Highlights from My So-Called Punk author Matt Diehl's interview about Green Day, Fall Out Boy, the Offspring, Epitaph, and more. Press Play column on neo-punk in this week's print issue. -- d2 * Diehl went to school for a degree in Art History and understands Deconstructionism.
* The book was originally a bio of the Distillers. "They actually wanted me to write a bio of the Distillers and I said to them, 'Well, I think that may be an awfully thin book. What I do think is exciting is sort of no one has really written about neo punk, in terms of commercial magnitude and cultural significance."
* Diehl's mom gave him Sex Pistols records at age 9.
* Sellouts like Yellowcard have just as much DIY cred as any other punk band: "Bands like Fall-Out Boy and Yellowcard have all the DIY cred in terms of touring the country, playing basements, playing all-ages, improvised venues, self-releasing, and then they became the commercial juggernauts. How do we balance the two who come from this DIY thing that seems like the essence of punk rock? Simple Plan - the most maligned of neopunk bands put in their dues in this band called Reset."
* Diehl is 38
* Punk rock is situationalist: "The one thing I hate more than anything is you know people from the previous punk rock generation who are like, 'The only good punk rock is old punk rock.' I hate that. Punk rock is chameleon, it can be reinvented a thousand times. .. Punk is an ideology, but a fluid ideology."
* Punk rock is a critic's genre "People like Mikal Gilmore, Lester Bangs, put their necks on the line for punk rock when nobody cared, they championed this music against all odds, in the '70s it was Fleetwood Mac or nothing."
* On why Diehl used the level-headed tone he did: "I was writing history, a cultural history. In my mind and it wasn't ... it still is subjective experience ... I used the first person a few times. I definitely talk critically about music and stuff, but I also didn't want to be like, 'This is my version of punk rock and it's right' 'cause the minute you put that line in the sand something will prove you wrong."
* On how his PunkNews.org response ended the discussion on the site about his book: "That just bummed me out."
* NorCal vs SoCal "I didn't get Green Day. My friend was writing their book Marcus Spits, so I think that was sort of simultaneous. Lawrence Livermore who started Lookout was an invaluable resource. If you go SoCal versus NorCal, the biggest punk bands arguably in the world arguably were East Bay to the core, but then in terms of commercial success, Epitaph, because Lookout didn't know how to scale. On the other hand Fat Wreck is sort of the Epitaph of the East Bay. ... On the other hand, I think Fat Wreck, they really do maintain an ethical stance, they own they're works, they've maintained running an empire. Fat Mike is like the conscience of the scene."
* The book's final analysis: "Punk is here to stay like the air we breathe. ... I feel like it's hard for me to come down and say, 'This was good and this was bad.' It's a living, changing, mutating thing. A thirteen-year-old kid that discovers Green Day and gets into them is probably going to be a better person. When I discovered the Clash, I became a far better person."
Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, he said, "Fuck racism, fuck homophobia, fuck sexism," and some woman complained to the media that she took her kids there and "I didn't want my kids to hear that." That's pretty punk rock, here's a band that sells millions of records and tours arenas and they're selling millions of records and telling people that homophobia is bad. If that's punk legacy, I'll take it. I don't hear Nickelback going onstage and saying it's bad. Maybe they are."