Punk can mean many things, an outlet for frustration, the out-there fashion, the attitude to live by, the freedom to create, and the mindset to question authority. One thing punk isn’t is DEAD.
For nearly 40 years punk rock remains a constant for Southern California’s underground scene and shows no signs of slowing down. Punk music has been a threshold for individuals to express themselves in their purest form, as well as cultivating an image of violence, deviance and repugnance at the very inception of the subculture. It’s become a form of expression that goes further than fashion or rebellion, it’s an alternative lifestyle divergent from the norms of society.
In a beat down car repair shop next to a skatepark, old-school punk band Vietnam Hardcore jams out in a tight room with walls chipped of blue paint. Wearing a green bomber jacket, lead vocalist Marty Martinez grabs his mic shouting the lyrics to their song Headed Nowhere. The room engulfs with loud, aggressive music vibrating off the walls.
“Going nowhere was really fitting because I was living in a garage at my aunt’s house and I finished school with no work. Just trying to find odd man jobs,” Martinez stated.
The beauty of punk rock is that it is pure, raw emotion, an exposed nerve that doesn’t need to be slick and polished to get its point across.
Sitting in their jam space in Vista, the members of Vietnam Hardcore, who were in their mid to late 20’s, shared their
inspirations behind their music, the struggles they’ve faced as a band, and what it means to be punk.
“Punk is an attitude, I’m sorry. You can have all the clothes, you can have all the records, but at the end of the day if you don’t have the attitude, then I’m sorry,” said lead guitarist Isaac, as he drank a cold beer.
It’s an attitude, but not all punks share the same attitude. “For some people, Green Day is the epitome of punk to them, because based on their level of understanding that could be the most extreme,” drummer Kaleb Calem said, wearing a black Motorhead England T-shirt, “To me, everything is on a different scale of comprehension. What’s punk to somebody is not punk to somebody else.”
Punk as we know it — the music, the attitude, the fashion and the disgust made its appearance in the mid-70’s taking over the U.S. and the U.K. as the Clash, The Sex Pistols, and the Ramones toured the countries. Punk music was a breath of fresh air from the hippies and disco music. It was a revolution for young people to express their frustration over the dissatisfaction with the recession and social injustices.
The genre is described as faster, heavier and more abrasive sound.
Punk band Dark Visions of Terror (D.V.T) used their youth adolescence angst towards their music, bringing in a local intimate scene to Temecula. “Shows are the best way to channel anything you’re going through,” said Christian Sia, 23.
Wearing a studded jean vest embellished with a D.V.T and cheetah print patch on his shoulders, Sia has been a part of the punk music scene since high school in 2009 where he met most of his bandmates.
“Getting started with the punk scene and music. I got into it through my dad, he used to play these little mix CDs with random punk music, random metal music. As I got older I started to understand why the music is the way it is, very aggressive, violent, chaos,” he said passionately. “Well it’s cause we live in a world of order, we have to abide by the rules and what better way to break all the rules, going to a show.”
Years ago bands in Temecula had a hub where any artist could perform and be connected to the community. The Vault was the place to be on the weekends, where Sia said it didn’t matter what show it was, whether it was punks, metalheads and all different music lovers at one show. He added there was no left or right, no red or blue.
Where venues have failed, bands like Graveyard Witch have provided a sanctuary for local music. In a backyard of a culture-de-sac neighborhood, all types of genres
could be heard from punk to hip-hop to heavy metal. Walking through the wooden backyard door a portable potty, kegs, and Graveyard Witch merchandise could be seen. Over 100 metalhead, punk kids and hipsters basked in each other’s company and moshed while bands performed on a handmade stage.
While the sound of punk has evolved throughout the years it remains to be seen where punk will move next. But as the dynamic scene filled with creative and varied individuals, seems to say the genre is alive and well. There’s no denying the roots of punk will always prevail. “It’s funny ’cause you can apply the punk attitude to many different musics,” Sia said. “It’s a universal thing I believe.”