Lately there has been a lot of talk about how goth music is political, which in turn would mean that the subculture is political as well. When it comes down to it is the subculture actually politically minded?
Everybody reading this knows that the goth subculture was birthed out of the punk subculture. The punk subculture has always been political to varying degrees. There are famous punk musicians such as Jello Biafra and Dick Lucas who have always talked the talk and walked the walk. When they write songs about supporting equal rights or about how evil corporations are they mean it. They aren’t being political to gain ‘scene’ points, they are being political because they think that speaking against injustices is important and something that must be done.
Do goth bands speak up about injustices? Sometimes, but not as often as their punk cousins. Sex Gang Children have recently put out the most politically charged album that I have ever heard come out from under the goth umbrella. It’s called Oligarch and it speaks up against corporations, religious hypocrisy and fascist politicians. I honestly hope that other goth bands listen to it and are inspired to make their own politically charged art. Christian Death is another band that has openly made politically charged music through the years. Both the Rozz and Valor versions of the band have done this. Then there are modern anarcho deathrock bands such as Mystic Priestess and the Creeping Terrors who make music with a political bent. With one foot in the punk subculture they are carrying on the tradition of speaking up against what is wrong in society.
If you spend any amount of time in online goth communities you will see people ask if they can be right wing and goth at the same time. The goth subculture has always leaned left because of the acceptance of those who society sees as the ‘other’. Are there racists within the subculture? There have always been those in the subculture who think that a person has to be white in order to be goth, which is a load of shit of course. Do some people wear white foundation and try to look as pale as possible? Of course but you don’t have to look like a Victorian ghost to enjoy the music. You don’t have to be a certain weight, a certain colour or dress a certain way to take part in the subculture.
All of this could be called political, but do people in the subculture actually stand up for the rights of others when it comes down to it? I would like to argue that there are some that do, but they are heavily outnumbered by those who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. The most important thing about being politically minded is standing behind what you say, even if it inconveniences you. A huge example of this are all of the people in the subculture who will be attending the Cruel World festival, even though the person putting it on is a proven homophobe. They will post about how they are for the rights of those who identify as LGBTQ, but they don’t want to be inconvenienced by missing a show. It’s hypocritical to not stand behind what you say.
Back thirty years ago the subculture was largely not political at all. To the point that Nazi skinheads would attend the clubs and nobody would lift a finger to boot them out. Seriously, I witnessed this shit myself. Back then I weighed 100 pounds and I knew that it would be impossible for me to do anything physically about it. However, there were several times back then that I told Nazi skins off because I didn’t like the crap that they were saying. I did all that I could do back then but when it came down to it there were definitely others who just didn’t care. As long as they could dance to their favourite songs everything was hunky dory.
When it comes down to it the goth subculture can be political, but there are many people in it who need to learn to stand up for what they claim to believe in. Supporting the LGBTQ community online is good, but if it is not followed through with some sort of physical action then that support becomes meaningless. Go to marches and events that are against racism and homophobia, and don’t attend events that are put on by racist or homophobic promoters.
Since very bright hair has become very mainstream it seems like more and more brands of bright hair dye are coming out of the woodwork. This itself isn’t a bad thing because what works on one person may not work on another person. What I personally take issue with is the fact that a lot of companies are charging a ton of money for these dyes, and a lot of people who have no experience with these type of dyes are being gouged in more ways than one.
Before I get stuck in I would like to let it be known that I am not a licensed hair stylist. However, I have been dyeing my own hair for about 35 years so I have a lot of experience. I have dark brown hair that is very coarse and consists of three different types of curls. Bleaching my type of hair is very difficult and time consuming. I would bleach it once and then in a day or two bleach it a second time. This would get it light enough to take in a magenta colour and that’s it. These days I would say that 80% of my new hair growth is white, which means that I no longer have to bleach it and I can dye it purple. My hair has been damaged many times in the past but it has never broken off, so my experiences may not be the same as others who have a different hair type.
With all of that being said there is no reason why people should be shelling £20.00 or more for one container of dye when they can get two, three, and in some cases even four containers of bright dyes for the same price. A lot of people wasting their money this way are doing almost no research on the subject. They are taking the word of beauty ‘influencers’ that are making a ton of money off of them by claiming that their bright hair dye is more ‘special’ than others. I’m looking at you Brad Mondo. I don’t care that you are an internet famous hair dresser, I am not going to pay over £20.00 for your bright coloured hair dye.
