Anonymous asked: Just to ask, are you able to explain the difference between the punk wave and the post-punk wave?
“Punk enabled you to say, ‘fuck you,’ but somehow it couldn’t go any further. It was just a single, venomous, one-syllable, two-syllable phrase of anger, which was necessary… But sooner or later, someone was going to want to say more than ‘fuck you.’ Someone was going to want to say, ‘I’m fucked.’”
— Tony Wilson
Though I’m afraid I can’t put it as neatly or as succinctly as Tony Wilson, I can take a shot at explaining those terms for you! Caveat lector, though, it’s a nebulous division at best and neither genre has a sharply-defined edge.
Punk is basically a subculture that arose from the musical influence of rock (along with other things, mod and ska and early industrial sounds) and the cultural backlash of a generation that had had more than enough of oppression and disadvantage and societal stratification. A few angry people came along, found the right sort of guidance in the forms of people like Malcolm McLaren and Bernie Rhodes, and began making their mark. They couldn’t necessarily actually play (please see: everyone’s bassists), but the point was that they wanted to say something. That’s where you got people like Joe Strummer, who picked up a guitar because he wanted to be a musician, and two years later he was the frontman for The Clash. That’s where you got people like Johnny Rotten, who, let’s face it, was many things, but not exactly melodic. Paul Simonon, who wanted to be punk, but who didn’t necessarily want to be a punk rocker (and yet). Sid Vicious, who wanted nothing more than to be a punk rocker, but whose method of learning bass was, shall we say, unorthodox at best. Punk rock broke down the barriers between the musical elite and the world at large; it made music, it made being a musician, belong to everyone. It made everything belong to everyone. The point of all of this is that punk was more about the message than about the music*, and the message of “we’re not going to take it,” “we can see what’s wrong with the world,” “it isn’t our fault, but we know it’s yours,” “we’re going to tear down what you built and put it up again our way,” that’s punk.
* Undeniably, there was a musical style to punk as well, of course – hard and fast, high volumes and tempos, bare-bones bands and basic instrumentals, shouted vocals and short songs with rudimentary musical forms, but that wasn’t what was most important, and later progressions of punk rock often did away with that style.
Post-punk, on the other hand, was what happened when punk rock started to influence the world around it and a slightly different type of person, someone with a different background and a different approach to life, decided, “hey, we can do that, too.” Post-punk was what happened when the world got the message that punk rock was sending, that all of this belonged to everyone and it was everyone’s job to seize it and do something with it, tear it down, build it up, change it – even punk itself. Post-punk was what happened when punk rock diverged so far from its origins that it was no longer the same genre; when the sound was different, harsh and atonal, or lighter and gentler, or hollow and spacious, but no longer typical of the greater ‘punk’ movement. Post-punk was complex, was introspective, was more about people than politics. It was experimental, synthesizers and machines and new playing techniques and new production techniques. It was avant-garde, borrowing liberally from other musical genres (not in the same way as punk rock; post-punk adopted elements of everything from gothic and German rock to funk and disco, electronic and dub). It was made by people who had no idea what they were doing, only what they wanted to do (and from there, you had the genesis of bands like Joy Division, who wanted to be punk and never made it, or A Certain Ratio, who wanted to be funk and almost sort of pulled it off). Post-punk was what happened when people saw punk rockers baring their souls about the world around them and turned that gaze inward; tore down the walls and bared their own souls about the worlds inside them as well as the outside.
… my apologies for the slightly romanticized rambling about punk and post-punk. If you wanted me to talk more about musical stylings, please do ask, though that’s practically impossible to define with regard to post-punk. Otherwise, I hope that’s at least the beginning of an explanation, but if not please feel free to make me clarify!