Street punk

Street punk (sometimes alternatively spelled streetpunk) is an urban working class[1]-based subgenre of hardcore punk inspired by New Wave of British Heavy Metal which emerged in the early 1980s in the United Kingdom, partly as a rebellion against the perceived artistic pretensions of the first wave of British punk.[2] Street punk emerged from the style of early Oi! bands such as Sham 69 and Cockney Rejects, and the Oi! bands that followed them such as Blitz, The Business and Angelic Upstarts. A key band in defining the aesthetic was The Exploited.[3][4][5] However, street punk continued beyond the confines of the original Oi! form with bands such as GBH, Chaos UK, Discharge, The Anti-Nowhere League and Oxymoron. Street punks generally have a much more ostentatious and flamboyant appearance than the working class or skinhead image cultivated by many Oi! groups.[6] Street punks commonly sported multi-coloured hair, mohawks, tattoos, heavily studded vests and leather jackets, and clothing, especially plaids, adorned with political slogans, patches, and/or the names of punk bands.

In the 1990s and 2000s, a street punk revival began with emerging street punk bands such as The Casualties, The Virus, Cheap Sex, Lower Class Brats and The Unseen. The Casualties achieved underground success in the 2000s.

Street punk
Stylistic origins
Cultural originsEarly 1980s, United Kingdom
Typical instruments
Derivative formsD-beat
Other topics


GBH on Warped Tour
Street punk band Charged GBH on Warped Tour

Street punk music is characterized by single-note guitar lines and short solos. Unlike similar genres, such as traditional hardcore punk, street punk bands sometimes consisted of two guitarists, one of which plays guitar melodies while not singing. Street punk also makes frequent use of communal vocals, gang vocals, and sing–along choruses. Street punk lyrics commonly address topics including fighting, drinking, partying, inner-city turmoil or personal relationships. Street punk bands sometimes express political viewpoints, typically of a left-wing variety, although some street punks eschew politics altogether in favor of a more hedonistic, nihilistic outlook.

Punk veteran Felix Havoc said:

It was aggressive, yet had melody. As opposed to today's "melodic" punk it still had a lot of energy. It was honest. Hence the term "street punk." There is and was a feel that this was the kids music, from the streets, and was uncorrupted by "professionalism" or "musicianship." As opposed to the anarcho bands its message was more bleak and irreverent. The music was not a-political, just a less intellectual expression of political views of working class youth. The music was marketed as being of and by the working class. I suspect this was not universally the case. Still most middle and upper class kids cringe at frank discussions of violence as evidenced in a typical Blitz song. Early 80's UK punk was catchy as hell; it has sing-a-long choruses and hooky riffs.[4]


Origins (1980s)

UK 82

1980s-era punks

UK 82 (also known as UK hardcore, second wave punk,[7] real punk,[8] or No Future punk[9]) took the existing punk sound and added the incessant, heavy drumbeats and distorted guitar sound of Motörhead.[10] The term UK 82 is taken from the title of a song by The Exploited.[11] Cross-pollination existed between this era of British street punk and American hardcore punk.[12]

The lyrics of UK 82 bands tended to be much darker and more violent than the lyrics of earlier punk bands. They tended to focus on the possibilities of a nuclear holocaust, and other apocalyptic themes, partially due to the military tension of the Cold War atmosphere. The other mainstay of the lyrics of the era was unemployment, and the policies of the Conservative Party government. Lyrics frequently denounced the Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher[13] in the same way that American hardcore punk bands addressed the Ronald Reagan administration.

The three most prominent UK82 bands, according to Ian Glasper, are The Exploited, Discharge,[14] and Charged GBH.[15] The Exploited were controversial due to their aggressive lyrics and rowdy concerts, and were considered by Glasper to be "cartoon punks".[16] Glasper wrote: "For many, The Exploited were the quintessential second wave punk band with their senses-searing high-speed outbursts against the system, and wild-eyed frontman Walter 'Wattie' Buchan's archetypal orange mohican."[16] Discharge's early work proved to be enormously influential, providing the blueprint for an entire subgenre. Their later work, however, was decried as trite heavy metal.[17]


