Over its 30 years, punk music has morphed from a rebellious, politically charged sub-genre of rock to become, to the mainstream, a wimpy and passé fashion fiesta. When many people think of “punks,” they think less about anarchy and angst rooted in something meaningful, and more about mohawks, piercings, combat boots and an apathetic or unfocused, pissed-off attitude.
Some say, “Punk is dead,” but there are still those musicians who have stuck to their rebellious roots in a time that needs it as much now as three decades ago. For 16 years, The Pinkerton Thugs—Paul Russo (vocals/guitar), Tommy Collins (drums), Jonny Noise (bass) and Vlad Wormwood (guitars)—have been creating their Clash-, Cock Sparrer- and Stiff Little Fingers-inspired music with their own radical, anarchist political views to regenerate a more politically charged scene.
All of the members are anarchists, and The Pinkerton Thugs is a vehicle to pass on this system of thought. “We are a very passionate band that sings about the things we see around us and how it affects us and others. In 2012, there is no better time for a band like The Pinkerton Thugs to exist and be relevant,” Russo writes via e-mail. “I just want our fans to understand what I’ve always wanted them to understand while listening to our music: HOPE, Real Hope, not this Obama-sloganeering version of ‘hope’ or ‘change.’”
As such, the band organized Occupy Portland (Maine) in fall 2011, but they’ve been creating grass-roots change since 1999, when they began Anarchist Liberty Union, an organization that distributes literature and encourages fans to have a deeper understanding of anarchism through reading.
“We would see a lot of kids at our shows wearing the circle ‘A’ painted on their jacket, but when you would ask them if they have read any of the classic anarchist literature, they would look dumbfounded,” Russo says. “We knew kids were getting albums just fine, but not really reading.” The fast-paced, spirited, Clash-like tunes come alive in concert, the other point of entry the Thugs create for punks. You can only read so much, right? Punks have got to get out their kicks.
“Some look at it as violent, but I don’t see that. I see kids getting out their aggressions in a positive way after putting up with their boss, school, parents, society and government telling them what to do, taking their time, freedoms and voices,” Russo says. “My hope is that everyone feels like they can express their true selves at a Thugs show. Be who you want, dress how you want, say what you want, dance how you want ... be yourself.”
THE PINKERTON THUGS
w/ Never Say Never, Folk Hogan
1068 Jefferson St. (150 West)
Monday, July 30, 6 p.m.
$6 in advance, $8 day of show