Yeah! Punk rock! Non-conformity! A relentless drive away from anything that other people might enjoy until you end up in such a weird abandoned hole of emotions that you find yourself getting emotional listening to Lotus Fucker songs that sound like someone conducting experimental unanaesthesised bollock surgery in a chainsaw testing lab.
"THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO THINK IT IS PUNK TO DRESS UP LIKE SOMEBODY'S DAD. OR LIKE A SEXY LUMBERJACK WITH A RATTAIL. THESE PEOPLE ARE WRONG. THEY MUST BE STOPPED AND THEIR IDEAS DESTROYED." - Who Killed Spikey Jacket? from Who Killed Spikey Jacket? by Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, important worthy saviours of unimportant worthlessness (PUNK!)
I mean, yes the Casualties are obviously in the 99th percentile of stupidity, on a plateau with Ayn Rand acolytes, trailers for the movie 21 and Over, people who think Bob Dylan got better when he went Christian, and almost everything I did before, well, before starting to write this article, but tedious motherfuckers who spout that trite-as-shit line about conformity to nonconformity over and over again like it's a startling fucking insight are obviously way way worse than everything ever, because I love trite silly dumb things, but I fucking hate trite silly dumb things that are masquerading as intelligent cutting insight.
Everyone conforms. There's no way you are entirely different from everyone, because if you were that'd be awful and you'd be as actually desperately alone as you sometimes feel, the fact that while you are yes unique in your particulars there is a whole lot of squealing babies painted and crushed the same way you are is something that should keep you the fuck alive, rather than something to be ashamed of. The grouping of shitty peoples, illustrated in singalongs and those played-out sentence constructions like "Is it just me..." or "That awkward moment when..." that ring with the terror of imagining yourself doing something no-one else has done. Conformity is chill, be cool with it, it won't make you a nothingness to be part of something, it won't break you or erase you, it'll just twist you a little, annoy you a lot, save your life once or twice if you're lucky like that. Conformity comes up in all of this, you're you, you just get to choose your scene, whether you wanna roll goth or punx or hippie or steampunk or whatever style, you might not find a particular aesthetic appealing, but to deny that you have an aesthetic at all is a boldfaced fucking lie, and when it comes down to it I'm picking the shimmy of idiots who look like deranged extras from a Jack Womack novel, over the idiots who look like Ron Swanson without the inner peace, because that's just the way my idiot head leans.
And yeah I was obviously some burning dickhole who got huffy about and earnestly sneered about 'fashioncore' or something, and I can't even fucking remember what bands I slapped with that label, and even more embarrassingly I clung onto that "Fashion is dumb and worthless" shameful stupidity for way longer than I should've until I was called on that bullshit and on the inherent misogyny that lies behind it (CLOTHES ARE FOR GIRLS! BOYS LIKE SERIOUS THINGS LIKE BOOKS AND MUSIC AND VIDEOGAMES) but I was entirely entirely in the wrong because fashion is awesome, and though this seems like the most inane fucking observation point, it bears repeating for just how long it took for me to get it knocked into my driedshit skull, the clothes you wear make a difference to the way you feel, whether you're painstakingly studding jackets and sewing patches, or just picking out your favourite band shirt, you feel better, silly and stupid as it is, I feel punker when I'm wearing the crappy jacket I've scrawled Hickey and New Bomb Turks lyrics on and sewn Rudimentary Peni patches to, feel better, feel attached to something bigger than myself, not better but at least less shakily fragile. I find myself walking tougher, find myself giving more money to homeless people, find myself sitting tighter and more secure just cos I've got a Wankys patch on my pocket.
Because as punk prophets, stud buddhas (studdhas?), WHO KILLED SPIKEY JACKET! sing on their 12" that Total Fucker put out at the end of last year and Noise Punk Records are distributing in the UK and Europe, "They say we all look the same, that's cause we're a fucked-up gang." Because they are fucking ridiculously silly and unafraid of being that way, pogo-punk is the goddamn best as it's just the idiocy of streetpunk deliberately shot up its own arse, flowering goofy fuck-you sentiments out of these speed-strung icons. Two-dimensional two-chord monsters. Streetpunx are cartoon characters, pogo punk is streetpunk with a sense of its own ridiculousness, cartoon characters who know they're cartoon characters, attacking without reason and without rhyme that isn't DRUNK and PUNK or BRAIN and INSANE or POGO DANCE and BONDAGE PANTS. Here every sneer might burst into a smile and every chorus is delivered like an Itchy and Scratchy hammer attack and if that self-aware cartoon nature wasn't explicit enough from the album or the fact that the band's name is a nod to a film about how cartoons intersect with reality, WKSJ's album cover is three cartoon punks stomping all over the world and vomiting out every aspect of society and their logo imposed above in a bitten Disney font.
