An Old Fart’s Primer: Punk vs. Post-Punk

Written by Kevin Tuxford

Basically speaking, the notion of “post-punk” emerged pretty quickly after the Sex Pistols imploded on stage in San Francisco, and John Lydon had come back with a new band and a new sound within a year. It also emerged as a result of young people around England being exposed to the Sex Pistols (particularly the Lesser Free Trade Hall performance of the Sex Pistols in Manchester) and being inspired to start bands of their own. (It’s been said that probably everyone who saw the Pistols at that show either started a band, or a record label.)

Many of the people in “satellite” towns outside of London started punk bands that eventually became post-punk.

The notion of “post-punk” also grew out of the fact that the naivete and musical-primitivism of early punk (“Here’s three chords… now start band”) had run its course and there was a more earnest return to musical ability, more complex rhythms, and more emphasis on drums and bass, as well as trying to work with synthesizers and rhythm box generators rather than just electric guitars.

Early London punk emphasized unsophisticated, straight-forward “rock and roll” that you didn’t need years of practice to learn or play.

Here are a few examples of that stripped down approach to high energy music.

The difference between punk and post-punk was often just a matter of time, and punk or punk-leaning bands eventually became “post-punk” in style (and ability!).

For example… this is punk (Siouxsie).

This is post-punk (and proto dream-pop/ethereal).

Here are a few more examples to compare and contrast.



Post-punk (Colin Newman of Wire)





And most obviously: punk

and post-punk

As the simple chaotic enthusiasm of early punk started to get a little stale, notions of musical ability and more complex song crafting once again emerged as a necessity for capturing people’s imaginations.

“Post-Punk” also explored “Industrial” tendencies from influences like Throbbing Gristle, Monte Cazzaza, and Cabaret Voltaire to create tense musical landscapes, such as Crispy Ambulance, Cindytalk and Killing Joke.

“Post-Punk” also saw the creation of music that would eventually become ethereal.


And goth.

The evolution of music beyond the limits took place on this side of the Atlantic as well…

This entry was posted in Music, Videos. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply