Punk’s Not Dead

Never mind the bollocks, London’s punk music scene lives on.

It’s fair to say that the punk subculture is far from the riotous whirlwind it once was. Although it is still making waves, punk seems to be dwelling – even further – on the outskirts of society. In today’s mainstream culture, there are few rambunctious Johnny Rotten’s deliberately spewing profanities live on telly or sticking two fingers up at the Queen. More’s the pity.

Punk girls outside Tower Bridge London
Photo cred: Punk  London org                    

To anyone who has lived and breathed the punk era, it would seem that the increasingly watered down music of today is washing out any element of cultural rebellion. Renowned celebrity photographer Richard Young toured with punk icons Sex Pistols, in the 70’s, and has witnessed first hand  the cultural shift from riotous to refined.

Young says, “The music today is too refined, the punk movement was so spontaneous, it was not structured, a bit like Jazz, When I was shooting Punk in 1976, even the fashion had not developed,

“It was all about the raw music, and may I say it was pretty messy shooting early punk, everyone kept spitting, so I had to wear a beanie in order not to get drenched! It was horrible.”

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Although punk bands are harder to come by than they were in the 70’s, they’re still keeping the spirit alive and well. In London’s darkened pubs and bars – where whole nights are often dedicated to the genre –  the grittiest punk bands bash away in front of scores of riled up music-lovers.

Three punks with mohicans, Chelsea, Kings Rd, London, 1970s. -®Ted Polhemus_PYMCA
Photo cred: Punk London org          

Rob Quick, bassist and Vocalist for loaded hardcore punk band Ships Down, says, “We’ve come across great bands and there are some great venues and promoters working to put on shows. There’s a lot bubbling just under the surface and we’re happy being a part of that.”

As well as their fierce sound, Ships Down are also electric with political charge. Quick says, “Our song ‘No Refuge’ is an attack on the current UK and EU approach to refugees fleeing war zones. We also believe in building an inclusive scene so that all members of the community can enjoy shows without any discrimination.”

Ships Down performing live

Mike Clewley, from Punk London’s cultural team, says, “I think Malcolm McLaren said it best when he said, “I think Punk will always come back in new forms always because the attitude is so very very good; it’s to do with people doing things for themselves, controlling their own methods and their own culture,

“Punks today are everywhere, in all guises, in all spheres of life, so much so that they are at the basis of anything that is creative today.”

With London’s music scene offering a plethora of expanding music genres and gigs, the time has never been better for the arrival of up-and-coming punk bands. Raging guitars, relentless drum beats and irate choruses drown out the chatter that claims ‘punk is dead’.




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