Dillinger Four and Hardcore Punk Rock
From the styles of punk rock, hardcore punk developed simultaneously on the East and West Coasts of the U.S. It has become a genre with its own unique trends and sounds, becoming a separate entity from its punk forefather. Bands such as Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, and Dillinger Four define the genre and make it popular.
Punk rock first began in the mid-1970s in New York. The early days of bands such as The Ramones, Talking Heads, and Blondie were the stylistic roots of punk rock. The similar styles that these bands shared were largely due to the fact that all of them played shows in the Bowery District of New York. In London, the Sex Pistols formed out of a clothing shop called SEX, from which the name of the band and the punk clothing style originated. The first fans of the Sex Pistols, known as the Bromley Contingent, soon began forming their own punk rock bands, resulting in big names like The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and Generation X. From there, punk rock exploded. (1)
As a result of punk rocks abrupt emergence into music culture, many sub-genres of it have been formed. The most popular include Emo, Pop Punk, and Hardcore Punk. Hardcore punk, in particular, had a notable rise to popularity. It first began in the late 70s and early 80s on the opposite ends of the U.S. Black Flag in Los Angeles and Minor Threat in Washington D.C. first established this sub-genre, distinguishing it from typical punk with a faster, heavier sound. With the exception of the sound, hardcore punk is perhaps the most varied sub-genre of punk, with lyrics pertaining to a wide range of topics. The topics of songs range from partying and drug abuse to religion and abstinence. Popular artists in the genre of hardcore punk include Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and, in Minneapolis, Dillinger Four. (1, 2)
Black Flag, a band from southern California, formed in 1977 and is known as one of the pioneers of hardcore punk. At the forefront of the band, Greg Ginn created a sound that was unique to the genre of punk music but could still be classified as punk. It retained styles similar to the Ramones but also incorporated periodic tempo changes. The music also contained melodies that were influenced by heavy metal, and later records included instrumentals that used elements of free jazz and contemporary classical. The lyrics mostly deal with despair, loneliness, poverty, and paranoia and were primarily written by Ginn. Black Flag also heavily influenced a new â€śdo-it-yourselfâ€? movement. As a result of this, numerous underground record labels and self-promoted tours popped up all over the country. And due to almost continuous touring, fans of Black Flag were extremely loyal and dedicated. Black Flag helped to create and shape the beginnings of hardcore punk. (3)
Around the same time, the Dead Kennedys developed a huge underground fan base. Like Black Flag, the Dead Kennedys hailed from southern California, San Francisco specifically. Their music retained the high energy level that is associated with hardcore punk but also incorporated experimental aspects that 70s British punk featured. The Dead Kennedys wrote lyrics that were intentionally shocking, making statements about social issues and politics and criticizing Ronald Reagan and right-wing politics. And, in the true punk rock style, their rebellious lyrics and actions got the Dead Kennedys in trouble with the law. (3)
Finally, Dillinger Four is a locally famous, punk rock band in Minneapolis. They formed in 1994 and have since produced four studio albums. They qualify as hardcore punk with their heavy, strumming power chord riffs and rowdy actions onstage. At a show, lead singer Patrick Costello would often make comments about society or politics or tell humorous anecdotes between songs. They would also drink a lot of alcohol and smoke quite a bit before their set so they can be intoxicated for their performance. Dillinger Four has a rebellious, and carefree attitude, typical to any punk rock group. (4)
The general public response to punk rock, and more specifically its subgenre hardcore punk, has had a huge impact on society. The punk style was first developed in the clothing shop in England called SEX where the Sex Pistols originated. The tone and style the music produces causes people to respond aggressively, usually yelling and thrashing. The lyrics speak of rebellion and â€śfighting the systemâ€? and influence the fans and listeners into having a rebellious attitude. Also, a carefree attitude spawned from punk rock, leading individuals to express themselves more often. Punk rock changed the worldâ€™s society. (2, 3)
Overall, hardcore punk embodies many of the ideals of punk rock. Hardcore punk is essentially punk rock with a bad attitude, so to speak. Bands such as Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, and Dillinger Four help to keep the genre â€śthrashingâ€? and still influence the punk styles that first developed in the seventies. Bands and their fans continue to develop new punk styles and attitudes, but all of them root from what punk started as. Punk has left its mark on the world, and it continues to thrive today thanks to bands like Dillinger Four.
1 Cooper, Ryan. â€śThe History of Punk Rockâ€?.
2 Belsito, Peter. Davis, Bob. Hardcore California: A History of Punk and New Wave. Last Gasp: 2004.
3 Bennett, Andy. Peterson, Richard A. Music Scenes. Vanderbilt University Press: 2004.
4 â€śDillinger Four Myspace Pageâ€?.