Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Punk Rock and Responsibility

I can't say that I grew up completely punk rock.  With both parents being employed by the San Diego Police  Department, I didn't really have the wiggle room that a lot of teens are accustomed to having (then again, a lot of cop kids end up getting into serious trouble).  What I did have was MTV and a certain late night show that highlighted unknown or emerging artists.  It was the first time a heard a band called H2O.

H2O's song called "One Life, One Chance" was an anthem for me in high school.  Hanging out with Thomas Mawson late at night, watching that video for the first time, was a revelation.  I remember repeating the name of the band in my head over and over until I was able to get home and research more.  Pre-internet, I have not a clue as to how I tracked down their third record, "F.T.T.W." (Faster Than The World), but I was able to get my hands on it.  It was either at the old Music Trader near Broadway and Mollison, or a the Sam Goody in Parkway Plaza.  Either way, I was hooked.

From there, it was a stream of bands that all had some sort of connection.  I've always listened to music (and I'm not sure if this is normal or common) by the Record Label.  If a band was on the same label, I wanted it: Fat Wreck Chords, Epitaph, Kung Fu, Nitro, and one of my favorite labels of all time: SideOneDummy.

These punk rock labels had a lot of bands that were, more or less, anti-establishment and anti-authority. With a song like "Fuck Authority," nobody was confusing Hermosa Beach's Pennywise with a band from, say, Drive Thru Records.  

More recently, however, I noticed a different tone and message in these songs.  While the air of independence and "fuck off" is alive and well, it's clear that a lot of the bands on these record labels held one common belief: personal responsibility.

Now, before we get things twisted, let's not forget that there are plenty of songs blaming others, or the situation, or the government, for their problems.  But after sifting through older releases from Pennywise, H2O, and even 7 Seconds (legendary on SideOneDummy), one can see (feel?) a reverberating sense of personal responsibility.  These bands believed, wrote, and sang about the fact that no one is control of your destiny but you.

My school preaches personal responsibility, but rarely do we see kids stepping up to the plate.  This might be because they don't hear about personal responsibility in every facet of your life.  I was very fortunate to have solid teacher, amazing parents, trustworthy friends, and positive music to fill the gaps. It's beating a dead horse, for sure, but the facts remain the same: many students are listening to positive music.  The messages are not about taking control of life, but rather, avoiding that responsibility.  

My thesis: Bring Positive Hardcore and Punk Rock to the inner-city, and let's see what happens.

Meh.  Fuck it.

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