Thursday, 31 January 2013

Not quite to eleven

Yesterday I dug out my guitar amp for the first time this year. In fact it was the first time in a lot longer. It's not that I don't play guitar anymore, more that I have a habit of playing my electrics unplugged when I'm at home. Pragmatism has trumped purism when it comes to recording. I have an impressive collection of virtual amps and cabinets in Amplitube that probably cost less to assemble than it would to replaces the tubes in my Marshall. But when it comes to live playing you can't beat a nice valve amp.

Truth be told yesterday's rehearsal was a little too quiet to quite hit the niceness of a well driven combo; although niceness isn't something to strive for in punk. Neither is quietness. Playing along to sequenced drums on a Macbook probably breaks the rules too. Ultimately, though, isn't punk all about challenging the status quo? That, at least, is what I was led to believe the other day via Twitter when I stumbled across a picture of a Joe Strummer quote that described punk in a way I'd never heard before: "punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human being."

Now I know enough to know Twitter is hardly the guardian of verity so I turned to Google for conformation. (I'm not sure if this is more a case of frying pan and fire or pot and kettle?) It seems that more than one place on the internet seems to agree Strummer said this. It's from an interview in 1999. Out of context it seems a strange statement so I thought I'd cut and paste a little more context. Joe is asked what is a punk attitude. He replies like this.


"Punk ain't the boots or the hair dye. I've been asked to define it many times so I've actually thought about it for a couple of seconds. It must be the attitude that you have, that approach everything in life with that attitude...I go straight in, see what's wrong and I fix it. If we're meeting some new couples, the second someone lights a cigarette, I grab an ashtray and it'll be there while everything's going on.

Everyone else there will be standing around while their ashes fall off. That is a punk attitude because I wanna be aware of what's going on. My motto is 'never take your eye off the ball,' which is a soccer motto. I like to be completely aware of what's going on at all times, even if it's four in the morning. She needs a chair or he needs a beer. There's no long wait 'cause I've already clocked it while everyone's going (jabbering) meh-meh-meh. I'm going meh-meh-meh too but I know what's going on around me. This is punk rock. In fact, punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human being."

Punk as selfless servanthood: now there's an interesting concept. Perhaps I should write a song about it!


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