Ben Liew has been ‘playing’ punk music for the past 18 years. His first band was called Mahathir’s Mohawk. Now he plays in The Panda Head Curry?, Ben’s Bitches, and ROARM as well as a solo performer. He is currently the Editorial Director of REV Asia, which publishes JUICE. Once, he liked Green Day. He hates them now, as should you.
1. IF YOU PLAY IN A BAND, DON’T PLAY MUSIC.
Any as$hole with limbs or an open orifice can string notes and rhythm together to create ‘music’. But you’re not into music, you’re into anarchy. Music is boring anyway. Old music, new music, it’s all the same. Unless some genius invents a new chord that when struck magically sets Parliament ablaze, I say stick to matches.
2. NEVER CALL YOURSELF PUNK.
Learn this early on, kids. This piece of advice has got nothing to do with shallowf*ck hipsters. If you’re part of a scene at its infancy, sure, it’s going to be, like, Utopia dude! Several sellouts later, it’ll be sh!t. Protect yourself from negative association by never associating with something that can turn to sh!t (which is basically everything). Punk is supposed to mean something, so when I see pop punk, emo, and screamo bands promoting streetwear, I tell everyone I’m a metalhead. The same thing happened to indie. I mean, how the f*ck are Mumford and Sons considered indie?
3. ONE IS A NUMBER GREAT ENOUGH FOR SELF-MULTILATION.
If you’re the deep, contemplative type, you’ve probably asked yourself this a million times: “Why am I here?!” Well to put it simply, you’re here to bring about a revolution that will change the f*cking world. Now start by rolling over broken glass and smearing your body with peanut butter. Trust me, others will follow.
4. WE’RE A HAPPY FAMILY.
The hardcore kids get this. They have the tightest (and possibly largest) community amongst all the punk subscenes thanks to networking and shared values. Though it sounds like a bloody Multi-Level Marketing scheme at times, a hardcore band from any part of the world can go on an intercontinental tour (with little to no money) and they’ll always have a couch (or floor) to sleep on at every stop. Sure, it involves sharing your personal space with a lot of sweaty men who like to sing and preach about how against violence they are… but you get to go to Paris!
5. STAND BY YOUR VAN.
There is nothing romantic about a band touring in a van. Mat Salleh bands do it, and they hate it. Why do you think your experience would be any better in our tropical climate? Okay. It smells but don’t sell your van yet! The differences between selling-out and cashing-in are timing and patience. Keep that van. It’ll be worth a fortune when you’re famous after your band drives off a cliff.
6. YOU’VE GOT BETTER THINGS TO DO.
Drugs. They’re everywhere! Not limited to the party and feng tau scene anymore, now poor punk kids do them for whatever their reasons. There are sketchy drugs (glue, syabu, GHB, miau miau, eramin), then there are party drugs (ecstasy, coke), and depressing drugs (heroin, morphine). The only good ones are probably psychedelic drugs (they worked for Robert Smith), but you really don’t need any of that. Stay clean and sharp. How are you going to talk yourself out of an arrest if you’re high?
7. SKATE OR DIE.
I understand you have that aggression in you (which is why some of you might be doing drugs). If you want to beat up someone, mosh instead. If you want to dance but can’t afford to go clubbing, pogo at a Plague of Happiness gig instead. Feeling restless? Skate or do some graffiti (there’s no such thing as vandalism if there’s a message behind it). Stay constantly fit enough to outrun the police (sometimes, they don’t want to talk).
8. TRUST THE RICH GUY WITH WEIRD HAIR.
If he’s financing your album, he’s probably as mad as you. Let him put whatever banana or durian he wants on your album cover. After all, he is paying for it.
9. ANGER IS AN ENERGY.
Just add two to three chords and a chorus about how yours is the lost generation… and presto! You’ve got yourself a movement.
10. LISTEN TO REGGAE.
For obvious reasons, you need to chill out after hours of power chords and sonic wailings. Forget about Bob Marley and dive straight into Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Dekkar. Plus, Rude Boy style predates Wak Doyok.
11. LEAVE THE SCENE BEFORE YOU BECOME PART OF IT.
The hottest women in the punk scene all look like Patti Smith, which is fine. Patti Smith is hot. But if you’re looking for a nice domestic partner or someone who will not persecute you for eating fast food, you best go join the ‘indie’ scene.
12. WHEN IN DOUBT, RETURN TO THE RAMONES.
Fool-proofed in leather jackets. You can’t go wrong when there’s a “1-2-3-4!” count in.