Garage punk (fusion genre)

Garage punk is a rock music fusion genre combining the influences of garage rock, punk rock, and other forms, that took shape in the indie rock underground between the late 1980s and early 1990s. Bands drew heavily from stripped-down 1970s punk rock and Detroit proto-punk, and incorporated numerous other styles into their approach, such as power pop, 1960s girl groups and garage rock, hardcore punk, early blues and R&B, and surf rock.

The term "garage punk" often refers to the original 1960s style rather than the 1980s fusion style. The 1980s style itself is sometimes used interchangeably with "garage rock" or "garage revival". "Garage punk" dates as early as 1972, although "punk" was not solidified as a genre until 1976. After the 1980s, groups who were labelled as "garage punk" stood in contrast to the nascent retro garage revival scene, moving past a strictly mid-1960s influence. Associated bands from that period contributed to the development of stoner rock, a more psychedelic variation of the genre.

Etymology and usage

The term "punk rock" was first used to describe the music of American garage bands of the mid 1960s, and was not solidified as a genre until 1976. When referring to 1960s groups, the term "garage punk" is usually deployed interchangeably with "garage rock". The earliest known use of the term "garage punk" appeared in Lenny Kaye's track-by-track liner notes for the 1972 psychedelic music compilation Nuggets to describe a song by the 1960s garage rock band, the Shadows of Knight, as "classic garage punk". The Guardian Michael Hann writes: "Look at the tracklisting for Lenny Kaye's original Nuggets album, the record that codified garage punk and you'll find an awful lot of music that would not now fit comfortably into the genre [psychedelic music]." MTVs Beverly Bryan says that "garage punk" may be used "more likely" to refer to "garage rock" or "garage revival".

Development and characteristics

1960s: Original garage bands

Simon Reynolds traces garage punk to American garage rock bands in the 1960s. He explains that mid-1960s garage punk was largely the domain of untrained teenagers who used sonic effects, such as fuzz tones, and relied heavily on riffs. Hann locates the "golden years" of garage punk to 1965ā€“67. The Sonics are credited as a pioneering act in the genre. Critic Tim Sommer wrote: "The Sonics created the template for American garage punk, not to mention crafting the prototype for every punk rock band that thought that three chords and a horny shriek was enough to move a nation."

1980sā€“2000s: Fusion with 1970s punk

In the 1980s, there began a revived interest in the music of the 1960s, starting with garage punk. Labels like Crypt and Norton began reissuing the work of "lost mid-century weirdos", which led a new generation of punk musicians to rediscover older rock artists like Little Richard and the Sonics. In contrast to the retro garage revival scene, bands who continued to draw heavily from stripped-down 1970s punk, rather than just mid-1960s styles, would be widely categorized as "garage punk". According to the AllMusic guide, "Before the punk-pop wing of America's '90s punk revival hit the mainstream, a different breed of revivalist punk had been taking shape in the indie-rock underground. In general, garage punk wasn't nearly as melodic as punk-pop; instead, garage punk drew its inspiration chiefly from the Detroit protopunk of The Stooges and The MC5.

Allan Rutter writes that the music is often fast-paced and characterized by dirty, choppy guitars and lyrics typically expressing rebelliousness and sometimes "bad taste", and may be performed by "low-fi" acts who are on independent record labels, or who are unsigned. Bands are generally apolitical and tend distance themselves from hardcore punk and generally avoid strict adherence to the types of social codes and ideologies associated with the punk subculture. However, there are exceptions like The (International) Noise Conspiracy, who play a highly politicised variation of garage punk.

AllMusic adds: "Some of the first garage punk bands who appeared in the late '80s and early '90s (Mudhoney, The Supersuckers) signed with the Sub Pop label, whose early grunge bands shared some of the same influences and aesthetics (in fact, Mudhoney became one of the founders of grunge)." Bands like New Bomb Turks, The Oblivians, The Gories, Subsonics, The Mummies, The Dirtbombs, and The Humpers helped maintain a cult audience for the style through the 1990s and 2000s. Associated bands from that period contributed to the development of stoner rock, a more psychedelic variation of the genre.