Garage punk (fusion genre)

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Garage punk is a rock music fusion genre combining the influences of garage rock, punk rock, and often other genres, that took shape in the indie rock underground between the late 1980s and early 1990s.[2] Bands drew heavily from 1960s garage rock, stripped-down 1970s punk rock,[1] and Detroit proto-punk,[2] and often incorporated numerous other styles into their approach, such as power pop, 1960s girl groups, hardcore punk, blues, early R&B and surf rock.[3][verification needed]

The term "garage punk" often also refers to the original 1960s garage rock movement rather than the 1980s-90s fusion style. The 1980s-90s style itself is sometimes referred to interchangeably as "garage rock" or "garage revival".[3] The term "garage punk" dates back as early as 1972 in reference to the original 1960s garage rock style,[4] although "punk" as it is known today was not solidified as its own distinct genre until 1976. Therefore, despite earlier references to 1960s garage rock as "garage punk", the usage of the term "punk" in regard to the 1980s-90s "garage punk" fusion genre refers to the fusion of 1960s garage rock with the late 1970s-1980s genre currently and more commonly referred to as “punk rock”.[5] After the 1980s, groups who were labelled as "garage punk" stood in contrast to the nascent retro garage revival scene, moving past a strictly mid 1960s influence.[1] Associated bands from that period contributed to the development of stoner rock, a more psychedelic variation of the genre.[2]

Etymology and usage[edit]

The term "punk rock" was first used to describe the music of American garage bands of the mid 1960s, and was not solidified as a genre until 1976.[5] When referring to 1960s groups, the term "garage punk" is usually deployed interchangeably with "garage rock".[6] The earliest known use of the term "garage punk" appeared in Lenny Kaye's track-by-track liner notes for the 1972 psychedelic music compilation Nuggets[4] to describe a song by the 1960s garage rock band, the Shadows of Knight, as "classic garage punk".[7] The Guardian's Michael Hann writes: "Look at the tracklisting for Lenny Kaye's original Nuggets album, the record that codified garage punk and you'll find an awful lot of music that would not now fit comfortably into the genre [psychedelic music]."[8] MTV's Beverly Bryan says that "garage punk" may be used "more likely" to refer to "garage rock" or "garage revival".[3]

Development and characteristics[edit]

1960s: Original garage bands[edit]

The Sonics are sometimes considered to be the first garage punk band.[9]

Simon Reynolds traces garage punk to American garage rock bands in the 1960s.[10] He explains that mid 1960s garage punk was largely the domain of untrained teenagers who used sonic effects, such as fuzz tones, and relied heavily on riffs.[11] Hann locates the "golden years" of garage punk to 1965–67.[8] The Sonics are credited as a pioneering act in the genre.[9][12] Critic Tim Sommer wrote: "The Sonics created the template for American garage punk, not to mention crafting the prototype for every punk rock band that thought that three chords and a horny shriek was enough to move a nation."[13]

1980s–2000s: Fusion with 1970s punk[edit]

In the 1980s, there began a revived interest in the music of the 1960s, starting with garage punk.[14] Labels like Crypt and Norton began reissuing the work of "lost mid-century weirdos", which led a new generation of punk musicians to rediscover older rock artists like Little Richard and the Sonics.[3] In contrast to the retro garage revival scene, bands who continued to draw heavily from stripped-down 1970s punk, rather than just mid-1960s styles, would be widely categorized as "garage punk".[1][nb 1] According to the AllMusic guide, "Before the punk-pop wing of America's '90s punk revival hit the mainstream, a different breed of revivalist punk had been taking shape in the indie-rock underground. In general, garage punk was not nearly as melodic as punk-pop; instead, garage punk drew its inspiration chiefly from the Detroit protopunk of the Stooges and the MC5.[2]

Allan Rutter writes that the music is often fast-paced and characterized by dirty, choppy guitars and lyrics typically expressing rebelliousness and sometimes "bad taste", and may be performed by "low-fi" acts who are on independent record labels, or who are unsigned.[15] Bands are generally apolitical and tend to distance themselves from hardcore punk and generally avoid strict adherence to the types of social codes and ideologies associated with the punk subculture.[16] However, there are exceptions like the (International) Noise Conspiracy, who played a highly politicised variation of garage punk.

AllMusic adds: "Some of the first garage punk bands who appeared in the late '80s and early '90s (Mudhoney, the Supersuckers) signed with the Sub Pop label, whose early grunge bands shared some of the same influences and aesthetics (in fact, Mudhoney became one of the founders of grunge)."[2] Bands like New Bomb Turks, the Oblivians, the Gories,[17] the Mummies, the Dirtbombs, and the Humpers helped maintain a cult audience for the style through the 1990s and 2000s.[2] Associated bands from that period contributed to the development of stoner rock, a more psychedelic variation of the genre.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ King Khan and the Shrines' Aris Kahn believes that the hybrid is not a revival, but a continuation of rock and roll's traditions, and that garage punk exists even in the 1960s.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Markesich 2012, p. 43.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Garage Punk". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bryan, Beverly (4 February 2013). "Please Explain: What is Garage Punk?". MTV Iggy. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ a b Nobles 2012, p. 32.
  5. ^ a b Austen 2005, p. 168.
  6. ^ Aaron 2013, p. 52.
  7. ^ Kaye, Lenny (1972). Nuggets (booklet). Various Artists. United States: Elektra Records.
  8. ^ a b Hann, Michael (30 July 2014). "10 of the best: garage punk". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  9. ^ a b Ansill, Laura (14 April 2015). "The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics".
  10. ^ Reynolds 1999, p. 138–139.
  11. ^ Reynolds 2012, p. 150.
  12. ^ Pehling, David (11 May 2015). "Garage-Rock Godfathers The Sonics Get Feral at the Fillmore". SF Weekly.
  13. ^ Sommer, Tim (15 November 2016). "The Musicians Who Actually Deserve a Spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame". The Observer.
  14. ^ Reynolds 2005.
  15. ^ Rutter, Alan (September 2006). "Bluffer's guide: Garage punk". TimeOut London. TimeOut Group Ltd. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  16. ^ Bovey, Seth (2006). "Don't Tread on Me: The Ethos of '60s Garage Punk". Popular Music & Society. 29 (4). Routledge: 451–459. doi:10.1080/03007760600787515. S2CID 143841415.
  17. ^ "Clay Reed on Outsight Radio Hours". Retrieved 2 December 2012.