"There's only one true love in this world, and that is chaos" the spoken word interlude on the romantic crooner Leather Loves Studs tells you. "PUNKS ARE ROWDY! PUNKS ARE BAD! YOU ARE JUST A MOM AND DAD!" snaps No More Pigs. The liner notes are a glorious collage of punk jackets, dudes with pink hair sticking knives in car tires, bad graffiti and of course jackets sporting endless shining studs adorned with frankly incomprehensible slogans like Distjej's INTERCOURSE IS VIVISECTION and the names of bands that were stupider and better than you could ever hope to be (Special Duties, who wrote completely perfect punk songs like You're Doing Yourself No Good and could never decide what they were angry at and why so just decided to be angry at everything for every reason like in Bullshit Crass where they diss Crass for being rich appropriative capitalists in the first verse and then for being dirty worthless skint hippies in the second). It also includes step by step instructions on how to look cool in punk photos and how to CHAOS WALK, which is like the WKSJ punk rock equivalent of that scene in Tank Girl where all the mutant kangaroos pray by dancing around to jazz, but with The Damned's Smash It Up as the orison. And it's hilarious and gleeful and daft and just so much punx.
That sort of no-compromise scratching of lines in the concrete over sad little bullshit that teeters right on the edge of meaningless most of the time is great, it's why most of the time I'd much rather listen to a straight-edge band like Kurb Stomp who shout songs about beating down people who drink beer (BAR SMASH! STRAIGHT EDGE STREET FIGHT!) than someone who sings a serious song about the societal problems of alcohol addiction, why Play Fast or Die is a better album title than Play It How You Like, why I listen to Prince and Kool Keith and Ke$ha and Hank Williams but still singalong to Vision's eternal declaration of 100% punkness Close Minded (EVERYBODY TELLS ME I'M CLOSE MINDED! IF IT'S NOT PUNK ROCK THEN I'M NEVER GONNA LIKE IT!). A mish-mash of superlatives and exaggerations, hyperbole cut sharp and shining, is the way this party runs. Songs about Oi! being awesome (OI! IS A WAY OF LIFE FOR PUNKS), cops sucking (POLICE TRUCK WHAT THE FUCK), substance abuse (ADHESIVE LUNG), punks looking punk (PUNKS DRESS PUNK) or some combination of those things (SPIKE YOUR HAIR WITH BEER!), it's the energy of The Disclapties or Tom and Boot Boys or The Showcase Showdown or Quincy Punx perfectly articulated in all its stupid gory messiness. Hard Skin for people who preferred The Discocks to Cock Sparrer. Songs so concerned with their own obnoxiousness that the lyrics devolve past silliness into utterly asinine fury screaming stuff like "GLAM IS FUCKING FUCK!" and "FUCKING FUCKING CHICKENS!" which are in and of themselves without any point but contribute to the swerve of the album, the sense of outrage and destructive force directed anywhere that makes the fight of it all so fun. This is a band built for WKSJ knuckle tats and writing their name on toilet doors, built for stupid punx, a band built for shows like this one:
What this album and band is is a distillation of all that punx idiocy into simple two-minute songs that bring you back in their coolness and sharpness and ludic forthrightness to that moment, that time when you ran into punk rock and it changed you, that spark in the skull that accompanied the Stiff Little Fingers or Oblivians or NOFX or Clash or Ratos de Porao or Chaos UK or some nameless highschool shitpunk band song that burrowed itself deep in your squirt soul like a pig tapeworm in the brain of a Australian pop-punk singer.
