Punks “You don’t just become punk, you’re born punk”

Punk isn’t just music, it’s an attitude – and has been since the 1970s, which makes it one of the oldest youth cultures still alive and kicking. And to this day there’s no stopping what emerged back then as a subculture of revolt against consumer society. In the meantime, however, like many other youth cultures, punk is intermingled with other currents and components that make it hard to pin down precisely. Street punks come closest to epitomizing the classic punk scene, and yet some young people with fixed abodes and steady jobs feel part of the scene too – either because they dig the music or the fashion. Now as ever, the core elements of punk are individualism, the left-wing scene and rejection of consumer society.

Chris (19), rural punk

Chris (19), rural punk Chris (19), rural punk | © Selina Nowak I left home and got put in a youth welfare facility. For close to two years now I’ve been living in a village of 3,000 souls near a small town. This is where I’ve landed the only flat I can afford, and the landlady was the only one who’d take me. I’m training as an animal attendant at a medical school, I take care of laboratory animals.

Since when have I been punk? You don’t just become punk, you’re born punk. This attitude is mainly about individuality. I try to live it through my clothes, for example. This is my way of distancing myself from consumer society. I’m the only one who’s alternative in my family. I have two siblings who vote for a right-wing party and a younger brother who can’t vote yet. But my relationship to my family is alright again now. We meet up now and then.

Veronica Burnuthian, 23, singer in punk bands

Veronica Burnuthian, 23, singer in punk bands Veronica Burnuthian, 23, singer in punk bands | © Lisa Mayerhöfer I’ve always had an urge to make music and be part of a creative community. Those are things I have to do and I’ve always been a little crazy. What I like so much about the punk and D.I.Y. scene is that it’s open, honest and authentic. If you want to say something, you say it. You can be what you like, people listen to each other, and everyone’s equal, there’s no pecking order. That may be particularly important for girls. In Munich it’s a bit hard, everyone does their own thing, people seldom get your back. That’s why every year I put together the Kafe Kunst Fest [Coffee & Art Festival], a D.I.Y. community project, with the Kafe Kult people. And I play in several bands: Atatakakatta, Diving Deep and Unicorn in the Stars. I also do guerrilla shows und guest appearances in other bands.

I’ve always liked punk and noise because I can bug people that way. Music has to have something for me – it’s not about being aggressive, but loud and emotional. I don’t want to be on cloud nine in my own little world when I’m on stage. I’m after interaction, drawing the crowd in, giving them an experience to remember. Besides, “loud” if fun. Of course I listen to and like other stuff, but this anti-music or controversial music is something special to me.

Michael Jecht, 31, Eastern German punk

Michael Jecht, 31, Eastern German punk Michael Jecht, 31, Eastern German punk | © Selina Nowak I’m from near Rostock and turned 8 the very day the Wall came down. I saw my first East German punk when I was coming home from school way back in 1987. I found that awesome: colourful hair, tattered togs. He doesn’t give a shit about anything. Then for the first time I started hanging out with my brother, who’s four years older, and his mates. They then became basically techno freaks, whereas I got into the left-wing scene – I liked the music better.

In Eastern Germany you’ve got less of a chance to be colourful, especially in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which really is still Nazi heartland. So I was very grateful to my parents for moving to Hamburg after Buxtehude. My mum and my five-year-old daughter still live in Buxtehude. I see them regularly, I drive up several times a year. Hamburg was absolutely cadgers’ heaven. Exactly the opposite of Vienna, where I’m living now. When we’re on the bum we sometimes play “cadger’s bingo”. We jot down on a piece of paper what people are likely to snap at us over the course of a day, like “Get a job!” for instance, then we tick it off each time and whoever fills his list first – BINGO!

What I like about my life is the freedom – and that in the end I can say: “Hey, I’ve lived.” The bad part is I’m mostly always dependent on the help of others. My plans for the future? I would like to work. Over the past few years I’ve done all sorts of stuff. From mason and cook to baker, nursery school teacher and working with the handicapped.

Lea, 26, D.I.Y. punk

Lea, 26, D.I.Y. Punk Lea, 26, D.I.Y. Punk | Photo: privat I’m not sure I necessarily want to label the milieu I move in. If so, it would probably be a mix of punk, left-wing persuasion and D.I.Y. To me, that’s people coming together who do it all themselves in various venues*. And I don’t mean to make money, but simply because they feel like it. What I like so much about the scene is how mixed and diverse it is at the same time. Whether it’s through an arts & crafts workshop or political events, each of us can contribute what they please. Nothing else I know can compare.

There’s a pretty cool nationwide network of people and venues*. The scene in Munich, on the other hand, is small but nice. It’s a shame you can’t say that for the city itself. I play in a band myself, Todeskommando Atomsturm. It’s punk in the broadest sense with all sorts of nuances. At the end of the day I just call it punk rock. When it comes to music, noise is important to me – and rage. With music like that you can compensate for things you think suck. I wouldn’t be on anywhere near such an even keel if I didn’t have this angry music. Though I haven’t got any ambitions to be a rock star, and it’s not about the money either. It’s about the fun and the people. Being part of a whole is incredibly nice and extremely liberating. When you’re growing up, you’re mostly surrounded by rather unreflecting idiots. It was important to me to talk to people who have topics of interest and an opinion. I’ve found them in this scene.

There is a basic consensus – to be against sexism and Nazism, for example – but it’s OK to argue sometimes too. So you can move a lot more freely simply because issues get aired.