Thin Green Line: Environmental Politics and Punk Music

By Ben Norton

 

Introduction

In this paper, I focus on “classic” or hardcore punk, a genre that has thus far been given relatively little attention in ecomusicology despite the fact that environmental themes are fairly common in the overt politics of the genre. Emerging out of the urban working class, punk has tended to exhibit populist themes.[1] While rightist and reactionary tendencies are not absent, the vast preponderance of this influence is of the leftist variety. Today, scholars of popular culture largely take for granted that punk has deep roots in situationism, anti-authoritarian socialism, and anarchism. Tricia Henry, writing at the zenith of influence of the hardcore punk scene in the late 1980s, noted that, like “members of earlier avant-garde movements, [punk musicians] were anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist” (Henry 1989, 1). Within this context, the expression of environmentalism in punk should not be surprising. The following constitutes a cursory survey of the employment of ecological themes in punk music.[2] While ecological themes can also be found in metal (including such sub-genres such as death metal, trash metal, black metal, doom metal, etc.) and hybrid metal/punk genres (including sub-genres such as metalcore, deathcore, mathcore, grindcore, crust punk, and more), here I focus mainly on analyzing environmental themes in the music of bands in the tradition of “classic” punk or hardcore punk.

While other spheres in punk, such as fashion, stagecraft, movement/gesture, and video production, are certainly relevant to the expression of environmental ideas, I have chosen to focus primarily on the lyrics and, to a lesser extent, their relationship to the music. In the examples here, I find that it is most effective to view the lyrics as the primary vehicle of extra-musical meaning. This is not to say that the music serves no larger dramatic purpose; the music may (and, in the punk tradition, typically does) affectively reflect the general meaning of the text, but rarely does it reflect individual words or more discrete units of meaning. Text painting is, for the most part, absent. The sound of a heartbeat may sporadically be implied with a dotted kick drum rhythm, yet this is the extent to which the music is used in this way. To my knowledge, no examples exist in the repertoire in which distorted guitars and growled vocals are supposed to depict, say, the screaming of the natural world, and of the life—human and non-human—within it, as it is destroyed. Along these lines, reading affective meaning from music and text relationships in punk is especially problematic because standard conventions of affect in Western art music (specifically of the classical and romantic periods) and some popular music genres simply do not translate in punk. Traditionally positive or “happy” attributes and aesthetics (such as consonance or smooth vocals and instrumentals) are intentionally rejected and subverted in punk and other similar genres. The highly distorted guitar, the shouted vocals, the dissonance, and the fast tempos are merely part of the musical style; together, they may imply a dark, foreboding, disconcerting mood, but they are generally not supposed to convey an extra-musical or programmatic narrative.

Methodologically, given the importance of the text in conveying environmentalist themes in much of this music, a more traditional, theoretical approach to musical analysis will not be employed here. While some attention will be paid to aspects of the musical style, my emphasis will be placed on interpreting lyrical texts and their attendant discourses within their historical, social and cultural contexts. (Full lyrics are provided in the Appendix.) In this way, my approach borrows techniques of lyrical analysis and interpretation used in popular music studies, musicology and ethnomusicology and is ecocritical in the way I view punk lyrics as texts that speak to humanity’s destructive impact on the environment. While my fellow contributors from Dr. Kwon’s seminar have similar contextual concerns and methods, my approach can be distinguished by its attention to the lyrics, which I argue are the most pertinent carriers of semantic meaning in regards to environmentalism in punk.

 

Environmental Themes in the Punk Tradition

Crass

I consider Crass to be the first punk band to employ environmental themes. As one of the earliest punk bands, Crass is arguably the most overtly political of the music’s progenitors. Formed in 1977 in the United Kingdom and disbanded by 1984, after facing legal trouble from the British government, the band released five studio albums: The Feeding of the 5000 (1978), Stations of the Crass (1979), Penis Envy (1981), Christ The Album (1982), and Yes Sir, I Will (1983). Although early punk music was certainly political, in its iconoclastic, anti-establishment perspective, one might say it was largely emotionally political, although not necessarily intellectually political. In less abstract terms, one might say early punk was a reaction against the status quo, but one that ultimately presented little alternative as to how one should address the criticized social issues, or, even more importantly, as to how to organize a society in which such ills are not present, aside from simply “rebelling.” This punk was largely about deconstruction, and not necessarily about construction. In contrast, Crass was prominent in constructing goals in which punk’s angst and endless energy could be manifested, directing it toward meaningful political activity instead of diverting it into drugs and self-destruction. Anarchism was seen as the motivating political philosophy. The realization of the goals of anti-authoritarianism, horizontalism, egalitarianism, and liberty were deeply planted as the very roots of the culture, buried firmly in the center of its very ideological and philosophical existence.