D-beat (also known as Discore[18] or käng (boot), in Sweden[19]) was developed in the early 1980s by imitators of the band Discharge, for whom the genre is named.[20] The first such group was The Varukers.[18] The vocal content of D-beat tends towards shouted slogans. The style is distinct from its predecessors by its minimal lyrical content and greater proximity to heavy metal. It is closely associated with crust punk, which is a heavier, more complex variation.[19] D-beat bands typically have anti-war, anarchist messages and closely follow the bleak nuclear war imagery of 1980s anarcho-punk bands. The style was particularly popular in Sweden, and was developed there by groups such as Anti Cimex[21] and Mob 47.[22]

The Unseen

Revival (1990s and 2000s)

In the 1990s, a new era of street punk began with emerging street punk bands like The Casualties, Cheap Sex, The Unseen, The Virus, A Global Threat, Clit 45, Career Soldiers, The Krays, Defiance, and Lower Class Brats. Many of these bands were signed by Punk Core Records.

The Casualties became one of the most well-known street punk bands and achieved underground success. Their 2004 album On the Front Line peaked at number 8 on the Independent Albums chart.[23] On the Front Line and The Casualties' 2006 album Under Attack peaked at numbers 7 and 9 on the Heatseekers Albums chart, respectively.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 10
  2. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 9
  3. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 122
  4. ^ a b von Havoc, Felix. "Maximum Rock'n'Roll #189". Havoc. Archived from the original on June 21, 2004. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  5. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 246
  6. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 5
  7. ^ Glasper 2004, pp. 8–9
  8. ^ Liner notes, Discharge, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, Castle, 2003
  9. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 384
  10. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 47
  11. ^ UK82 Access date: September 20, 2008.
  12. ^ Glasper 2004, pp. 165, 320
  13. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 203
  14. ^ Matt Diehl, "The Young Crazed Peeling", My So-Called Punk: Green Day, Fall Out Boy, The Distillers, Bad Religion—How Neo-Punk Stage-Dived Into the Mainstream, New York: Macmillan, 2007, ISBN 0-312-33781-7, ISBN 978-0-312-33781-0 p. 107.
  15. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 44
  16. ^ a b Glasper 2004, p. 360
  17. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 172
  18. ^ a b Glasper 2004, p. 65: "The Varukers were the original Discore band, the first and best of the hardcore punk acts to take the simple, yet devastatingly effective formula laid down by Discharge and play it as fast, hard, heavy as they could."
  19. ^ a b Jandreus 2008, p. 11
  20. ^ Glasper 2004, p. 175: "I just wanna be remembered for coming up with that f-ckin' D-beat in the first place! And inspiring all those f-ckin' great Discore bands around the world!" – Terry "Tez" Roberts
  21. ^ Jandreus 2008, pp. 20–21
  22. ^ Jandreus 2008, p. 143
  23. ^ "The Casualties Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  24. ^ "The Casualties Chart History (Heatseekers Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 22, 2019.


  • Glasper, Ian (2004). Burning Britain: The History of UK Punk 1980–1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1-901447-24-3.
  • Glasper, Ian (2006). The Day the Country Died: A History of Anarcho Punk 1980 to 1984. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 1-901447-70-7.
  • Jandreus, Peter (2008). The Encyclopedia of Swedish Punk 1977–1987. Stockholm: Premium Publishing.
Charged GBH

Charged GBH, commonly known as GBH, are an English punk rock band which was formed in 1978 by vocalist Colin Abrahall, guitarist Colin "Jock" Blyth, bassist Sean McCarthy (replaced by Ross Lomas after two shows) and Drummer Andy "Wilf" Williams.

Cock Sparrer

Cock Sparrer () is a punk rock band formed in 1972 in the East End of London, England. Although they have never enjoyed commercial success, they are considered one of the most influential street punk bands of all time, helping pave the way for early '80s punk scene and the Oi! subgenre. Their songs have been covered by many punk, Oi!, and hardcore bands.

Their style is influenced by pub rock, glam rock and raw 1960s beat music as delivered by bands like the Small Faces and The Who. Their lyrics mostly deal with topics related to the daily lives of working class people. Their name derives from their original name, Cock Sparrow, a Cockney term of familiarity.

Cockney Rejects

Cockney Rejects are an English punk rock band that formed in the East End of London in 1978. Their 1980 song "Oi, Oi, Oi" was the inspiration for the name of the Oi! music genre. The band members are loyal supporters of West Ham United, and pay tribute to the club with their hit cover version of "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles", a song traditionally sung by West Ham supporters.