Certain brands work on my hair while others don’t, and that is a pretty common issue. The first main brand I ever tried was Manic Panic and it literally washed right out of my hair. These days it goes for about £10.00 a tub. The brand that I had the most success with when I lived in the US was Punky Colour. It was a little cheaper than Manic Panic and would actually stay in my hair for a few weeks. I would always mix one of their reds with one of their pinks to make my own magenta type colour. It is very pricey if you are living in Europe so I now use Directions, which is probably the most affordable brand out there. I have gotten pots of it for as low as £3.20. Their plum shade has the most cool fade that I have ever seen. Some of my hair will turn pink while other strands will turn a bright blue. When I recently went to get my hair cut my hairdresser was shocked that I had only used one shade to get that kind of multi colour fade.
In the end you can spend your money on whatever bright hair colour brand that you want, but just know that you do not need to spend an outrageous amount of cash. Do some research as to how your hair type reacts to bleach, because if you have dark hair you are not going to get a very bright hair shade unless you lighten it first. Some ads will claim that you don’t have to bleach your hair first. Quite frankly that is a load of shit. Also, ask others with your hair type what brand of dye that they use. If you do these things first before buying a bright coloured hair dye you will not only save money, you will also not be giving liars and grifters your hard earned cash.
Within the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in anything having to do with the 80’s. Everything from endless posts about mediocre 80’s ‘post-punk’ bands to people asking questions as to how to directly copy the look of ‘trad’ goths litter the internet. Then there are the truly special individuals who constantly talk about how cool the decade was and how they wish they could have lived back then. They should never wish that. You want to know why? Because for the most part the 80’s was a hellish landscape of conservative neo-liberal politics mixed in with a highly conformist society that punished those who were in any way different.
I was a teen in the 80’s and graduated high school in 1989, so I spent pretty much the entirety of my teen years in that decade. I was very politically aware during that time and paid attention to the world events going on around me. For example, I went on a trip with some classmates to Washington DC in late 87 that was called Close Up. Teens from all over the US go every year to learn about politics. You get to meet your representatives and talk about important issues with others. We got enough free time to wander about the area exploring and one day two friends and I were walking near the Capital Building when a motorcade appeared. During that week Soviet officials were there to draw up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty along with officials from Reagan’s cabinet which included the Secretary Of State George Shultz. I hated, and still hate, Reagan with the burning heat of a thousand suns so I was obviously not a fan of anybody serving under him. The first limos going past us had Soviet flags attached to the front, rolled down windows and Soviet guys waving at us with smiles on their faces. Seriously, it was as cool as it sounds. We smiled and waved back of course. Then the limos infested with the lice off of Reagan’s head rolled by and not one of them rolled down their windows. However, it was easy to see through the tint that one of them contained Shultz. I started yelling to him that he sucked and gave him the finger with both hands. Yes, I told a high ranking US official to basically go fuck himself. My friends were panicking telling me to stop but I wouldn’t. To this day I am still proud that at the age of 16 I had the balls to do something like that.
Now that you have learned a little bit about me I will now tell you a little bit about what it was really like to live in the 80’s.
THE COLD WAR AND THE CONSTANT FEAR OF NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION
I don’t think that younger people right now quite realize just how close we came to all being killed in a nuclear war. This fear was largely due to the constant posturing of Reagan. He would call the USSR the evil empire and threaten them on a very regular basis. Frankly I was way more afraid of Reagan back then than I was of the USSR. To the credit of the USSR back then they didn’t give in to Reagan and start a war. I honestly think the professional war mongerers who stood behind Reagan wanted an all out war with the USSR because they would have made billions from that. Both empires fought a proxy war in Afghanistan when the USSR invaded the country while the US backed and trained the rebels. By the way one of those rebels was Osama Bin Laden.
