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.
Here is a quick rundown on what has happened. Last year there were some screen shots of some very old problematic Facebook likes that Brandon Pybus made years ago that were passed around the internet as proof that he was racist. Then Brandon appeared on a show explaining his side of things, and what he said made sense to me so I believed him. My thought process at the time was that if he was currently actively racist why would he agree to speak about being against racism. Some people have been telling me that there was more evidence, but I personally never saw any. I based my opinion on those old likes that I saw and what Brandon said and that was it.
This all changed yesterday when definitive proof was produced. It has been shown that Brandon has been an active member of the Sons Of Confederate Veterans since 2015. This is considered to be a hate group because they want Confederate statues to be kept in place, Confederate flags to be flown freely and they spread lies about why the Civil War was fought.
To say I am pissed off at Brandon is a huge understatement. In the past we had actually spoken about the Civil War because I have several ancestors who fought for the Union and who were from West Virginia, an area that he lives near. Never once did he say anything about the Confederacy or about being a member of that group. Of course he didn’t, because he knew that it would instantly piss me off and that I would tell other people. If he thought it wasn’t a racist group then why would he hide being a member of it? He had also told me in other discussions that he was in no way racist and that he wasn’t that kind of person.
I am not the only person that he has majorly lied to. He has worked with many other musicians as either a producer, a guitar player or as a vocalist. I feel for these musicians more than anybody else because they were closer to him and knew him as a personal friend, as somebody that they would help if he needed it. He really put himself out there, helping people and being friendly with everybody. It felt like he was doing something that the goth subculture really needed; a musician that was willing to work with everybody instead of against everybody.
There isn’t very much money to be made in the subculture so I don’t think he did all of this for that reason. I witnessed the WAR (white aryan resistance) skins, in the late 80’s/early 90’s, try to heavily infiltrate the goth and punk club scenes on the US West Coast and there is something about this whole situation that reminds me of that ordeal. They had more success in the goth subculture because back then the people within it were generally more passive and not as political as now. I’m not saying that everybody ignored politics but a certain percentage of people really couldn’t be bothered. That is one of the reasons why I have always kept a foot in the punk scene because people tend to be more reactive when bad shit happens. The punks and SHARP skins did all of the heavy lifting back then and drove the WAR skins out. Maybe Brandon thought that the goth subculture would be an easy place for him to infiltrate because he thinks that a lot of the people within the subculture are still very passive? That in the end people would support him no matter what he believed or said?
I would like to state for the record that I’m sorry that I hurt the feelings of the people who shared those Facebook likes last year. I supported the wrong person in this whole situation. I tend to defend friends to the death if I think they have been wronged, so that is why I reacted the way that I did. I fully support BLM, stand against racism and want everybody to be treated equally no matter who they are or who they love.
My heart feels crushed right now. However, I am not going to let Brandon’s lying racist ass get to me. I have scrubbed all mention of him and Sonsombre from this blog and I have deleted all of Sonsombre’s music from my computer. I plan on making the Sonsombre vinyl records that I own into bowls, because I don’t want to make money off of them and throwing them away isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.
EDIT: Apparently Brandon has made a non apology and is blocking people from actually asking questions about the racist organization that he belongs to. He blocked me even before I could comment, go figure. I’m not linking it because I don’t want to give him any views. It’s easy to find on Sonsombre’s Facebook page. I dedicate Gwar’s song Sick Of You to him. It’s very apt at the moment.
Recently the wannabe version of the Dead Kennedys questioned a woman who was wearing one of their shirts as somebody who probably didn’t listen to their music. The woman did in fact listen to the band and they lost a fan. Jello Biafra even stepped forward and said that what they posted was crap and that he would never assume something like that. This whole thing really pissed me off because for years women who enjoy listening to punk or metal bands have had to deal with this sort of thing. Now even bands are saying this crap?
There has been a trend that started within the last decade of regular chain stores selling punk and metal band shirts. This in turn means that regular people buy them to wear without knowing that they are actual bands. A good example of this is the Misfits fiend skull. It’s seen as just a symbol by some people. Is that a little sad? Sure, but do you have the right to go up to that person and grill them about what their favourite Misfits songs are? No. If they want to look like a fashion victim that is their choice and none of your damn business. If you want to be mad at anybody be mad at the bands for selling out. I’m looking at you Jerry Only!