Garry Bushell

Garry Bushell (born 13 May 1955 I Woolwich, London) is a British newspaper columnist, rock music journalist, television presenter, author, musician and political activist. Bushell also sings in the Cockney rock bands GBX and the Gonads. He managed the New York City Oi! band Maninblack until the death of the band frontman Andre Schlessinger. Bushell's recurring topical themes are comedy, country and class. He has campaigned for a Parliament that is made of cheese, a Wayne Rooney statue and for variety and talent shows on TV. His TV column Bushell on the Box still appears weekly in the Daily Star Sunday, and he writes for the Arts & Entertainment section of the Sunday Express.

Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards

Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards was an American street punk band formed to release the songs that Lars had written. Their songs include subject matter consisting of drinking, fighting, drugs, sex, prostitutes, gangs, and street life. They are the side project band of Lars Frederiksen from Rancid.

The band members are Lars Frederiksen (vocals and lead guitar), Gordy Carbone (also credited as "Unknown Bastard") (vocals), Jason Woods, aka Big Jay Bastard, (bass), Craig Leg (rhythm guitar) and Scott Abels (also credited as "Skatty Punk Rock") (drums). While Craig did not appear on the first album, he has always been a touring member of the band.

The band was formed after Lars' friend and bandmate in Rancid, Tim Armstrong suggested writing songs about Lars and his friend Ben growing up in Campbell, California. The band was then put together as an outlet to release these songs, as well as covers of Billy Bragg's "To Have and to Have Not", Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Leaving Here" (which was also covered by Motörhead). This first album was named Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards.

Lars and Tim then got together to write the second Bastards album, Viking, this time the focus being more on Lars' recent life (with the exception of the songs "1%", "The Kids Are Quiet on Sharmon Palms" and "The Viking".) after having "got outta Campbell". The album also included cover versions of The Blasters' "Marie, Marie" and the Anti-Nowhere League's "For You". The song "Little Rude Girl" was originally intended to be used as a Rancid song, slated to appear on an aborted split 7" with Rancid and Richmond, VA punk band Avail on Lookout! Records. The album was mixed by Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion.

It is also currently stated that Lars has no intention of creating another "Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards" album.

List of punk rock bands, 0–K

This is a list of notable punk rock bands (numbers 0–9 and letters A through K). The bands listed have played some type of punk music at some point in their career, although they may have also played other styles. Bands who played in a style that influenced early punk rock—such as garage rock and protopunk—but never played punk rock themselves, should not be on this list. Bands who created a new genre that was influenced by (but is not a subgenre of) punk rock—such as alternative rock, crossover thrash, metalcore, new wave, and post-punk—but never played punk rock, should not be listed either.

One Man Army (band)

One Man Army is an American punk rock band that was formed in San Francisco, California, in 1996 and separated in 2005 and reunited in 2011. The band was discovered by Billie Joe Armstrong while playing in an East Bay club, and their debut album Dead End Stories was the first release on Adeline Records, Armstrong's label.

Punk fashion

Punk fashion is the clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics, jewellery, and body modifications of the punk subculture. Punk fashion varies widely, ranging from Vivienne Westwood designs to styles modeled on bands like The Exploited to the dressed-down look of North American hardcore. The distinct social dress of other subcultures and art movements, including glam rock, skinheads, rude boys, greasers, and mods have influenced punk fashion. Punk fashion has likewise influenced the styles of these groups, as well as those of popular culture. Many punks use clothing as a way of making a statement.Punk fashion has been extremely commercialized at various times, and many well-established fashion designers – such as Anna Sui, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier – have used punk elements in their production. Original UK Punk clothing, which was initially handmade, became mass-produced and sold in record stores and some smaller specialty clothing stores by the 1980s. Many fashion magazines and other glamour photography oriented media have featured classic punk hairstyles and punk-influenced clothing.

Sham 69

Sham 69 are an English punk rock band that formed in Hersham in 1975. The band was one of the most successful punk bands in the United Kingdom, achieving five Top 20 singles. The original unit broke up in 1979, with frontman Jimmy Pursey moving on to pursue a solo career.

In 1987, Pursey and guitarist David Parsons reformed the band, joined by new personnel. Although subsequently going through a number of line-up changes, Sham 69 remain active and are still playing gigs as of 2017.

