Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Windup

[Playing: Be Your Own Pet "Fire Department"]

I'm still alive. I'm still unemployed, and Punk Rock is still a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Today I took a giant shot in the dark and sent an email to people affiliated with ... well, a company that produces television shows. I don't think that their identity is important. I pitched them an idea whose cancer had been growing in my brain for as long as I have been ignoring this blog and enjoying my Pandora radio station. I have this fantasy of hosting a Punk Rock musical variety show on a cable channel with an international audience.

Let me set the record straight; I have no illusions about myself. I dearly want something like this to happen, even if I cannot be personally involved in it. Punk Rock is long overdue for some manner of worldwide recognition, and this would be the best way to accomplish that. Also, a number of the great bastions of Punk are getting old. We need a show like this while these great people are still with us.

I did a little surfing to check some facts, in the course of writing my pitch. I had to be sure that Iggy was still alive. Marky Ramone has some 2012 dates for Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg. I believe Joan Jett is still active. There are even 2012 tour dates for Bad Brains!!! What? I didn't even know that they were still a going concern.

Shows what I know, right?

I reprinted the letter as a blog entry below. Mostly to create a copyright for the idea, but also for you to make fun of my idea. I wonder if Siouxsie is still alive?

I'm emotionally drained right now. When I write things that are important to me, like my NaNoWriMo novel, a lot of me goes out onto the page. Whew! Well, the important thing now is not just that I did something about my idea, for better or worse. Now that I have used a keyboard to download the idea from my brain, maybe the fantasy will plague me less. Or not. This is the kind of 'cure' that has mixed results, but it does tend to work with story ideas.

Punk is not dead.

The Pitch


[Introduction omitted by author]

I myself am nobody special. I am 42 years old, and have a degrees in Chemistry, and Electronic Engineering and Computer Technology. I do however, care dearly for the music that is Punk Rock. I have no contacts whatsoever in any part of the music industry, and have no ties to any particular musical group. In short, I have no real experience to bring to the project. Therefore, I am not going to insist that I personally should be a part of this project, if it does come to fruition.

My idea is to create a Punk-exclusive musical variety show.
Punk Rock is a musical subculture that has consistently been mishandled by the premier record labels, under-promoted by the cottage industry of small independent labels, and generally ignored by broadcast radio stations. I will freely grant that there are some exceptions, but most of these are limited or localized phenomena. There are local radio stations that may play broader selection. Larger cities have locally known bands, and occasionally the brighter stars may make an appearance on television - such as on The Late Show with David Letterman. Yet these exceptions do little to invigorate the larger subculture. There continue to be new venues for Punk Rock, and Satellite Radio is one of these, but Satellite Radio hasn't quite set the world on fire, owing to its barrier to entry for the average international listener. The rise in breadth and popularity of the Internet has done much to facilitate the availability of all music, but even the internet is not enough.

Using a television analogy; if you do not know what is on television - and you do not change the channel, then you can never know what other shows are on. I want to be the ombudsman who loudly proclaims "Punk Rock is out there! Punk Is Not Dead."

I envision a "Late Show"-esque general format, but without ordinary guests. A band would play an opening song or two (depending on the performers) followed by an interview (length would also depend on the performer) followed by more music. No 'host' band - such as Paul Schaffer and the World's Most Dangerous Band - would be required (this would help to make it a low-overhead production), although 'support' musicians might not be a terrible idea. [A characteristic of early Punk Rock is a stripped-down sound, so I have mixed feelings about that.] All of the musical guests should be local talent; this *absolutely* has to be a travelling show. Not just around the United States, but internationally. While there is a wealth of material in the United States, a mandatory destination is the United Kingdom, and from there Australia, Scandinavia, Japan, Poland, the Ukraine, perhaps even Russia (unless the government  demands additional fees be paid). My favorite group is Monkeystrikes, a struggling band in Scandinavia whose members live in Denmark and Sweden, and whose latest CD (You Hate My Beautiful Love, 2007) appears to be out of print.

