Punks Never Had It So Easy

by Mark Hanford

Itís funny. When I first got into punk rock back in 1981 or so, I felt at the time that I had been born too late. That is, I didnít get to experience the beginning of punk. The birth of the Sex Pistols (the first punk band I ever heard - a friend of mine who was a year older than I had a cassette copy of "Flogging A Dead Horse"), the Ramones playing my town in 1978, and all kinds of other wild and wonderful punk happenings that I read about in magazines and heard about from older punks.

The weird thing, is that lately I am beginning to feel like maybe I was born too early. The kids getting into punk for the first time right now seem to me to have a lot more opportunities to get involved, and a lot more resources to gain knowledge from than I did when I first started out. I donít begrudge them this. I think itís a wonderful thing. Part of the reason is, of course, that there has been a lot of groundwork done for them by various punks over the last 20 odd years, and part of it is also due to new technology that has made doing it yourself a hell of a lot easier. In addition, there is also the current popularity of punk in mass culture, which has made it easier for bands and zines to make money, because their potential audience is larger.

So, back to being born too early. If I had known then, what I know now... if I had realized how simple it was to put out a record or start a record label with very little money... if I had a computer to do a zine so that the cutting and pasting and layout and junk hadnít taken me more time than I had to expend on it... if I had known that by starting a band Iíd automatically have a place to play, and not have to put up money to rent a hall for a gig... then I really wonder where I would be today. (Iíd be the GODDAMN KING OF THE SCENE, THATíS WHAT!!!)

So, my point is that many of the kids involved in the scene today do have those things available. In my scene (Boise, Idaho) there are a number of (relatively) young kids (realize, I use the term kids here to include myself - all 28 years of me) who are or have put out their own 7". Hell, you can do 500 copies of a 7" with a two color sleeve for a mere $600 or so bucks, which, given the popularity of punk right now, only would take 10 or so gigs to earn the money for. In addition, there are older kids like me who have been willing to help these people out, showing them how easy putting out a record can be. Damn, I wish I had someone like me around when I got involved (thatís not to make myself a martyr, but like I said... If I knew then what I know now...)

Look at all of the new zines out there. Most of them are done on computers, taken to a local copy center (btw, Kinkoís is WAY overpriced... unless you find a way to make copies for free... go to one of those office supply type stores instead and save yourself 60%), and manage to get at least some distribution all over the world, thanks to zine listings in larger mags such as Maximum RocknRoll and Punk Planet.

As far as shows go, there are all-ages clubs or regular halls in a large number of cities across the US. At least, there seem to be A LOT more than there were in the early 80ís. And, there are resource books like "Book Your Own Fucking Life" that are great for contacting people about places to play.

In addition, there is the Internet. A great place to meet like-minded people and get involved with punks from around the world. The birth of Punk Planet magazine happened on the message boards of America Online, and is being written for the most part by people who first met there. This very zine, 10 Things, has a very prominent presence on the internet. In fact, you wouldnít be reading my drivel if it werenít for the fact that Dan mentioned the desire for columnists on the Internet punk-list. So anyway, what Iím telling you is that it is easy to get involved. If you think it is hard, or it takes some kind of super special knowledge to do a zine, play in a band, put out a record, or do whatever it is you see other punks doing, you are 100% absolutely fucking wrong. Itís easy. Those of us who are doing things have faked our way through all of them, and most of us would be more than willing to show you how as well. If you want information, just ask... most of us arenít that stuck up... as long as you arenít too stupid (heh heh).

Okay, so now Iíve done it. If you want my advice on punk rock junk, just write to or e-mail me. If I donít know the answer, Iíll make something up that will probably work, or I will take it to the larger population of the punk-list (or maybe even some of the writers for 10 Things) and one of us will come up with some kind of an answer for you. Plus, it might even give me ideas of junk to write about... and I always can use help in that department. Address: Mark Hanford, PO Box 752, Boise, ID 83701. E-mail: hanford@cruzio.com