Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Steal Punk?

Do punk rock bands care if people download their music without paying for it? Are punk bands really affected by the illegal downloading of their albums? For the most part, many punk bands are on small record labels that cannot afford to press over a couple thousand copies of a record. Any person who listens to punk will tell you their ideal format for their music is the vinyl record. Not only is the sound quality superior to CD's, they are just much more fun to have. The seven inch 45's are always a great way to preview a band. This is something we do not get anymore with CD's.

Punk enthusiasts are always looking for the vinyl version of an album instead of settling for a CD. Since some albums are notoriously difficult to get a hold of, the only way to obtain a copy is from peer-to-peer file sharing online. I agree this is not the most honest thing to do, but when you see the band in concert you have a really good chance of purchasing the album you previewed ahead of time. And sometimes it is still difficult to find the exact album you want when seeing them live. Here is an article about bands that have free downloads online, like a lot of punk bands offer.

I don't really understand how a band could be angry at you for downloading their album when in certain cases that is the only way to listen to their music. Given the choice, punks would much rather purchase the album on vinyl, which is much more rewarding the an mp3 download. I agree that downloading music without paying for it is wrong, but what is a fan supposed to do when they have the money to buy an album and is not available for download through iTunes or available for purchase from the record label? I think most bands are less concerned with money and more concerned with being true to their music and their message.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Political Punk Rock

Is it possible to find punk rock music that does not focus on politics? That would be very difficult. Punk music has been around for a very long time and has always contained political themes in its music. Crass was formed in the mid seventies and they definitely paved the way for bands who make comments about the government and the current state of society.

Although punk music has produced some very talented musicians, it is not really known for having the most complicated song structures. Punk songs are usually very short and easy to play. It seems like musicians who start punk bands are huge activists with a message they want to spread, and punk music seems to be the vehicle to make that happen. Punk music is a community where people are not worried about pissing people off. It has a long history of allowing people to speak their minds and it makes sure everyone does not conform to what the majority enforces.

Jello Biafra is a major name in the punk music scene and he has been involved in politics for over thirty years. As the singer of the Dead Kennedys, he wrote all of their music which is full of political themes on every album. In 1979 he ran for mayor of San Francisco and as part of the Green Party he ran for their presidential nomination in 2000. He currently records spoken word albums and tours the United States speaking about current issues.

While Jello is probably the most active punk rock political figure, there are many punk rock bands who give back to the community with more than just their music. The record label Sub City Records is a punk label that has donated millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations. I feel confident saying you cannot have punk rock without politics. Here is a list of political punk bands.