This article is inspired by a whole series of events. One of which is the newest Lower Than Atlantis album, which is self titled and another of which is Terry Bezer’s defence of pop punk, which you can find here. It’s not a secret that the defintion of punk has changed. The old punks have grown up and anyone who has been to see a punk band that broke in the heyday, will be used to the sight of people who look like they spend their day with office jobs, slipping into the old outfit for a night out. My Dad tells a story of going for a fancy meal in America and afterwards going to see the New York Dolls, where he was surprised to find the exact same people that had been at the restaurant.. To say punk is dead is harsh, but to say punk has changed, seems to just be the truth.
Yet not only has punk changed, pop punk may actually be able to lay claim to changing the music industry. While I cannot proclaim myself a huge fan, bands like Green Day are huge for a reason and it’s because people love it. It is one of the few genres that has its roots in our world, that can truly claim to have conquered the mainstream. As Beez points out, thrash and grunge did that, but they did it for a short period of time, now a days, minus the big boys, they are as underground as most of the music that makes up the rock and metal world. However, does that mean what defines punk has changed? Are bands like 5 Seconds of Summer really pop punk? Or is it just a convenient label to put on a pop band that also happen to play instruments?
Well yes, that is exactly what it is. 5 Seconds of Summer have more in common with One Direction than they do The Clash, or even The Ramones, the band who started this whole pop punk thing off. They are from a different world and anyone trying to market them differently, cough cough Kerrang, is kidding themselves. Yet, that doesn’t mean that punk has to have changed. The new Lower in Atlantis album sounds nothing like The Sex Pistols or Black Flag but in the lyrics of Mike Duce and in the ideology it proclaims, punk is still there. It may no longer be that nnoticeableon tracks like the electronic influenced, “Ain’t No Friend”, but it’s still a punk record.
The truth is that pop punk, punk rock, hardcore and whatever else you listen to have very little in common with each other on a base level. If you like Refused, there is nothing to suggest you should also like Blink 182 and vice versa and that’s okay. Because punk has always been more about an attitude and that is why 5 Seconds of Summer are not punk. Bands like Lower Than Atlantis, love ’em or hate ’em, worked their way up the scene. They fought to get where they are today and that is punk. Being handed a One Direction world tour and the keys to the mansion is not and that is how we define punk in 2014.