This is not to say that these punk musicians stopped raging against the machine; on the contrary, rebellion remained perhaps the most prominent discourse. Rather, it is to say that this raging was directed toward a particular goal. Anarcho-punk, a style of which Crass was one of the most important founding members, never firmly took hold in mainstream Western culture, but many of its ideas later trickled down into the wider punk tradition. The Clash, also formed in the U.K., albeit one year earlier, in 1976, also put politics up front in its music, but not to the degree of Crass and the anarcho-punk community. To Crass, the musical and the political were not separate entities. Their symbol (Figure 1)—the letters CRASS with a circle around the large letter A (creating a circle A, the most well-known symbol of anarchism), with a machine gun breaking on its triangular zenith—demonstrates that politics came first and foremost in their art. The band would often play shows surrounded by posters reading things like “No war,” “anarchy & peace,” and “Fight war not wars, destroy power not people.” The band spoke very openly about issues such as anarchism, socialism, pacifism, anti-capitalism, egalitarianism, feminism, anti-racism, non-human animal rights, environmentalism, direct action, and sexual liberation.

Musically, Crass characterized much of which is now firmly implanted in the punk tradition, including fast tempos, eschewing of tonality and harmonic movement, purposefully un-rehearsed and “raw” performances, non-technical instrumental parts, a Sprechstimme-esque vocal style etc. Crass, however, in its use of sound collages, spoken word performances, free improvisation, and other techniques associated with avant-garde music, was furthermore a founding figure in what is today called “art punk,” a sub-genre synthesizing avant-garde and punk music.

As has been the tradition in much of the punk community, Crass was not so much a clearly delineated band as a somewhat loose collection of musicians who played with each other at various times. Co-founders vocalist Steve Ignorant (born Steven Williams) and drummer and vocalist Penny Rimbaud (born Jeremy John Ratter) could perhaps be seen as the band’s permanent members, yet the lineup was fluid. Most notably, the band sometimes included two additional female vocalists, Even Libertine and Joy De Vivre [sic]. Women featured prominently in much early punk music. Unfortunately, as punk developed further, and especially after hardcore largely coalesced with metal, it came to be more male-dominated, even while bands continued to advocate for feminist messages and themes. Crass stood as an important early platform for the visibility of women in punk music.

Crass inspired a community of radical anti-capitalist, anti-war, intersectional activists around it; its legacy is still felt in many punk venues today, where members of leftist organizations often hand out pamphlets, brochures, fliers, and more. The band was operating in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, a time before the environmentalist movement had come to the forefront of the leftist movement. Environmental themes are therefore not necessarily most prominent among those the band chooses to address; they are, nonetheless, still evident.

In the most prominent examples of environmental themes in Crass’ music, we can look to the band’s second album, Stations of the Crass (1979). Track 17, “Contaminational Power,” stands as a firm testament to the anti-nuclear movement of the time. In the song, nuclear power is seen as a potential “death shower”—for humans, animals, and for the environment more generally. The band censures the apology that nuclear power is justified in its provision of jobs for workers, seeing it as a disingenuous “gesture of equality,” a guarantee of employment in a capitalist system that is already rigged against the worker, and one that offers only temporary employment—as the use of nuclear power will turn us all into “rotting corpses, staring at each other to see who’ll make it first.”

The principal fear in “Contaminational Power,” as the title suggests, is that of nuclear contamination. In this approach, Crass sees the danger of nuclear power in that it “settles in your pores,” it pollutes all of nature, and poisons us in the process. Nuclear power is not simply about creating another source of electrical power, they insist; rather, it is another thinly-disguised form of militarization, serving and employed by those in power, at the expense of humans and the natural environment. According to the song, militarism will only “BLOW YOU RIGHT AWAY” (sic). In a theme common in much of Crass’ music, the band calls for action, asking its audience to get up and do something, to cause “a disturbance, cause a fucking noise.” In this song, Crass largely foreshadowed the ensuing powerful anti-nuclear movement in the 1980s. In this way, Crass joins a wide array of fellow punk bands who began speaking out (or better: screaming out) against social ills before they were in the discursive limelight.