The first thing on your minds is that without an audience, there simply is no show. You are absolutely right. This show would at first play to a niche core audience; most of whom are 40-somethings who grew up with Punk Rock and rock 'n' roll. This would further be narrowed by the specialization in Punk Rock.
[Punk has been much maligned and misrepresented over the years (consider the episode of House M.D. where the patient was a serial drug abusing Punk Rocker) such that many people do not know what Punk Rock is.]
This would admittedly be a small core audience. However, I strongly believe that the audience would grow exponentially within the first year, once it becomes self-evident that Punk Rock is not that much different from everyone's beloved Rock 'n' Roll. If and when that happens, the show will become a parade of talent to an audience of fresh ears. I must mention here that the initial core audience would be international, and not just domestic, so this project would greatly benefit for a network that seeks international audiences.

The first few shows are absolutely critical. Not just for the interest of the core audience, and to gain traction with new audiences, but because the surviving bastions of Punk Rock may not be long for this world.

The first show should exclusively feature Iggy Pop. He should be provided with a large red leather chair to sit in, and the host should kiss his hand and call him "Godfather".
[This vein of theatrics should be endemic to the show!]

Subsequent shows should similarly feature the old guard of Punk and 'Garage Rock': Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg, MC5, Joan Jett, Billy Idol (if not all of Generation X), Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, Sleater-Kinney etc. I could go on and on. And that is not to mention whatever band reunions can be orchestrated, such as the Damned.

Similarly, the British bands that need to appear in the show's first year are Siouxie and the Banshees, the Adicts, the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Leyton Buzzards, the Buzzcocks, etc.

Expertise, creative consultants, other resources.
This project requires at least one person with a large amount of experience and contancts within the music industry, and preferably from within the Punk subculture. Off of the top of my head, the stand-out choice would be Henry Rollins. He fronted the California Punk Band Black Flag for years before embarking on a very successful solo career during which he produced new bands, appeared in minor acting roles, and contributed to various MTV productions.

If I were to try to move forward in a project of this scope, I would definitely seek Henry's advice. I would further try to contact influential Punk performers who have formed independent labels such as Joan Jett (Blackheart Records), Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys and Alternative Tentacles Records), Brett Gurewitz (Bad Religion, Epitaph Records), Tim Armstrong (Rancid, Hellcat Records) etc.

Unfortunately, there is a minor detail that needs to be mentioned here. Such a show will need its own independent security detail for safety and management of the studio audience. Every subculture has its own troublemakers, and Punk Rock may be overrepresented in this regard (White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, other groups). The issue can be managed with a dedicated group of professionals, and requiring that audience members sign waivers. It would be irresponsible of me do downplay the potential for violence. For example, many performances by the Exploited resulted in riots.

That is my vision. I want to thank the recipients for reading this far; I do greatly appreciate your sophisticated attention span. I would like to state in closing that I am pitching this idea to a single audience; the executives and creative talent at [omitted].

For more vague information see my struggling Punk Blog at:

and my Punk Rock Pandora Radio Station at

Thank you for your time

Karl Aune

"Hey You! Behind that door! I'm scared too, but I want more!"
 - Monkeystrikes

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Latest, Greatest, Tiniest, Obscurity

I'm still alive, just ignore those rumors. Uh, well, that other rumor might be true, but... uh... yeah, no comment

I just heard a new-to-me band on Pandora. Finally Pandora sends me flowers instead of recycled old stuff (it sent me some David Bowie today - I didn't have the heart to give Sufferagette City thumbs down, but I should have).

Yeah, anyway, so I head this... shoot, what does it get called these days? Oh yeah, I heard this 'revivalist' punk rock that I've never heard before. So I stopped what I was doing to go see the details. Its a Japanese??? band called Sparks & Twinky. They have a 2006 album called 'Chikara', which I can't find any information about. Now I don't know that I can say that it's particularly remarkable. I can't comment on their style, or their level of talent. What I can say is that I feel joy from discovering bands like this. Yes, it took 5 years to reach my ears. But for as long as there are small groups like this out there, there is a future for punk rock. A bright future. 