Street Dogs

Street Dogs are an American punk rock band from Boston, Massachusetts, formed in 2002 by former Dropkick Murphys singer Mike McColgan.

The Analogs

The Analogs are a Polish street punk band. They originated in Szczecin, and are quite successful on the local and international punk rock scene.

The band is widely regarded for making street punk music popular in Poland, and for their non-political stance, which had a novel feeling in the Polish punk rock scene of the 90s. Though the band have always been 100% committed to anti-Fascist politics.

The Bruisers

The Bruisers were pioneers of the American streetpunk/oi! movement, formed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1988. The original lineup included: Al Barr (vocals, now the lead singer of the Boston Punk band Dropkick Murphys), Scotty Davies (bass), Jeff Morris (guitar) and Rodger Shosa (drums). Morris is now a guitarist and lead vocalist for Death & Taxes, and a former guitarist for Mark Lind & the Unloved. Former guitarist Rick Wimert died in the mid-1990s.

The first band members were skinheads (although not white power skinheads). After a few years and lineup changes, the band and their style changed slightly. By 1996, Al Barr was the only remaining original member of The Bruisers. One notable release by the band was a 7" split with Barr's future band Dropkick Murphys in 1997. After 10 years, the band broke up in 1998. The Bruisers had a reunion concert on September 14, 2005 at The Roxy in Boston. The bill included local acts The Ducky Boys and Tommy & The Terrors, as well as The Casualties from New York City. The Bruisers played a second reunion show on August 31, 2012 headlining the first night of the 2000 Tons of TNT Fest at the Webster Theater in Hartford, CT.

The Casualties

The Casualties are an American street punk band which was formed in New York City, New York in 1990. It was formed by vocalist Jorge Herrera, Hank (guitar), Colin Wolf (vocals), Mark Yoshitomi (bass) and Yureesh Hooker (drums). On July 11, 2017 it was announced on the band's Facebook page, that Original frontman Jorge Herrera had officially retired from Touring. The band as of July 2017 consists of members Jake Kolatis (Guitarist), Marc Meggers (Drums), Rick Lopez (Bassist), and David Rodriguez (Vocals).

The Distillers

The Distillers are an Australian-American punk rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1998 by vocalist and guitarist Brody Dalle. Dalle co-wrote, played guitar and provided vocals for nearly every track on the band's three albums. After the breakup of the band in 2006, Dalle and Distillers guitarist Tony Bevilacqua went on to form Spinnerette.

The Exploited

The Exploited are a Scottish hardcore punk band from Edinburgh, Scotland, formed in 1979 by Stevie Ross and Terry Buchan and later joined by his brother Wattie Buchan. They signed to Secret Records in March 1981, and their debut EP Army Life and debut album Punks Not Dead were both released that year. The band maintained a large cult following in the 1980s among a hardcore working class punk and skinhead audience. Although The Exploited continue to perform live to this day, they have not released any studio material since their last album Fuck the System in 2002. Their songs have been covered by Slayer and Ice-T, and despite many lineup changes, Wattie has remained as the Exploited's singer and leader.

The Partisans (band)

The Partisans are a punk rock band formed in Bridgend, in South Wales in early 1978, when all four members were in their early teens. They continued until 1984, having several hits on the UK Indie Chart. The band re-formed in the late 1990s.

The Unseen (band)

The Unseen is an American punk rock band that was formed in 1993 in Hingham, Massachusetts. One of the more prominent bands to revive street punk, The Unseen were originally called The Extinct.

U.K. Subs

The U.K. Subs are an English punk band, among the earliest in the first wave of British punk. Formed in 1976, the mainstay of the band has been vocalist Charlie Harper, originally a singer in Britain's R&B scene. They were also one of the first street punk bands.

Viking rock

Viking rock (Vikingarock in Swedish) is a rock music genre that takes much of its themes from 19th-century Viking romanticism, mixing it with elements of rockabilly, Oi! or street punk, and folk music. Frequent themes occurring in Viking rock include vikings and Norse mythology, as well as Sweden's King Karl XII and the Caroleans.

Viking rock is often linked to white supremacy. Many make no distinction between Viking rock and white power music, and there is debate whether Viking rock is essentially racist.

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