A new and raw style of music emerged in the 1970s mainly through underground radio and small clubs. This style came to be known as punk rock. It eventually managed to shift the course of pop music. Punk rock is a sub-genre of rock ‘n’ roll music that rejected pop music’s trappings of the mainstream. The bands associated with this genre embraced fast tempos, raw energy, short song format, and loud lyrics.
They used a do-it-yourself work ethic and this enabled them to thrive on the music industry’s fringes. Strong scenes of punk music were witnessed in New York City, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. It served as an inspiration for many other young musicians to explore other genres.
The musical language of Kurt Cobain, pioneer of grunge and lead singer of Nirvana, was shaped by punk rock. This genre is a fusion of other popular genres but is generally more aggressive and faster than pop music. People often underestimate punk rock bands owing to their smaller size. However, fewer band members don’t mean a softer sound.
Most of the members of punk rock bands came from the working class. As they were growing up, they mainly listened to the traditional mainstream radio. This exposed them to a great extent to styles like British Invasion rock, country music, and folk-rock. All these genres had a considerable influence on punk rock numbers.
A glimpse of punk rock’s history
The roots of punk music can be traced back to the 1970s. Although it is believed to have originated in London, some argue that it simultaneously started in New York City. The British punk scene thrived with several bands like The Clash and The Damned. They mixed elements of garage rock, folk music, hard rock, and reggae. As a result, the tracks had the perfect mix of catchy melodies, raw edge, and speed.
The British punk rock bands readily inspired the surge of this genre in New York City. In this city of the United States, crowds of punk music fans packed the venues like CBGB in Manhattan. They were all crazy for bands like Blondie, Ramones, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids.
Punk rock scenes also emerged in other parts of the United States. Among them were Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Detroit, and Washington, DC. With the punk rock scenes emerging in these areas, many bands also rose to prominence. The Germs, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Flipper, MC5, and Iggy & The Stooges were some of them.
Record labels that specialized in punk rock also sprung up in several places. Two of such records were SST Records of Long Beach and Dischord Records of Washington. Yet another impressive record label was Alternative Tentacles Records of San Francisco. A few bands like the Sex Pistols and Ramones managed to stay with the mainstream record labels.
This was also made possible due to the spirit of the anti-establishment bands in the past. One of them was The Velvet Underground. Over the years, many local music scenes have contributed to diverse varieties in sound. This has also given punk rock a wider acceptance.