When I started heavily getting into punk and wearing shirts from bands such as Samhain, Misfits, 7 Seconds,etc… I would occasionally get guys coming up to me and grilling me on albums and songs. Sometimes they would even ask me if I just wanted to fuck the band. No joke! As a woman I had to prove time and time again that I was really into the music. Once I listed off the songs and albums I liked that would usually shut them up and they would slink back to the sewer from which they came.
The funny thing about all of this is that I have known more about punk bands than anybody I have ever dated. Seriously. That older woman who is wearing a Samhain shirt while walking down the street may know more about the band than you do and she might be such a fan that she has been listening to them for over thirty years; longer that you have been alive.
I feel that the guys who perpetuate this are insecure when it comes to their knowledge about the bands that they like. They are scared that somebody might actually know more about their favorite bands than they do, and it would especially be harrowing for them if that same middle aged woman wearing that Samhain shirt knew facts that they didn’t know. Middle aged women aren’t supposed to be listening to punk! Instead we are supposed to be wearing mom jeans and ferrying a bunch of kids around in a minivan all day.
The best thing to do when you see a chick wearing a punk or metal band shirt is just to smile when you see them and keep walking. If they initiate a conversation because they sense that you could also like the same band then that is awesome! You’re not being an asshole in that type of situation and you could possibly make a friend. Isn’t that better than making baseless assumptions about somebody just because they are a woman wearing a punk or metal band shirt? If you think otherwise then you are indeed being an asshole.
This record has been in my top ten favourite albums for about thirty years, and it is frequently number one on that list. In my humble opinion this is the best album that Glenn Danzig has ever made, a pinnacle that he will never reach again. It’s the perfect blend of punk and goth music, and I would even venture to say that this is one of the best deathrock albums ever made. I would definitely place it above Specimen’s Batastrophe and Christian Death’s Theater Of Pain. Yes, I went there.
I found out about Samhain in a very strange way. I went to an amusement park a couple of weeks before I graduated high school in 1989 with some metal friends. I was wearing my Sex Pistols Holidays In The Sun shirt. Back then they weren’t as well known as they are now, trust me on that. With all of that being said a girl walked past me at some point while wearing a Samhain November Coming Fire shirt and called me a poser. During that time I was also into The Dead Kennedys and 7 Seconds, so I was in no way a poser. What she said didn’t affect me as much as the appearance of her shirt did. I stored the band name Samhain in the back of my brain for future reference because I thought maybe they would be as good as their shirt looked.
Later in 1989 I very briefly dated a guy who had a Misfits poster in his room even though he didn’t listen to them. I knew who the Misfits were during that time but I hadn’t gotten around to listening to them yet. I know that sounds strange but I was into so many bands at that point that it was difficult to buy all of that music and the albums of bands I wanted to try out at the same time. Back then you actually had to buy the music if you wanted to own it. I mean you could get some tapes off of your friends but it was always a goal to actually legally own the music and support the band at the same time. After I broke up with that guy I went and bought the Misfits album Legacy Of Brutality. My friend Sheri was also really into the Misfits during this time and she is the person that introduced me to the band Danzig.
I remember going to the Rasputin’s music store in San Lorenzo in early 1990 and buying the Danzig and Danzig II: Lucifuge cds. The store had separate sections for goth, punk and just about everything else, which actually made it really easy to find music. I remember looking through the punk section and coming across the name of a band that looked familiar: Samhain. I cold bought November Coming Fire on cd that day and it was quite possibly one of the best music based decisions I have ever made. I’m not overstating that by any means. Back then I cold bought a whole lot of music on the recommendation of other people or by seeing somebody strange wearing a band shirt.
Usually when you hear an album for the first time you will pick out certain songs above others or maybe not even like some of the songs. I liked every single song on this album the very first time I listened to it. The song order has a certain flow to it. For example the song To Walk The Night is slow and quite introspective, perhaps the most traditionally goth rock sounding song on the whole album. While the next song Let The Day Begin is more quick paced and takes you slowly out of the bleakness, all the while singing about darkness and the evil that is coming. The very next song Halloween II is a Misfits cover which is sung completely in Latin and takes you to the place where the last song’s events were leading you to.
