g The Film Panel Notetaker: Punk: Past, Present & Future - 14th Street Y, NYC - September 10, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Punk: Past, Present & Future - 14th Street Y, NYC - September 10, 2007

The Punk Panel Notetaker’s Notes from:
Punk: Past, Present, & Future
14th Street Y, NYC
September 10, 2007

Sponsored by Punk Rope

(DF) Danny Fields – Manager of the Ramones for 5 years; Collaborated with Iggy and the Stooges and the MC5

(LL) Larry LivermoreLookout Records (Green Day’s first label)
(LN) Liz Nord – Documentary Filmmaker, Jericho’s Echo: Punk Rock in the Holy Land
(JW) Jonnie Whoa OhWhoa Oh Records Founder

Before the discussion began, Danny Fields started with 32 seconds of silence for the recently departed Hilly Crystal (founder of CBGB). Danny then asked the panelists to introduce themselves.

(LL) I grew up in Detroit. I was interested in the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Didn’t get involved with the business till the 1980s. Started Lookout Records.

(LN) I’m pretty honored to be on this panel. I used to order Lookout Records from the back of magazines as a kid. My husband Seth runs Negative Progression Records, which led me to make Jericho’s Echo.

(JW) Liz stole my thunder. I wouldn’t be here if no for Larry and the Ramones. I’ve run Whoa Oh Records for 10 years.

(DF) Punk is a niche industry and has become a multi-million dollar business. What is the relevance of the word “punk” today?

(LL) I always hated the word. The first time I heard it was in 1957 when a kid called me a punk. I was the only kid in down-river Detroit with a mohawk. I got really into punk in the 1970s and early ‘80s, when people told me it was finished. In college, I learned that Marx said everything in history happens twice. First culture, then commodity. I started my label in 1987. I thought maybe we could sell 1,000 records. Eventually Green Day went on to sell millions of records. I felt burned out and left my label in 1997. The music was becoming totally commercial. In the late 1990s, I met Jonnie Whoa Oh, and saw what he was doing with punk. Punk seems to get re-pollinated every 10-20 years.

(DF) Tell us Liz about your journey and why you made your documentary.

(LN) This is a good segway. I grew up going to listen to bands and got to an age where it wasn’t new anymore, but punk lives on because of the feeling of being outside the box. For these kids in Israel, punk is something new. It’s underground and dangerous.

(DF) Do you look forward to an original form of music?

(LN) The philosophy of punk exists in all forms of music, like hip hop.

(JW) That’s where the future of punk is going today. With so much music and influences out there, collaborations are going to grow. Now you can find whatever you want to listen to on iTunes. There are a lot of innovations, but a lot of bands are cookie cutter. I look for bands that take the style of punk, but make something different out of it.

(DF) Let’s talk about the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) element.

(LN) There’s always going to be DIY types. DIY worked really well with my film. I didn’t go to film school. I had some background in media and wanted to tell a powerful story about these kids who had something to say. So many people told me I shouldn’t do it this way, but because I grew up in a punk/DIY way, I knew I could really do this.

(DF) Do you look inside or outside the box?

(JW) There’s so much out there. How do you differentiate yourself? You need to be creative and use your resources. I always think outside the box. Being inside the box is dangerous. I started my label when I was 18 years old. I didn’t know what I was doing. Every mistake I made was a learning experience.

(DF) What’s your attitude about marketing and branding?

(LL) We made Green Day’s first record for $675. We were out of mainstream music, even punk. We didn’t have the Internet. I wrote fanzines. In the 1970s, everyone was some sort of punk or mutant, now we have clean cut bands. They love punk, yet they’re normal.

(DF) Everyone in your documentary looks normal. Why were you attracted to these kids?

(LN) To our eyes, they’re not freaky looking, but in Israel, they are. Most of their peers are doing mandatory military service. The punks really look radical. I felt like I could have a connection to these kids. They have a story to tell. The mainstream media tends to sensationalize things. It’s not all black and white there. Who better to tell a different side of the story?

(DF) What if you had to move to Kazakhstan (home of Borat) and was considered grotesque there?

(JW) I feel you need to be yourself no matter where you are. Punk was a bad word in the 1970s and 80s because of the way you dressed, but the people who are about the music for the music’s sake have kept it going. Was punk more about fashion or the music in the early years?

(LL) Both. Style was important back then. Music was important, too, because it was cool, exciting and adventurous.

(DF) Fashion designer Malcolm Mclaren, or the “schemata” guy, got bands out of the culture sections of newspapers and onto the front page.

Audience Q&A

Q: (To Danny) Did Edie Sedgewick ever make you tea?

DF: She wouldn’t go near a stove.

Q: Did you work on the movie Factory Girl?

DF: I was a consultant. Guy Pearce, who played Andy Warhol in the movie, told me he had listened to a recording of a phone call with me talking to Andy. I’m on the DVD extras. It was an experience seeing these actors try to recreate these icons. Warhol’s film “Empire” was considered a watershed in film history. I actually met people who watched the entire piece of crap. Warhol said about his own movies that the lighting, the sound, etc., were terrible, but the people in them were fabulous.

Q: Do you think commercial success and punk are mutually exclusive?

(LL) Not completely. They create problems for each other. The Ramones and Sex Pistols started out very anti-establishment, not intending to. Even though Green Day are multi-millionaires now, I don’t think it ruined their music, but it inspired a lot of clones. Making a lot of money affects the reality of music. Maxim denounced my label for getting too big. They were big supporters of it for the first five years.

Q: Why is it whenever we hear about punk music, it’s always about 1977? Punk is still alive for me and lots of other people.

(DF) I don’t know how to find a punk community. It doesn’t matter. It’s not about the money, it’s about the energy.

(LL) That era is where it all started. It’s the foundation. The fashion elements were flamboyant. It had both ugly and beautiful to it.


At 5:02 AM , Anonymous green day fan said...

I don't think that "Maxim", the magazine known for busty-women-in-lingerie, ever denounced Lookout Records for getting too big... :D I think Larry Livermore must have been referring to "MaximumRocknRoll," the punk zine.

Nice interview, thanks for posting!

At 8:28 AM , Blogger holly cool said...

hi i was just wondering if you could get me in touch with larry livermore because i am currently writing a auto-biography on greenday and it would be essential if i could have a chat with him my email address is 001571@buttershaw.yorks.com


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home