Tag Archives: punk rock

Ex-Paramore Guitarist Josh Farro announces new band


After one month of delving into my newest musical obsession, I read the shocking news that two of that Paramore‘s original band mates were calling it quits. For many people including myself, it was a disappointing blow to hear that the Tennessee rock outfit was moving on from their original artistic formula, but fortunately, their feisty attitude and revolutionary fervour is not entirely dissolving.

In an interview with MTV last Wednesday, ex-Paramore guitarist Josh Farro announced that he’s formed another group. His new band, Novel American, is a bit of a departure from the raucous vivacity of Paramore—leading more along the lines of the sounds of Jimmy Eat World, Radiohead and Sigur Ros with an emphasis on sprawling rock instrumentalisation.

Comprised of members Van Beasley, Tyler Ward and Ryan Clark, formerly of Nashville act Cecil Adora, Novel American is a determined movement away from Paramore and is shaping up to be a promising musical effort. Nothing has been announced by Zac, Josh’s brother, former Paramore drummer who also left in December 2010.

According to Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams, the reason for the split is a complex one. Many rumours erupted online insinuating that Williams had essentially taken over the band. In an interview earlier this month, Williams noted that her relationship with Farro had been an emotionally strained one. “It was really hard, because we were friends, and then going through a break-up and going through any kind of tension as a band really affected all the lyrics. There are a lot of specifics that I pulled from my experience with just feeling like my face was underneath a boot all the time,” she told OK Magazine.

For Farro, the lines of resentment went much further than that, with a detailed and angry blog post explaining how Williams changed the meaning of their music from nearly the very start of their career, and how Paramore evolved over seven years into something he no longer felt connected to. He wrote “[Zac and I] fought her about how her lyrics misrepresented our band and what we stood for, but in the end she got her way. Instead of fighting her any longer, we decided to just roll over and let it go.”

Farro is focusing all of his attention on Novel American now.

“I think we just disagree on a lot of things, and that’s OK,” he told MTV. “I just wish them the best in the future, and I really don’t want to make it this huge drama thing, because then it becomes this huge war, and I don’t want to dwell on that.”


Fucked Up wins the 2009 Polaris Music Prize

The winner of the $20,000 prize for best Canadian album has gone to Fucked Up for their 2008 work The Chemistry of Modern Life. The highly controversial group, originally from Toronto, plays high-energy punk rock with virtosity and lyrical intellect.

Fucked Up, image courtesy of Matador Records
Fucked Up, image courtesy of Matador Records

The lead singer, Damian Abraham, has even worked with Jello Biafra, singer of the Dead Kennedys who is a generational beacon for the new-wave punk era of the 1980’s.

The punk quintet beat out other more well-known Canadian acts such as the pop wonder Metric, refugee hip-hop artist K’Naan, soulful rockers Great Lake Swimmers and pop experimentalist Chad Vangaalen.

However, you’ve got to admit that punk music has always had a bit of a select audience. Not everyone enjoys the rampant, almost machine-like speed of their delivery — much less appreciate its oft political or social messages. Punk music, at its best, comes from the downtrodden, the least socioeconomically empowered. So what does this say about Canadian music lovers when a punk band has won such a prestigious, popularizing award?

Personally, I’m a fan of anything punk. In fourth grade, I listened to Green Day‘s Dookie nearly every day, and have always loved the intellectual, leftist teachings of Bad Religion.

les pistolets de sexe


There’ll Always be an England

Sex Pistols: Live From Brixton Academy

a film by Julien Temple

Fremantle Media Enterprises

“We had a manager once too, and he was a cunt.”

It’s one of those bands that you absolutely must understand in order to form some reasonable opinions about the history of punk music from the tail end of the 1970’s to the present day.  The Sex Pistols have been reputed as the bombastic, chaotic, and non-conformist group who set a whole new wave of classic musical groups to flourish under this new set of anti-social values. While musically, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and singer John Lydon can bring back the magic and spite of the anarchistic punk revolution, Sid Vicious’ absence truly does create a gap in their otherwise seamless performance.  

Without Vicious’ somehow graceful self-loathing, Lydon’s boisterous tendencies to over-dramatize just make him look like a tired caricature of his former self. At the same time though, Julien Temple’s production of the concert highlights the ultimate of an era that defined itself by thriving in an anti-social climate.

the pistols live at brixton academy
the pistols live at brixton academy

The film begins quasi-documentary in style, showing the scores of punks waiting anxiously to get into the Brixton Academy venue. Who would ever go to a Sex Pistols show? This question is self-referential. Aged, balding, overweight alongside a younger, skinny generation of punks who’s only pre-requisites are studded leather and an anarchistic attitude. Rotten describes how a Sex Pistols show attracts “all races, all creeds, people of all colours. So long as their working class I’ll have it.”