I have always liked both goth and punk music but not that many bands have achieved the feat of seamlessly bringing the two genres of music together. The only other band that I can think of immediately is TSOL, whose two albums Dance With Me and Beneath The Shadows are also favourites of mine. However, what Glenn Danzig did with this album is bring it to a higher level by adding into the mix some very dark theming and lyrical content. It’s like the album is in its own dimension of darkness where no light can reach it. November Coming Fire taught me that it was okay to unabashedly embrace my darkness and relish in it. Don’t be a goth who claims that they are totally normal on the inside, because I’m not. Don’t be a punk who always thinks that non violence is always the answer, because it’s not.
If it wasn’t for November Coming Fire I wouldn’t be the very darkly inclined woman that I am today. Never heard of Samhain or November Coming Fire? Give the below a listen, you won’t regret it.
Before I start telling this story I would like it to be known that I have always disliked Green Day and their music. I used to attend 924 Gilman, the famous punk club in Berkeley, around 90-91 and Green Day would always open for the bands I wanted to see. This was before they were signed to a major label and I always found their music to be bland and boring. It was basically pop music and I had a discussion with the guy who was in charge of Gilman at the time about that. He didn’t like them either but he predicted that they would get signed to a major label because they were boring and safe. He was right.
The members of Green Day were major assholes to just about everybody during that time. Despite what they have said in interviews I never once remember them hanging out after they played. They would play and then disappear. One time I yelled really loudly there that Green Day sucks, and they happened to be standing next to me. One of them said ‘We’re Green Day.’, and I responded with the word ‘So.’. I still crack up thinking back on that because they walked away without saying a word in response.
Around 2001/2002 I was at a show at Gilman with a boyfriend and a roommate to see a mutual friend’s band play. There were maybe thirty people there since they weren’t famous or anything. Guess who showed up that night…Green Day. They set up their gear on the stage a proceeded to play a surprise set. What you have to understand is that they were actually banned from ever playing there again because they signed to a major label and major label bands were not allowed to play there. So, nobody knew that this was going to happen. The younger part of the crowd were all happy and excited while I just stood there bored out of mind.
After Green Day played my then boyfriend started kissing their asses and chatting them up. The funny thing about it was that he would always talk shit about pop-punk, yet there he was acting like he thought they were cool. I can honestly say that it was one of the most pathetic things I have ever witnessed. A few minutes after this the boyfriend comes up to me and tells me that Green Day have invited the three of us to hang out with them at their warehouse. My response was basically the following statement.
They were assholes ten years ago and they are still assholes. I’m not going to hang out with them just because they are famous. Fuck them, I’m driving home.
He stared at me like I was nuts. There was no way that I was going to be a giant hypocrite and hang out with musicians that I heavily disliked just because they were famous. Hell no. I then turned around and drove home. The next day the boyfriend and roommate told me that Green Day bought them breakfast at Denny’s and that one of them actually wanted to hookup with me. I honestly don’t remember which one but I still find that bit of it hilarious.
The moral of this story is that you should never kiss the ass of musicians just because they are famous. This is especially true when you heavily dislike the music that the band plays. Have some dignity and walk away.
For years this album has been my go to when I am pissed off because every song is pretty much about rejection, failed relationships and just wanting to destroy things in general.
My favourite Black Flag era is the one fronted by Rollins because the band experimented with their music and didn’t sound like a stereotypical hardcore band of the time. I think that’s the reason why some people don’t like this era of the band.
I first heard this album around 1990 and it taught me that it’s okay to be pissed off about shit that is out of my control. While at the same time it also taught me that it’s okay to be pissed off at the situations that I put myself in. I actually used to sit in my car singing along with the lyrics trying to calm myself down when I needed space.
I love all of the songs on this album, but the one that really encapsulates all of the feelings brought forth by it is Bastard In Love.
‘Bastard in love, there’s no turning back Punish your lover, and then turn your back Punish your future to spite your past Love turns to hate with every spell you cast
You keep waiting for the love that you wanna feel But you’d never believe it when they tell you that love is real You keep wishing, but my love is real, my love is real My love is real, my love is real
Bastard in love, they push, you shove There’s no point in asking; you’ll never know why You run and don’t listen; I sit home and cry My heart sinks further with each of your lies
You keep waiting for the love that you wanna feel But you’d never believe it when they tell you that love is real You keep wishing, but my love is real, my love is real My love is real, my love is real You keep waiting for the love that you wanna feel But you’d never believe it when they tell you that love is real You keep wishing, but my love is real, my love is real My love is real, my love is real’
To this day this album means a hell of a lot to me and the lessons it taught me are still with me to this day.