The little-known rock subcultures that changed their style and culture
What does rock’n’roll mean to you?
Loud, electrifying guitars? Sure.
Beat drums? Yeah.
Iconic and rebellious style? This too.
In reality, rock ‘n’ roll is a state of mind. It’s not so much about a specific sound, a specific look, but about doing things for yourself, charting your own path and living your life on your own terms. In the more than 60 years of rock, the genre has expanded in countless directions, from death metal to hip-hop, but what unites them all is a completely do-it-yourself spirit, where people have a idea and turn that spark into something beautiful and everything. of their own.
Sure, they make great music and dress up in cool-as-hell outfits, but really, subcultures are about creating space for people to come together and create something brand new.
Marshall and his electrifying audio gear have been part of that rebellious, counter-cultural energy since the company was born 60 years ago – join us as we take a brief journey through some of the subcultures and micro-genres that really exemplify this revolutionary and pioneering spirit of rock.
Psychobilly is, at its heart, rockabilly – the swinging, raucous mix of rock ‘n’ roll and country music that propelled Elvis Presley into the limelight in the ’50s – but it amps up the guitars, goes faster (and even more fast) and takes sartorial cues from the leather clad realms of punk and goth, and adds a healthy dose of 50s pinup. Key elements of the Psychobilly look include shiny and greased hairstyles, leopard print, jackets leather (lots of leather jackets) and heavy boots – all rock ‘n’ roll staples, but when amped up with heavy makeup and traditional tattoos, makes for a look like no other .
Psychobilly can be traced back to The Cramps, a beyond-iconic punk rock band emerging from the late 70s New York underground that sounded a bit like the Stooges B-Movies soundtrack. Led by vocalist Lux Interior and guitarist Poison Ivy, The Cramps brought together a glorious mess of rockabilly swing, punk rock attitude, sleazy lyrics and horror movie references. Why? Well why not?
The chaos of the Cramps was smoothed into a more cohesive genre by bands like The Meteors and Demented Are Go, who took the rockabilly double bass, hollowbody Gretsch guitars and greaser look and then dumped it into a gallery of fairground ice cream, creating a mutant subculture that looks gruesome on the outside, but in the end is just pure fun.
Go straight for the jugular with The Meteors’ Psycho for your love and Necromantix who killed the cheerleaderor if you want to dive into an entry-level song, try Tiger Army’s cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Dark Paradise.”
“We are angry with a society that tells us Girl=Dumb, Girl=Bad, Girl=Weak,” reads a 1991 manifesto written by Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill. Bikini Kill, along with artists like Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy and 7 Year Bitch were central players in the Riot Grrrl scene (spelled with two or three r’s – whichever you prefer), a politically charged feminist movement born in the early 90s Pacific Northwest.
Hailing from Olympia, Wash., Riot Grrrl was a loud, edgy response to misogyny in punk rock and hijacked the stage’s DIY tactics to advance its own feminist message. The movement quickly grew into a vast network of bands, record labels, zines and concerts, all run for and by women. While the music sounded like punk – raw, raw and spontaneous – and the outfits echoed the grunge aesthetic, Riot Grrrl was really about nurturing and promoting feminist issues. DIY zines gave women a platform for ideas that wouldn’t normally get published, while community meetings and live shows provided an opportunity to confront the issues Riot Grrrl groups were talking about – domestic violence, sexual assault, patriarchy, classism and racism.
While Riot Grrrl-era outfits subverted traditional standards of female beauty at the time, the movement wasn’t about looking cool. “Stop always worrying about how you look and what clothes you wear, because in the end, it doesn’t matter,” Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna explained in a chat with Jerico Mandybur. “What’s important is friendship and creativity. Be part of the solution — something bigger than yourself. »
Riot Grrrl suffered from hostility at shows – bands were regularly heckled (or worse) by boneheads in the crowd – as well as cynical press from mainstream media, as music publications began to toss the term around. on all female-fronted groups, whether or not they were part of the scene. By the late ’90s, the movement’s “girl power” call to arms, taken from an early Bikini Kill zine, had become the Spice Girls’ catchphrase. That doesn’t mean the scene has been lost entirely to the mainstream – you’ll find a riot grrrl spirit alive today, whether through Russian protest group Pussy Riot or teenage quartet The Linda Lindas.
Discover Bikini Kill’s rebel girl or this viral live performance from The Linda Lindas.
Heavy metal may have its roots in the blues, but it’s still seen primarily as a genre for white people. It’s a common misconception – you’ll find metalhead scenes all over the world, from Indonesia to Colombia – and for example the Hellbangers from Botswana. Members of the scene may go by nicknames like Dead Demon Rider and Coffinfeeder, but metal isn’t a full-time gig for them — most make a living from regular jobs, they’re farmers, cops, government officials, and work in hotels.