In another environmentally-themed song off of this same album, “Mother Earth,” track 1, the band addresses the misogynistic underpinnings of human representations of nature, pointing out multiple levels of hypocrisy of the social order. Non-human nature is seen as a feminine entity, to be conquered, exploited, destroyed by and for humans. The natural world is devalued, just as, in a patriarchal society, “feminine” genders and sexualities are devalued. The band is specifically addressing an infamous incident on modern British culture: the torture and murder of five British children, from 1963 to 1965, by serial killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. The ways in which the British media treated Hindley exemplified a widespread underlying collective misogyny. Tabloids often referred to her as “the most evil woman in Britain” (BBC News 2002). In a remarkable display of overt sexism, she was often likened to Greek mythology’s Medusa. Helen Birch writes that Hindley had become “synonymous with the idea of feminine evil.” (Birch 1994, 32).

The reasons why Hindley came to commit such horrible atrocities were seemingly of no importance. The BBC notes “her supporters say she was coerced into her crimes” by Ian Brady, with whom she was infatuated. Brady, the man who largely inspired her to commit the crimes with him, was rarely, if ever, mentioned in the press. That Brady was probably a Nazi, having studied Mein Kampf and having read about Nazi atrocities with great interest, was ignored; instead, the media preferred speaking of the “evil” Hindley, constantly making references to her gender. Most of the mainstream press at the time conveniently glossed over Hindley’s horrific upbringing, beaten regularly by her violent alcoholic father, preferring instead to paint Hindley as inherently “evil.” In this way, the band criticizes what it sees as levels of intense hypocrisy: most superficially the hypocrisy of supposedly “goodly Christian people” wishing so much pain and suffering on another human being; but, even worse, the hypocrisy of those who, while “tear[ing] that women limb from limb,” beat, brutalize, and destroy their very own mother, Mother Earth. The band also espouses its pacifist beliefs, insisting “that violence has no end,” and that seeking violent retribution on a murderer only furthers the chain of violence.

Crass’ approach to environmental themes—as with most of those addressed in earlier forms of punk and metal—is ultimately an anthropocentric one. The environment is seen as a necessity for human survival, and thus as an extension of humanity. Later bands criticize environmental destruction in its own right, condemning the cost of non-human animal life and of the natural world as contemptible concerns in their own right.

Much of the lyrical content in the punk tradition, overall, is very direct. It is not that the text lacks subtlety; it is that the text is not supposed to be subtle. The ways in which these direct messages are communicated, nonetheless, differ greatly. Crass appeals to audiences, asking for them to take action, to get involved in direct action and change the world around them, but through a combination of poetry and prose. In some styles—especially more metal-influenced ones—this kind of pro-active approach is absent; instead, we are merely left with a dark, often pessimistic critique of the order of things. These musicians do not necessarily ask their audiences to try to change the world; they merely speak to the world’s horrors. These contrasting environmental approaches in punk are highly resonant with the classic ecocritical paradox in literature in that they vascilate between direct action and indirect witnessing.

 

Reagan Youth

Hardcore punk (often referred to simply as “hardcore”) is a later musical development that many see as the culmination of punk. Punk historian and music critic Steven Blush calls hardcore, which emerged in the late 1970s, the punk “extreme: the absolute most Punk” (Blush 2001, 18). As hardcore developed on the West Coast, Reagan Youth, a hardcore band based out of Queens, New York, along with a small wave of young punk bands, started an East Coast movement. Formed in 1980, Reagan Youth was an explicitly political collection of young anarchists, as their name suggests. (The name satirizes the Hitler Youth and deliberately associated Reagan with Hitler—as seen in one of the band’s album covers evince, in Figure 2).

Before breaking up in 1989 (coinciding with the end of Reagan’s presidential term), the band recorded its third album, Volume 2 (a sequel to the previous year’s Volume 1) and was released in 1990. Opening the album, Reagan Youth penned a somewhat environmentally themed song titled “It’s a Beautiful Day.” The song juxtaposes middle-class American suburban ideals of barbecues with both ecological destruction and the threat of military destruction. The song paints a picture of privileged Americans standing outside barbecuing hot dogs and burgers, listening to transistor radios, while fish “choke polluted water” and die from “toxic seebees, dumpin’ in our stream.” In the turn of the penultimate refrain, the scene swiftly darkens: “This time the hot dog is you.” A scene of military destruction by bomb comes into focus; the Americans become the hot dog, the beef; their political leaders and their spokesperson, the newsman, blame the destruction on “a failed negotiation.” Reagan Youth also juxtaposes ecological destruction with military destruction. In “It’s a Beautiful Day,” however, the average citizen is not a mere bystander; the average citizen is complicit, just as in Crass’ condemnation in “Mother Earth.”

