It’s been approximately fifteen years since punk music was at its commercial height, with both Green Day’s American Idiot and My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge coming out in 2004, but that doesn’t mean the genre has disappeared entirely. Since it’s prime time in the early 2000s, punk music’s spot on the charts has been taken over by other genres, which today includes both pop artists like Ariana Grande and rappers such as Post Malone. In the past, it was uncool to listen to bands like Sum 41, Yellowcard, and Good Charlotte, and for most people, punk rock was classified as “emo” music for depressed losers who wore too much black clothing and makeup. While punk rock does touch on heavier topics and most artists sport dark colors, the genre’s original cringe-factor is slowly starting to fade– and just in time for the new era to begin.
While the term ‘punk’ itself has a specific definition, it can also be used as an umbrella term for all types of alt-rock: pop punk, pop rock, and in some cases, alternative. Bands such as The Ramones, Nirvana, Fall Out Boy, and even Paramore, are all grouped together under the punk genre, despite being from different eras and releasing music that sound nothing alike. Today, that definition still stands, as both new and older bands release music that is identifiable as punk, but coincidentally sound different than punk music a decade ago. Even popular artists are getting involved, mentioning or recruiting popular artists from the punk scene: Lil Peep featured Fall Out Boy on one of his tracks and Lil Uzi Vert told Beats 1 Radio that Paramore’s Hayley Williams is one of his biggest musical inspirations according to The Fader magazine.
In the early 2000s, bands such as Green Day and Fall Out Boy dominated the pop-punk scene with top hits like “Holiday” and “Sugar We’re Goin Down.” Today, these bands continue to release music, with new albums coming later this year and even a world tour. In September 2019, they announced they are co-headlining the Hella Mega Tour, alongside Wheezer, starting this March with dates throughout the summer.
I’m Not Okay, MCR is Back:
With the rebirth of popular punk bands, one that cannot go unnamed is the infamous My Chemical Romance. After a six-and-a-half-year hiatus, the popular punk band of the 2000s has made a shocking return. The band teased their fans with updates to their social media accounts before announcing on October 31, 2019, a reunion show taking place at The Shrine in Los Angeles. The show occurred on December 20 and encompassed music from all four of My Chemical Romance’s studio albums. Since then, the band has also announced an upcoming world tour in 2020.
My Chemical Romance is not only one of the most popular punk bands to date, it is arguably one of the most influential as well. Junior Jennifer Notman, an avid fan of the band, said, “ …it’s undeniable that they have been an influence on the… style of many modern rock bands and I love how newer bands have been able to put their own twist on punk rock.” Punk bands such as Sleeping with Sirens, State Champs, and UK-based Creeper, have all mentioned My Chemical Romance as musical inspirations for them in the past. State Champs’ guitarist Tyler Szalkowski told Rock Sound that: “They were a rock band that’s very comfortable being different, and that’s very inspiring to see them have so much success from just being themselves,” according to Kerrang! Magazine.
At their peak, My Chemical Romance was one of the first to openly sing about mental illness. Notman says she “happened to get into them during a dark time” in her life, and “they hold a special place in my heart now because of that.” Today, many artists are open about mental fragility, including popular artists like Halsey or Yungblud, but back in the early 2000s, most “emo” music was classified as an anthem for cults, and caused teenagers to find suicide and death fascinating. Daily Mail in 2006 released several articles describing emo music as a “sinister cult” that “no child is safe from.” This type of reporting was so against what MCR fans believed, and they protested in response. In London Marble Arch, fans could be seen holding signs stating things such as “MCR saves lives” and “I’m not afraid to keep on living,” lyrics from the song, “Famous Last Words.” This controversy was created from the assumption that punk rock bands are directly influencing kids towards depression and suicide, as opposed to the fans turning towards this type of music to cope with existing mental illnesses.
Poppin’ Champagne to New Music:
Other artists from the past making appearances include Mark Hoppus from Blink 182, who joined forces with the lead singer of All Time Low, Alex Gaskarth, last year to create a new duo, named Simple Creatures. While their music isn’t classified as pop-punk, but rather as new wave or synthpop, the duo’s goal was to make entertaining, dancing music that included some of the real, darker aspects of life– similar to punk rock music, which is known for its cynical outlook on life. In an interview with Kerrang! Magazine, Gaskarth said, “The sensibility that you can have these weird, out-there, pseudo pop songs and lace them with real emotion and darkness. That was a big part of what went into these tunes.” Touching on topics like addiction, depression, etcetera, the duo released their first EP Strange Love in March 2019, and their second, Everything Opposite, in October 2019.