“Most of us just can’t afford the instruments, so we play on cheap crap,” Metal Orizon vocalist and guitarist Dumisani Matiha explained in an interview with Huck magazine. “We’ve survived on the DIY culture of music for as long as we can remember.” This do-it-yourself mentality defines the scene – the Hellbangers create their own glorious riffs on the metal and biker style, crafting their own leather gear and cowboy hats, decorated with chains, studs and animal skulls, reminiscent of the Motorhead’s iconic Ace of Spades album cover. The fact that these iconic looks have been recreated with limited means shows that true style comes from attitude and passion.
Lacking the kind of resources available to northern bands, the Botswana scene revolves around DIY shows, often unpaid, where fans gather and worship the altar of metal for love. “It’s the life I chose,” Overthrust guitarist Shalton ‘Spencer’ Monnawadikgang told Huck. “The feel of leather, the sound of guitar – that’s who I am…and nobody tells me how to do it.”
The Hellbanger scene may have a DIY mentality, but Botswana bands are anything but amateurs – check out the guttural death metal of Overthrust, the Maiden-esque power metal of Metal Orizon and the Sepultura-esque groove of Wrust.
Coldwave rose from the ashes of punk in the late ’70s. Less political and much less guitar-based, the genre drew inspiration from post-punk acts like Joy Division and Siouxsie And The Banshees, taking the growling attitude and DIY punk and pushing it into more electronic and minimalist territory thanks to Kraftwerk and the proliferation of affordable accessories. synthesizers. Coldwave pioneers like Absolute Body Control honed a sound where vocals echoed around sparse soundscapes, with grating rhythm sections reflecting the genre’s lo-fi aesthetic.
While the genre technically descends from punk, Kraftwerk’s pioneering electronic sound had a huge influence on coldwave – the term was first coined in 1977, when UK magazine Sounds put two Kraftwerk members on the cover , describing their sound as “the new music: the cold”. vague”.
If punk fashion was a nihilistic outburst aimed at offending, coldwave artists dressed smarter and more gothically, transforming black leather and blacker sunglasses, large trench coats and second-hand baggy suits. What’s really worth noting about coldwave style is that tailored, more formal pieces don’t have to look stiff and preppy – these guys have proven just how great a trench coat and a costume can be cool when worn the right way.
The scene’s do-it-yourself mentality, defined by its tape trade, blurry photos and lo-fi album covers, fueled a sprawling scene with bands scattered across Europe. The Netherlands had Clan of Xymox, Belgium gave the world Absolute Body Control, Poland had Siekiera and Notchnoi Prospect were even working on their own sounds behind the Iron Curtain in Soviet Russia.
The genre is enjoying a very welcome revival – artists like Molchat Doma and Lebanon Hanover stay true to the minimalist coldwave model, while Boy Harsher accelerates the genre to techno speed, while Curses offers a dreamy romantic take on the sound.
Curious? Try Absolute Body Control so obvious and Lebanon Hanover Kiss me until my lips fall.
When people think of subcultures, they imagine niches growing in specific places, where people with shared values and ideas come together and bring something new to the world. This was how things were before the advent of the internet and social media – now the idea of a specific culture seems quite outdated, a 20th century relic like cassette tapes.
One of the many micro-scenes that emerged from the digital rabbit hole was Seapunk, which originated on Tumblr around 2011 and mixed aquatic themes with 3D net art and chopped-and-screwed rap from the southern states. -United.
IRL Seapunks, when spotted out of their natural habitat (Tumblr), could be recognized by their bright neon hair and clothing, which were worn with baseball caps and second-hand flannels. The look hasn’t exactly aged well, but it shows that the combination of a spontaneous mix of styles hits just as hard as a luxury piece.
It’s hard to say exactly when Seapunk hit its peak – maybe it was Azealia Banks’ “Atlantis” video, Rihanna’s 2012 “Diamonds” performance on Saturday Night Live, or The New York Times’ The little mermaid goes punk article. Either way, like so many movements born on social media, they left as quickly as they came.
Where previous subcultures were serious in their intentions and beliefs, many post-internet movements are ironic — all those photoshopped dolphins and mermaids are best taken with a pinch of salt. The idea of cultural spaces existing purely online means that they tend to allude to an escape from the real world and all its miseries. “Who wants to create icepunk or something like that?” asks Youtube user John Doe over a Beachbrat mix. “I want to feel like an iceberg melting in a world of magical unicorns and dolphins jumping through double rainbows of fire and ice blasts.” Who doesn’t?