical character so accustomed to Biafra was maintained by new lead man Skip McSkipster.

The gig was amazing and one thing that surprised me the most was the crowd’s average age. People from all ages came out to watch East Bay Ray and co do their stuff. No matter if you were a 20 year old mosh-pitters or a 50 year old back-stander, everybody knew the lyrics and basked in the music. I thought it to be a great display on how Punk has been appreciated by every generation and as long as bands such as the Dead Kennedys are touring, punks not dead.

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However, by this definition, Punk will die. With the effects it’s had and the music it’s made it will never be forgotten but it will die. Luckily for us bands such as the Dead Kennedys are still going strong and there are plenty more out there. The Damned and the Stiff Little Fingers are currently on tour and bands such as the UK subs still play. I recommend you see music history in the flesh, while you can.

An interview with Eric Owen and Kevin Mckeown of Black Pistol Fire

Black Pistol Fire are a talented two-piece piece band hailing from the southern US. They released Big beat 59 in August this year, a fast moving, thoroughbred rock n roll album. I did a review on the album recently after it came out and it has become my favourite realise of the year. Drummer Eric and guitarist/ singer Kevin took some time out of their tour in the North America to answer a few questions.

Q1. There’s a lot of bands you have been compared with, The Black keys and The Kings of Leon being the main two, but who did you gain the most inspiration from while making Big beat 59?

E – I’ve seen us been referred to as “Punk N Roll” before and I think that holds true on Big Beat ’59. The album as a whole has a lot of different sounds where “Beelzebub” is gospel, “Hot Mess” has an Americana vibe, and “Dead Love” definitely has a Zeppelin II+III feel. Overall though, the biggest influence has been old 50’s style rock and roll. We (especially Kev) are really into Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. I think it was a matter of taking that original sound and updating it with our energy and modernizing it.

K – I was listening to all kinds of different music while recording Big Beat. Some Gospel, old blues (Freddie King, Howlin wolf), 1950’s and 60’s rock n roll from Little Richard to Link Wray.

Q2. What was your main reason for becoming a two piece band?

E – Kev and I have been friends since we were in Kindergarten. That’s over 20 years of friendship. We’ve also been playing music with one another for about 12 years. We’d had other members in different bands, but we have such a strong bond personally and musically that it’s kind of hard to throw someone into that. When we play live, I think we’ve learned to read each other and change things up at the drop of a hat if we want. It makes things easier in one regard, while it also makes it a lot more difficult by limiting yourself.  At this point though I wouldn’t have it any other way.

K -Becoming a two piece band happened by accident. Eric and I played in a band back in Toronto as trio, with a bass player. But sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes the chemistry is just not right. I wasn’t really happy playing in that band by the end of it, so I decided to move to Austin and really make a push with the music. Eric said that he also had plans of going to Austin, and by the time I got down there he had already booked shows for us. It was just the two of us, so we played them for laugh and it turned out people were really digging what we were doing. We had always jammed/rehearsed as a duo, so I guess it just became very natural thing to do it live.

Q3. Why do you that southern USA rock sound is so popular in the UK?

E – I think Southern Rock is just feel good music that sets that stage for people to let loose and have fun. Those sounds conjure up images of people getting down and having a party! And man do y’all know how to have a good time over there, so it’s a natural fit. Your festivals look MENTAL!

K -The Southern U.S was the birthplace of so much influential music (country, rythym and blues) and it developed into rock n roll which really shook things all over the globe. I think the U.K has always had a great taste for amazing music!

Q4. Did you think it important to bring out a second album quickly after the release of Black Pistol Fire or were all the ideas already in place for BB59?

E – I think we always want to keep going forward. If we’re not on the road touring, there’s no reason to just sit around. Kev is constantly writing and we’re always working on new songs. Even though Big Beat ’59 just came out, we went ahead and recorded 11 new tracks just last month. So we’re hoping to release another album early next year at some point. I think it’s important to keep momentum up. And also, some of the stuff we’re playing around with is just so good!