The guitarist for All Time Low, Jack Barakat, is also branching out. In collaboration with L.A-based musician Kevin Fisher, the duo created the band WhoHurtYou. In June 2019 they announced the band and their new single, “Wish We Never Met” followed by a music video.
Despite both the guitarist and the lead singer’s new collaborations, All Time Low is not breaking up or planning to stop making music anytime soon. Guitarist Jack Barakat assured his fans back in April 2019, saying, “The thing is, no matter what, All Time Low loves touring. Alex [frontman] wants to do his thing, but I’m gonna make him come back,” (Kerrang! Magazine). Barakat stayed true to his word. In fact, the band has released two new singles since then, “Some Kind of Disaster” in January and “Sleeping In” just last week. They also announced a new album, Wake Up, Sunshine, scheduled to release on April 3rd.
Check Out These New Bands, Hoping to Become Famous:
While older bands are still lingering and adapting, new pop-punk bands are popping up left and right. Among those bands is an Australian group called Between You and Me. The band put out their first single “Overthinking” with Hopeless Records back in 2016. Hopeless Records is home to plenty of other punk bands, and frontman Jake Wilson told Alt Press back in 2017 that: “It’s honestly super humbling to be signed to a label with a roster of bands… To have our band name next to the likes of New Found Glory, Yellowcard and Sum 41… that’s surreal.”
The band consists of frontman Jake Wilson, guitarists Jai Gibson and Chris Bowerman, bassist James Karagiozis, and drummer Jamey Bowerman. While the band all have different musical influences, they told The Page that “pop punk is something we all come together on and have a passion for” and that pop punk let them live out their wildest dreams to travel the world and meet their fans. The band takes inspiration from a variety of punk rock bands, including Knuckle Puck, Blink 182, Papa Roach, and Simple Plan. The band is proud to be grouped in among famous punk bands and helping make a difference. They said, “The industry at the moment is doing a great job breaking down the barriers and stereotypes…and making it an accepting place for everyone.”
Between You and Me recently finished a total North American tour, and are about to go on another alongside bands Sleep On It, Bearings, and Neverkept. You can catch them in Sacramento on March 19, and Berkeley on March 20.
Mark My Words, These Bands are Making Waves
oll Skin is another one of the newer punk bands’ helping to bring in a new sound for the genre, but instead of angry boys singing about how they hate their life, this all-female punk group sings about making it through addiction, mental illness, and how they’re not afraid to stand up for themselves. Most fans are surprised to hear that despite their ages–the youngest, lead singer Sydney Dolezal, being only 19– the band has been making music for six years now. Back in 2013, Dolezal joined forces with guitarist Alex Snowden, bassist Nicole Rich, and drummer Meghan Herring. The band’s most recent album, Love is Dead and We Killed Her, was released in June 2019 and received lots of love from alternative-based reviewers, saying that Doll Skin’s music is “indisputable proof that revenge is a dish best served loud,” according to Kerrang! Magazine.
Hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Bearings is a developing punk rock band that made waves with their 2018 album Blue in the Dark, a chronicle for the band’s painful experiences in the past. Music critics and fans spoke praise over the album, and for some, it was dubbed the best punk rock album of the year. Jacquelyn Kozak from Stars and Scars Magazine says, “The album as a whole is beautifully balanced – the angst is… sandwiched in… sincere, yearning tracks… Vocalist Doug Cousins has a voice so sweet that you’ll fall in love with it even when he’s shouting.” Other band members include Ryan Culligan on guitar, Collin Hanes on bass, and Connor Kingston on the drums until January 2019, when the drummer revealed he would be leaving the band due to “personal reasons.” Since then, the band has gained two new members, drummer Michael Mckerracher and guitarist Ryan Fitz and released two new singles, “So Damn Wrong” and “I Feel It All” respectively. Cousins describes the band as “a little indie, a little pop punk and extremely personal and holding nothing back.”