Seemingly things have changed. Nightclubs have scattered around the diaspora. Independent free gig warehouses now host DJ nights. The customary colourful floor carpets supporting stage equipment have become dance floors. Wardrobes have seen alterations from polyester to leather to denim and shirts. But the constant ire of the punk rocker hasn’t faded.
That was the feeling one got, witnessing a lone panelist, screaming punk, dressed in skinny black jeans, black open vest, black platform shoes and a black bracelet and of course the high Mohawk. The costume, no actually, the garb belonged to Punk vocalist, curator and music journalist John Robb who spoke on Punk rock in UK at the just concluded SoundBound music workshop held in the city. “All my life, all my work has been to discover, promote and create punk music. It really excites me,” says Robb, whose muscular, lanky frame fronts British punk band Goldblade.
Smells like punk spirit
Robb’s first brush with punk was in the ‘70s, close on the heels of break out of a new song that would go to define a genre of music with artistes like Iggy Pop, Ramones, The Clash and Patti Smith. Robb, found his own in 1977 when he caught on with his own outfit, Membranes. “It was very DIY (do-it-yourself) back then. We taught ourselves how to write music, make records, pick up chords from the guy music store guy. In fact, we played out of tune for the longest time till we were told to tune our guitars the right way. We would find an open space, plug in and play,” recounts Robb, who released three albums with Membranes and travelled across UK and USA at the height of punk. He later formed Goldblade with new members.
That is when music journalism happened to Robb and he ended up introducing a buff and angry world to the sensitive sound of Nirvana. “I was writing for Sounds, an underground British magazine and I discovered Kurt Cobain. I got interested and when I met him, I knew somehow that they’d be big. That lazy tone of angst and drone of irreverence was pickled with brilliance. I was right. They went on to sell a million records,” recalls Robb.
For now, Robb is concentrating on discovering new music from across the world. In India, he is recording samples of crow sounds to induce in his songs. “It’s fascinating. That sound is just so unique,” says Robb. About the Indian music industry, Robb explains how it’s in a nascent stage and has the vibe of UK from the ‘70s.
“England in the 70s was similar to the scene in India right now. It’s very DIY. Bands worked together and I think in India right now they do too,” says Robb, who hopes to tour the nation in a city-wide tour in India next autumn. “This is my eight visit to the country. Hampi is perhaps one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been to,” says Robb, who recently started a music blog called louderthanwar.com and is looking for contributors all across the world.