Nuclear war was such a possibility at the time that two powerful tv films were made about it happening. Threads in the UK and The Day After in the US. Since I was living in the US at the time I saw The Day After when it was first aired in 1983 when I was in the 7th grade. It freaked my friends and I out so much that we went to our vice principal and asked about whether the school had a nuclear fallout shelter. Think about that for a second. Imagine being a young teen and having that kind of fear hanging over your head on a constant basis. It sucked. A few years ago I finally saw Threads and it shows the reality of a nuclear war; people being burned alive and the unsanitized reality of what would happen after a nuclear conflagration. If I had seen it back in the 80’s I would have had full blown nightmares.
IF YOU WERE IN ANY WAY ‘DIFFERENT’ YOU GOT CONSTANTLY SHIT ON AND CONFORMITY WAS A WAY OF LIFE
I always see younger people in online goth communities say that they wished that they could have experienced an ‘alternative’ subculture back in the 80’s. With confidence I can say that the vast majority of them wouldn’t have been emotionally equipped to have handled all of the shit that they would have gotten from others. It wasn’t just the ‘normal’ people that you had to deal with back then, you also had to deal with intense pressure within the alternative community to fit in by liking the same bands and behaving the same way. Woe onto you if you actually acted happy or liked a band that wasn’t considered cool. People think that ‘gatekeeping’ is bad now? They have no idea.
There was a huge amount of pressure back then by society to fit in. Reagan constantly preached about how America was better in the good old days, which were actually not good for anybody who wasn’t wealthy and white. If you didn’t go along with his not so hidden racist agenda you were seen as unpatriotic and a traitor. I am not exaggerating. You had to hate the USSR, be scared of black people, and look just like everybody else. If you didn’t have a perm, didn’t dress in the trendiest clothes and didn’t listen to the latest pop bands you didn’t fit in so you were considered fair game to tease and even physically attack. Luckily I was never physically attacked but I know that lots of people were. Far more violence happened back then than now. However, I had things yelled at me on a constant basis, for doing such things as simply walking down a street. In high school I was even told by a teacher that I wouldn’t have as many problems if I just dressed like everybody else.
IT WAS DIFFICULT AS HELL FINDING OUT ABOUT BANDSAND SHOWS
There was no functioning internet back in the 80’s. There were some bulletin board type communities but computers were expensive as hell so most people did not have them. There were thee ways of finding out about bands back then. You could be one of those lucky people that lived near a radio station that actually played alternative and punk music. These were usually college radio stations, but sometimes pop stations would play less popular music in the the middle of the night. There was a pop station in my area that did this. So much so that by the very late 80’s they became an ‘alternative’ station. However, by that time they played more radio friendly bands than experimental ones. However, I did learn about some bands by listening to them. Another way to learn about bands was by getting mix tapes from your friends. In early 86 I got one from a guy, who then ghosted me. There was no track listing written down so it took me literally years to figure some of them out. However, I had another person introduce me to Joy Division by handing me a tape with Unknown Pleasures on one side and Closer on the other. The last way to find out about music was by cold buying it. You would see somebody cool wearing a mysterious band shirt and you kept a log of those band names in the back of your head. I actually cold bought November Coming Fire by Samhain using this method, and more times than not I had really good luck.
On top of all of this there was a code of silence that the uber goober type people would pull when you would ask them about what bands they liked. Seriously. There was some sort of strange code that some weirdos lived by that made it very uncool to share musical knowledge with anybody. It was as if they were going to be killed by an evil cabal if they dared to utter the sacred names of bands. These were the same types who would try to dictate how you behaved in clubs.
Wanted to see your favourite band play a show? Good luck! Most of the time the only way you would find out about shows was at club nights, but if you were under 18, and sometimes 21, you weren’t allowed in them. I actually went to one that let you in of you were 17 or older and another that was all ages so I was lucky when it came to that. However, that didn’t mean you would find out about all of the shows because venues were usually total shit at advertising shows unless they were some of the better known ones that also hosted metal shows. There were some ‘alternative’ weekly papers where I lived so I would find out about some of them that way, but there were two times that I accidentally saw bands because I thought it was going to be a regular club night. I saw Meat Beat Manifesto and The Call that way which looking back on it was pretty darn cool.
Well, that’s it for today. I realise that I have probably broken some hearts and crushed some dreams but the amount of misinformation about the 80’s really needs to be balanced out with a reality check. I don’t look back at that decade with rose coloured glasses, even though I lived through those years. It could be fun, but it was also really difficult. If I had the ability to go back in time to those years I wouldn’t.