And from there it was a process of discovery, excitement, when you don't even really know what you're doing, at first you're listening to music because it's cool, and then you're listneing to it because you like it, and then you're digging deeper into the obscure bands, reading biographies online, and the music is digger deeping into you. You're finding new bands and pretending you've always known who The Descendents are because you love this shit so much and you hope someone doesn't find out how lame you were to have existed without it. You're breaking your speakers as there's no way this song was meant to be played at anything but the highest volume every time. You're scouring lyrics booklets. You're building a record collection that will one day contain at least 15 songs called SKATE OR DIE and 32 which include some variation on the words NAZI SCUM. You're lying on your bed staring at the ceiling while Pat the Bunny screams DIY Orgasms, skipping round your room and throwing wild hooks at the air while Henry Rollins rises above, you're sure that Joey Vindictive isn't the only one who's sick of being a human being, Off With Their Heads aren't the only ones who want to tie a rope around their neck kick the chair out with their legs, Jack Terricloth isn't the only one addicted to bad ideas, you're a bouncing soul, a true believer, a cleveland bound death sentence, and silence is a language that you're fluent in as practice makes perfect and you spend a lot of time by yourself, some days you get the thunder, some days the thunder gets you. You're making sure there aren't any squares at your funeral, roaring like a lion and not missing a drop, sure that dis is the best and you and your friends are theeeee battiest bunch of gnostic idiosyncrasy sonic militants this side of Henry Fiat's Open Sore, finding it gets loneliest at night down at the liquor store, you laugh at danger and break all the rules, journeying to the end of the east bay, all you know is that you don't know nothing, you can get away with anything when you're young and when you're not feeling strong you grab the mic and sing along. You're doing plenty of stupid shit.
Or something like that. That's the summary of the quest undertook. That many undertook, that me or you or him or her or them struggled through. That was the easy bit. That's the soundtrack of moments and changes, a mural of messy lyrics. There's a lot of real tough shite you've got to roll through, a lot of standing in the corner somewhere dark or at the bar or out on the street as close to the road as possible and not fitting in, working up strength just to nod at the guy you sort of know but aren't yet friends with but that dude is just so fucking in, whatever in is, there's a lot of wailing in the pit pretending like that elbow some skin just caught your chin with didn't hurt and in fact was a beautiful fucking angel kiss and bring on more violence, a lot of drinking til blackout, hating til whiteout, drugs, edges, kisses and handshakes, a colossal load of interminable discussions on WHAT PUNK IS to ruminate on and get silly about, there's a whole bunch of dumb little human interactions, to plod through like a bad album track first listen through your favourite band's new stinker and it all turns in on itself like a worm in your gut.
Punks watching punks be punks. Learning how. Steal your name from a bad movie, your hair from a worse one. Name your band after a Husker Du song, name your guitar after a crush who didn't know you existed, name your pet after a disease. Shape the sound that seared you somehow into an approximation of your physical perception of those notes and beat and shouts and call that your swagger. Impersonate til you personify. Because dicks didn't talk like Marlowe, gangsters weren't all quick wit switchblades and tyrant kings in silk suits, punks aren't just leather jackets and metal shot through flesh like cyborg adornments, but they often slip into these shapes. Art and culture, journalism and rumour, they take an easy snapshot, blow that grainy polaroid up and flesh it out with fear and rewrites, throw it up into space and nail it into a wall and the kids come past, the wannabe detectives and hoodlums and joeyramones and see it, see what is advertised as WHAT NOT TO BE and they think it looks cool so they steal it and wear it like the skin of some dead and poorly skinned animal. Hanging loose and looking silly, they shred themselves into the myth of the beast. They hide from the light and subsume themselves into a greater part to feel strong and to feel realer than they are by being faker than they are. Because reality fucking sucks, feelings are shit and inarticulate, too blunt to be of worth. Poetry is beautiful but false. But false is real because real is just fuck lust shit hate love pain pain music fuck god alone pain dance shit shit sky awwwwshite and who wants that internal reel of theirs splayed out anywhere for all the world to tut and cluck at? Poetry and art and story is all that reality strained through into a falsehood that says yourself better, streamlines it into stanzas and digestible bursts of life stroking you at your core. Characters in a movie are adrenaline shadows of people who you kind of know but don't really talk to and people are much too complicated to idolise and throw yourself into. Lines in a song are stenciled banners.
|"The spikey jacket is the armour of the punk warrior of today."|
So you become character, you sidestep into the shape of a monstrous hero and it's weird symbiosis between armour and knight. The projection and projector flickering back and forth. You did it, you know you did, you pretended and worried about being exposed and set yourself apart and posed like you were born with a silver splatter limited edition vinyl in your mouth. You immersed yourself. Spent intimate hours with lyrics booklets and fretted over which shirt to wear to the show. Acted like a fucking arsehole to everyone to prevent them from ever finding out that there was a point when you'd never heard of Gorilla Biscuits or Tragedy.
