“My nephew went to Download Festival recently and saw Iron Maiden and also was in the D&B room, consuming all different types of music that were fast and loud and had no other links.
“There isn’t that tribalism anymore, if you like ‘A’ you can’t listen to ‘B’. It doesn’t exist anymore and it’s a good thing. Things rubbing up against each other can be a positive, creative thing, but I’m glad he isn’t going to be beaten up for liking the wrong thing at school.”
– Bob Stanley, author of Yeah Yeah Yeah (still awaiting my Amazon order), interviewed at Waterstones
As one of the few punky-new waver types in my high school (I hesitate to label myself a “punk”; I loved the music but had nothing at all like a defiant personality to match it), I was never physically beaten up over my musical affiliations, but tensions between the rockers and the punks (AC/DC and Van Halen worship on one end vs. Clash and Elvis Costello worship on the other) were very real, often somewhat scary (if, as a punky-new waver you were in the geeky minority), with all the usual intimidation tactics in place. (I mean, sometimes. I wasn’t a total outcast in high school, not by a longshot. Such tensions would play out in certain places — in the smoker’s pit, or at weekend “bush parties” when alcohol was flowing free — and it was almost exclusively a “guy thing,” too). It’s possible that this tension helped sharpen my perspective on music, gave me further reason to pursue my own path with a vengeance. I was looking recently through a musical diary I kept through these years, and the one thing that comes through — aside from some absolutely hideous writing/thinking — is the sense that I’m driven to prove, if only to myself, that my take on this stuff mattered. Would my own love of the Sex Pistols have been diminished or improved if the rest of high school jumped on board? (Well, my impulse is to say it would have been improved, at least in some ways. I desperately wanted punk to take over the world.) Eventually, by grade 13, factions started to resolve themselves, anyway, though it was, oddly enough, the Gang of Four’s first album that converted the rockers to rocker/punks. And, a couple years after high school, spurred on by the Replacements, Chuck Eddy, and a few other things, I broke down the door to my own hidden rocker’s past. So some sort of balancing-out process did occur. But I’m hesitant to dismiss the role that social tensions played in my musical life prior to that happening. (Not that anyone should be beat up over this stuff, obviously.)