Not only is punk not dead, it’s getting a new burst of energy thanks to Leicester-based all-female collective The Unglamorous Music Project.
In keeping with punk tradition, musical ability is not the primary concern.
Life experience is shocking.
Five, six and seven decades on, the members of the Unglamorous Music Project are under no illusions about how women their age – with the possible exception of Patti Smith – are perceived.
Rather than settling for scraps and conforming to social expectations, they go hard for newly formed bands like The Wonky Portraits, Dada Women, BOILERS, Velvet crisis and The Verinos above.
“This is definitely not ‘cute grannies going punk,'” BOILERS’ Allison “Fish” Dunne emphasized on Guardian:
I have nothing to say about what anyone thinks of me… We write our own music and we have a lot to say about anything we’re mad about. I have been enraged for years.
Ruth Miller, 61, founder of The Unglamorous Music Project, from Verinos, told RNZ how she tapped into an unexpectedly rich reservoir of previously untapped mature female musical impulse when she mentioned her plan to start a band to a friend. with whom she drank coffee and talked about politics.
A friend admitted that she had wanted to play drums for a long time, and based on that comment, after watching one instructional video on YouTube, she was suggested as a drummer for Verinos.
A “really great looking older woman” with “hair in a bun” Miller approached in a restaurant and asked, “Excuse me, are you in a band? she won her place by replying “No, but I’ve always wanted to learn the bass.”
I think as a woman you hit a certain age and you think, “Well, I don’t care what anyone thinks. It’s my life and I really want to make music again and it doesn’t matter if people like it or not. He doesn’t have to listen to…”
But they like it! The idea of seeing a group of older women being themselves is incredibly appealing.
Miller believes that rather than paying for private lessons and focusing on the “right” way to play music, beginners should let go of their inhibitions and start playing together.
The principles of the Unglamorous Music Project put it even more clearly:
- Choose a tool that catches your eye and fits in with the rest
- Find helpful people who will lend you things and support you unconditionally
- Instantly form a duo or band with other beginners
- Explore very simple rhythms and sounds
- Write your own words about your life
- Sing great melodies and backing vocals
- Play your song in a confident, cool and challenging manner
- Get encouragement and applause from friends
- Start performing to audiences as soon as possible
Perhaps an unspoken principle, given the Project’s emphasis on entertainment, is the adoption of Ramones-style stage names, a la Vim, Vi, Volcano, Vixen and VeeDee Verino.
If you’re inspired to join the movement, mark your calendars for March 8, International Women’s Day, and join Miller’s 66 Days to Debut Facebook group.
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– Ayun Halliday is the chief primatologist East Village Incas zine and author, most recently, of Creative, Not Famous: The Small Potato Manifesto and A creative, not famous, activity book. Follow her @AyunHalliday.