Frontman and iconoclastic punk Johnny Rotten (a.k.a. John Lydon) humbly thanks the crowd of belligerent rebels for coming to the “There’ll Always be an England Tour,” and defiantly exclaims that as long as the band lives, there’ll always be a “fucking England.”

The band started off the show with a blistering rendition of the song “Pretty Vacant” from their one and only ever recorded album Never Mind the Bollocks (1977). All the songs are complimented by a rally-like chanting from the predominantly white crowd who knows every single lyric, giving it an ominous, deep vocal glow. Temple takes artistic license during the song “Submission” by giving the camera a watery, green translucence which adds a further dimension of filth around a song about cunnilingus.

a caricature of his former glory?
john lydon: a caricature of his former glory?

To add even further on the dimensions of filth which the Sex Pistols thrive on, here is a list of Lydon’s expressions which he peppered through the set breaks on the DVD. Please bear in mind that this list is but a mere sample of offensive statements which Lydon could surely surpass:

“I’m a very pretty pink cunt”

“I’ve forgotten the fucking words, haven’t I?”

“I’m a fat British bastard”

“You know, all you blokes and girls, want to suck on my nipples!”

“Who’s the biggest fucking cunt? fucking champagne socialists, fucking catastrophe”

and of course

“It’s the eye of the pussy”

The Sex Pistols formed in 1975 when John Lydon was at the sweet and suggestible age of 17. Formerly, the original members were in a band named The Strand dated from 1973, but two years later evolved upon Lydon’s entrance. Together, the fourtet created what many have considered to be the first generational gap in rock music, characterized by boisterous, bombastic hard rock and a destructive, anti-social attitude. Rebelling against the hippy-rock, bell-bottomed, long-haired divergent social groups from the 1960’s 70’s, the Sex Pistols made their own fashion that consisted of KY-Jellied spiked hair, tattered clothing and Doc Martens boots.

Bad Religion “blistering punks”

Bad Religion
September 14 2008
Commodore Ballroom

It’s hard to imagine a 15 year-old frontman Greg Graffin and his school friends deciding to form Bad Religion, the most epic, accomplished and inspiring punk rock bands. How could one envision such libertarian punk fantasies, or such immaculate hardcore harmony at such a tender and suggestible age?

The night kicked off with two nondescript screamo bands that sucked so badly that no more mention shall be made of them. It was a Sunday night, and the angry punks in the crowd kept chugging back more beer, checking the time, and impatiently pushing up closer to the front, waiting for the show to start. There was a definite sense of growing frustration; the Commodore’s decision to downsize drinks from bottles to plastic cups coupled with the fact that it was they worst night of the week in which to hammered was on everyone’s mind. Finally the legendary sextet walked onto the stage, and the body of the crowd converged to a dense square-shaped mass of excitement.

They started the show with a highly energized performance of “21st Century Digital Boy” originally recorded for their fifth album Against the Grain (1990). It’s likely one of the best songs to start out with, not just because it’s infectious and catchy, but we can all relate to Graffin’ lament that “I don’t know how to live/ But I got a lot of toys.” It also brings to mind all of our mothers strung out on valium, an sad image that is surprisingly “effectual.” Selecting from a wide range of singles, and some not-so-common tracks like “Anesthesia,” BR gave a fantastic set list that sampled from the whole 28-year span of their discography. 

Three of the six band members on stage were the original founding members, and they were easily spotted. Graffin delivered a vibrant, defiant performance: his iconic finger-pointing and unrelenting stare gave him an edge to his philosophical rants. Arguing for a rejection of consumerist culture and social conformity, usually guys this age come across as being pedantic or just full of it. Even those more sensitive of loud, distorted music should venture into the lyrical world of BR. Songwriter Graffin holds a Ph.D., and his understanding of politics, injustice, and individual suffering is delivered with poetic integrity, and reinvents the idea of social responsibility through critical thinking and non-conformity. 

Bass guitarist Jay Bentley seemed to have the most fun on our Vancouver stage. He jumped around and sweated the most profusely, smiling demonically like some intense, disturbing fat kid eyeing your DQ Parfait on the bus. Speaking of which, lead guitarist Brian Baker looked terribly overheated, unfit, and generally sagged instead of rising to the occasion. While performing the quintessential punk song “Come Join Us” off the 1996 album The Gray Race, Baker hogged the one fan the entire time. Come on, Brian.

Overall the show was pretty fantastic. They may be getting older, but better in the same way as a wine slowly ages to perfection. A punk wine, that is.