US Hardcore, Punk & Dissemination
The Boiler House
Daniel Makagon (DePaul University, Chicago)
‘Punk’s Decisive Moments: Seeing the Scene through Photozines’
In 1982 Glen E. Friedman published My Rules photozine. Although other photozines had been released prior to My Rules, the size of the print run (10,000) combined with the emergence of hardcore to mark My Rules as something special. The unique aesthetic of punk attracted photographers to this culture, but hardcore added another layer of action at the shows that created different photography options for documentary photographers. This presentation analyzes the historical development of punk photozines in the United States, with a primary focus on zines about hardcore bands and shows. I discuss the different types of photographic storytelling presented in photozines and how photozines changed over time. I pay special attention to the role of photozines in the current cultural context, where high quality photos are easily shared instantly through web sites and social media. There seem to be very few punk rock photozines published each year relative to other types of punk-identified zines (e.g., music zines, personal zines, and comix); however, the photozines that are published often go out of print quickly and generate a lot of buzz among punks.
Jessica Schwartz (University of California, Los Angeles)
‘Los Angeles Punk Through Noise & Nausea’
This paper traces LA punk aesthetic shifts and the policing of bodily difference through the filter of noise, particularly two interrelated concepts that play on an aesthetics of disturbance and the threat of being purged or expunged: noise and nausea, whereby the former derives from the latter.1 Noise is disturbance in a signal or communication; nausea occurs from perceptual unease or disease related to the gut and nose but also the ear through balance. For a signal to be perceived or nausea to subside, noise or the disturbance in the movement must be expunged. There is the threat that noise and nausea, left untreated, will becoming all consuming. With this preliminary relation of sound to body politics, I explore the significance of queer, feminine, and disabled punks and punks of color in the contemporary LA punk scene fusing nosiness into hardcore and articulating this nosiness to their political bodies and body politics, lyrically (and in ways that disturb lyrical communication, i.e. through noise). My work shows the artistry and provocative bricolage not as amateurism but rather as visceral disruption of the work of hardcore in policing certain punk(ed) bodies beginning in 1980s LA. I share a genealogy of punk musicians’ grappling with nausea through visceral cries that are heard as noise to be policed and silenced by controls placed on bodies (e.g. shaming).
Drawing on UCLA punk archives, political history, primary source materials, and the Decline of Western Civilization film (Spheeris, 1980), I read the stylistic contrast between early LA punk in the city and 1980s suburban hardcore. My readings offer insight into the work of hardcore as containment of noise and policing of bodies thought to be diseased and contagious. I situate such politics in Reagan conservatism and argue that in a move that mirrored white flight a generation earlier, hardcore participants traded the nosiness of the city for the quiet of the suburbs. In the 1980s, with the (in)visibility of HIV and AIDs, immigration issues, and the push-back following 1960s liberation movements, the 1970s punk scene became a target for purification through hardcore that adopted a straightforward sound and gatekeeping mechanisms, often through violence, that pushed out the artistic, experimental bands, such as X, the Germs, and the Bags. While they challenged Reagan’s political philosophies, hardcore bands clearly articulated their codified messages and endeavored a purging of punk’s nosiness: its queerness, femininity, disability, vociferous amblings (“gimme a beer”), and non-whiteness. Hardcore politics of the body often expunged difference, preferring the homosocial and ableist masculinity. Today, Trump plays up xenophobia and aligns boundary crossing with invisible threats. I reflect on punks’ corporeal and geographical mappings that have re-infused noisiness into hardcore to engender an aesthetics of nausea or disgust with the political environment to which it has been historically tied.
Craig Pollard (Newcastle University)
‘Exposing (and exploding) contradictions: particular trajectories of US hardcore’
This paper will suggest that punk and diy communities emerge in response to fundamental socio-political cracks and contradictions implicit within the world as it exists. The paper will think specifically about ‘american hardcore’ and some its more interesting offshoots, and will attempt to trace a lineage pairing Guy Debord and the situationists with groups such as Nation of Ulysses, Beat Happening and Bikini Kill.