Tramp Stamps are quite possibly one of the worst wannabe pop-punk bands I have ever heard. Considering how many bad pop-punk bands that there have been in the last thirty years that is really saying something. Many are calling them an industry plant, while they say they came up with everything themselves.
The first thing that you need to know about these women is that each of them was involved in the music industry before the band was formed. Up until around mid 2020 singer Marisa Maino was a run in the mill pop singer who looked totally normal. Both her and guitarist Caroline Baker have song writing publishing deals with Dr. Luke’s company Prescription Drugs. The drummer Paige Blue is a commercial music producer. Dr. Luke was the guy accused of abusing the singer Keisha and is not exactly a guy that an actual female feminist punk band would do business with. Being involved in the music business in itself is not a bad thing, because other people in it have made really good music. The issue here is that these women were never involved with the punk subculture before this in any way shape or form.
What is this band all about and why are people so pissed off? Here is their ‘about us’ statement from their website. Yes, this is a real statement:
Whip-smart and wildly irreverent, Nashville-based band TRAMP STAMPS are introducing a fantastically unfiltered new voice into today’s pop landscape. With a lyrical style that’s equal parts social commentary, soul-baring confession, and brilliantly profane storytelling, singer Marisa Maino, guitarist Caroline Baker, and drummer Paige Blue speak the truth on societal ills like white-boy privilege and fragile masculinity—all while revealing their warped sense of humor and untamed joie de vivre. And with its high-energy collision of pop and skate-punk, TRAMP STAMPS’ sound fully reflects the raw catharsis that fuels their songwriting. “All our songs start with us going on rants about stuff that pisses us off, shit we wish were different, stories that have happened to us involving fucked-up guys,” says Maino. Adds Baker: “It’s the kind of stuff women talk about all the time with their friends, but no one’s ever put it to this kind of music before.”
This sounds so contrived. Seriously, it sounds like some old music industry promoter sat down and wrote what they thought was hip commentary about the band so that kids would totally be down with. If the women actually wrote this it really doesn’t make it any better because it would show just how out of touch they are with the punk subculture. Actually, the quote by Baker at the end pretty much sums up this whole debacle. They think that women have never made social commentary type punk music before? Oh hell no! It’s insane how out of touch Baker is and she proves that even if a person has access to the internet that they can still be a completely clueless idiot.
It’s obvious that for these women punk is nothing but a costume. Dye your hair a funny colour and put on some ‘alt’ style clothes and that makes you punk! I can understand that some teens do the same thing, but they are teens. Most teens try different things until they find something that fits them. These women are in their twenties. In fact Paige Blue is twenty-nine. No joke! That makes this whole thing even worse. It looks like Dollskill threw up all over them, and that is something nobody should ever want to achieve. I feel like a mom when I look at them because I have a huge urge to spit on a hanky and rub all of their make-up off.
In my opinion somebody that they have collectively known suggested that they start a band together. This individual told them that they could make a lot of money and get famous if they pretend to by an angry pop punk band. Could they have come up with this on their own? Sure, but everything about this really reeks of record company involvement. One of their songs is called I’d Rather Die and one line goes ‘I’d rather die than hook up with another straight white guy.’. Guess what, one of them apparently wants to die because she is married to a straight white guy.
Their whole shtick is not only highly hypocritical it reeks of fake outrage about subjects that mean a whole lot to people. People are mad about white straight male privilege, so let’s write a song about how we will never fuck any of them! That’ll teach those evil white men! It morphs an important social construct that negatively affects a lot of people into some trite crap that speaks to absolutely nobody. Political punk music has been around for over forty years, and this lame attempt to jump onto that train falls flat.
That’s the huge problem that this ‘band’ has. They came out of absolutely nowhere with professionally made social media accounts, a slick website and a backstory recounting how they met at a bar and decided to make music together. Bands do not normally come out of nowhere like this, especially when they are any shade of punk. It takes time and money to build a career. To come out of the gate as a fully formed punk organism is not normal, especially when it involves a subculture that is all about doing things yourself. Yes, bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash were formed by managers to make a buck, but in the case of the Pistols all of the members were actually involved with the newly emerging punk subculture before being in the band. They weren’t pretending to be punk because they actually were punk.