This is how I felt when I found out about my current favorite (yet defunct) punk group 'Monkeystrikes'. Man, its a good feeling. It makes me want to be a record promoter for these tiny groups. Which I imagine I am, in some tiny, unhelpful way.

In other news, Jemina Pearl (Be Your Own Pet) has apparently given up on maintaining her Punk Til You Puke blog. I'm sure that just means that she has a real social life. I still expect to see many great things from her.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New (PUNK) Year!

        I got my Associate's degree in Electronic Engineering and Computer Technology, and I am excited about my future! I'm going to set the world on fire.... after my nap.

        I have a terrible crime to confess. I let my Pandora subscription lapse. The *really* big bummer was that I continued to listen to the station in December as if my subscription was still going. I was so horrified on December 11; when my free Pandora time ran out. Three agonizing weeks with only my sparse Punk recordings to keep me company. I was so depressed about it that I didn't realize until today that I could be listening to the station again if I wanted to.
        Not a whole lot of news right now... and what the hell am I listening to? 'White Witch'???  A Whitesnake sound-alike band? Hehehehehehehe. Mwahahahahaha! They get the finger. Thumbs down!!! Ah, I missed doing that. Some decisions are tougher, but I love kicking Pandora's stupid choices off of the station.

        Just gave thumbs up to a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song 'No No No'. Don't get me wrong. I like Art Rock like them, TOOL, and several others that I cannot remember just now. I'm a TOOL freak, but I won't play them on my station because the 'Art' part doesn't quite make them punk. Then Pandora sees the 'Art Rock' tag and puts all manner of junk on the station. This makes it really tough to play only certain songs from these groups. I have to thumbs down 10 songs for each one that I want played. And that brings me to noise rock.

        I won't claim to be a huge fan of noise rock, but I am trying to add a few bands like The (International) Noise Conspiracy, whom I am mildly impressed with. This will naturally lead to some... 'interesting' music getting played. Since I am not going to re-subscribe for a while, it is going to take me longer than normal to cull the undesirably harsh things that Pandora throws into the mix. Also, I definitely need to get more Iggy Pop on the station. This is puzzling to be because I started the station with Iggy.Punk out!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Woah, I haven't posted since February? Again, too long since I've updated. Well, at least I'm a little better than Jemina Pearl of Be Your Own Pet! 

(Ha! Just kidding! No, really! Um... hey, that looks heavy, what are you...  Noooo! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!)

But I've been crazy busy and there isn't much to say. I'll be free of school in December, and I can't wait. When I'm employed again I'm going to start filling a long, long wish list from Red Aunts, Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Rise Against, Reagan Youth, Rocket from the Crypt, The New Bomb Turks, X-ray Specs, help I can't stop typing names of great bands!

I haven't done much with the station, partly because I'm studying over there and can't be bothered to walk all the way across the room to give a massive thumbs down to some weak-ass alternative song that Pandora slipped in. That and I may be getting soft again; letting some so-called 'pop-punk' slide in if I can't decide how much I like it. I did add the God-Awfuls, The Gits, The Hudson Falcons, 7 Year Bitch, The Oppressed, Leatherface, the Viscious, Spiveys, Cold Cold Hearts, Kleveland (WOW! Great band!), the Excessories, the Eyeliners, the Go-Sheilas, Rotten Apples, the SubHumans, and one of my new favorites, the U.S. Bombs.

The Subhumans are one of those "how could I forget about them?" bands that I didn't remember form the old days. The U.S. Bombs are a good 'punk revivalist band' - which apparently means they don't care to blend their punk rock. Check out the song "Destroy the Nation". The themes of Kleveland songs - and Stephanie Smith's accusing tones - make them a Riot Grrl band in my book. The world needs more Riot Grrl. And spankings.

It irritates me that I can look up at the list of bands that I've added, and wonder if Pandora has been playing them for me. Its possible that I added a few of the bands because I heard a single 'marquee' song that Pandora digs out occasionally. I usually seed the group because I want to hear more. Pandora may not necessarily oblige.