It shapes you and maybe if you're lucky and strong you shape it a little. You alter the shade, you rejig the photofit and that too becomes part of the timeline, the succession of images hung on this mobile for the next fucked-up kid who wants to belong to snatch at and dive into like a ghost. Because even reacting against the scene or the people or the image doesn't preclude the fact that you love this music. And not many people love this music in the wider scheme of things, so even if it's full of pricks and undesirables and you just want to build anew, you're forced into weird friendships and acquaintances with an array of interesting shitheads and awkward oddballs and you sort of get used to it. And because the shekel of truth rattling around your weak raspy chest is that you're one of them, you sort of fucking love it.
And then maybe you come up for air and you're a little less crazy, a little more you, a little filtered down, usually. But now you've got a crew, a place, an image, shitloads of band t-shirts and you know every single world to Film at Forever and Skulls and you will scream them when the drink is flowing and the stereo is loud and you're part of the process, the scene, the tableau, the heroic monster observed by the kid at their first houseshow scuffing their heels and clutching their beer who has never heard of half the names you spew in an febrile conversing mass of excitement and 80s hardcore and is desperately trying to remember them, to file them away in a hidden pocket of safety-pinned jacket. You've made it. You poser fake human beautiful dumb cunt shade light flesh and sick sick blood motherfucker. You shitty little punk.
That's WHO KILLED SPIKEY JACKET? All the struggle of that particular murky path wrapped up in the joy of eejit violence. All the stupidest convictions, flashes of certainty that light this route. I would say they're the most important punk band in the world if importance in art wasn't such a stupid and fucking worthless concept that should be left to sad weekend supplement broadsheet culture writers who constantly harp on about Bikini Kill or Crass as if they were respectable. This album is just great, as ephemeral as extra zips, as considered as a Contrast Attitude patch, as dumb as a tattoo, and yep, this is a ridiculous tract to lay at the door of what is pretty much a joke album, but fuck if I'm nailing myself behind something that takes itself seriously. Get silly. Act like a dickhead. Dress punk. Have fun (FUCK fun.). Spike your hair with beer. Oi! Oi! Oi! Fuck you! Get Pumped!
“Anyone who wants to end the annoying and embarrassing problem of losing studs from their leather jackets can find a solution by looking at the mighty shark. Sharks are possibly the punks of the ocean because they are unpredictable, frenzied and agressive and they drink a lot. (Other ocean punks include spikey sea urchins and spiny fish with mohawk-like fins.) Whenever a shark loses a tooth there is a smaller tooth right behind it to take it’s place. “Shark-Tooth Studding” applies the same principal to studs on a leather jacket. The process involves studding your entire jacket with small 1/4 inch cones, then covering each stud with a regular 1/2 inch cone right on top of it. This has several advantages. First of all, and possibly most importantly, you can effectively double your stud count, and could even achieve maximum stud density by having a stud surface area larger than the surface area of the jacket itself! Also you are unlikely to lose any studs because the smaller stud acts as a sort of anchor for the larger surface stud. And of course if you lose a stud; there is a small baby stud to take it’s place. The best part of this is if someone sees a stud fall off and sees the little stud beneath it, they might think that your jacket is actually somehow alive and growing metal studs, *or they might even think that the jacket is your hide and that you are a bionic terrorist from the future who has come to earth to wreck everything and destroy their life. One final note: If you use this technique on a denim jacket or vest, the weight of the studs will be so intense the jacket will quickly fall to pieces, which of course looks awesome.” - Who Killed Spikey Jacket?, punks, just like you, speaking in Maximum Rocknroll 346
How can you not get behind that?