Hardcore punk is a subgenre of punk rock which originated in the United States in the late 1970s. It emerged as the first wave of punk artists disbanded or moved onto different genres and the left behind-artists focused on music with faster tempos, louder beats, and a generally "harder" bass/decibel level - therefore resulting in many referring to the music as "Hardcore." The sound is generally thicker, heavier, and faster than 1970s-style punk rock. It is sometimes characterized by short, loud, and passionate songs. In addition, many of the lyrics focus on protesting, grouping, or rioting against highly disputed topics such as government, America, war, lying, politics, and others. It should be noted that hardcore often refers to two very different styles. Hardcore punk, thought of by many as the original usage of hardcore, refers to bands from the early 1980s (and modern day bands of similar style), which has more in common with punk than it does with the modern day music simply referred to as "hardcore" (with the word "punk" notably absent), which has more in common with metal.
The music genre that became known as hardcore punk originated in different areas of North America in late 1980 and early 1981. Some of the major areas in North America associated with the origins of hardcore punk include: California, Washington DC, Chicago, New York City, Vancouver and Boston. At the same time, a British equivalent had emerged, although it would not be known as UK 82 or British hardcore until later. The origin of the term hardcore punk is uncertain, however one theory is that the Vancouver-based band D.O.A. made the term official with the title of their 1981 album, Hardcore '81. Until about 1983, hardcore was used fairly sparingly, and mainly as a descriptive term. (i.e., a band would be called a "hardcore band" and a concert would be a "hardcore show"). American teenagers who were fans of hardcore punk simply considered themselves fans of punk although they were not necessarily interested in the original punk rock sound of late 1970s. In many circles, hardcore was an in-group term, meaning 'music by people like us,' and it included a wide range of sounds, from hyper-speed punk rock to sludgy dirge-rock, and often including arty experimental bands, such as The Stickmen and Flipper. Hardcore was noted for its do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. In most cities (California being the exception) the hardcore scene relied entirely on DIY recordings, magazines, radio shows and concerts. Hardcore punk fans brought a dressed-down T-shirt, jeans, and crewcut style to punk fashion. This contrasted with the more elaborate and provocative clothing styles of many 1970s punk rockers, such as Richard Hell or Sid Vicious.
The big three
Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life traces hardcore back to three bands: Black Flag, Bad Brains and Minor Threat. He calls Black Flag, formed in Los Angeles in 1976, the music's "godfathers." Azerrad credits Bad Brains, formed in Washington, D.C. in 1977, with introducing "light speed" tempos. He calls Minor Threat, formed in Washington, D.C. in 1980, the "definitive" hardcore punk band. Black Flag had a major impact on the Los Angeles sceneand later the wider North American scenewith their raw, confrontational sound and DIY ethical stance. The original lineup featured Keith Morris (later of the Circle Jerks), and the final lineup featured former State of Alert singer Henry Rollins. While their musical influence was limited (few contemporary bands sounded similar to Black Flag), their tireless work in promoting their own concerts and releasing self-financed records inspired other bands to do the same. Tours in 1980 and 1981 brought Black Flag in contact with developing hardcore scenes in many parts of North America. Bad Brains are an African-American band that formed in Washington DC. The band members had backgrounds in soul music, funk, and jazz, and were influenced by rock...
Bibliography: Going Underground: American Punk 1979-1992 (George Hurchalla, Zuo Press, 2005)
Smash the State: A Discography of Canadian Punk, 1977-92 (Frank Manley, No Exit, 1993)
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