So, what is to become of this band? The audience that they are trying to reach online largely knows already that they are inauthentic so trying to cater to them is pretty much a lost cause. They could go down the trolling route and make themselves into a joke kind of band, but I don’t think whomever is behind the scenes is going to be into doing that. I could actually see them pivoting over to a more ‘goth’ sound, but they would have the same sort of issues because of switching music genres so quickly. They would have had more success if they had just done a ‘goth’ type band in the first place, since a lot of younger people don’t understand exactly what goth is. They could have sung about wanting to be a vampire and some of that target audience would have definitely bought into it.
I’m all for people making the music that they want to make but this just really rubs me the wrong way. People have literally been murdered for looking punk, goth or alternative. Pretending to be a part of any subculture just for the fame and fortune aspect is gross. Instead of pretending to be punk they should just be themselves. Adult women should know better than this, especially ones who claim to be feminist in nature. Pretending to care about social issues is never a good thing, and it is actually worse than looking like Dollskill fashion victims.
The above photo has been making the rounds on the internet for the past few days. Somebody took the photo in a store called Box Lunch in a mall. Said store is owned by Hot Topic, which really shouldn’t come as a surprise since that company has had a reputation for profiting off of subcultures for about 30 years now. The thing that bothers me the most about this is that people are going to buy these atrocities without listening or even knowing about the bands painted upon them.
The first thing you notice about this jacket is that Agent Orange is shorted to Agent Ora and Dr. Know is changed to RX Know. Oh, and they messed up the name of Chaos UK. I don’t know if it was done out of pure laziness or that they didn’t want to be sued by said bands, but they got the names of the other bands correct so I’m guessing that they don’t really care about the whole getting sued thing. Somebody, in some factory in China or elsewhere, was told what to stencil so they probably had no clue that they were real bands. They have been exploited by whomever came up with this crap. Yes, I see the irony of using the word ‘exploited’.
I guarantee that people who buy this thing are going to get shit for wearing it when somebody goes up to them and wants to talk about the bands on it. It’s exciting to see somebody wear the merch of a band that you really like, and more exciting to have a discussion about them. However when these people are innocently asked about what their favourite band is on the jacket their eyes will glaze over in a panic because they didn’t realize that the names were of real punk bands. They bought the jacket because they thought it looked edgy.
I am all for people buying whatever they want to wear, and I’m realistic about the fact that not everybody can easily DIY clothing. I have multiple sclerosis and quite frequently I don’t have the energy to sew or paint. However, I feel that jackets are the one thing that should be personalized by the person who wears it. It’s a tradition that has been around since the early days of punk in the 1970’s, and something that means a lot to people in the punk, metal and goth subcultures. It shows other people in the subcultures what bands, films, or other things that you are heavily into. It even becomes a focal point of interest that will sometimes turn into a conversation with another person that is into similar things. Yes, sometimes ‘gatekeepers’ will be creeps and try to test you on your knowledge to make themselves feel superior. I’ve had it happen to me and it sucks. Not everybody is a creep though, and friendships can be started over a love of the same bands which is neat!
These days it’s really easy to learn how to paint on a leather or pleather jacket. There are tons of tutorials on YouTube showing you exactly how to do it and it really isn’t that difficult of a project to accomplish. You’re not good at painting? You can make a stencil out of cardboard, or any kind of thicker type paper, and do it that way. If what you create isn’t 100% perfect that is okay. You actually don’t even have to put band names on a jacket if you don’t want to. The latest one that I painted, shown below, doesn’t have a single band name on it. I am heavily into post-apocalyptic and dystopian films so I went with that kind of theme. There are also tutorials online that teach you how to stud a jacket and the studs are very cheap to buy on sites such as Etsy.
When it comes down to it when you buy a premade ‘punk’ jacket you are being exploited by a company wanting to make money off of a subculture that they don’t give a crap about. They don’t care about the long history of the DIY ethos that runs through it. Instead they see you as a rube willing to spend your hard earned cash on their manufactured product in order to look ‘edgy’. Don’t be a victim of their avarice and greed. When you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything you want, including painting bands that you love on your own jacket.