Gonzo Podcast #11: Punk or Junk?
For this week’s episode of the Gonzo Podcast, we are joined by the owner of independent record label Mr. Furious Records, C. Howie Howard to continue a conversation started about the controversial lineup for this year’s Warped Tour.
Taking a deep dive on lightning rods brokenCYDE, Millionaires and 3Oh!3, Howie and Rob look for punk in these crossover acts, searching for legitimacy in a sea of polished loops and quantized leads.
I think I might have figured out what I wanted to say, and couldn’t formulate talking with Rob:
Punk is a principle
It isn’t a sound or an era or a culture or even a group of people. Punk contains its own critique. Every concrete realization of punk is exhaustible, but the principle – the spirit – of punk is unconditional, and can always
(I’m borrowing language from Paul Tillich here, mostly from his concept of the Protestant principle, which I also used in the podcast.)
The spirit or essence or principle of punk always has the potential to transcend its crystallization in one place and time and be both critical and creative. Punk isn’t a revolution; it’s the animating spirit of revolutions. Punk isn’t a culture; it’s a power in people that both criticizes and creates culture.
Yes, punk has a widely known sound and culture in our present and recent history. But the power of punk – unique in pop music, even hip-hop doesn’t have this element – is that its principle contains the potential for punk’s rebirth. In this way, the unconditional may break through into our conditional existence. Among popular forms of music, only punk has this principle as part of its identity.
Coming full circle to the question that started this conversation; brokenCYDE, 3OH!3, and the Millionaires are not punk and don’t belong on Warped because they fail to become a channel for the critical and creative power that is specifically punk.