Punk/Noise Panel 2A

Scenes & Localities
Room G.11, Armstrong Building

Grainne Milner-McLoone (Newcastle University)
‘Punk/Noise and Aggression in Northern Ireland’

The Punk phenomenon of the 1970s hit Northern Ireland in a unique way, introducing a wave of aggression that helped to release the tensions of the sectarian conflict,  ‘the troubles’, at that time. The punk scene prompted many home formed bands to write and play music addressing the violence and created a non-sectarian common ground amongst teenagers, as a rebellion against the sectarian beliefs of their immediate predecessors. Punk in NI also instigated a rejection of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (police) in both the nationalist/republican/Catholic and the loyalist/unionist/Protestant communities, bringing the younger generation together.

Examining the anti-establishment ideologies so prominent during the troubles, this paper will look at punk and aggression in Northern Ireland today. Following the instability caused by Brexit and its impact on the many new and upcoming punk bands in Ireland, this paper will specifically explore the music of punk/noise bands Woodburning Savages and Touts from Derry. Derry city is on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and so, post-Brexit, could also be on the border between the UK and EU. The anxieties caused by this are expressed through a number of tracks from both bands. The idea of ‘anyone can do it’ is explored through aggression felt by young people, and how this can be transferred into music, drawing parallels between punk bands of the ‘70s, such as Stiff Little Fingers and the Undertones, and Irish punk music today.

Stewart Smith (Music Journalist & Independent Scholar)
‘Beyond The Valley of Ultrahits: Some Observations of the Glasgow Underground’

Karina Barbosa (Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), Brazil)
‘“I Am Proud To Be How I Am”: Gender and Sexuality Statements in Brazilian Punk Feminist Music Scene’

For decades and more specifically ever since the rise of the Riot Grrrl movement in Olympia, Washington in the 1990’s, the punk scene has provided an important stage to amplify women’s voices. This paper uses the concept of music scenes by William Straw (1991) to elucidate how Brazilian feminist punk scene has been a relevant environment for gender and sexuality expression. It encloses the concepts of local, translocal and virtual scenes by Bennett and Peterson (2004) in order to introduce a retrospective of post-colonial studies referring to the act of producing music with political activist content in a developing country such as Brazil, in contrast to the so called Western world. At this point, it includes Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh (2000) writings on the matter of postcolonialism in music studies. Following this discussion, it leads to the history of feminist movements that favour the protagonism of women in music – from the Riot Grrrl example in the United States, until the feminist music scenes in Sao Paulo. It explores the idea that different music scenes around the world develop similar statements despite of local differences, using the concept of ​lebenswelt ​(SCHÜTZ and LUCKMANN, 1974). In the end, it features an interview with Sapataria, a hardcore/punk band based in São Paulo composed only by women who are openly lesbians. Their example is used to exemplify attitudes of contravention that exist in the feminist punk music scene under the government of the openly misogynistic and homophobic president Bolsonaro.