I've just realized (through Pandora) that the Adicts (first wave British punk) released 'Life Goes On' in 2009. I listened to samples from the album, but I didn't hear anything that excited me. Maybe it needs to grow on me? Does that make me a bad punk? 

Edit: insert a parenthetical question mark after 'first wave,' I'm not entirely clear when they got their start. Kubrik immortalized the 'Droog' very early on in his 'A Clockwork Orange'. Can't beat that with a sharp stick in the eye.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I think Pandora wants my lunch money...

Its been a long time between updates, and I've been quite busy both with school and tweaking the radio station. I don't know for sure whether it is Pandora or my own pics, but I still keep hearing music that doesn't belong here. I just now gave thumbs down to Audioslave, Slade, and Primus. How the hell did they get picked for my station?? The only band I see that is a big wild card is "Television". I added them because they were an influence on of early punk. I haven't heard more than one of their songs in about a month, so I'm afraid that they are the reason Pandora keeps flinging Indie rock bands at me.

So I'm going to have to review my artist seeds yet again. I finally cut the Buzzcocks - though I really hated to do it. Not more than 2 songs later, Pandora plays "Just Lust" by the Buzzcocks. I could interpret that in a number of ways. 1) It was already in the queue and thus has no real meaning. 2) Pandora thinks that the Buzzcocks are a good fit with the remaining artists that I have seeded - which justifies my original decision to seed them. 3) Its a big "FUCK YOU" from Pandora. Since Pandora skipped playing "Sex Object" by Manda and the Marbles - a song that I really like - completely on its own, I'm leaning towards interpretation number 3.

I beleive that I solved what I refer to as the "Hardcore Issue." I took Agnostic Front out of the list of artist seeds. I didn't want to do that either, but the diversity was getting much too broad. There are still seeded punk artists that lean towards hardcore (as I define it), so hopefully I'm not actually sacrificing any punk/hardcore hybrids. Perhaps I should re-seed Clit 45 just to make sure?

Slade, Primus, and Audioslave. I still can't believe it. At least I heard Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" today. That tells me I'm doing something right. Rock on.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What "Alternative" Music Is

Go click on the title. You'll like it. Be nice and browse more of Gunshow Comics.

Do you know why truth is stranger than fiction? Do you? Reality is weird enough, but fiction is a human convenience. Its a book or television show that you soak in for entertainment. If something happens in the story that you find farfetched (think Agatha Christie's detective stories etc. where a miracle happens leading to a sudden 'blue sky' conclusion when everything was baffling right up to that point) the knee-jerk reaction is WTF sort of contrived story is this? Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense - or it doesn't sell well.

Pandora positively mystifies me. I've been working on this radio station for 6 months, and just yesterday it played L7 for the first time. Argh! I couldn't make that up if I wanted to. I've seen referneces to the band for months, but generally don't add groups that I haven't heard. I cannot claim to be perfect either. I have not thumbed-up or seeded the UK Subversives. D'oh! I'm not really trying to seed *every* good band, I have been trying to seed core groups to let Pandora fill in around them. Also I like a little time to agonize about whether to seed them or not. Another realization that I have had is that if I am to allow 'primitive' rock bands, then I should un-thumbs-down T-Rex and the Troggs. Naturally this will lead me to another Hardcore problem - Pandora will start cramming in primitive rock bands, and I'll have to issue an assload of thumbs downs. Not to worry, my guiding star here is the overall mix, so just like Hardcore I'll allow a good sampling without going overboard. Maybe.

New additions; the Partisans, UK Subversives, the Sainte Catherines, Authority Zero, the Lurkers, L7 and the Shocker (former L7 bassist). Also added Venom Lords, a band name that puzzled me 25 years ago. I was into Chicago's Naked Raygun, and Venom Lords used a similar font and colors for their band name on their album covers. So a casual glance might confuse one for the other. With record prices what they were, I wasn't in a hurry to buy records of bands that I've never heard of. Radio ignored these bands, Pandora does not. Now I dig Venom Lords. Does that mean I've come full circle?

Thought my few readers might like this; a search for punk rock on