Recently, we were privileged to be guests on the Punk Rock Horror Podcast…
One of the questions took me by surprise… not because I wasn’t expecting it, but because I wasn’t sure how to answer it at the time.
It was a simple question… “What brought you to punk?” My mind started racing… flashing back through all the years and years of music and concerts and drinking and craziness; and in the moment, I wasn’t sure what to say…
In the time that’s passed since then, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it… when was the FIRST moment when I said, “yeah… that’s me… that’s how I feel…”
… and you know what? It all comes down to 45 seconds of music.
45 seconds of comedy and chaos that changed my life forever, and sent me into the world to become what I am today.
Readers familiar with Denver in the 90’s will probably remember a show on channel KBDI 12 (PBS), called “Teletunes.” For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s a shame you missed out!
Teletunes was a music video show… I guess you could say it was Public Broadcasting’s answer to MTV. But the most awesome part was the fact that among the “underground” videos from Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, and the Ramones, they ALSO played a SHIT TON of videos from LOCAL bands!
At that time, The Descendants were still largely seen as a local band… they were pretty big in the Punk scene and they shared a drummer with Black Flag; but at that time, ALL punk was “local” because it didn’t really have much of a “mainstream” appeal until Green Day got popular.
I didn’t have cable, so Teletunes was really my only consistent exposure to music videos; which really gave me a skewed perspective on music videos when I FINALLY actually watched MTV for the first time while babysitting for the neighbors. (“Wait a minute… you mean MTV doesn’t play the ‘Detachable Penis’ video???”)
For years, everyone at school was talking about one video or another on MTV; and since I didn’t have cable, I didn’t really have anything to add… which also meant I didn’t have a lot of friends, because I couldn’t relate. To say I was “unpopular” would be a drastic understatement…
Years later, there I am in high school, and someone tells me about Teletunes… so I watch.
They Might Be Giants… AWESOME!!!
Siouxsie and the Banshees… SWEET!!!
… and then…
… KIDS ON COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It ELECTRIFIED me!
The power! The comedy! The chaos!
Pure, unadulterated musical C-4, set to self-destruct in 45 seconds!
It was beautiful; but it went by so fast…
I had a thirst… I wanted more!
… and Teletunes was happy to dish it up! I found out about Warlock Pinchers, and King Missile, and the Misfits…
Ramones… Exploited… New York Dolls… DEVO… Black Flag… Sub Hum Ans… Circle Jerks… Dead Kennedys… the list went on and on!
I had found a home… something that made sense: Nazis are bad, rich executive douchebags are looking to exploit you, society is pretty much fucked, unions (except the police union) are good, and the religious right are a bunch of hypocritical zealots…
All things that ring as true NOW, as they did THEN!
I went back to the person who told me about Teletunes. We became friends. Since then, I’ve made a lot MORE friends! That’s only been possible because PUNKS accepted me… they didn’t care that I didn’t have cable… they didn’t care what neighborhood I grew up in, or what my socio-economic status was… they didn’t care that I have the fashion sense of a Poindexter…
I owe my life, my career, and indeed, (what remains of) my sanity, to a 45 second period of pure joy that opened Pandora’s box and gifted me the life that I now know!