To most self-described punks, punk is way more than music, it’s a lifestyle, a philosophy and a way of looking and navigating the world. Some like me, find it later in life, but I always like to say, “I was a punk and didn’t realize it” (more on that some other time) and others, I’d say most, find the music and lifestyle appealing in their younger, usually teen years.
Some claim to have grown out of it, “I used to be in punk music” or “I liked punk when I was a kid”, etc. which I find highly offensive because it suggests that punk is “kid stuff”. It is NOT.
To those I say, you were never a punk in the 1st place, you were and are a poser, pure and simple. Once you are a punk, you are a punk for life. Maybe you don’t wear a mohawk anymore because your hair is thinning or maybe if in a band, you move on to more complex or dare I even say “commercially viable” genres of music. I say there’s no sin in trying to make a living from your music, your craft. But deep down, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters, Nirvana), Sting (The Police), Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers), etc, etc. are all to some degree punks. I think they’d freely tell you that.
For the guys from Birmingham, England, and Charged GBH, who’ve been putting out punk music since 1978 and relentlessly touring ALMOST non-stop for coming up on 40 years (WOW!), they were punk then, and are punk now. Here’s what our good friend Wikipedia says about them:
WIKIPEDIA: GBH were early pioneers of English street punk, often nicknamed “UK82“, along with Discharge, Broken Bones, The Exploited, and The Varukers. GBH have gone on to influence several punk rock musicians.The name GBH was inspired by then-bassist Sean McCarthy’s trial for grievous bodily harm.
Now the fact that I had to resort to Wikipedia to learn about a band I’ve seen play live no less than 3 times in the past 10 years, is telling. I knew little about GBH, other than they were legends, they were street punks from the UK and they had been around for a while (oh, and I love their music), and that was good enough for me.
Until, while perusing the merch table at this last concert at the Gramercy earlier this month, I stumbled across a couple of books amongst the Tshirts, patches, and buttons. Makes sense to me, a band has been around this long should have some incredible stories to tell. But it was still surprising because let’s face it, you gotta have your sh*& together to write a book and not that GBH doesn’t have it together but most bands, well, they play music and that’s all they do.
Well someone did (have it together enough to write a book) and he’s the bass player Ross Lomas and he along with Steve Pottinger put out “City Baby – Surviving in Leather, Bristles, Studs, Punk Rock, and GBH”.
I ended up buying the book on big old, evil Amazon after the fact, because I didn’t want to carry the book around with me the entire show and in case I decided to get in the pit and thrash around a bit, I wanted my hands free. But as soon as I got home, I ordered it up, and when it arrived commenced to reading immediately. I think I read it in a little over a week, forcing myself to put it down so I could sleep at night (I usually only read at night, nap time…yeah I take naps.. naps are very punk rock… and when I’m traveling and I haven’t been traveling since the book has been in my grubby little hands). The point is I found the book highly entertaining and informative and I’m a bigger GBH fan than ever now.
But as soon as I got home, I ordered it up, and when it soon arrived commenced to reading immediately. I think I read it in a little over a week, forcing myself to put it down each night so I could get some sleep (I usually only read at night, nap time…yeah I take naps.. naps are very punk rock… and when I’m traveling and I haven’t been traveling since the book has been in my grubby little hands). The point is I found the book highly entertaining and informative and I’m a bigger GBH fan than ever now.
Of course, it’s written from Ross’s POV, he is the author after all. Ross has seen his share of lows and highs and he doesn’t mind getting highly personal and introspective in the book, dealing with his humanity, weaknesses, failed relationships, etc. From what I can tell, GBH and punk music saved his life. I’ve heard that a few times when I interviewed folks about punk music, from fans to bands, punk music actually does save lives. It gives them meaning. I get it, though I’ve never been as low as Ross perhaps (yet), it’s helped save mine too.
From what I can tell, GBH and punk music saved his life. When I interviewed folks about punk music, from fans to bands, punk music actually does save lives. It gives many folks more meaning to their lives. I get it, though I’ve never been as low as Ross perhaps (yet), it’s helped save mine too.
What would my life be without travel, punk music, storytelling, and videography? I’d still have people who loved me, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. We all need a purpose, a mission and a passion in life, at least, if we’re not 100% focused on simply getting fed everyday like at least 1/3 of the planet (another post for another day).
For Ross it was GBH. Someday I’d like to meet Ross, Colin, Jock and all the legendary lads from GBH in Birmingham, UK or wherever.
Maybe film an interview or, if the show is still going, get them on Raw Travel, showing me around their hometown. The guys are working class musicians as best I can tell and they are still working it. A new CD “Momentum” is coming out in November 2017 and I’ll be downloading it for sure.
Here is sneak listen from their forthcoming release “Momentum”