Wake the Punk Up
June/11/2012 06:17 PM
Ian Kelk of 30 Dirty Thoughts is holding up the long-standing tradition of punk music, or Pop Punk music as it is now commonly called.
A man who can find the funny in anything--including his physical run in with a moving vehicle in Mexico that left him with a broken tibia--Ian Kelk opened up his satirical world to Life of a Rock Star. He explained that while he wants his music “to be found funny,” he doesn’t want it “to be a joke.”
Over the years, most punk bands have moved away from the anti-authoritarian themes and lighter comedic lyrics, but 30 Dirty Thoughts has stayed true to its’ punk roots writing hilarious songs such as “Jenny Got Busted,” “Auto-Tune This! Singing Like a Douchebag,” and “OMGWTFBBQ911.” They even have (gasp!) a song that may or may not be critical of the government, called “Love In The Time of Recession.”
Says Kelk, “Jenny Got Busted was about a real situation. I walked into a bar to meet my old friend and I literally didn’t recognize her. I mean I saw her, but is that what I look at? Am I that guy? ...She ended up playing the song at her wedding reception and her new husband pretended to take a swing at me.”
Coming across this authentic punk band made Life of a Rock Star wonder, where has all the punk music gone?
In the late 1970’s and early 80’s one could pick punk rockers out of a crowd--literally—just by what they were wearing, (e.g. the Ramones and The Sex Pistols).
(The Ramones - photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Sex Pistols - photo credit: DecadentLifestyle.net)
By the mid 80’s the punk movement spawned into a post-punk and an alternative rock genre, loosing the iconic punk look to a more hipster fashion.
(Greenday - photo credit nanlou.cn)
As the century closed out and the new millennium rang in, Pop Punk was born.
Don’t believe me that Punk is gone? Type “Punk” into the search field of iTunes and the only result you will find is Ashton Kutcher’s “Punk’d” television show. Not a song to be found. Punk is not even a CATEGORY under the music tab, (nor is its’ replacement Pop Punk for that matter).
The hard honest truth is that most bands abandon their punk anti-government angry gritty anti-establishment and / or humorous lyrics when they sign with big labels. Love songs and more traditional lyrics that are radio wave friendly to the masses seem to prevail.
Over the years, many punk bands have been labeled “Sell Outs,” as a result.
It’s not a crime to sign with a label and it is a forced reality for most bands that can’t afford to make it on their own without industry backing.
Ian Kelk continues to search for work while he markets his band to supplement the costs of recording and touring. He says, “Working on job applications is soul destroying.”
30 Dirty Thoughts lists their record label as “Kitchen Mattress” because they literally recorded their first album in Mexico using mattresses to line the kitchen walls. Their second album was not produced with any more sophistication. “Hard Times,” available on iTunes, was recorded in an apartment in Canada—with constant noise complaints from the neighbors that they were creating a fire hazard. At times band members were locked in closets to create a better sound. Says Kelk, “The guitar was recorded in a closet and we miked an amp in the closet and put a blanket over it.”
One can see how a band could abandon all that hassle for a real studio and financing.
The most notable example of the “Sell Out” accusation was against Anti-Flag when the punk band signed with RCA in 2008. Critics claimed the band’s anti-establishment voice would be lost and censored. But Anti-Flag’s website holds strong to the claim that they have “made a career of standing up for what’s right and speaking out against oppression.” Their website also has a running calculator of the cost of the War in Iraq as it escalates.
Next up under “Sell Out” evidence, please see Exhibit A:
“Enema of the State” album cover by Blink-182
It always comes back to the glove, doesn’t it? (If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.)
Another alleged “Sell Out?” Blink-182.
Between the release of their original Cheshire Cat album and Blink-182’s breakthrough album Enema of the State, (which put the band on the charts for the first time), Blink-182 signed with MCA in 1998. As a result their music went comically lighter and transitioned to mainstream.
In the Cheshire Cat album, the genius in the lyrics of the songs flew the punk flag high.
Lyrics from “Fentoozler”
“At the risk of sounding rude
Just who the fuck do you think you are
To tell me what you expect of me today?”
Lyrics from “M + M’s”
“My love life was getting so bland
There are only so many ways I can make love with my hand
Sometimes it makes me want to laugh
Sometimes I want to take my toaster in the bath”
The Blink 182 album and the Enema of the State album is still laced with lyrical gems--not to mention the iconic album cover that is unforgettable—however, it is noticeably tamer.
Lyrics from “I Miss You” (Blink 182)
“And as I stared I counted
The webs from all the spiders
Catching things and eating their insides
Like indecision to call you
And hear your voice of treason”
Lyrics from “What’s My Age Again?” (Enema of the State)
“Then later on, on the drive home
I called her mom from a pay phone
I said I was the cops
And your husbands in jail
The state looks down on sodomy”
Blink 182--after a brief hiatus—regrouped and went full mainstream with both lyrics and sound in the release of their album “Neighborhoods” (2011).
Excerpt from “After Midnight”:
“It’s the first time, that I worried
Of a bad dream, of a journey
On a highway through the valley
It’s a long road through the night.”
(Is anyone else now singing “Highway Run…into the midnight sun…wheels go round and round, you’re on my mind…” --Journey, “Faithfully?” Anyone? Well, Blink-182 will see the humor in that comparison.)
Pierce the Veil, out of San Diego, California has not been accused of being a sellout but they have transitioned to pop punk. Formed in 2006, by brothers Vic and Mike Fuentes, this extremely talented punk rock band moved into the post-hardcore and an alternative genre.
Compare Early Time’s (the band’s original name) 2005 punk sound on “Lost Memories” with the 2007 more melodic rock sound on “Yeah Boy and Doll Face” and the alternative sound on “King for a Day” (feat. Kellin Quinn) – Single.
While the Pierce The Veil cover of Just the Way You Are (Bruno Mars) on the album Punk Goes Pop Volume 4 shows the amazing and raw vocal talent of the band, the Punk Goes Pop album and its’ direction over the years in and of itself is a great testament to the almost forced switch punk bands must make to stay relevant.
Pierce the Veil is releasing their new album “Collide With The Sky” July 2012.
With all of this defection from punk, one young band--All Pride Aside--used the movement to create a song about punk dying in 2002:
“Punk’s Not Dead” (It’s Just In a Coma!) (Listen to it here.)
A coma may just be the accurate diagnosis and a comeback may well be in the music world’s future. If so, 30 Dirty Thoughts could be the band to lyrically ignite the storm.
Their album “Hard Times” is pop punk that reaches back to punk’s comedic roots. And unlike the kind of roots that need color or bleach every four to six weeks, these are nice to see. Of course, humor in hard times is always welcome and Ian Kelk has no shortage of funny lines in his songs. (See also his alternate persona on Twitter @Kelkulus.)
Lyrics from “Jenny Got Busted”
“Jenny added on her upstairs floor has a brand new balcony…
Jenny got busted and now my downstairs needs her woman’s touch”
Lyrics from “OMGWTFBBQ911”
“Every time you show up smelling like gasoline
I just pretend it’s a new kind of sunscreen”
Lyrics from “Auto-Tune This! Singing Like a Douchebag”
“There once was a time when it took more edge
Than a weekend course in studio knowledge
When lyrics meant something
And singers didn’t sound like androids”
Lyrics from “Love In The Time of Recession”
“There was a time when we would laugh
And throw around great piles of cash.
But that’s gone. It looks like that’s gone.”
Hmmm…well that time is gone, for most of us. But at least we can laugh about it, thanks to Ian Kelk.
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