Epix’s Punk Documentary

By April 2, 2019 miscellaneous

“Punk is dead.” – everybody ever in regards to punk music

Last night I finished watching Epix (Epix’s?) four-part documentary on punk. The break down, essentially, is a broad overview of punk as a musical form from the early days, via Iggy Pop, MC5, The Ramones, Blondie, the England invasion by the Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Slits, The Damned, 80’s American Hardcore from Black Flag, The Circle Jerks, DOA, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, The Germs, and the final episode having to do with the punk explosion of the 90’s by bands like Green Day, The Offspring, L7, Bad Religion, and so forth.

As a long time punk fan I mostly enjoyed the third episode based around the American Hardcore scene and it’s full-steam ahead DIY ethics that really paved the way for punk and indie music in America, an attitude that continues to inspire me to this fucking day. The episode I was looking forward to the most was the fourth episode, about the 90’s punk explosion. I came of age in the 90’s and 90’s punk rock played a huge part in that so that’s the era I identify with the most. However, If you’re a fan of punk, there’s really nothing new here, which is the crux of why this series kind of bummed me out. Sure, I enjoy watching these people talk about punk and it’s always fun to see Keith Morris’s directness or Henry Rollins pontificating, or Jello Biafra’s wild gesticulations, but they’re not saying anything they haven’t said one billion times before. The history of punk has been picked clean over, left out in the sun to bleach its bones, so if you’re going to make a a punk documentary in 2019 why not throw in something different? Even the general overview of punk in this four hour series was shockingly sparse, especially when it came to women and minorities, groups of people which have been crucial to punk’s history. Barely a mention of Patti Smith, who my wife points out “if Iggy was the Godfather of Punk, then surely Patti Smith is the Aunt.” Nothing about Suicidal Tendencies. Just two examples from the top of my head.

Then the documentary stops in the 90s with barely any mention of punk past that point except for the standard “there’s always going to be some angry kid” observation.

Fucking boring.

If this is the current state of punk then yeah, it’s surely dead and I’ll be happy to fucking bury it, but fortunately it’s not. This documentary is the visual equivalent of people growing old and not wanting to find new music. They could at least mention some of the other genres and scenes going on. How about crust? To me that’s the most vital form punk has taken over the new millennium, or the LA backyard punk bands scene? Maybe the collapse of Warped Tour? This is why I’ve enjoyed these highly specific documentaries like the Descendents documentary Filmage, the East Bay punk documentary Turn it Around, or Los Punks, about the LA backyard scene I mentioned before. Hell, even the Fat Wreck Chords documentary was interesting, despite Fat Mike’s bullshit.

Maybe it’s time to change the history of punk, add more in, reexamine it. The spirit is still there and nobody can take that away from it but another run of the mill documentary discussing the same points ad nauseam is boring as hell.

Well, shit, how about some newer punk band recommendations?

90’s pop punk attitude that’s catchy as fuck infused with a crucial and bitingly on-point feminist and political in your face approach. Exactly what punk deserves.


Crazy frenetic and melodic punk like you’ve never heard. Beautifully angry vocals and political messaging. 2000-teens punk for sure.


This band burned so quickly but over their two bare-minimum releases punched punk and music right in the fucking teeth. So vital.


Like I mentioned before I think Crust has become the most crucial form of punk over the past decade or so. The DIY, fuck everybody, we’re doing shit our way attitude fucking radiates from this genre and it’s influence in other genres, particularly metal has been on of the highlights of music as a whole for me over the past few years. Iskra might be the queens of melding metal and crust.


The Armed are a fucking explosion of punk fury and electronic insanity. Nothing can prepare you for this one.


Hot off the presses this is some excellent, excellent, post, hardcore, punk with some crust and atmospheric tendencies. Fucking brutally emotional and a vocalist that impresses with every god damn note. This is killer. Killer!


And even some of the old stalwarts are still vital and making some of the best music of their careers. Take Propagandhi, a band I’d discounted in the 90’s but revitalized my interest in punk all over again with their fucking massive 2012 album Failed States.