K – I am always constantly writing, so we were ready to go into the studio. If we have songs, we record them. Our tour schedule has not been too crazy, so we have been fortunate enough to have the time to record. We are actually just finishing up our third LP at the moment which will hopefully be released in early February 2013.

Q5. There are a lot of different sounds throughout the album but yet I think the sound stays undeniably your sound throughout. What do you think it is about the music that makes it sound so you?

E – It all comes down to the energy and passion that we play with. There’s 2 guys playing on the album and whether its drums, tambourine, electric or acoustic guitar, or mandolin, it’s coming from us. And Kev has an unmistakable voice that carries throughout so when you hear him, you automatically associate it with BPF. While we’re influenced by so many different kinds of music, we’re the ones that are playing around with all these sounds.

K – We just play with the same intensity that we also play with when it’s the two of us. I think maybe that is what makes our sound, whether it’s, stomping our feet, clapping our hands or pickin’ a mandolin!

Q6. Are there any plans in the near future of you coming to the UK for a few gigs?

E – Not a day goes by where a fan from the UK doesn’t hit us up online and ask when we’re heading over there. We’ve wanted to for so long but we just haven’t found the right promoter yet. It’s a very costly trip to make when you think about it. We’re actually working on getting some business set up in the UK right now. I’d say that one of our primary goals for early 2013 is to get over to that side of the pond. It’ll happen, it has to!

K – Yes! Hopefully, we will try and make it over there in the very near future. There are a few things in the works right now, but I won’t say too much.

Q7. Finally, what are your hopes and aims for the future after your quick rise in popularity since your first release?

E – I think we want to keep making and playing the music that we love and get it out there to as many people as we can. And play for some bigger crowds. I’d say that 2 huge goals in the future would be to play Glastonbury in the UK and Bonnaroo in the US.

K – We really want to tour the U.K and play as many festivals as we can. The main drive is to just try to keep making good music!!

Take a look at their website here: http://blackpistolfire.com/#home 

Money! Musics greatest enemy.

I’m in a bit of a bad temperament; this is a spiel that reflects my current mood. Enjoy.

Money, the shit that our life is orchestrated around, it effects every aspect of our lives and in the times we currently find ourselves “living” in, it’s getting harder and harder to find. Not only has nobody got any money but the things that make people happy, that make life an effort worth crawling through are the most ridiculously priced things you can buy.

So money is fucking everything up more than it has in times gone by what’s my point? Well this blog has not just turned into an obscure version of the financial times, don’t worry. My point is that being a music fan is getting harder; the current financial and social climate is deconstructing the warm musical core that the UK has always held so dear.

One of the main casualties of modern times is the good friend of music, the pub.  Pubs are ready made crowds of people prepared to have a good time and listen to some good music, which is also why they are the place where most bands start off. In the year n half I have been at university, two clubs that hosted some grate DJ’s have closed. Another has just turned into a restaurant and a pub that had bands playing every Friday is changing owners. Up and down the UK pubs are closing and taking with them the chance for young bands to show their stuff. Maybe just as important, it is a place where people can gather, listen and talk about new music, share and spread the word. This my friends, is being lost.

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But, I hear everyone cry, we are living in the time of the internet! Were an infinite amount of music is accessible by the tap of a key board. I agree that the internet is an ally to the music fan; it is the tool I have used to discover all new music in recent years. But unfortunately there is a ying to the Internets yang. Dads across the country have mourned the death of vinyl ever since its demise all those years ago, the artwork, the collection and the unique sound. Some of these qualities were passed down to the CD, the booklets, posters and art.We are soon to loose even this to the ruthless ways of the internet, the way ITUNES and Spotify has suffocated high street music shops is making the CD a rare commodity.

The WWW has also created the vast criminal activity of illegal downloads, so now you can nick a few years of work from an artist without giving them a penny. Thus making a bands only profit come in the form of a live gig and therefore making gigs more expensive; too expensive for students like me.

So yes, the life of music fan is expensive, a few more obvious queries to list: Festivals – Ridiculous money. Instruments and musical equipment – Outrageous money. Alcohol (Chosen beverage of gig goer) – Too expensive

This concludes my angry moan about money and music, come back another time for a more light heated post.