Published by Gustav Thomas

Claws & Tongues was started in order to provide a visible yet fluid platform with which to try out ideas for writings by Gustav Thomas that may or may not lead elsewhere, as in articles, chapters, essays, papers zines or books. Gustav Thomas is my real name in so far as it comprises the two middle names included on my birth certificate, which, as a bona fide part of my ‘real’ name makes it only a half-alias. I’m not ashamed, especially, of what one would normally consider my ‘real name,’ but I don’t intend to use it on this blog or announce it here, in this ‘about’ text, or anywhere else on this blog. That’s not because I wish to keep it somehow hidden or secret – to find out what my framing monikers are would be very easy since I’ve never sought to keep them separate from Gustav Thomas. Rather it’s because that ‘real’ name is the one that teachers, headmasters, employers, medical receptionists, the Inland Revenue, medical staff, authorities of any kind, and so on, and on, has been so thoroughly used by, and thus inextricably tied to, such institutional protocols, that it leaves me, as an individual who, like any individual has the capacity to access their own agency, very little space or scope for developing the potential power and effectiveness of that agency. Gustav Thomas happens to also be my facebook name and as a musician I also chose it (actually the first time I used it) as the pseudonym I use whenever I produced 8-bit Techno on a Gameboy (I haven’t ruled out extending that use to any beat-based project should I pursue any in the future, in preference to either Virginia Pipe or Copydex, the latter being, for obvious reasons, a strictly plunderphonic collage vehicle, anyway). Gustav Thomas also conveniently encapsulates my two ethnic provenances as half Slovene and half Welsh; they are also the first names of both my grandfathers, one a fairly well known (in his time) Slovene writer, novelist and educationalist, the other a WW2 colonel among officers who led the Normandy landings, for whatever significance that, or any other part of their own rich histories, can have, here, or in anything else that I do. Above all, I have started this blog because in my professional life, which is academic, I have made the decision, officially, to have my research assessed (by the various state bodies that do that, through the RAE, REF etc.) as much through my thinking and writing as through my art practice, which it has been exclusively so far. The kind of writing I intend to do is the kind of writing I’ve always done, over the past 15 years mostly on internal departmental blogs meant as teaching support, and will almost completely draw on things I’ve been thinking and saying within an academic context during that time. My first extended pieces, then (those that are 10,000 words or more), are being extracted from my brain as a matter of almost pathological necessity, freeing up space before I can move on and at least learn new ideas, if not make them and articulate them formally. Given the context, and my stage in life (a 50-year-old whose two kids have left home), I fully intend not to start teaching myself to write in a recognizably formal-academic style; nor do I intend for my writing to be considered as such, albeit there are inevitable traces of academia in what I’m writing due to my having earned my living as an academic for – already - too long. Instead my intention is to improve, develop and extend the style I already have which will have probably begun somewhere in early childhood when I first scrawled some short stories with the vague idea that I wanted to be a ‘writer’ and, above all which has evolved through at least three decades of learning, loving to know about, talking about, and teaching about music, art and the ideas, impulses and inherent discourses that inhabit and surround them. I am aware that I have a propensity to criticize certain other artists and commentators harshly, often with extreme formulations, in a manner easily identifiable as arrogance or some such self-interested tendency. I’m not sure exactly where that emerged from; it could be the years of being fully committed (because I knew it was right) to a mode of expressive practice that operates very consciously, and critically, beyond the reductive ring-fencing of ordained culture, what most people think of as Music and Art - Culture; it may well be, though, that I learned such an approach from certain writers I’ve read over the years – it’s in Dostoyevsky, Bukowski and DeLillo in ways I can see in my own mannerisms, but also in someone like Ben Watson/Out To Lunch, whose writing on music and ideas not only had a big impact on me but certainly also encouraged me to be bold and direct about what I knew needed saying, not least because – and this is central to everything – the way in which music, popular music, popular arts and cultures are dealt with on the day-to-day ordinary level, as in what people consume, accept and ingest, how/why they do it, manages to circumscribe completely the immeasurable seriousness regarding how politically and ideologically penetrating all art is (and was always meant to be), but especially (and this is embarrassingly tautological in a way that’s generally ignored) that which is thrust upon a people at great expense by its state and the (almost entirely) corporate (read: oligarchal) interests the State serves. I’ve been accused by colleagues of being too polemical and by Ben Watson as not being a polemicist at all, in both cases meant as identifying a weakness; I would say that to consider anything I write as polemical would be to negate any capacity it may have to say something useful – too much is being said and done by modern humanity that is unfathomably (self-)destructive. My drive in all this comes from a need not necessarily to oppose and take up the position on any opposite pole; rather I just feel that someone (as many someones as possible, starting anywhere at all, including just ‘me’) needs to be engaging in a tendency to question, starting with the very simple interruption, ‘Hang on a second… that can’t be right.’ There are tens of thousands of writers and artists already doing that very well, of course. This blog is merely a workshop from which to start making my own contribution more discernible and, just possibly, useful.

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