Musically, “It’s a Beautiful Day,” exhibits a kind of binary repeated AB form, alternating between a satirical R&B style, including a melodic vocal line and guitar arpeggios, with hardcore punk sections, including a fast, driving drumbeat and distorted guitar power chords. This musical alternation serves as a kind of mimetic parallel to the textual alternation between scenes of suburban American dreams and suburban American destruction.

On the same album is “Acid Rain,” a track devoted entirely to the discussion of ecological themes. Like Crass, Reagan Youth expressed deep concerns about militarization and its destruction of the planet. In this song, the band depicts a dark, almost dystopian view of today. A little boy is advised not to go outside; his father warns him of acid rain and insists they hide in the basement and pray. The band then follows up in the second and final verse, pulling no punches: “The factories are dumping toxic poisons in your air. They’re gonna drop and kill you.” As anarchists, the band is, of course, referencing capitalism. The capitalist system, they explain, is “fucking up” itself, but it doesn’t care. The well-known quip—most often attributed to Lenin, although historians doubt the veracity of the attribution—comes to mind: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” In this way, a hardcore band like Reagan Youth was effective in shaping its environmental concerns into a larger systemic critique of capitalism.

 

Oi Polloi

Reagan Youth were by no means alone in the hardcore band scene in addressing environmental themes. Scottish band Oi Polloi made it one of the primary concerns in their music. In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, while hardcore was developing on the West, and later, the East Coast of the U.S., the Oi! movement was developing in the U.K. The Oi! movement inspired a number of bands and was largely an attempt to bring the punk movement, which was seen as having drifted toward more educated, intellectual segments of the population, back to its working-class roots. Musically, this meant returning to a “simpler” style, even sometimes drawing from British folk musics. Oi! bands, however, are more difficult to characterize than many other sub-genres of punk because they were politically more complex than other styles. For example, Oi! was rather unique in its attempts to welcome the skinhead community, the two of which were, at this time, largely separate. The politics of the skinhead movement were even more convoluted and varied. With origins in Jamaican music and black British immigrant populations, the scene began largely diverse, internationalist, and leftist (its earliest manifestations were even black nationalist in character). In the early 1980s, as the skinhead and punk scenes began to coalesce, more radical leftist punk influences trickled in. In response, many Oi! bands that started out apolitical began to turn to the right. A minority of skinheads (mostly white, but even, at first, including some black skinheads) in the late 1960s had become right-wing extremists, notorious for participating in hate crimes against South Asian immigrants, which racist skinheads colloquially called “Paki bashing” (Brown 2004, 157-61). (It is for this small contingent, and for the mainstream media’s exaggeration of their influence, that the skinhead movement has its largely negative reputation today.)

An overtly racist, white supremacist, nationalist, and neo-Nazi skinhead faction began to emerge and develop throughout the 1970s, forming in 1978 a loose group of bands under the moniker Rock Against Communism (RAC). The skinhead movement grew in tandem with the resurgence of white supremacist movements in the U.S. and in other parts of Western Europe. RAC shared stylistic similarities (and even philosophical similarities, in the desire to return to a “simpler” kind of music) with the Oi! movement, the latter of which was still largely comprised of militant anti-racist, internationalist leftists (Marshall, 1991, 143). When the Oi! movement wanted to reach out to anti-racist skinheads, in order to build a larger working-class base, it had to deal with this right-wing contingent. It was in response to this growing right-wing threat that punks and leftist skinheads in the U.K. organized Red Action, in 1981, and Anti-Fascist Action, in 1985; and in the U.S. organized Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP), in 1987, and Anti-Racist Action (ARA) in the late 1980s (Brown 2005, 170). These organizations, through acts of intimidation and interruption, sometimes even resorting to violence, at shows and outside of shows, forced the right-wing contingents underground (to the point that many racist skinhead groups could only organize and conduct concerts in secret, afraid to be disrupted by leftist anti-racist skinhead and punk organizations). In 1993, the anti-racist, socialist, intersectional feminist Red and Anarchist Skinheads (RASH) formed in the U.S.; since then, it has spread globally, and dominates much of the contemporary skinhead movement.

Oi Polloi developed in 1981, in the middle of this political subcultural turbulence. The skinhead movement in Scotland and northern England had been largely anti-racist and leftist in its political orientation so the band did not deal significantly with racism. Like the rest of the anarchist community, Oi Polloi spoke out vehemently against racism, sexism, cisheterosexism, capitalism, fascism, and imperialism. The band celebrated Anti-Fascist Action at its shows, and encouraged audience members to “smash the fash” (smash fascism). Ecological themes, nonetheless, became perhaps the groups’ primary concern, with members inviting listeners to become part of Earth First!, the radical environmental organization. In concerts and songs, the band would urge the audience to participate in environmentalist activism and direct action, adopting as its motto “No Compromise in Defence of Our Earth.”

Since 1981, Oi Polloi has released over 20 albums (often split with other punk bands), many of which are explicitly environmentalist in nature. Its 1986 album Resist the Atomic Menace (and its title track) displayed a cover depicting Death, scythe in hand, looking down at a tube of nuclear waste pouring a pollutant into the water (Figure 3). Its 1986 album Unlimited Genocide includes songs titled “Go Green,” “You Cough/They Profit,” and “Nuclear Waste” and its 1987 album with Toxik Ephex, Mad As Fuck L.P., includes songs like “No Filthy Nuclear Power.”

Oi Polloi’s 1990 album In Defence of Our Earth devoted itself largely to further exploration of environmental themes, including songs titled “Whale Song”; “Anarcho-Pie,” a long, detailed recipe for a vegan pie; and “What Have We Done?”, a reflection on how much humans have destroyed the natural world (“Pollute and kill – Is that all that mankind can do?”, the song concludes). The opening song, titled “Thin Green Line,” situates the “thin red line” idiom (referring originally to the way the British press romanticized the 25 October 1854 Battle of Balaclava) in a contemporary environmental context, with activists standing as the small line of soldiers defending the planet against complete ecological destruction. The band begins “Thin Green Line” by setting up the urgency of the situation. We are into “the nineties, running out of time.” They are, however, not pessimistic about the future. “Extinction of our planet has already begun but don’t let them tell you nothing can be done,” they insist. A battle is being waged, and they, the green line, can ensure that it is won. “Some of us are angry and fighting back. Non-violent direct action is a means of attack.” Like Crass, and unlike Reagan Youth, Oi Polloi turns the song into a call for action. Listeners are urged to engage in non-violent direct action to save the planet from ecological destruction by greed-filled humans. “Eco-sabotage in the dead of night” is called for; the band goes through a list of prominent Earth First! tactics, including trashing nuclear plant sites; “sab the hunt,” i.e. sabotaging and interfering with hunting activities; smashing bulldozers and destroying corporate equipment; and putting sugar in gas tanks. The band understands that they could face legal repercussions from the state for engaging in these actions, but they “don’t care if that’s what it takes to save the whales … our Earth, [and] the wilderness land.”

In the closing song of the album, “World Park Antarctica,” the band continues these calls to action to save the planet—and the non-human life within —from destruction. Analytical bent is largely lacking from much of Oi Polloi’s music. Instead of addressing why things are the way they are, the band prefers a pragmatic approach, responding to contemporary ills and how to address and allay them. In this song, nonetheless, they begin explaining the reason “wilderness had to die” was because of “naked greed.” In “World Park Antarctica,” the band speaks ominously of Antarctica transformed into a world park, a mere object of exploitation of corporate power. Corporations “rape and plunder whatever they find – sea polluted and minerals mined. Poisoned animals slowly die as they suck Antarctica dry.” Again, the band insists, “Mass action could stop them – but you’ve got to start it.” The song stresses the responsibility of the individual listener in this call to action and save the environment from corporate plunder. “So will you really just stand by and watch the last great wilderness die?” Vocalist Deek Allen (the only permanent member of the band, having gone through over 50 members in the past 30 years) then moves to a spoken-word section, detailing in prose the extent to which greed has rendered the planet polluted and lifeless. He insists, “unchallenged, such commercial exploitation will simply kill this continent. Then, governments and multinationals will move on, leaving it poisoned and scarred.” Ultimately, his insistence shifts responsibility to the listener to prevent this ecocidal insanity; “only one thing stands in their way – you.”

 

Concluding Thoughts

In both the “Thin Green Line” and “World Park Antarctica,” Oi Polloi stress the destructive nature of humankind. They gesture towards an ideological stance where humans are no longer the primary locus of ecological concern. In this way, Oi Polloi – and to a lesser extent Reagan Youth – presaged an anti-anthropocentric discourse that took hold later in more metal-influenced versions of punk. This significant shift is resonant with changes occurring in the radical environmentalist movement at the time. Oi Polloi insisted that it is humans who are destroying the natural world, murdering all non-human life in it. Other bands tried to remove humans almost entirely from the picture, which led to an “anarcho-primitivism” movement in the 1980s that romanticized pre-industrial life. “Primitivism” (admittedly an unfortunate designation) became highly influential in many forms of punk and metal—especially in black metal. In some more metal-influenced subgenres of hardcore, including metalcore and grindcore, the anthropocentric condition is almost completely abandoned, often substituted instead for what could even be considered an overtly misanthropic perspective. Regrettably, this is not the space to further explore these trends but it does certainly point to an area of future ecomusicological research.

In the brief survey presented here, my main goal has been to dispel certain popular misconceptions about punk music, demonstrating that the thematic relationship between humans—or more specifically industrial, capitalist human civilization—and the environment is not a mere outlier for this genre. Within this sample of three prominent bands, for example, we can see that issues of political ecology and environmental justice were central themes that certainly had an influence on others in the punk movement. Through an understanding of this thematic legacy and its historical context, a more thorough picture of metal and punk music becomes clear, one that should be recognized as a significant form of sonic activism, raging against a world of ever-increasing environmental degradation and destruction.

 

Appendix 

 

Papers from this panel:

1. Donna Lee Kwon, “Overlapping Ecomusicological Realms: Teaching Ecomusicology to Graduate Students through Collaborative Exploration”

2. Tanner Jones, “Military Expansion on the ‘Island of Peace’: Protest Through Ritual”

3. Megan Murph, “Max Neuhas’s Sound Works and the Politics of Noise

4. Ben Norton, “Thin Green Line: Environmental Politics and Punk Music”

 

References

Birch, Helen. 1994. “If Looks Could Kill: Myra Hindley and the Iconography of Evil.” In Moving Targets: Women, Murder, and Representation, edited by Helen Birch, 7-32. Oakland: University of California Press.

Blush, Steven. 2001. American Hardcore: a Tribal History. Los Angeles: Feral House.

—. 2007. “Move Over My Chemical Romance: The Dynamic Beginnings of US Punk.” Uncut, January.

Brown, Timothy. 2004. “Subcultures, Pop Music and Politics: Skinheads and ‘Nazi Rock’ in England and Germany.” Journal of Social History 38(1): 157-178.

Henry, Tricia. 1989. Break All Rules: Punk Rock and the Making of a Style. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press.

Glasper, Ian. 2009. Trapped in a Scene: UK Hardcore 1985-1989. London: Cherry Red Books.

BBC News. 2002. “Myra Hindley: A hate figure.” Accessed January 5, 2017. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/581580.stm

Marshall, George. 1991. Spirit of ’69 – A Skinhead Bible. Dunoon, Scotland.

 

Discography

Crass. Stations of the Crass. Crass Records 521984. 1979, double LP.

Reagan Youth. Volume 2. New Red Archives NRA12. 1990, LP.

Oi Polloi. Resist the Atomic Menace. Endangered Musik EDR 5. 1986, EP.

—. Unlimited Genocide. Children of the Revolution Records GURT 12. 1986, LP.

—. In Defence of Our Earth. Words of Warning WOWLP10. 1990, LP.

Oi Polloi / Toxik Ephex. Mad As Fuck L.P. Green Vomit Records, Puke 2½. 1987, LP.

 

NOTES

[1] Historically speaking, punk grew out of working-class, predominately white, largely male subcultures. The subject of race and gender in this music is unfortunately beyond the scope of this research. That the music—and its more overtly political strands in particular—has had immense, indelible influences from women and people of color (especially African Americans) goes without saying. At the expense of grossly over-simplifying the subject, for the purposes of this work, it can be assumed that much of the music and its concomitant cultural scenes addressed herein will be dominated by white males.

[2] For the purposes of this paper, I use the terms “environmental” and “ecological” essentially synonymously. I furthermore employ “the natural world” and “non-human nature” roughly synonymously. Specific nomenclative discussion and delineation of the terms’ distinct denotative and connotative significances, although important, is unfortunately not permissible within the confines of this work.

 

Ben Norton is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology and ethnomusicology. He is done with his course
work, and will be working on a dissertation about progressive math metal. Ben completed B.A.s
in film, television, and digital media and Spanish while also pursuing concurrent graduate work
in composition and musicology at the University of Kentucky. A composer and musician in
addition to an ethnomusicologist, he writes in a variety of styles, particularly jazz and avant-
garde art music, and has an avant-garde metal solo project called Peculate. On the side, Ben is
also a political journalist and has written for a variety of publications.

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